Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What are you so scared of?

I had an epiphany today, because I jumped on a box.

I'm not even kidding.

There's a whole long back story, and I'm not going to tell it because I suspect many of you know it and probably even live it already. It is about self-limiting behaviour and lack of self-esteem and comparison and jealousy and discontent.

Those things we all have, but don't like to talk about because in our own little shiny spaces of the internet we like to maintain our sheen of apparent perfection... we share the highlights reel of our lives and hope it is glossy enough that people won't see through to the dark and dismal places underneath.

I didn't learn to run until I was nearly 36 because I simply did not believe my body was capable of it. I thought my knees were weak, my knees a bit crackly, I was not built the right way at all. I held onto those beliefs for so long because it was so much easier than trying and failing. It wasn't really about my legs at all, it was about my soul.

It was about fear.

I was scared of getting hurt. I was scared that I would look stupid. I was scared that people would see me and wonder what on earth an unco like me thought she was doing.

But eventually the deep dark got the better of me and I had to so SOMETHING so I took a leap of faith in the privacy of my own lounge on a beat up el cheapo treadmill and I started.

Once I had a bit of confidence I started running outdoors and realised really quickly that actually no one even cared what I was doing. The only people who ever seemed to even notice me were other runners, and there is this whole secret code amongst most runners that means you smile and/or wave when you pass another one because you both know the secret... that running makes you feel like a whole person.

My biggest fear though, the getting hurt one? Well that happened. A few times. And it hurt, but not as much as not being able to run hurt.

And something a bit magical happened this last time. I'm only just back on track with my training having damaged a tendon in my foot, but while I was unable to run I faced up to another big fear and I went and joined a Crossfit Box.

Since then I've done bootcamp a few times a week. And it has been AMAZING.

I don't love it in the same way that I love running, but I can't imagine not doing it now. I'm a convert, as my abs and arms will attest.

And so I come to the epiphany.

In bootcamp we often do box jumps, which is where you jump on a box. In case you were wondering.

I have always chosen to do step ups, because I have a serious phobia of box jumps. I am terrified of slipping off the edge and hurting myself. That self-limiting fear of incapability, back again to taunt me.

Today, I went and got one of the smaller boxes. In the first round I think I stared at it for a good 4 or 5 minutes without moving. I felt like my feet were glued to the ground and I felt like crying. Or just doing step ups like I usually would.

Eventually I screwed up the kind of courage it takes other people to leap out of a plane and I bent my knees and I jumped. I didn't land it perfectly, but I landed it. And I kept landing it, getting better each round.

Once again I discovered that when you do something that is truly frightening to you, it changes your self perception immediately.

Yes sure other people can do box jumps on to really high boxes with ease. But those people aren't me. I had let fear stop me from even trying though, and today I remembered that I can't do that and expect to grow as a person.

I hold back on so many things in life because I'm scared of getting hurt or of failing. But if I'd never gotten injured this last time, I would not have been in a position to jump on a box and rediscover that I can do really scary things. And that regardless of the outcome, just facing up to those scary things is enough to free your soul.

So what are you so scared of? Are you scared to learn to run? Are you scared to join a gym? Are you scared to apply for that job? Are you scared to talk to that guy/girl?

And what are you going to do about it?