Grab a “Hold” to Create Your Best Emotional State

There’s no freakin’ way! I didn’t say this out loud, but the thought screamed through my brain as I stared out over the dark, endless basin filled with water that I would be swimming in tomorrow morning for my first Ironman. It was going to be roughly a two and a half mile swim.  There was a 112 mile bike to follow, and that little matter of the marathon afterwards to consider. But, honestly, it was the swim that I dreaded.  

Looking over that dark water while I was picking up my race packet was scaring the bejesus out of me. A few of the athletes were looking out with me. My eyes shot back and forth from the water to them, trying to ascertain if they were just as freaked out as me. As I pondered this, I found myself nervously fiddling with the rosary that was in my pocket. Somehow it was soothing and seemed to calm me down a bit.

I had a habit of going to Sunday Mass and taking the little plastic rosaries that they have in a dish near the vestibule. I must have forgotten to take this one out the previous weekend and now I was using it as a holy ‘stress ball’. 

I had an incredible race performance the next day, doing better than I ever dreamed I would!  Having that rosary on me to fiddle with when I was nervous or anxious, races, before talks, workshops, any challenging situations, has become more than just a habit–it’s my ritual. It’s no longer just a source of comfort, it is also a source of inspiration. I can literally recall my entire race whenever I even look at my rosary now. That recollection comes in a tidal wave full of all the confidence and pride that I felt finishing that race, just flooding my senses.  

The crazy thing is I don’t even know how to say the rosary. In fact, let’s just get this straight, it’s really not about the rosary. It’s not about any world religion or philosophy. It’s certainly not about that fancy race t-shirt or medal that they’re going to give you at the end of the race (if you make it). It’s not about running out and buying yourself a lucky rabbit’s foot (if we’re honest with ourselves, you and I both know that rabbit wasn’t so lucky so how good could the foot be?). 

It simply comes down to the meaning you place on the object. Once you give meaning to an object it becomes a ‘Hold’. Quite literally this is something that, when you hold it in your hand physically or in your mind mentally, it triggers an almost instantaneous recall of the event and the emotions that accompany that memory. 

You probably already have ‘Holds’ already, some you know about and some you don’t. Think  about that worn out t-shirt that has more holes in it than swiss cheese.  Every time you even think about throwing it away you feel like you’re actually throwing away that first 5K you ran and all the pride you felt in it!  Likewise, you may have pictures around the house of relatives. So, every time you walk into the kitchen and see the picture that includes your annoying uncle, the memory of the time he burned all the burgers at the family reunion sneaks into your head, and you suddenly lose your appetite…without actually knowing why.

Objects and mental pictures can hold more than just sentimental value for us. They can hold the key to better overall performances when facing challenges that are dear to us, or even the ones that are brought to our doorstep. 

Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D., in Psychology Today, described the relationship between past success and present performance.  She shares that by thinking about your past success, “you start feeling like you’ve really got something that makes you a successful person.”  A Hold can help you gain rapid access to your memories, enabling you to fast-track the infusion of emotions that you want.

How to identify if something is a ‘Hold’ for you?

Focus down on an object or memory of an object –  You really don’t have to hold it in your hand, but you do have to give it your attention. Really focus down on a particular object and see if a memory or specific feelings come up for you.  These can be anything at all, but they should really spring to mind! 

Now notice if a particular object or memory is emotionally charged –  Now if you’re looking around your house at the laundry basket, or deeply recalling the sandwich you had at subway 3 hours ago, it may not have a strong ‘emotional charge’. But, if you’re looking at a photo of your graduation, or your finish at your 5K, or son’s well-worn baseball glove and uniform, you will most likely feel the confidence and connection that is housing the memories of the ‘Hold’.

I have a friend who got a tattoo in honor of his father. Whenever he looks at that tattoo, he says it instantly calls to mind working with his dad and the ‘can do’ feeling his father instilled in him.

Start by taking a look at what you have to work with within the physical stuff that you already own, or memories of those things in your mind! Take some time to look around your home, your car, your workspace, anything that might actually give you that emotional charge that you’re looking for when you need your best overall performance. Likewise, consider trying to recall some of the memories of the most incredible things that you’ve done in your life. Things that you’re most proud of, to see if an emotional charge is housed within them.

Pick one or two of these items–those that have the strongest emotional pull for you. Take some time each day to pick up (or call to mind) the hold that you identified. Let the emotions fill you up. Try to keep those emotions as you take action on your performance challenge, or even just when you try to contemplate that challenge. You’ll gradually notice that your ability to call those emotions up for yourself, and hold onto them will increase when you have an actual ‘Hold’ to connect with them!

In the next blog we’re going to talk about actually how you can create your own Holds!

If you would like help lessening your fear and anxiety, reaching your goals, breaking habits, or creating new ones, I’d love to work with you.  Just click the button or the link below for a free consultation and let’s talk. 

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