Is it Physical or Emotional Pain Holding You Back?

I can remember quite vividly the final hours on my last hundred-mile attempt. It was Halloween, my favorite time of year.  A full moon.  Some of my crew in costumes.  The works. 

As the miles got into the 50s, I began to feel my physical body falter.  When that happens, it tends to take the rest of you with it.  My mental game may be good, but physical problems in a race always bring about fear.  Fear that I won’t finish and I’ll be embarrassed.  Fear of the shame and self-judgement of putting all this time in and having nothing to show for it.   And then there’s the other fear–the one that comes on the moment I start to feel wobbly and goes,”Oh my God!  You still have at least 45 miles to go with this kind of crap!”   

But, truth be told, my sound mental-emotional game doesn’t come from not knowing these emotions, and it ESPECIALLY doesn’t come from ignoring or ‘overcoming’ my fears.  It comes from knowing them all too well and accepting them.  Feeling them and knowing why these emotions are there allows for very important questions to be answered: is my fear trying to stop me from doing further physical damage, or am I just shaken up a bit and, if I walk it off, is it possible I’ll come back from this? 

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.  Our bodies have all kinds of safety mechanisms and our emotions are one of them. That fear that we feel, where the hairs on the back of our neck are standing up, is there to let us know that there is immediate danger and we need to get the hell out or get ready to fight!  When we start to feel physical back pain, leg pain, and our lungs feel like a deflated balloon, these are all indications that we are physically pushing ourselves to our limits.  

The goal of the endurance runner, or the person trying to get themselves ready to go after a job they want, or the parent trying to get themselves in a place where they can actually talk to their children about something difficult, is all the same.  We are looking to have our own back and use our emotions wisely as advisors instead of ignoring them and having them make our decisions for us. 

Most of the time we can train ourselves physically and mentally for just about anything. We can get familiar with physical or mental exhaustion, pain and fatigue that comes with our efforts.  We can improve our speed or our skills in just about anything important to us. We even know what to do if we get an injury (go to a doctor or grab a bandaid) or just burn out mentally (go bed).  If we follow the directions to the letter of our doc or hit the sack, we will probably feel a great deal better. 

But what about our emotions? 

When that strong fear comes up in our body, all we have is empirical evidence.  If we don’t have any empirical evidence, we are like babes in the woods.  Yes we all have had fear, but not all of us can identify when it’s there, why it’s there, and if it’s giving us useful info for what we’re dealing with.  Consider this: how about if you’ve never been in a race where you pushed yourself to your physical, mental, or emotional limit?  How about if you’ve just decided to do some seriously hard parenting and put out some good boundaries?  How about if you finally got the courage to go after that job you’ve always wanted and the resume is ready to go?  Most likely fear is flowing through you screaming, “God!  Don’t do this! This is dangerous!”  The question then becomes: dangerous to what?

Danger to our ego.  We don’t want to feel shame, uncertainty, or self-doubt about ourselves.  

We may have uncomfortable emotions that we have no way to train for.

Or at least we think we don’t.

Emotional resilience training is about getting familiar with all of your uncomfortable emotions, but mainly it’s fear.  Because most of the time we don’t fear the things that we are trying to tackle nearly as much as we fear the feelings that we’re going to feel if we fail going after them. 

Think about it. We have anxiety over the fact that we may feel anxious if we take on a new challenge for ourselves. We fear that we’re going to feel embarrassment if we ask that certain person out that we’re keen on, and we definitely don’t wanna feel that!  We feel shame when we go after a certain distance or a race and we don’t make it…what are other people going to think of us?  We fear these emotions because they don’t feel good.  We don’t know how to identify them and we don’t know how to listen to the information they provide and use it to take action that will help us.

When you build a relationship with your fear, you can start using it to further your endeavors instead of allowing it to decide for you what you’re actually going to try.  Here are some tips on how to befriend those emotions, so they can help you instead of hinder you:

Think of Fear as a friend not your foe – we all have friends that sometimes tell us uncomfortable things because they’re worried about us. Sometimes they are right, and sometimes they’re not. It’s always our choice as to whether or not we take their advice, but we need to acknowledge that they are coming out of a place of love for us.

Ask yourself, “Is that really true?” – we all do it.  Usually we hang our proverbial hats on the fact that some things are physically just too demanding, we don’t have time, or we are simply not capable of tackling a new and uncomfortable challenge in our lives. Sincerely asking yourself, “Is that true?”, cuts off the ring so to speak.  When you take the time to consider whether failure is certain, you are forced to acknowledge that you actually might have a shot at  success, but you are scared, anxious, or worried about being shamed if it doesn’t work out. When we look at it in this light, we can see that it is actually an emotion stopping us from trying, not our abilities.

Practice the “six of one, 1/2 a dozen of the other” rule – many times we forget that we’re avoiding the job interview because we don’t want to shame ourselves. Whether we like it or not, when we want something and we don’t act, or when we act on something and we don’t get what we want … we are still in an uncomfortable emotion.  At least by trying whatever challenge is in front of you, there is a chance that you will experience positive emotions like confidence, joy, and capability. If you do nothing … you will always be scared.

So, in a race or in life, it’s often best to take a moment and recognize when your ‘not so friendly’ emotions rear their heads and try to warn you off of something that you are stretching or striving for.  As you do, you can acknowledge the information they are providing, see if that emotion has usable information, and if not, work on recognizing that discomfort for what it is: growing pains.  Turn your attention to the effort at hand, get up off that curb, dust yourself off, and continue to pursue your goal and welcome all of the emotions that join you along the way.

I’d love to hear about an emotion that came up for you recently and what you learned from it that helped you.  Post your experiences in the comments below!

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. 

Make Your ‘Hold” and infuse it With the Emotions You Want

A lot of times we go out of our way to buy holds.  We often think if we just get that little widget, trinket, or snow globe when we’re in the souvenir shop at the aquarium we are guaranteed to remember all that had happened on that special day.  We believe this will ensure we have access to all of the wonderful emotions that came with it.  I wish that were true.  Really I do.  But objects are only as emotionally fused with joy, connection, confidence, and love as the emotions you infuse them with.  The only emotional conductor for anything is… 

Your Intention.

That’s actually the good news.  Because you don’t have to go out and buy some fancy souvenir to hold the emotion that you want.  To be honest, there isn’t a souvenir shop in the world that sells any objects that are already infused with emotions.  It is your intention that gives the object its ability to hold your emotions for you. 

For example, I ran a race a week ago.  I caught an amazing race time for 10 miles and there was a good amount of ‘pushing’ myself to get there.  I chose to use the t-shirt that I raced in to be my ‘hold’ for the race.  I’d love to say that I was above buying a souvenir race t-shirt.  But, in truth, the only reason why I didn’t get one was because I didn’t have $20 in cash on me at the starting line and I was too lazy to go back to the car…hard to believe when you consider I was getting ready to run a race.  No matter how the race went from a performance level, I knew that, since I hadn’t been able to race in a year and a half, I wanted a strong memory of it and all of the positive emotions that would come with it.  So, how did I create my hold and save myself the $20?

Create Your ‘Hold’ for Yourself

Ask Yourself: is this moment something I want to remember?  First, make sure the  moment is something you want to remember. It doesn’t have to have a special meaning to anyone but you.  Once you’ve decided that you are going to want the memories and emotions that are infused with an event or activity…

Choose an object, or mental object, you’re going to use for your hold.   Again, in the example above, I decided that I was going to use the t-shirt that I was wearing at the time — a blue beat up old Adidas shirt that basically just said ‘did s’ because both ‘A’s fell off.  It doesn’t have to be specific to the event or moment that you’re trying to remember and draw positive emotions from.  You can stop at Dunkin Donuts and grab a mug after the event if you’re dead set on buying a souvenir for yourself.  Or you can decide on something you already have with you (remember my rosary from my last blog!).  And, if you’re going to use a mental object, you could easily choose from the songs you listen to on the way to your event or back.

Infuse that object, or mental object with all of your intention.  This is a little bit tricky, so let me explain. It wasn’t like I was running the race, fully focused on the shirt I was wearing, saying over and over again, “This shirt will hold my emotions!”  First of all, I would not have been able to experience the moment at hand very well.  Secondly, ‘others’ probably would have chased me down and put me in an insane asylum. You want to be fully focused and immersed in whatever you’re doing so that you can be very present in your experience.  But, once in a while whether it’s a song, shirt, coffee mug, whatever, intentionally place your mind on it.  It will become associated with your task at hand.  Use all of your 5 senses to take in everything that’s going on around and within you. The smells, what things taste like, who you were with, how the weather was, how you were feeling.  The more specific the better.  If we’re talking about a mental object, you may find that this becomes a bull’s-eye for you so that the memory becomes very vivid whenever you hear a specific song or phrase.

Pick an item or two–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 with you 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!

Try this today and let me know what you come up with!  You may have something you are doing right now, or maybe you create a hold from an event that you’ve done in days, months, or years past.  It’s never too late to create a hold, you just need to use your intention!

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. 

Part 4: Find The Bullseye in Your Memory!

We’re not talking about darts or “X” marks the spot (no pirate’s treasure chest). The thing is, emotions are not just something to tray and govern when they come around by the off chance, they are something to cultivate! Positive emotions like confidence, joy, connection, or hope can fuel your efforts and strengthen your resolve when you decide to go after anything in your life. Visualization is a powerful method for cultivating the emotions you want in order to center yourself to succeed.

Just to give a quick review, over the past three blogs we’ve talked about the power of visualization to cultivate emotion for yourself, how to visualize our memories to get the emotions that we want, and how to use our imagination to enhance those memories, ‘boosting’ their potency to generate more of the emotions that we want. Finally, we left logic and reason behind, and decided to create emotions solely from our imagination! We learned to go after the feelings that we want, not judge ourselves for whatever imagery or whatever came up for us as long as it gave us the emotions we wanted. 

Over the years, the number one question I’ve gotten from people I’ve coached in doing any kind of emotional visualization exercise is always, “Where do I start?” You think there would be a simple answer, right? Some people start at the beginning of a memory, while others leave memory altogether and focus solely on visualization from their imagination. The thing is…

There’s no one right starting point when we are using visualization to create emotions within ourselves.  But, if you are choosing to visualize using a memory, the best place that I know to start is always the bullseye.

When we recall an event, the bullseye is the first thing that springs to mind for us from that memory. We remember it easily. It’s rich in detail, filled with vivid color, with sounds, and images that are strong and easily accessible. 

I have a fantastic memory of getting the game ball when I played highschool football, complete with my entire team standing up and cheering for me in the locker room, and my coach saying amazing things about me. Do you know where that memory’s bullseye is? It is when my hand grabbed the door of the locker room right before I entered the scene of the memory. That’s right. no cheers. No game ball. In fact, I wasn’t feeling particularly good about myself at that moment because I thought I was just returning my pads and a helmet after having a season-ending injury during a football game. 

But, there was incredible emotional energy within me as I stood at that door. Every single time I think about this memory I always think about my hand grabbing that door handle. Then a flood of all the imagery, sounds, sights: friends shaking my hands, pats on the back, coach’s voice, the game ball in my hand…all of it comes. But it all starts with me remembering my hand on that door. 

Have you ever had someone tell you about a wonderful memory that they had where they met their spouse or their sweetheart, the incredible time that they had, and how it was one of the most important memories in their life? If you asked them what their bullseye was, what do you remember most, they would most likely say something like: it was waiting in the line at the airport to get their bags checked. 

A bullseye can come before, in the middle, or even at the end of your memory. You know it is the bullseye because it opens the flood of emotions that you’re seeking. A bull’s-eye is like a powder keg ready to explode and you, as the author of your memory, are brought right back to that very special moment and everything that happened every time. Let’s talk about how you find the bullseye for yourself in a memory that holds the emotions you are looking for. When you identify the bullseye, then you will have an easier time calling that memory to mind for yourself any time you want to tap the emotions it creates within you. 

Let’s Practice  

Find the bullseye in any memory to squeeze the most joy, connectedness, love,confidence, or any other awesome emotion for yourself as efficiently as you can!

Decide on the memory – When deciding on the memory, make sure that it’s going to give you the emotions you’re looking for. When you bring it up in your mind, the emotion(s) you want should be right there with it! You may have to try several memories out, and that’s normal.  Once you have the memory that’s giving you the emotion you want…

Focus on the first thing you thought of when you recalled that memory –  It may not have been an ‘all important’ part of the memory, but it’s your starting point! Don’t worry if it seems trivial, it’s just where you are going to pivot your focus from.  

Now do a 360 pivot of your memory – Two things are going to be able to allow you to get the most emotional charge from your memory. The importance you give it in your mind, and the length of time you are able to hold it! You want to be able to rewind, go forward, and basically take a 360 view of everything that has happened. The richer the detail the better! Dive deep into your five senses recalling sights, sounds, tastes, textures, smells, everything that surrounded you and was part of that memory. By doing this, you are filled with the emotions just as if what you were recalling was actually happening in the moment. This exercise enables you to step forward into whatever challenge you are facing with the emotional center that will help you succeed.

If you do any kind of meditation practice, it may be good to consider giving over five minutes of that practice to finding your bullseye and pivoting around it. If meditation isn’t your thing, no problem! Consider when you walk, exercise, take a shower, any time you have where you are alone and can focus down to bring up that memory’s bullseye, and develop its ability to give the emotions that will help you accomplish whatever is most important to you! 

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.