Rantings and Ravings
I faced a big fear the other day and in the end it proved to be much ado about nothing. I was trying to get ready to do my first triathlon and when I went to practice swimming in the open waters of a lake I found myself almost paralyzed with fear when I couldn't touch the bottom.
My wet suit was keeping me up easily and I knew I could swim the entire distance and more if needed to finish the swim, but I was letting this fear get into my head and control me.
When I stood in Huntington Lake and was whining to my husband that I just couldn't do it, he just calmly looked at me and said that I could. I didn't want to hear that because I wanted sympathy and compassion for my dilemma and then I would have an excuse to quit. No dice.
So I aired my fears out to any one who would listen and they all were just about as understanding as my husband. I decided I would just suck it up and do it.
The morning of the race I found many like me who were just as scared, but were suited up and ready to get the swim portion over with. Halfway to the first buoy I was having a little self debate on whether or not I could get through this. I glanced around and did not see anyone else quitting and I just shut down the voice in my head that was causing the issue and swam.
It was not the most fun part of the whole race, but it was the most important part for me. It was the one thing standing in the way of me doing something I had always wanted to do.
Our mental state has much more to do with our day to day lives than we give it credit for. We can talk ourselves out of anything, just by giving in to the self doubt in our heads.
In sports it can override all the physical training and talent. This is both a team and individual issue. It takes less to get into a mental funk than to get out of one. You can watch a pitcher in baseball who is sailing through a game have a batter hit a homer off of him and suddenly he can't throw strikes.
Ask any coach in any sport what is their biggest problem when a team is struggling and they will point to the mental attitude of the squad. It is the one aspect that a coach has the least control of from his players. They can practice until they are blue in the face and the coaches can instill in them that they have the power to win, but unless they believe it themselves it will do no good.
I make sure I take on things on a regular basis that scare me. My heart pounds at the top of some big rapids when floating the river. I have to talk out loud to my hands to get off the brakes once in a while as I am mountain biking. I climbed over the top of the butte at Bowknot Bend on the Green River just to say I did it, even though I am so scared of tall edgy places I almost had to crawl to get across the cliff face to take the trail down. And I write these columns not knowing if anyone will even read them.
Even in our everyday lives, we can let the fear affect how we approach what we do. I used to interview people for positions at the Family Support center. You could see immediately who was already poised for rejection and who believed they were right for the job.
Fear is good. It is our head telling us to be cautious and think things through. But it is not necessarily for telling us to stop and not try. It is great when we have people who believe in us even when we don't.
But in the end we have to decide in our own heads that we can face our fears. The exhilaration I felt as I came out of the water Saturday was well worth the effort.