When we work on our beautiful gems of goals that sparkle enticingly (and sometimes, infuriatingly) just outside of our grasp, can we work steadily toward them, chipping away to unearth them, like a patient sculptor?
Or do we want them so badly we thrash with anticipation- vacillating wildly in one direction and then the next in our approach?
Or a little of both?
Know Your Patterns/ Habits:
When I speak with clients, I am always concerned when, after their first appointment with me they say things like “ I just want to work on performance” or “would you recommend I start work with this other trainer while we are starting our work?”
Neither of the above are a good idea when you have an orthopedic issue you are working with.
Keep it simple and strive for a middle approach. If you typically overdo, do less. If you under do, do more. If you stretch excessively, stretch less. If you only do cardio, do more strengthening.
It can be so tempting to want to rush out of the gate in our excitement to improve. When we have an issue, we may want to throw a bunch at it and see what works. But I know that slow and steady wins the race. Start with one approach. Master it. Squeeze all of the tidbits of knowledge you can get out of it and integrate it into your being. And then see where you are at before adding in another perspective or practitioner.
We want to make progress, and we also want to do the same old habits. When I was 3-5 years old I had a blankie that went with me everywhere. I called it my woobie, and also my amigo. When I was starting kindergarten, my parents threatened to take it away, saying I would be made fun of. I remember thinking- “starting at this new school is so scary. If ever there was a need for a woobie it is now!”
(Don’t worry- the woobie situation eventually got resolved due to my insane tenacity and my parents fatigue)
The same old habits are like our security blankets. They are predictable and they make us feel comfortable. One person’s habit might be pushing too hard, going too fast. Another person’s habit might be ignoring sensations. And yet another’s might be not working hard enough. You need to know what your normal response is to challenge, and what your habit is around discomfort, so you can handle those patterns when they inevitably come up when you are working on cultivating new movement.
We know we can’t get to a new level by working the same old methodology, but geez isn’t it human and so tempting to try?
Let the Dust Settle So You can See the Bottom:
Pema Chodron discusses some of the benefits of meditation with a beautiful analogy about water. She writes that when we try to look and we are all stirred up- our emotions are high and our breath is short, it is like trying to look into a lake with strong currents and poor visibility. It is important that we get quiet and look gently, so that we can let currents settle into stillness and see clearly.
Just the other day, I evaluated a client who is hoping to resume paddle boarding after a long time away from the sport. During his evaluation, his ankle strength tested 2/5 on both the right and left. His ankle strength is not strong enough for walking, let alone paddle boarding.
If this person can sit with the information from his evaluation, he can make a game plan to build strength from a 2/5 up to a 5/5, and improve his likelihood of returning to paddle boarding. If he chooses instead to ignore his assessment findings, he will continue to languish in the emotionally painful process of losing function. The decision is completely up to him. I cannot yet tell what direction he might choose.
Similar to goals, we ourselves need to see (ourselves) clearly. But unlike goals, the content of information we need often is supplied from others (our friends, our teachers, our therapists or doctors). We need a trusted source of insight, so that we may know where we are. Our subjective experience can often interfere with this objective knowledge.
Can we look deeply and hear others, so that we can understand where we are now? And then, we can work with others to create a game plan and road map to get us to our destination (our priceless goals)?
Can we get out of our own way, and do something different?