Change requires determination, sometimes like that of a competitive endurance athlete. An article in National Geographic Adventure on how to get through adversity, tells the story of how Rosie Stancer attempted to be the first woman to travel solo to the North Pole. She didn’t achieve her goal, but she did survive—minus two toes while vowing to reattempt.
The article quotes Andrew Lane, Ph.D., a sports psychologist, who suggests concentrating on each movement. He goes on to say, “Relaxing your shoulders can help stop a cycle of vicious thoughts.” Breathing and being in the moment no matter how difficult it might be will reduce your stress and increase your performance. A stressed body never performs as well over time. The survival response as the stress response will get us out of harm’s way, but we aren’t meant to sustain that level of sympathetic nervous system output. Over time, our performance decreases if only because we become exhausted.
Another sports psychologist, David Coppel, Ph.D., speaks about how some athletes disassociate from their bodies to get through the event. Disassociation is a backup to being present; when you can’t handle something you check out. The problem is that you often don’t check back in. It’s true, you feel less pain but you will also feel less pleasure. Not being present is a set-up to injuries and getting lost.
Stress, in a sporting event or life, can teach you to check out. The problem is you can get so good at it that you don’t even know you aren’t present. Then one day you may wake up wondering how you got to where you are. Twenty-five years ago, I had a pediatric neurologist see me for Rolfing. About halfway through the ten sessions, he told me, “I am not who I wanted to be. I am someone else’s image of a life.” He gave up medicine to discover who he was and what he wanted from life. That took an act of bravery to come back into his body and his life.
The process of change can be difficult. Often the most difficult aspect is getting present. Once you are in your body, and feeling what is occurring in the moment, change occurs. For many, the first three stages of the Evolutionary Change™ are just about getting present. Re-associating and relaxing into whatever is happening can make your event more intense. It will keep you on your path ultimately increasing the chance of success.