By the time we reach midlife and thereafter, we’ve got a whole lot of life experience to call on, both positive and negative. If we’re awake and aware, we can draw on that experience to predict an outcome. Or so it seems.
Sometimes, though, that works against us, as I learned the other day in the gym.
The body begins to deteriorate with age, there’s no escaping it. I look around and almost everyone in my age cohort has an issue: a torn meniscus, a slipped disk, sciatica–you name it. Some people over-train and get injured, others don’t train at all and get injured and some get hurt just doing an every day task.
If you’ve been reading along you know I’ve been working hard in the gym to regain strength and flexibility after lazing around for a while. And while I don’t have a knee problem, it’s the one thing that really scares me.
Whenever my trainer asked me to do something that included bearing weight on my knees, I’d respond:
“If I do that, I’ll blow out my knee.” That’s because my mind predicted it in living color. I could feel the muscle weakness, feel the pain and then, feel the knee give out, all in my mind. These step-up boxes were my nemesis:
All I’d have to do is look at one and I could envision my knee buckling as I stepped up.
For months, my trainer would adapt moves to protect my knee, even as we worked to strengthen the muscles around it.
The other day he pulled out that box and asked me to step on it with one leg–as in bearing all my weight on that leg, and make a move in the air with my other leg.
“I can’t do that…” I began. He stopped me.
“Carol,” he said. “You can now do everything. You’re just afraid.”
I was taken aback. He was right. My leg gave out in my imagination and that made me think I couldn’t do it. But I’d been working on those muscles for months.
“I’m right here spotting you,” he said.
I assessed him, all 6’4″ 270 lbs of pure muscle, and thought, yes, he could catch me.
Taking a deep breath, I stepped up and surprise! My knee didn’t give out. I could do it.
Fear is powerful. It’s powerful because we give it power. But we don’t have to. We can imagine, visualize, a different outcome.
Now, I’m not recommending that the outcome would be different by just imagining it. Not at all.
But if we do the work and have prepared to meet the challenge, there’s no need to fear it.
So–what fears have you given unnecessary power to? What are you not doing because your fear is greater than it needs to be?