14 December 2008

Dealing with Fear and Negativity

**I wrote this on the plane while I was flying to UT for the holidays, but didn't find time to put it up until this morning.**

Can you tell that this book really resonated with me? I love that its given me so much to think about and consider. If you know me well, you might say that I am a driven person and that I am very hard on myself. It's true. I do hold myself to a high standard which means that I often get to fail. I don't consider myself to be a negative person, but I can be and usually am pretty good at blasting myself and its definitely something that I'm working on.

In the book, there is a section that deals with how to deal with fear and negativity, which definitely gave me some food for thought. The author starts off by saying, "Make sure your own worst enemy doesn't live between your own two ears." I think we've all heard that or something similarly to that, but do we listen. I know that I struggle with negative self talk, so I'm guessing that's why this section hit home for me.

Before he gets into the negativity, he talks about fear. Over the past year or so, I've thought alot about fear. I've wondered why people fear certain things and why for some, that fear becomes paralyzing and for others that fear becomes a drive. Mr. Hamilton says that we should use our fears as an energy source to increase our performance and that fear can give us power if we learn to tap into it and use it constructively. So, how do we learn to use our fear. He says that you don't fight it and you don't overanalyze it. (I'm not sure if its possible for me to not overanalyze anything.)

The statement that resonated most with me in this section was "The flip side of fear is commitment." I can think of many situations as examples of this, but I'll share only share one. If you've followed my blog you know that I struggled with open water swimming, which is kind of a big deal if you're a triathlete. During my first triathlon, which included my first open water swim, I totally freaked out. I started hyperventilating and I remember flipping over on my back and seeing the shore and thinking, "I should swim back and be done. What was I thinking?!?" However, I am not a quitter. I do not give up on things when I have committed to them. So, I flipped back over and finished the swim. It certainly wasn't pretty, but it was an incredible feeling to know that I did it. It's very true, at least in my head, that fear is the flip side of commitment.

So, on to negative thoughts... The author says and I agree that negativity is part of being human. It is so easy for me to beat myself up inside of my head when I fail. In fact, I'm awfully good at it. I say things in my head that I would never ever say to anyone else. You probably notice this to some degree in my race reports. So, how do I change this? I'm not sure that its possible to completely get rid of negative self talk, but I do agree with the author's suggestion. He says that if we're feeling negative, we need to get out there and "Do something."

One last thought from this section that I want to share. The author says that quitting is easy, but daring to try is hard. This reminds me of something Jens Voigt said during the Tour de France. He said, "If in doubt, just go" and "If you try to win, you might lose but if you don't try to win, you lose for sure." It's very easy to be mediocre and I think that society does a great job of rewarding and encouraging mediocrity. It's very easy to walk away from things when they're difficult or scary. It is hard to set lofty goals and then to put yourself on a path to achieve them. However, I've learned that only when we challenge ourselves, do we see who we truly are and who we truly can become.