by Colleen Cannon
Here is my Equinox balancing act story to help you bring perspective to your Fears.
“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” ~Georgia O’Keeffe
I love this quote by Georgia O’Keeffe, and when I found it I was inspired to know that someone completely terrified went ahead, excelled in life and created and fulfilled her dreams.
Everyone thinks I am a brave and courageous person because it is what I look like on the outside. I travel around the world leading Women’s Quest retreats, I used to race and win triathlons as a professional athlete, I learned to surf at 50 and go out in HUGE waves, plus I ride my horses in the mountains at night with LOTS of wildlife. And that is only some of the seemingly brave things I do.
I am super active on the outside but I have a real inner scaredy-cat. I am for real a serious worrier and control freak. Ask any of my staff at Women’s Quest. I always make sure everything we do is fun, empowering and EXTREMELY safe to the point that I drive them crazy.
I am not sure I will ever really be 100% calm on the inside but here is how I can deal with being a scaredy-cat most of the time.
1) I do things in stages, so a tiny bit at a time, getting comfortable and then I add on more at my own pace.
So for instance, when I learned to surf it was in the whitewater or what I call fluff and I stayed there for years until I felt comfortable.
(Take into account I live in Colorado and only got to surf twice a year.) Then little by little I would coax myself out to the lineup where you can catch the big smooth waves. The first several times I paddled to the “outside” I had panic attacks and people used to tease me I was so far out I’d never catch a wave, which was ok, because it allowed me to ease my way back in at my own pace. I figured out that if I would calm myself down and breathe, everything would be OK.
So I keep myself safe while doing extreme things by taking it one step at a time, and having someone that knows the way, guide me.
2) Say my mantra ALL DAY LONG!
This is what I say … all day and I am SERIOUS ABOUT THIS!
Here you go … My Magic 3 words are: “I am OK!”
When I am mt. biking down a huge hill with rocks, I just say.. I am OK! When I am surfing or feeling like I am held under by a wave too long I just say.. I am OK! I don’t make a huge list of long drawn out affirmations. I just keep it short and simple and to the point. I am OK!
I also program this “I AM OK” feeling so when I say this manta my body knows it is time to breathe, relax and calm down. I say it over and over in my head where it taps into my brain and I think it helps me face my fear instead of running from it, or having my fear run the show.
3) I learned that fear is very close to excitement on the emotional scale.
As a triathlete I would get to the start line of a race and totally FREAK OUT with FEAR and ANXIETY. The anxiety could start many days before a big event and the night before I would not be able to sleep at all. One time it got so bad that while out in the water warming up for the swim my legs went numb. Seriously I thought I was going to have to call the lifeguard.
Something had to be done and I had to learn how to interrupt this fear cycle and focus on the positive outcomes I wanted for the race.
Luckily, I went to a talk by an astronaut giving a talk in Boulder (sorry, I can’t remember his name) and I was amazed when he was asked.. Were you ever afraid? And he said – Hell Yes I was afraid, all the time. But that emotion is very close to excitement so I just focused the apprehension into anticipation and being lucky. And I love music as well so I would sing.
This one talk changed my whole world. I immediately thought of a song that I could sing at the start line of my races. One song that would transform my apprehension into excited anticipation. My song was the Indiana Jones theme song. You know, da da-da da, da da-da. I would sing my heart out with that song (outloud) and I would visualize that I was on a wild adventure after a diamond with dragons and crocodiles and many scary things but it was all part of the adventure. The diamond for me was the fact that this song relaxed me enough to switch my perspective from fearful dread, to an excited playful opportunity. I went from a whimper to a ROAR!
4) Meditation and finding your grounding rod within.
You can’t control most of what is going on around you. You can only control your reaction. I started meditation early in my triathlon career to help with my anxiety and have been practicing now for about 35 years. I have switched the way I do mediation and currently like Qigong (a moving meditation) which helps me find the grounding rod within.
My favorite Qigong these days is Sheng Zhen heart opening with Master Li. Connecting to your heart with meditation, heart math, qigong, horseback riding (and singing) or walking barefoot are my daily go to survival rhythms to keep my fear in my back pocket.
5) Tap your way out of it!
You can also use EFT.. Emotional Freedom Technique to help you calm down, relax and re-boot.
I like Julie Schiffman and you can watch her YouTube and get started loving and accepting yourself.
colleenSo the bottom line is that we all grow up with different stressors.
It is not a bad thing to have this fear and craziness. The fear is what drove me to keep moving forward in life and because of this fear I have done so many extraordinary things. I know the difference between my fear talking and my intuition telling me to listen and beware.
If something is dangerous my intuition has a very strong presence and I listen. For example, the last full moon I was wanting to take my horses out for a ride BUT there had been 3 MOOSE in my pasture for about a week and my horses were not happy. I started out to the trails and could see it was not a smart choice so I turned around. My intuition is my guide and my fear is my friend. They both get to hang out with me.
I imagine I am turning the tables on fear now (and scaring it) because I take it on HUGE WAVES, I take it into new environments and countries with all sorts of unusual things, and today I rode it down a very steep rocky hill on my mountain bike. Rock On Georgia O’Keeffe!