Are You Holding Yourself Back?
Girl, do you know what your unconscious beliefs are? Those silent little thoughts in your head that say "It's ok if you don't aim high. I am happy in my comfort zone. No, that dream is way too big, way too risky. What if I fail? Let's just wait and see.." You've got to ditch those thoughts and step up, girl! You and your thoughts are holding you back from realizing your dreams!
First, though, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!!
We all have those thoughts, I am no different. Yet, every time when I have been authentic, and had the audacity, to be honest with myself and what I really want to do, and not listened to those self-limiting, sabotaging thoughts, my life has taken huge leaps forward. Yes, I've been scared shitless, and taken huge risks, and thought "If this doesn't pan out as I want it to, I will be in big trouble...".It has taken a huge belief and courage to go for it. But I've continued to push forward regardless of my little wussy me sitting on my shoulder trying to hold me back.
"We're still allowed to dream, and our dreams are still available to us, but as we move through life, we must make the conscious effort to overcome whatever judgments we have, as well as kick all our fears from past experiences in the head, and participate in our own badassery. Whatever that looks like for us." Jen Scincero
When I was forced to quit cross-country skiing, I lost my life-long dream of becoming an Olympic athlete. I lost my venue of taking risks and going all in. I desperately needed a new venue to grow. I moved from a small town of 30k people from northern Finland to the capital of Norway, Oslo. I couldn't speak Norwegian, I had no money, I knew no one, I had no job, no place to stay, but I packed my stuff and went anyway! I was terrified and at the same time beyond excited. I took a huge risk and it was difficult to get by, but I did it. And I love it!
I have come to understand that when you are authentic with yourself when you speak your truth and don't listen to your shitty old beliefs, which, by the way, are largely formed during your childhood and are a reflection of your parents' beliefs, it's like the sky is the limit. As human beings, we are living nowhere near our powers. As a young adult, I was lucky to live a life where I took risks and didn't succumb to the "norm".
Sure, I went through periods where I felt completely rootless and alone. Depressed even. But those times were necessary to grow into the person I am today. Without resistance, there is no growth. Ever heard about how diamonds are formed under enormous pressure?
Now you are wondering how to shut off those self-limiting thoughts? Our thoughts are how we talk to ourselves. Make sure they are positive. To stop your unconsciousness throwing sticks at your wheels, first, you need to ask yourself why? Why do you want to follow your dream? You need to know in your heart what is the reason you want to go through hell and high water to reach your dreams. If you cannot answer why- frankly I don’t think you'll make it. If your why is someone else than yourself, you have bigger chances of making it. So, ask yourself, why? Think of a cause that you could dedicate your efforts to, to help you stay on course.
Our thoughts are the most powerful tool we've got. Jen Scincero
My why has always been to move forward, grow, to improve, to become the best I can be. Why do I want to do physically demanding races like Ironman? My why is to see what I can do both physically and mentally, but also, I want to help other mothers who are in a similar situation as I once was. I also want to be a role model for my own daughter. So, she believes she can reach whatever she sets her mind into. To believe in herself in the moments of desperation, defeat, and glory.
Knowing your why will help you keep going when things get rough. Because things will get mighty challenging. That is the second part. The universe will test what you are made of, and how bad you want it. There is no way around it. Are you going to cling on with teeth and nails, or are you going back home, tail between your little legs?
"There are no shortcuts to any place worth going" Finnish proverb
Look, going all-in takes courage. It's terrifying even. I've been there several times in my life. I've moved countries and continents alone, and with my hubby, and taken huge risks more times than some people move houses. I've re-started my career path three times. Leaving the old behind and aiming for new frontiers takes courage, but if you break it into smaller bite-sized pieces, it will seem a lot more manageable. This includes work, wellbeing, lifestyle, and relationships. Have you heard of growth? That's all it is.
Shit is going to hit the fan. If you read my previous posts about my journey to Ironman, you know I tackled a few challenges...For that, you will need a toolbox. A mental toolbox. In your toolbox, you will have memories and teachings from all the situations when you were brave and didn't give up when you went through hell and survived. Think about what you have gone through. How strong you are to have persevered. Life throws you lemons so that you can grow. You have got this, use these experiences to build up your confidence instead of letting life pull your down. Life is not happening to you, but for you, as Tony Robbins says.
When I am facing something that scares me and I know it is super challenging, I look forward to finding my inner strength to steam forward regardless of my fears. I know that beliefs can sit really deep in ourselves, and difficult to ignore, but if you learn to stay curious and doubt your limiting thoughts, then you can find yourself in a new territory. Don't just take your initial knee jerk reaction to a challenge as face value. Take a moment to understand where your reaction is coming from. Is it your belief talking? Could you try another way?
When it comes to physical performances, our unconscious beliefs can definitely hold us back. Your mind will tell you to stop long before you've hit your physical limits, it's called the "central governor" theory. I have been on a brink of quitting a particularly hard session, my legs burning, my lungs gasping for air and my mind getting soft on me. In those moments, I could have packed it in and said: "I did my best, that was all I had today". But because I know it is not true, I will not quit. Here is an example.
Last year, I was running a hard interval session when my legs started to get tingly at about 45 sec into the all-out 2-minute interval. I'd never experienced this before. It didn't hurt, just tingly and warm feeling seeping in from my pelvis and down to my legs. It felt like concrete was getting poured into my legs, making it harder and harder to lift my legs. My first reaction was scared "What is happening, am I getting a stroke or something?!" Here we go again, the self-doubt talking. Then I decided to see it through, stay curious. And guess what? I ran through it. I did several repeats, and the same thing would happen. And every time I ran it through, pushing through, running faster, faster, desiring to get to the other side. And I got there. The tingling would eventually subside and I felt stronger than I have ever felt. Although this workout left me completely exhausted, I knew I had gone to the other side. And let me tell you, it feels freaking amazing!
Your mind is your gatekeeper. It does not want you to dig deeper than "necessary". But you can trick your mind and go into "the well". Your mind guards this well because if you go there too many times, your mind thinks you are going to run dry. I do believe there is something to it. If you train hard and go to the well too many times, too often, something will give in (injury, overtraining). But the key I believe is that many of us let the mind safeguard us too much when we have so much more capacity in us.
I believe I have just begun to tap into my true potential, and that is all due to my mental strength. I am learning to understand the "game" in my own mind. I have learned good working habits, which at the moment are greatly disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, but I am staying patient and creative, and I have been able to keep training almost as normal. I have surprised myself how calm I have been about the uncertainty when I will race again. The way I look at this is that I train for life, not for a single race. Although I know in my soul, I will be ready, whenever racing begins again.
Hey, I know this sounds cheezy. But using these three simple strategies; knowing my why, storing past experiences (positive and negative) into my mental toolbox and staying curious, I have been able to become more aware of my self-limiting thoughts (see what I did there, I did not say I have deleted my self-limiting thoughts, just become aware of them), and so I have become well rounded to tackle whatever my life throws at me. Even Covid19 isolation.
Listen, I cannot publish this post before I give credit to my husband, my rock. My transformation journey would not have been possible without my hubby. His support to my own journey in the form of Ironman has meant the world to me and has brought us even closer together. I believe it is his way to say thank you for my sacrifices along our journey together. His support is largely woven into my toolbox, and I use it freely - guilt-free!
Listen, I really want to talk about mom guilt on another blog post because it is such a huge part of keeping us moms in our safe little self-limiting harbors. We need to bust through those feelings of guilt. But more on that later. I promise.
We celebrated with Mother's Day Ultra Marathon, a new family tradition. My LO1 (9yo) ran 11Km, LO2 (8yo) ran 10Km, LO3 (5Km), hubby 9 Km and myself 11Km. Amazing effort by all, and it was all my kids' idea!