The Red Plate (previous to this), was created for me to vent, expand, and share my feelings and ideas. The Next Plate blog was created to be more professional, but I am throwing that idea out the window now. Welcome to my next rant.
Let's talk about FEAR
I am no stranger to fear. No human on earth has a life void of fear, save those with a neurological disorder. Fear is real in our mind, whether it is a bear running towards us or the girl from the Ring crawling out from under our bed.
Fear is real within us, whether it stems from an external or internal source.
Bears or bogeymen, the fear that is felt is real.
I have competed around 40 time and still feel fear. I feel anxiety. I lose sleep. I shake on that first approach towards the barbell.
A week out from a competition, the clouds loom in. My mind turns grey with doubt, fear, and anxiety. I compare myself to other lifters and to my self. I lose hope.
My thoughts take off with no control:
'My progress isn't enough. I didn't train enough. I put in so much work for so little return, what's the point? I am going to fail like I always do. There is no hope. There is no point. Why can't I progress like so-and-so? What am I doing wrong? What am I missing?'
Then I go deeper into the matrix and start overthinking my overthinking.
'Why am I thinking these thoughts? Does this fear mean I'm unprepared? Should I share these thoughts? Will sharing my thoughts make them real? Should I manage this on my own? Is this normal? Does everyone else think this way? Why me? What am I doing wrong? Why aren't I strong enough? Why do I always fall apart before a competition?'
I don't know if sharing my fear will help me or make them more real and vivid.
That is a fear of mine. I do know is that I'm likely not alone in having these thoughts, and I would \ feel better to know I'm not alone... So I am sharing my fear with you.
How to we manage fear? How do we face it an accept it?
First we need to recognize fear.
What does it feel like physically? Butterflies in your stomach? Nausea? Sweaty palms? Chills? A wrench in your heart? A drop in your stomach? Weak legs? Headache?
What does fear feel like mentally? Sleepiness? Extreme alertness? Does it blur your mental thoughts and images or heighten them? Does it overwhelm all thoughts, or does it get pushed away into a box?
What does it feel like emotionally? Anger? Horror? Panic? Apathy? Fear itself is an emotion, what else is tied to it?
Where is our fear rooted? What is it's source? Why are we feeling it?
The source of fear is internal anticipation of an event.
For myself, I fear failure. I fear disappointing my self and everyone who has invested anything into my weightlifting. I fear the looming idea that I will never achieve my goals, and that everything is for nothing.
Accepting fear and understanding that we feel it because we care is a great revelation. We likely feel it because we want success and we care.
Fear is a part of life. Its part of athletics. Pouring your body and heart into something and then exposing your toil in a high-risk event with an unknowable outcome is SCARY.
The great thing about fear is that we can re-frame it and use it. We can use it as motivation and inspiration to work harder and achieve success. Maybe even eventually we will unconditionally accept fear and no longer fear fear itself. Maybe eventually we can develop a positive relationship with it where we accept it and work with it to achieve greatness.
Remember, we can control how we perceive fear and we can control the decisions we make when we feel it. We can choose to delve deeper, understand it, and accept it... Or we can choose to let it overwhelm us and throw us around like a rag-doll.
Yes, I feel fear. I feel it every time I compete. Slowly, I am learning to understand and accept it. I am am learning how to control my response to fear. It's a never-ending process but I trust that if I keep pushing myself through, I will be better and better each time I see a bear or bogeyman.
If we choose to avoid fear-inducing situations and events, we will never have the chance to see how great we can be. Choose to understand, face, and use your fear.
Special thanks to my sister, Nicole. We had a long conversation last night about fear and normalcy. She introduced me to a lot of ideas and talked me through what I'm feeling. She inspired me to write this post and I couldn't be more grateful for her talks.
Rachel, Feb 16/2018