Getting Out of Your Own Way

This weekend, I decided to go offshore and train in the open ocean for the first time in a long time.  The last time I had encountered the open ocean's energy was in 2015 during the Molokai to Oahu (M2O) World Championships of Paddleboarding.  Needless to say, I was humbled yet again by mother ocean.  We started our run at dawn and immediately had a white out from a rain squall that surprised us out of the South.  After a couple of minutes, we resumed our run in the direction of  the following seas.  The following seas were the result of Hurricane Harvey, so the ocean was very confused, powerful, and angry.  After falling in a dozen times and trying to get my rhythm, I realized that I needed to train more in the ocean than in the comfort of the less challenging bay.  Almost at the same time, I realized that this lesson was a metaphor for life. 

Many times, we create "false realities" and excuses in order to not push ourselves too hard and fail.  We hide behind our titles, our age, our cars, and other possessions that stop us from experiencing life to the fullest.  Let's take our titles for example.  How many times have you thought "I am too mature to do this" or "mothers don't do this or that."  Perhaps it was jumping into a swimming pool with a bunch of your kids at a party.  Or perhaps it was volunteering for a challenging position at work that you did not really want to do.  We tend to hide behind our own egos that prevent us from reaching our true selves.  We laugh when people ask us to do something that is out of the ordinary or think "I am not strong enough" or "that is too childish for me" or "I wouldn't do that unless..."  We tend to make excuses and realize our own self fulfilling prophecies even before we try something new or challenging.

We also tend not to do certain things because we are "waiting" for the perfect moment to arrive.  This is the equivalent of not going out into the open ocean because we need to wait on a larger board, or wait for the perfect swell with wind (we had no wind the day we went out and it made it nearly impossible to catch the 13 mph ocean runners), or even wait to get in better shape!  All these elements contribute to calcification of our actions in the form of to many "if only" statements.  

"If only I had a larger board, I would go out in the larger swells." 

"If only I made more money, I would go on a vacation." 

"If only I wore more expensive clothes, people would respect me more."

The above statements are based on fear, and help you to stagnate and not take the risks that may make your life more exciting and rewarding.  FEAR stands for False Events Appearing Real.  We tend to wallow in fear too much and not go for it.  Critically looking at my journey into the open ocean with the wrong board, under the wrong conditions, and using a different paddle than what I was used to we find this simple fact:  I learned a lot and grew as a paddler.  The lessons that I learned that day will stay with me for the rest of my life.  Did I fall?  Yes.  Did I feel like the ocean was chewing on me and spitting me out?  Yes.  Did I get back up?  Every time. 

The author on a needed break from the ocean swells.  

The author on a needed break from the ocean swells.  

Your assignment for this week is to make a list of all of the items that are on your "if only" list.  Write them all down and take a look at them.  Why are you getting in the way of accomplishing this list?  What steps can you take to begin accomplishing the items on this list?  Getting out of your own way is the first step in accomplishing these tasks.  Enjoy!

"Lean into it!"

Dr. N


For an active discussion on this topic, please visit our forum here.