Thursday, November 26, 2009

No Can Do!

"Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right."

This week I had a revelation about how often I tell myself I can't do something. It started in Martial Arts. Master Ali took us through a set of exercises ranging from practicing forms to dragging your training partner accross the room (very tiring). I did these as I ussually do with confidence that I could do things. In fact, I was already observing a certain level of judgement. For instance, I wa staking pride in remembering certain things, and getting rattled when I forgot.

Master Ali did an exercise where we held two sticks and banged them togeteher while the class practiced agility by stepping between the sticks. From the moment I saw the drill I was starting to dread it. I realized that before I tried the exercise I had convinced myslef that I couldn't do it. In fact, I couldn't. I jumped in and the sticks hit my foot. Two or thre times I tried to no avail.

But this time I realized why. I was telling myself I couldn't jump rope, that I had poor rythum, that I never did good at these things, and a thousand other things I had learned from failures since childhood.

So, I made a decision to just forget that bullshit and do it.

Now by the end of class I was not doing it as well as others, but I had managed to get seven repetitions out. With a little more practice I am sure I could have done it much better.

I was pretty sore after the workout so I decided to go for a nice easy Yoga workout. Mandy was teaching. I was pretty sore from the Tukong training so I decided to go and just kind of take it easy. A little Hatha would work the kinks out.

Mandy focused on backbends that day, and then went to full wheel. She heard my little snide snort when she said "

I was essentially doing it again. Telling myself I can't do it. I was sore, tired, and have never ever ever come even close to raisning my head in wheel.

This time was particularly bad because Mandy decided to work with me in front of the whole class. So imagine the forces at work in my mind:
  • I can't do this
  • my chest is tight
  • back bends just aren't my thing
  • I am already tired and don't want to do this
  • a classroom full of beautiful women is watching me try this, oh god I look ridiculous!

Three times I tired.

Three times Mandy pushed coached instructed discussed and told me what to do.

I didn't do it, and in fact, almost cranked my neck a couple of times.

So then we went off to practice with a partner and I was lucky enough to have another yoga teacher as my partner. At that moment I realized I had once again told myself that I couldn't do it.

So I made a point to push into it, and make sure I knew I was able to do it. I was able to push up into wheel and get my head off the ground for about five seconds. It was a breakthrough...first time in my life I could do it.

So today I learned that the secret to success is to catch yourself when you think you can't. Identify that dialogue and tell yourself you can.

It sounds easy, but believe me, it is very hard. Your mind is smart, and it will come up with all kinds of logical reasons why you can't do something. It will provide you with evidence based on past experiences. It will fill you with fear of injury, humiliation and failure.

Another thing. No matter how experienced you are in your practice, this will come back. I had a break through today, but in a week, or a day, or an hour later, the mind will once again place limits on what I can do. It demands constant attention.