BIG DISCLAIMER HERE: I wrote this blog post over 6 months ago .... and for some reason I never posted it .... but reading back over it, I kind of like the significance that it had for me then, and it has for me now. SO I am going to share it with you now, though it is slightly (okay, a LOT) out of date, but only in the date it was written, not in its relevance.
So please, enjoy!
"I pulled my mat over and thought about flipping up into headstand, which was no problem for me. My forearms, my shoulders, I knew they were strong. But in a trice, I made a decision: Fuck that. I was a Boulder lady now! I could hike up and ski down! At ten thousand feet! Certainly I could pull off a handstand. I would trust my skeleton, like Seidel said, and not overthink it."
As I read this paragraph from Claire Dederer's autobiographical account of her journey into Yoga, "Poser," I felt a truth click into place, something felt rather then thought, and it was a beautiful millisecond. And then my brain jumped to something that happened yesterday and how that something became an acknowledgement that overthinking drives fear and fear stops you in your tracks.
For the past few days the ocean had been rough, very rough, the waves high and deep, the whitewash like a rabid dog, growling and rushing at you with a madness that made you flinch. But this day, this particular day, Dad, his partner, and I had made it to a bay that was usually quieter, with dignified waves, little licks of waves that gently tasted the sand on each passing through. And there I stood, my prosthetic leg off and safely kept dry by the beach chairs, Dad on one side of me, Lesley on the other. The expected gentle waves were non-existent, they were dumpers coming in, rolling up into a high peak, before crashing down with a thud and roar, gurgling to our feet and gushing behind us in defiance. An irrational fear grew up from my stomach, into my chest, and into my head. My thoughts rushed around picking up irrational thought after irrational thought, until I just said "NOPE!"
I had stood there overthinking the waves on this beach, convincing myself that I couldn't handle the conditions, it was too rough, too dangerous - never mind that behind me about ten metres up the beach stood ten lifeguards ready to leap into action, to my right people were walking out through the waves, only up to their knees, they leapt with the incoming waves, handling them deftly. Right next to me a young child came running into the water, laughing with delight, no fear, just trust in themselves, in the water, in the people around them.
I went and sat down on my beach chair .... and from my beach chair the waves didn't seem so big or dumpy, in fact they looked exactly how I had expected them to be. The fear still lingered.
Time passed, and the sun grew stronger, and sweat beaded on my back, and the water looked more and more inviting. The waves seemed smoother somehow; I leapt out of my chair and whipped my prosthetic off, yelped decisively at my Dad "It looks great now, I'm going in," and I started to hop across the sand. No thinking, just reacting. Dad followed me, and Lesley, and I pushed into the water, feet, ankles, knees, float. The waves came in, but I bobbed over the top, or dived under their bellies. There was no fear, just joy and clarity, and a feeling of silliness, that earlier I had allowed my thoughts to give me such irrational doubt to the situation. We are stronger then we think we are, braver then we give ourselves credit, but start to overthink a situation and that strength and bravery take a running leap from your mind and heart, letting fear become the supreme ruler.
Do you find yourself overthinking situations? Are you even aware that you overthink? How do you overcome overthinking?
I really like how Claire put's it "I would trust my skeleton, like Seidel said, and not overthink it." She literally was talking about trusting her skeleton in Yoga, but what if we see it for what it really is, trusting ourselves. I think we need to start to trust ourselves more, and not let the worries and negative thoughts cloud that trust. Those waves that I feared were not that big (trust me, I would trust myself if the waves really were dangerous, and I would never put myself, or anyone else in danger by putting myself in dangerous surf), the people around me were proving that, I had only, the other week, been in even bigger surf and survived - so why had I let the fear takeover this time? The why was the overthinking ....
Strip back to basics, when the brain clicks into hyperdrive, let go, let go and trust your instinct, trust what you see, trust what you really feel.