I was feeling bored and stuck in my life, so I decided to sign up for a women’s weekend biking camp, “The Dirt Series“, at Whistler Mountain. I wanted to shake things up by doing something out of my comfort zone and although it scared me to death, I knew it was what I needed to get out of my rut.
A few weeks before the camp I got an email from the organizers saying they were going to be giving away a pair of three hundred dollar sunglasses. I clicked on the link to look at the glasses and loved them, I thought to myself, “I am winning those glasses!”, it was very clear in my mind. In the weeks leading up to the camp I would go online and look at “my” glasses and dream of winning them.
At the beginning of the weekend they asked us our riding level and whether we wanted to ride with a group above our level or with a group at our current level. I had gone to get out of my comfort zone, so even though it was a little terrifying, I chose to ride above my level: down the mountain. Gulp. I had never done anything like it before. I ride regularly on the seawall and in the woods near my home but never down a mountain. I was a little terrified but also excited at the challenge. I knew that facing a fear is empowering and that is what I wanted to feel.
Riding up the gondola I found myself bombarded with negative thoughts, “Are you nuts?!”, “You are going to kill yourself”, “You are going to get injured and then you won’t be able to work, then what are you going to do?”, “It’s not too late to change your mind, go back down”.
I was in a mode of paying attention to what I was doing, feeling and thinking, so it was like an out of body experience, I felt I was observing my thoughts rather than being engulfed by them. This awareness allowed me to block out the negative thoughts and say to myself: “yes I can, I can do it, yes I can”, pushing the negative thoughts away (if you’ve attended my classes you are familiar with my “yes I can!” mantra, this is where it was born).
Once we were on the mountain I was petrified. I noticed that I would tell anyone who would listen that I didn’t know what I was doing, that I was scared, that I hoped I didn’t kill myself. What did this accomplish? It made me more fearful and I think rattled some of the other participants.
We received some instruction and then started our descend. I was momentarily stunned by the beauty of the trail. It was breathtaking; winding and twisting with rolling hills, carpets of moss and ferns, majestic trees all around us… stunning. I had never seen anything like it, it was awe-inspiring. On the trails, the turns were not just turns, they are called “burms” because when you go into them you end up perpendicular to the ground (sideways if you can imagine), there were jumps, bridges and boxes to jump off.
I rode down, the last one in the group, my body shaking with fear. I focused my mind on one thing, “yes I can, yes I can, I can do it, yes I can”. The moment I stopped my positive mantra, a negative thought would enter my mind; “aaah… I’m going to fall!” and what do you think would happen? You guessed it, I would fall. Again I became aware of this pattern and kept my focus on “yes I can!”. Amazingly, I made it through in one piece, albeit with a few enormous bruises. Looking back now, I don’t know how I did it.
Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you are right.
Facing a fear can shake you to your core but then you come out the other end feeling strong and powerful. It may be something small or something big, whatever it is, when you face the fear and overcome it, it causes a shift. You realize you can do what you thought you couldn’t and it inspires you to keep going and keep knocking down those walls. It changes your perspective, gets you out of your head, out of the box you have built around you. Suddenly you feel like you can do anything, that you are limitless.
If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint”,
then by all means paint,and that voice will be silenced.
Vincent Van Gogh
Then it came time to hand out the prizes. There were a number of them, which were laid out on display. There they were, my coveted glasses. As I looked at them I thought, “There are ‘my’ glasses!”. We were informed that they had put everyone’s name in a hat and that they would pull the names out one by one and we would get to choose a prize in that order. I still felt I would win the glasses, but was a little nervous someone else’s name would be called before mine and they would choose the glasses. As they were pulling the first name out of the hat I panicked for a fraction of a second but before my negative thought could materialize into thinking I would not win the glasses they called my name. I jumped up in blur of astonishment and selected “my” glasses as my prize! I told the group my story about my positive thoughts to win the glasses and everyone cheered. I felt elated that my “dream” had come true. I had never won anything before! After all the prizes were given, another participant approached me and said, “Your story about positive thinking really made an impression on me, I thought I would be chosen last, and I was”. It sent chills up my spine.
Focus on what you want not what you don’t want.
Her comment reminded me of one time when a co-worker and I went to two separate conferences in one week where she proceeded to win the door prize at each event! (these were not small prizes either; one was a weekend getaway at five star hotel). I was dumbfounded at her astounding luck and I turned to her in awe and envy and said, “You always win the door prize, I never win anything!”. She chuckled and simply said as a matter of fact, “Yeah, I always win the door prize”. Suddenly it all clicked. I thought, our thoughts become things! My beautiful new glasses were proof. The more I thought about it the more examples, big examples, I could recall in my life that this was the case, that it was the truth, that it worked.
I figured that if I said it enough,
I would convince the world that I really was the greatest
That evening, after a well deserved hot tub, I returned to my room and decided to have an early night with a book a friend had lent me to read on my trip, she thought it would be perfect for my soul searching weekend away. It was “The Secret“. Serendipity or what!? I had never heard of this book, yet here it was, everything I had just experienced all laid out in front of me. I could not believe it!
How about you?
Take some time to notice your thoughts…
Are they your reality?
Do you think:
I’m so fat… I can never lose weight… I’m no good at that… I’m not a runner… I have no will-power when it comes to sweets… I have the worst luck… I never win anything… I will never make that much money… I’m such an idiot… I’m not as smart as she is… I could never get that job… I don’t have any friends… I hate exercising… they don’t like me…
How do these thoughts make you feel?
What would happen if you thought the opposite?
How do you limit yourself?
What dream or aspiration are you not pursuing because you have told yourself you can’t?
What would life be like if you were your own cheer-leading team giving yourself encouragement instead of put-downs?
What would happen if you had no negative thoughts at all? What would that be like?
Since that weekend away I have been “studying” positive thinking.
Here are some publications I wholeheartedly recommend:
I have listened to all of these many of times over, especially when I feel the negative thoughts are getting the best of me. Download them onto your Ipod and listen to them when you go for a walk or bike ride or listen to them in the car.
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
A wonderful book with the basic premise that your thoughts become your reality. A little too focused on material wealth but the underlying message is right on.
Infinite Possibilities by Mike Dooley
A wonderful CD set that goes into more in depth about thoughts becoming things. Really inspirational!
CD @ VPL
The Power by Rhonda Byrne
Almost better that than “The Secret”. You can feel the author’s genuine love to share this way of thinking and heartfelt want for the reader to be happy, brings tears to my eyes, really. For this reason I recommend the CD instead of the book.
Stillness Speaks by Eckhart Tolle
Although I find some of Eckhart’s books are a little too intellectual this one is the bare bones philosophy of it all. I have listened to this dozens of times and am always amazed how I hear something new every time that I did not hear before. It is so rich that you cannot possibly digest it all at once. Life changing.