Oh yeah, this is what fear and self-doubt feel like.
When I finally grabbed hold of my brain after a brief plunge to a place I haven’t been for a long while – that adrenaline shot, panicky feeling that I can’t do it (whatever “it” is) – I was grateful for the reminder. I have been at my current job for 10 years now, and it feels natural. Long ago I dropped the jittery new job feeling and embraced my role as a counseling dietitian and health coach, but last weekend at my second of ten 20-hour yoga teacher training segments, I was right back at square one with confidence.
One hour into the training I began short-circuiting. My brain pathways felt like they were smoking and fizzling more with each Sanskrit word. I had done my preparatory reading, but the words were not part of my working vocabulary yet. Everything is so new. In short, I was far outside my competency comfort zone, and I hadn’t been there in a while. Panic!!
A little further into the first day, we found out that we would be presenting part of a yoga class to the group, and – oh, by the way – “you will be incorporating the concepts we have discussed, weaving them into your practice.” So matter of fact! I looked around the room. No one looked panicked. In fact, no one else seemed to be affected in any way by the news that sent an adrenaline jolt from my sacrum to my head – at least I was picking up on the anatomy part of the lecture!
The surprising part of this story is that my assignment is the very thing that took me out of my “scary place” and placed me back squarely in mindful presence again. It did NOT bring a feeling of complete confidence, but it brought stillness. It felt like I had mindlessly deserted the group (“What the @#$% was I thinking when I signed up for this?!”), but now I was back. The runaway kid had returned and the adult was back in charge.
Working with the assignment, I was able to live with the imperfect confidence level of this very new experience. It dawned on me after a while that the goal is not to stay in the comfort zone. The goal for me is to stretch the limits, not to place limits on myself.
My class presentation went fine, and I know that with time it will get easier, just as every other challenge does when I stick with it. All good.
I found some great quotes related to this topic. They say it better than I do. Like so many self-defeating thoughts, apparently I am not the only one with occasional fear and self-doubt! Read on . . .
The emotion of fear often works overtime. Even when there is no immediate threat, our body may remain tight and on guard, our mind narrowed to focus on what might go wrong. When this happens, fear is no longer functioning to secure our survival. We are caught in the trance of fear and our moment-to-moment experience becomes bound in reactivity. We spend our time and energy defending our life rather than living it fully. – Tara Brach
The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem. – Theodore Rubin
Our attitude in the face of life’s challenges determines our suffering or our freedom. – Tara Brach
Pain is not wrong. Reacting to pain as wrong initiates the trance of unworthiness. The moment we believe something is wrong, our world shrinks and we lose ourselves in the effort to combat the pain. – Tara Brach
To explore what it would mean to live fully, sensually alive and passionately on purpose, I have to drop my preconceived ideas of who and what I am. – Dawna Markova