There is a Chinese Proverb that holds great wisdom,
“That the birds of worry and care fly over your head, this you cannot change, but that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent.”
So, after we are willing to accept things for what they are . . . we have a decision to make.
The next part of learning to get out of our negative space is to actually “do” something.
It involves movement.
We must “Move On.”
After we’ve learned we can’t just bottle stuff up and it will go away, we come to the place where we ask ourselves, “What do I want to do now?”
We can either stay where we are and keep the same problem alive or cut our losses and form a new plan. It truly is our choice.
What does moving on look like?
It’s all about the plan.
This part is critical to how we move on. Trying to move on WITHOUT a plan is futile. We will just end up right back where we started. Which is even more frustrating. We will have the same feelings and emotions, and find ourselves in the same situation.
A plan takes us forward and out of the cycle of trying to accept something ultimately uninviting to our happiness and peace.
First, we must start at the starting point. The real one. Not one we “want” to be starting from.
Start from where we are with what we have.
Tom started training for Ironman 70.3s because of a Chimp that was born from his childhood. He had a really negative experience with swimming as a child and since then, that’s haunted him, causing him to feel feelings of failure and inadequacy. He wanted to conquer that chimp.
For his first race experience, he did the Lake Norman Triathlon. It was a sprint distance. Meaning that unlike the upcoming Ironman 70.3 in Augusta with a 1.2 mile swim, it was only approximately half of a mile.
I watched hundreds of people come out of the lake. Granted, Tom seeded himself dead last (meaning he was literally the last to get in the water) but I kept thinking surely he was going to emerge soon.
Finally, third from last, he emerged.
Later he explained to me that he panicked in the water and had to have a few minutes on a kayak to tame the angry chimp that was wreaking havoc in his brain.
Now, I’ll confess, if that had been me, I’d have thrown in the literal towel. I’m fine with having grit/and perseverance in emotional life situations, but physical fitness is not for me.
But Tom didn’t throw in the towel or succumb to his chimp.
Sunday, Shirley Miller, a Westie and licensed marriage and Family Therapist, shared with us great insight about managing anxiety. She talked about being “in the moment” . . . There are real tools we can use to manage our anxiety in the moment; more on those tomorrow.
One is what Tom enlisted as he dealt with his demons around swimming.
He accepted where he was and started from there.
It’s easy to start from where we want to be and then try to move on. But that gets us nowhere but frustrated. The best key to happiness and peace is to deal in reality.
“This is where I am. I do not want to be here anymore.” (for Tom, “I panic when it comes to the swim part of a triathlon. Therefore, I stink at it.”)
Once you accept reality, then figure out how to move on from that starting point.
Over the past three years, I’ve had the privilege of watching Tom do just that. Now, when he gets in the water at these events, there are some nerves, yes, but not holding on to the kayak til everyone else is out of the water.
When he does these events, I can follow his progress using the Ironman app. He has a “dot,” and I track it to see where he is. When he did the Wilmington race last fall, his dot stopped moving. For a LONG time.
“Dear Jesus, Please help him get his s&*! together and get out of the water. This is taking WAYYYYYY too long. What is he thinking!?!?!?!”
Just as I looked up from my phone, I saw him run past to get to his bike. The dot/app was broken. He crushed his anticipated swim time!
Three years ago when the feat seemed impossible, he got a plan.
Two years later he conquered that feat by living out of his plan.
Tomorrow, we will talk about what a good plan looks like. Until then . . .
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Grace and Peace,