I’ve always been a scaredy-cat. My best friend asked me once, ‘what were you like as a child?’ and without hesitation, I replied, ‘I was scared of everything.’
Part of it was how my young, first-time parents never seemed to take me seriously when I was physically afraid of something, like being too deep in the ocean, or on a roller coaster. They’d often find it amusing instead, and I’d feel embarrassed and worse than before. In my four-year-old mind, the world was a dangerous place and the only person I could rely on to protect me was myself.
Of course, they never meant to give me any issues and they did the best they could. (FYI, I love my parents and don’t hold anything against them.)
But I did cope with my fears by avoiding anything that didn’t seem absolutely physically safe, or carried any risk of being laughed at. It’s probably why I love reading and writing so much, and definitely why I never felt inclined towards sports and games. OBS? …My childhood idea of hell!
Fast forward to present day: I’m in class at the pole studio, and we’re learning to invert from the ground. Simple enough.
But suddenly, my physical sense of self doesn’t feel absolutely safe anymore. Every time I try to go upside down, my instinctive self-protecting mechanism kicks in and doesn’t allow me to swing my head backwards enough for my body to tip over into the correct posture.
All sorts of irrational fears pop up and I just can’t do it, despite how much I desperately want to!
Eventually after a few weeks of practice, I manage to train my body in the correct motions and get my inversion. But the fear is still very much there…
And from here, the pole tricks get more and more challenging.
Which often leaves me stuck.
I’ve just started to fully recognize how much of an impact my fears have on my progress. Its been proven that our minds play an even bigger part in accomplishing physical goals than our bodies do. So while my body is definitely improving in strength, my mind still relates to it as weak and unreliable, and won’t allow it to go as far as it probably can.
Before I did my first successful layback, I was convinced that I wouldn’t have enough strength to sit back up and reach for the pole.
I actually do. However, I still can’t bring myself to let go and lay back when the pole is spinning because the motion triggers in me the fear that I might not be able to get back up, and I’ll be stuck upside down, helpless and spinning uncontrollably.
Which in itself is not actually a big deal… (Just slide down to the floor or sit back up and grab the pole again.) but to me, it’s quite a nightmare. My spacial awareness gets thrown off, I get dizzy, and my panic starts to rise.
Needless to say, attempting aerial inversions is out of the question.
I’m not sure how to overcome my fears, except to try and embrace them and keep on practicing the moves until I get used to the physical feeling of doing them. They say that acknowledging that you have a problem is the first step to overcoming it…
I hope they’re right.