Overthinking Is Not Helpful…and Other Life Lessons from Outside My Comfort Zone
Last week, at age 48, I stepped out of my comfort zone and onto a gymnastics mat as I participated as a gymnast in the 15th World Gymnaestrada held in Helsinki, Finland. This event is held every 4 years as a celebration of performance (non-competitive) gymnastics. I was one of 25 participants representing Skyview Gymnastics and one of 250 participants representing the United States. Over the course of 7 days, 21,000 participants from 55 different countries came together to perform over 600 hours of demonstrations and shows. For me, this event was the culmination of a years worth of practice and training. Having never been to a World Gymnaestrada before, I wasn’t sure what to expect but I knew for sure that along the way I would be stretched outside my comfort. This was both exhilarating and and frightening!
As I look back over the year of preparation, I realize there have been several valuable life lessons that I’ve learned along the way that I’d like to share with you here.
Lesson #1 – You are never too old (or young) to try something new. The participants in our group ranged in age from 1 to 68 years old. I’ve spent years watching gymnastics, but being the one out on the floor was definitely something new to me. I’m so glad that I didn’t let my age or lack of gymnastics experience stop me from participating in this amazing event. The memories that I made in Helsinki will undoubtedly be with me for a lifetime.
Where in your life are you letting the excuse of age or lack of experience hold you back? What would it take for you to say “yes” to doing what you can do in that situation?
My gymnastics skills were far from stellar. I was constantly being reminded to point my toes and straighten my legs. My biggest skills were a cartwheel and a handstand to a forward roll. But, you know what?…I’m really proud of myself! I got out there and played full out to the best of my abilities. I did what I could and that was good enough.
Lesson #2 – Overthinking is not helpful! Prior to taking our routines overseas, we were able to perform at Skyview’s end of the year performance as well at a friends and family show right before we left. During one of these performances, I let my head get in my way. I started overthinking every move and step, and I was extremely worried that I was going to forget something important. Guess what happened!?! I forgot an entire section of the choreography.
The next time we performed this routine, I chose to approach it differently. I was mindful about reminding myself that I was prepared and that I knew the steps. I worked on staying focused on the part of the routine that I was actually performing instead of worrying about what was coming next. The outcome was exactly as I had hoped. I had fun and remembered everything I was supposed to.
Have you ever struggled with overthinking something? How did it turn out for you? What would it have taken to shift to focused thinking?
Lesson #3 – Some days are better than others, and that’s OK. This was true for both the choreography as well as the gymnastics skills. Some days my moves were spot on, and on other days not so much. I think this is true for life in general. Some mornings I wake up energized, excited, and raring to go. On other days, staying warm and cozy in my bed feels like a better option. Some days it seems like nothing can go wrong, while on other days nothing can go right. What I learned from my gymnastics experience is that it doesn’t do me any good to beat myself up on the not so good days. I had more success when I just acknowledged that this was an off day, worked on practicing what I thought might make a difference and started fresh the next time we practiced.
How do you handle challenging days?
Lesson #4 – Missteps often aren’t as big as our mind makes them out to be. This insight came to me as a result of watching video footage of our routines. I’d come off the floor thinking, “Ugh! That was horrible!” and then I’d watch the video and realize that as a whole, it didn’t look as bad as I thought. I wonder how many times this is true in other aspects of my life?
I suspect that this is probably happening pretty frequently. Unfortunately, most of the time, we don’t get to watch a video replay of our life, so how do we know whether or not we are making an accurate assessment of how we are doing?
I believe that having someone in our life who we trust to give us honest feedback, both positive and negative is extremely helpful. I also think it’s beneficial to question our own interpretations of our life situations. Are we being too hard on ourself? Are we being too easy on ourself? How would someone watching from the outside describe what happened?
Do you think your mind magnifies or minimizes your missteps?
Lesson #5 – I can be scared and brave at the same time. One of my favorite mantras is, “feel the fear, but do it anyway”. This World Gymnaestrada experience gave me many opportunities to feel the fear, and do it anyway. I felt the fear when I was working on my handstand to forward rolls. I felt the fear when we practiced front flips into the foam pit at the gym. I felt the fear standing backstage before our big performances. I DID IT ANYWAY! This is my definition of brave 🙂
Where in your life are you being called to do it anyway? Where is fear holding you back?
Next week, on July 29th, 2015 Wholistic Woman Retreats is having our ‘Be Courageous’ Adventure Retreat where we will zip line, leap and climb out of our comfort zones. We’d love to have you join us! Details can be found by clicking here.
Do you love your life? As a certified professional coach since 2009, Laura Hall has been helping people just like you make changes in. As a mother of 2 girls, Laura has a special interest in coaching parents, so if you still have children living at home, ask Laura about her Wholehearted Parenting programs. Laura can be reached via email at [email protected] or feel free to visit her website HallCoaching.com