The weather in Southern Ontario was absolutely gorgeous on this particular Wednesday in early May. The sun was illuminating the earth and sky with its brilliance, people were dressed as if it was already summer, and I was hanging out with my son, Jonathan, as I drove with him to an arena in the town of Ajax.
Little side note: I love being with my kids and taking them to the arena. However, this particular time was different than most: this time there was a heavy silence that permeated the atmosphere in the car.
Our son Jonathan is a good hockey player. He loves the sport, and he is athletic and plays with his whole heart. If you knew Jonathan, you would also know that he’s a pretty content person who likes to keep his cards close. Even though Jonathan has the skill and ability, he never wanted to play rep hockey, and we, his parents, did not push him to go down that road.
However in the spring of 2012 I signed Jonathan up for 12 weeks of power skating at the rep hockey level and he was not impressed. Maybe you could call me a crazed or fanatical hockey dad for signing my kid up for 12 weeks of power skating during the summer, and that would be fair. But I also wanted to help my son go beyond what he believed to be possible for him.
A week before his first session, Jonathan would daily ask if he could “get out” of going to the power skating camp. The mere thought of going out on the ice with rep hockey players triggered deep fear within him. Every day the same questions, “Dad, do I have to do this? Is there still time for me to get out of this?” And when we drove to Ajax on that gorgeous Wednesday afternoon, all the weight from his fear was crushing him and causing Jonathan to shut down.
When we arrived at the arena and signed the appropriate papers for the session, I turned to Jonathan and told him that I loved him and that he could do this. I reminded him that we “do our emotions” and that right now he was “doing fear.” I reminded him about the times during the past hockey season where he turned his game around simply by engaging his body in a different manner. I also reminded him to go out there and give it his all – to get outside of his head by fully engaging his body and focusing his attention on skating.
I wish I could convey to you how proud I was of my son that afternoon. He was scared, dead scared, of what was ahead. Or, to say it even better, he was scared of what he perceived in his mind to be ahead. He was terrified of the unknown and the thought of not being good enough, and therefore not accepted, loved and valued. The belief that he was not going to measure up to the other skaters triggered some of Jonathan’s greatest fears and caused him to lose sight of his own abilities and skills.
However, when Jonathan stepped onto the ice that afternoon, I knew he was present because it was written all over his body. Just like fear was screaming in the silence of the car as we drove to the arena, now a quiet confidence was shining brilliantly from every stride he took. Jonathan went into the dressing room that day timid and frightened. After the first power skating session was over, he left the dressing room with a smile he could not wipe of his face.
And the ride home, he talked non-stop!
I tell you this story today because it invokes powerful emotions within me of what is possible for our lives. If a 12-year-old boy can harness the courage within him by simply engaging his body in a new or different way, so can you and I. Before his first Wednesday power skating session, Jonathan was daily praying and hoping to be rescued from his greatest fears. Like the 12 disciples suddenly caught in the furious squall crying out to Jesus to rescue them, Jonathan was petitioning to me to be saved from this event because of the storms it was stirring up within him.
However, if I had “rescued” Jonathan in the way in which he requested, he would never have experienced that personal breakthrough with the empowering memories that came with it. Jonathan faced his fear on that Wednesday afternoon and as a result, he discovered something incredible about himself and what is possible in his life.
Your physiology (body) is always sending you clues about what your attention is focused on – how you are feeling and the stories you are telling yourself. It does this always, without exception. This is referred to as a feedback loop where your focus of attention, your language patterns and your physiology are all working together as one.
If you, like Jonathan, are feeling like a prisoner to your fears, your past, or a self-limiting belief that is keeping you from experiencing your potential, the most powerful way to break the feedback loop is to bring something new into your experience.
Albert Einstein, one of history’s greatest thinkers, once stated, “The kind of thinking that will solve our problems will be of a different order to the kind of thinking that created those problems in the first place.” The irony in life is that we spend so much energy clinging to what feels certain and comfortable (the kind of thinking that created our problems), but it is in the impermanence of life where the conditions of clarity of being and vibrant growth are at their best.
Today’s Unitas Project:
- From the blog post, The Four Essential Elements we learned that our focus of attention creates an experience within us, which in turn, plays a significant role in shaping our brain. In this post we read how Jonathan’s focus of attention was fixed on a belief that he, a house league hockey player, would not measure up to the skills of the rep hockey players. The result: Fear played a dominant role at that moment in Jonathan’s life and it manifested itself emotionally and physically within him.
- When fear is the driver of your life, you will physically and emotionally experience and express the behaviours of preservation and protection.
- We all do emotion. E-motion is energy in motion and our emotions are triggered by the stimuli in our daily life.
- Our quality of life and relationships are intimately connected to our emotional well-being.
- To courageously transform your emotional well-being, you need to learn how to turn your fears and self-limiting beliefs into a catalyst for clarity of being, purpose and action.
- Leverage your physiology to create resourceful emotional and mental states within you.
- Fear can blind us. Use the four archetypes to help you remember and explore your abilities, strengths, potential and possibilities.
Until next time…
Be You. Be Unitas.
Photo from iStock Photo