Hi there! I found your blog around the same time that I started messing around on the aerial silks at my climbing gym. You inspired me to keep trying new things, and I’ve recently started training at a studio near my house! So first off, thank you!
Today in class, my teacher assisted me into an upside-down straddle. I was pretty sure I couldn’t do it on my own, but she kept insisting that I had the strength for it, and that she wasn’t helping me almost at all! I know it’s “all in my head,” but I still struggle to do some things she believes I can do. What tips or tricks do you have for overcoming psychological blocks and getting your body to do things it thinks it can’t?
I’ve learned a lot from my students over the past two years. How break down tricks to make them easier to understand, how to pull shy people out of their shells, and how to get people to do crazy things they have already decided they cannot do.
Let me tell you a story about a student who came to class about nine months ago…
During her first class, she climbed up on the trapeze, carefully stood up, and then looked at me like a deer in headlights and said, “I think this is as far as I’m going today.” I told her that was totally fine and that she did a great job getting up there because it can be really scary the first time.
When her second turn came around she got back up on the trapeze, stood up, and got that deer in the headlights look again. I reminded her to breathe and had her focus on another student climbing the silks to help take her mind away being six feet off the ground, and instead get comfortable and trust her body to hold her up.
Once she was breathing normally, I coaxed her inch by inch into the trick for that day, even though she didn’t really want to do it. One foot at a time, then bending her knees, and finally letting go. When she got back down to the ground I was greeted with the biggest smile and a double high five.
I knew she could do that trick the whole time, but she had made up her mind that it was impossible. So how can you give an important speech, ask someone on a date, apply for your dream job, or do that crazy aerial trick when you’ve already told yourself it’s not going to happen?
Take a minute to sit with the feeling. For aerial, if you trust your instructor, remember that they aren’t going to let you do something that your wholly incapable of doing. Hopefully you’re training in a studio that has crash mats and an instructor that can help you in and out of tricks. Worst case scenario, you fall on the crash mat, which is what they’re there for. What will most likely happen is that you’ll do the trick totally ungracefully, which is fine. In my aerial career I have done far more ungraceful tricks than beautifully graceful and perfectly executed tricks.
For non-aerial circumstances, think of all the things that might go wrong and realize you’ll still be OK even if all of them happen at once. (Sky diving and swimming with sharks…maybe not exactly OK, but the worst case scenario is still extremely unlikely.)
Next, ask for support.
In aerial, your instructor should be able assist you in getting in and out of a trick. If they know you’re having a moment of panic they can give you a little extra guidance. I always have a couple extra ideas to help someone who is pretty sure a drop = imminent death.
Outside the studio, you could shoot an email to a few friends, make a post on Facebook, or write about it on your blog. Tell people you’re thinking of doing something a little crazy and you need a virtual high-five or some advice to get you going.
Get really excited.
(You know I always have a cheesy, silly suggestion) Think of all the things that will happen when everything goes really, really RIGHT and write them down. You score a bunch of new clients, makeout with someone super awesome, get offered a high salary then you expected. Then you have a portfolio full of amazing work, fall head over heels in love, have enough cash for a brand new car. I’m talking, best best best case scenario, every single good thing that will come of you taking a chance. Think of how you will feel when you nail that trick – damn good, that’s how!
Now, if you aren’t already blissfully, mind-numbingly excited (enter mega cheese) stand up, and read your best-case list out loud out loud. Need even more excitement? (Double mega cheese time…) Put on some music that gets you stoked, jump around, yelling about all awesome things that are about to come your way. You’re excited now, right??
If all else fails, take a page from Nike and Just Do It. Turn off your brain and jump, dial the number, hit send, trust your instructor, and do it fast before your mind can object. You’ve gotta take a chance at failing (or falling) to succeed and learn something new!
Oh yeah…the girl in the picture – that’s my terrified trapeze student just a few months later absolutely KILLING IT at our student showcase.
Go for it Mandy!