Some months back, I was on the phone with an acquaintance. She was very angry about something that had happened to her. In a split second, as I challenged her, her anger turned on me. I normally consider myself a calm person, but at that moment when she attacked, I felt my blood boil – I was furious! I couldn’t think straight. All I wanted to do was respond venomously and then hang up the phone. What I did was pick up the beach pebble I have on my desk and put my full attention on the weight of it in my hand. I focused on the temperature and the smoothness of the stone. 10 seconds later, I felt a wash of calm flood my system. I could feel my physiology change. I was able to continue that conversation calmly and clearly for another hour. That is the power of mental fitness.
Earlier this month I received my certification for Positive Intelligence.
I am now a certified mental fitness coach! I’m celebrating that accomplishment and reflecting on my journey through this process. It has been a game-changer for me. As with most things, you sometimes don’t notice your growth until it’s tested like it was for me in the dramatic example above when I was completely hijacked by my anger. Feeling the weight, texture and temperature of the stone is one form of doing these mental fitness exercises called PQ reps. One of the things I remember noticing when I first tried these exercises is that my head was remarkably quiet and calm. This is a result of calming down the survival region of your brain which is often activated if you are under stress.
I’m celebrating the growth in my mental fitness despite a remarkably stressful year.
Personal growth often has these difficult moments embedded in it. These past 6 weeks or so I decided to return to swimming laps. (I’ve not only been working on mental fitness but also physical fitness.) I say return because I used to swim competitively when I was in high school. It’s been a long time since then. The lap swim time in the local pool is very early – 6:30 am. This is somewhat challenging especially on grey, drizzly mornings or when I’ve had less sleep than I would like. This morning was one of those not-enough-sleep mornings. My body felt like a dead weight. As I swam, I was bargaining with myself, “You don’t have to do 50 laps, just do 25 today.” I got to 25 and then thought, “I’ll just do 26.” At 26 I thought, “just one more”. And I slogged through 50 laps “just one more” at a time. Sometimes our growth can happen this way when we persevere and just do a little bit more. We don’t feel strong or like champions, we scrape through inch by inch. There is something to be said for determination and perseverance. Sometimes we need more than that. There are times we need courage.
I love what Susan David posted about courage on her Instagram feed some weeks back.
Here is what she said about it: “Courage is refusing to settle. Regardless of what we’re doing or who we are, there is always more to learn. Courage can be as complex as standing up for an ideal you believe in or as simple as trying a new food. It can be the act of speaking to a stranger or choosing to forgive someone who has hurt you.”
What do you need today?
Do you need to find the path of calm in stressful times? To persevere? Do you need to activate your courage to step into something that feels scary? Whatever it is, you don’t have to do it like a champion with full power and perfection. Just move in that direction inch by inch. Start with whatever you have right now, wherever you are right now and do the best you can for today.
This Week’s Photos
I love taking photos on my daily walks, it is part of my mental fitness practice – another way to do PQ reps. Here are some of the pictures I’ve taken in the past couple of weeks.