This year I wanted to address things that I knew were holding me back. My anxieties, my confidence (or lack of), my stress. What was preventing me from living my best life? Every day I woke up afraid of lots of things. Afraid of car accidents. Afraid of pain. Afraid of loss. Afraid of rejection. Afraid of failure. Afraid of burning my neighborhood down by leaving my hair straightener on. I've called it anxiety for a long time, and worked on it with mindfulness and yoga and counseling. But when I call it fear it takes on a different meaning. This year I decided to actively work on fear.
I didn't find many resources on the subject, but I watched a Netflix documentary on Tony Robbins called I am Not Your Guru. I saw it as a potential to learn more about fear. When my husband was interested in it too I suggested we try to attend one of his programs. For my birthday he got me tickets to one of his events: Unleash the Power Within.
I learned when we signed up that a trademark of this event is WALKING OVER RED HOT COALS. So naturally I was afraid of it for six months leading up to it. But the point is to break through fear, and that's what I was working on. So I activated the part of my brain that wants me to reach my goals and embraced the idea that I was going to walk over those coals and literally move through something that terrified me.
For a little context, the first year that my husband and I were dating he wanted to go skydiving. My reaction was just to immediately cry and start googling skydiving accidents. I don't seek out scary things and actively try to avoid them. But here I was, at this crazy event yelling and screaming and learning and getting ready to walk over hot coals between 1200 and 2000 degrees. How did I do it? Honestly how 9,000 people walked across hot coals is a mystery to me still, but I do know how I felt right before. I felt like I could do anything.
The firewalk, while amazing and empowering, was not the most transformational experience for me. Throughout the seminar there were exercises to help you visualize your life and all that you have. Whatever anxieties, fears, annoyances, and frustrations you have melt away when you step into beautiful moments in your life and feel deep, unbounded gratitude and fulfillment.
I went to the seminar thinking I would feel empowered to start my business, maybe get in a little better shape and get super motivated. I did get those things and am working actively towards them. But very clearly and very quickly I was shocked at how my priorities shifted when confronted with the things that have held me back in the past, what it is that really matters to me and, the people I love, and how precious and beautiful our human experience is.
I learned that we can change our state in an instant. If I am afraid, sad, upset, or anxious I just think of all that I have. I'm destroying these moments when I don't appreciate them and enjoy them. Advancing in my career, making money, having nice things, traveling, and many other goals do not mean much if we can't appreciate what we have. And I won't be able to do any of those things without my health and energy.
A huge realization I had was how very low energy I have been for a long time. Everything exhausted me. I thought it was my circumstance: the stress of my work, the demands of education. But guess what- it was me! I was just doing the bare minimum to stay in good shape and did not have incentive to do much rigorous activity. I love yoga and I do it all the time- but I gravitate toward stretchy relaxing classes. Now let's reframe that to having enough energy to wake up early, get your workout and meditation in, crush it all day, and be focused and present with your loved ones. That's a new game. I have more energy than I've had in years, and I am working on keeping it up.
Did it change my life? Sure did. Just like every decision we make each day changes our life. Sometimes just little shifts, and sometimes a large push. Have I joined a cult? I've joined a community of people who want to improve their lives. I seek these communities out actively. My tribes. What's next? I've signed up for a coaching program through Tony Robbins Results Coaching to continue working towards my goals. This week it's a 5 AM non-negotiable wakeup. My husband is luckily on board and has created a strategy of playing loud music and racing me out of bed to get on the meditation cushion. We've also signed up to teach a dance class at a local assisted living facility (more on that later).
I am proud of myself for walking over fire but even more proud of myself for continually learning and growing. Tony Robbins says that if you're not growing you're dying. Life is too beautiful and precious to spend it without energy, without joy, and without gratitude. We all have within us everything we need to move forward- we just sometimes need a little (or big) push through the things that scare us.
Education careers are tough. These entries are dedicated to making the lives of educators easier and empowering those who have chosen this path to reach their potential in work and life.