I have always prided myself on my resiliency. My ability to overcome a challenge, to endure a difficult situation and to forge through discomfort. But I am just now wondering if being resilient is not necessarily living life from an empowered place. It seems to be more of a reflexive way of being. Participating in life as a knee-jerk reaction. Fight or flight. Innate in our survival mechanisms and hardwired in our DNA — but not something we choose to do or how we want to live. I see resiliency more as surviving what is thrown our way with little choice involved.
In September, after two months of not moving I stepped back to examine myself. While I could recognize the work I had done on my relationship with myself and how I have been processing my childhood trauma over the past few years, I still felt stuck and dissatisfied with life. I was tired of myself and unsure about what to do with that.
“I want to throw things,” I told my therapist one day. I had such a sense of urgency. “I want to slam things on the ground and I want to move in ways I’ve never moved before.” I sat back and was quiet for a moment. Reflecting on a friend I’d met through triathlon years ago and how I knew she’d gravitated to CrossFit. I had no idea what CrossFit was but I’d always been curious about it. With my driving need to jump and lift and throw, I reached out to her and others and found my way to CrossFit.
After I’d contacted the recommended coach and made plans to go to a class, I remember thinking, “I don’t know anything. I have nothing to prove. But I know in my bones that I need to do this.” Was I afraid? Yes. I had many people tell me I’d get hurt. I had others tell me I’d get bulky and huge. And still others tell me it would take away from my triathlon training and performance. I remained curious and talked to others who had nothing but love for the sport. It was hard to negotiate so many opinions but as I heard myself over and over again expressing my longing to try it — I knew I needed to follow my instincts and trust myself.
I still had Post Concussion Syndrome when I started. Jumping rope and up on to boxes left my brain exhausted after class, but while I was doing it I was flooded with indescribable joy. Joy that made my shaken brain tolerable when the class was done. With the support of my physical therapist and others helping me heal, I went slow and I did my best to listen to my body. Through my friend, I had found a coach I trusted and respected. I kept showing up. Three months later I still am. CrossFit is the bright light of my day that, like a prism, casts rainbows on to everything else I do.
The first time I did a back squat sporting more than my own body weight across my back, I cried. I did. I have spent a lifetime feeling burdened by the weight of the world on my shoulders. Truly exhausted by it. But in CrossFit, lifting heavy things has afforded an entirely new experience of how I relate to the world and to myself. No longer am I anchored by life, I am lifting it! Every class I surprise myself by how much weight I can lift or how far I can stretch myself. It’s an indescribable feeling — the sensation of being strong and powerful and lifting something heavy by my own free will. It’s not a burden this weight — it is my gift. It’s one of the most liberating things I’ve ever experienced. I feel the lightest I’ve ever felt in my life and the most powerful at the same time. Both. Nothing I have ever done before has left me feeling this way. The day of that first back squat, well, I might as well have flown. In a way, I think I have.
Every day gives us an opportunity to discover ourselves in ways we’ve never imagined. If we can look beyond the narrow bandwidth of our world, the universe is endless. It is. I’m not saying we all need to go out and use our bodies in the ways I’ve chosen to use mine. I’m saying this: If you have an itch that’s begging for attention, scratch it. Yank your sleeves up high and dig in. The biggest obstacles in our lives are most often ourselves. The way we think. And the limits we impose upon ourselves. We need to get out of our own way. This starts with being curious about our deepest longings. We have to want to get to know ourselves.
Some people research first. Some plan. I’ve always leapt and looked later. If I do it any other way, my heart gets shushed by my nay-sayer-mind and I never end up jumping. I knew nothing about CrossFit when I started. It was the same when I started riding my bike. I started first and then I figured it out as I went along. That’s how I navigate the world.
Decide what works for you. What makes you comfortable. How you tick. Then set your path and run. Run like your pants are on fire and don’t look back. They only regret I’ve ever had in life is from the things I didn’t try. When my harsh inner critic gets in the way. I’m finally wise enough to trust that whenever I hear that voice, I damn well better ask who it is. Because more often than not, it isn’t me. Now, instead of trusting that voice, I trust my heart.
We have to start with ourselves first. Always. We have to choose each day to show up for ourselves. Self-care is our passport to a world we feel empowered and engaged in. One where we trust our inner power instead of relying on resiliency. This is the place of deep inner strength. When we live from this place, we don’t feel weighted by the world, we feel like we are part of its revolution around the sun. Contributing to our own well-being and to the lives of those we love.