Grace, humility and a strong dose of reality

Take some time to ponder this statement…..“How willing are you to consider that your life is the way it is, not because of the weight of your circumstances or situation, but rather the weight of self talk that pulls you down? That what you think you can and cannot do is influenced much more directly by some subconscious response than by the reality of life itself?!”-Gary John Bishop

It’s so easy to tell yourself “it’s too hard, you can’t do this or this isn’t something that you excel at.” How do you talk to yourself? Are you kind and full of grace or do you beat yourself up? Are you willing to embrace the uncertainty and expect nothing but accept everything?

I have been asked many times what is your favorite part of cycling….the answer is easy. I love that it has never gotten easier. I have gotten faster but I still have to work at it. As someone who never really had to struggle to “get” things cycling has given me a challenge from day one. Has the challenged changed, of course. Have I changed…oh YES!

Last year was a year that was challenging for everyone. I would be lying if I didn’t say that training was hard and then stopped completely as I watched event after event cancel. I watched in stunned disbelief as my world changed. I understood why but I still couldn’t really believe what was happening. It was during the struggle of what to do next and how to stay safe that I changed my internal talk.

I began to challenge myself to have positive inner dialogue. I was willing! I took this quote to heart….”Stop blaming luck. Stop blaming other people. Stop pointing to outside influences or circumstances.” I was told you have the life you are willing to put up with. Those words hit me right between the eyes with reality. The stressors that I was identifying with were ones that I allowed into my life. If they stayed front and center I was putting up with that choice. Choices were something within my control and I needed to own that. I also needed to own that I was capable and willing to make changes! Time to act!

Leading a No Drop Group ride at Unbound 2021

I also learned from bike events that I could embrace the uncertainty. Uncertainty is where new happens and it was time to find new. Did this happen over night? No, of course not. I still am not always certain of what is going to happen next but I can embrace that and turn it into something certain in my world.

In reality, even many of the things we think as hard facts aren’t. They’re half truths. They’re assumptions. They’re guesses. If you want to win, you have to be willing to be judged by others. Like plenty of things in our lives, part of our aversion to uncertainty comes from our fear of being judged by others. We are, in a very real way, afraid of what the public thinks and the prospect of being thrown out into the world of the social media. If you want to improve though you have to be willing to be fail….that does not make you a failure! Whether it be riding a bike, learning to run or trying a new hobby you will never achieve your true potential if you’re hooked by what other people think.

In fact, you could change your life overnight if you were simply able to abandon the belief that other peoples thoughts matter. Am I self conscious walking around in my kit at major events….yes. Do I know that others feel the same way….yes. Have I learned to not focus on that and what people think….you bet! If you are avoiding uncertainty you won’t do this. You will be too afraid of being judged and for that reason you are stopped with one foot nailed to the floor. THAT was a heard lesson to learn!!!

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

Once I learned that then I started to stop doing the stuff I knew I shouldn’t be doing and started doing the stuff I knew I should be doing! I learned to expect nothing and accept everything. I started to find that I was challenged by what my expectations were. It was not a conscious expectation but rather something that I was doing during negative self talk. The negative self talk I had was not from my own insecurities or self doubts….it was from unrealistic expectations that I had self imposed. No one had an expectation that I do 100 miles, that I do it in x period of time or that I lose x amount of pounds. Those were all self imposed expectations. STOP CRYSTAL!

You would never tell your friend that they were too slow, too fat or not ready for that event. Instead you would be encouraging and helpful…giving any suggestions that were asked for. Why was it so hard to tell myself the same thing? Why was it so hard to accept this?

Thankfully I was training again so I had time on the bike to think it though. My expectations need to change and my acceptance changed at the same time….what a moment! I began living in the moment, no longer worried about the future or rejecting the past. I was simply embracing my present situation as it came to be. This meant I owned my decisions and was in charge or it. I OWNED IT!

I can find all kinds of things wrong with myself here….but the true image is that I DID IT! I practiced riding with no hands and finally succeeded.

My life and my success, my happiness really are in my hands. The power to change , the power to let go and be adventurous, embracing my own potential was all in my own head. This powerful statement changed the way I viewed my moments, hours, days and weeks. I was no longer dependent….the change was mine.

That dose of reality was life changing. Not overnight…it takes time and willingness to try and fail. Heck, I fail daily. The difference is that I have learned to treat myself with grace and humility. I have removed the expectations that had my foot nailed to the ground. The reality that is still very real…. my life is mine to control.

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