Curious fact about me: during my first 4 years in University, (between travels and also an almost full time job, it took me more than the usual 4 years to get my BFA…but that’s another story) I was not only studying fine art but also classical guitar (I haven’t played for about 12 years….except for a few weeks I attempted to re take it last year -but that’s also another story-).
I got to a point when I would practice guitar 4-6 hours every day, Monday through Sunday; there was a lot of repetition involved when working on the assigned pieces for the semester and sometimes it would happen that I would loose concentration during my practice, and I would rush through a certain passage, making mistakes, and repeating the same mistake over and over, instead of slowing down and trying to get it right from the beginning. The problem with this, my teacher would say, is that it takes you “x”amount more of times to un-learn the mistake, than it took you to learn it (I don’t remember the amount of times now, maybe twice as much? maybe three times?). If you repeated a mistake 3 times, it will take you 6 or 9 times of doing it correctly to “erase” that mistake from your head and from your muscle memory. Crazy huh? I remember it being very true, it took indeed, a lot of concentration and correct repetition to stop making a mistake I’ve made a few times. At least for me it did.
Last week we got A LOT of snow, at least for the Outer Banks. It was so much fun, everybody was so excited, snowboarding in the dunes, making snow men, all kinds of fun stuff. The third day after it had snowed, with a group of friends, we went sledding in this little hill, early in the morning, before everything started melting.
We didn’t have a sled, just half a surfboard, ha! The owner of the half board is my friend Jodi, who is a surfer, like many people around here, so after a couple of sitting down rides down the small hill, the next challenge was, of course, standing up and “surf” the hill. She successfully completed a run in her second attempt, so did the other 3 people that were with us, but I never got a complete run,even after many attempts. I had sooo much fun that day, but later at home, it bothered me a little to think of the reasons why I thought I couldn’t complete a run; every time I was going down the hill I would loose focus and doubt that I could make it all the way and I would sabotage “me”, even if I was not really loosing balance I would get scared of what I was doing and jump out. When I was little I was definitely not athletic, my family is also not athletic at all. I remember hearing a lot of “don’t run, you’re going to fall”, “don’t climb that tree, you’re going to hurt yourself!’ ,”don’t run, you’re going to get asthma”, etc, etc, etc; don’t get me wrong, I was still a kid and I sure did run, and climbed trees and played and played and played, but I think I did end up loosing trust in my ability to do certain physical activities. I still sometimes struggle a little bit trying to “deprogram” myself to start believing again, I was reminded of this the other day at that hill with the snow.
In an attempt to “reprogram” myself, I started taking swimming lessons at age 20 (yes, I could be in the ocean and float, but at age of 20, I did not know how to properly swim!), and started signing up for basketball, volleyball and every sport class I could sign up for in college, and actually enjoyed it a lot! After about 15 years of actively trying to reshape my self image regarding my physical abilities for sport, I would say I have almost come to terms with what my athletic “limitations” are, after all, I’m more of a yoga kind of girl (which also requires me to truly believe that I can do certain things -hello hand stands!-, at least the “going at your own pace” philosophy is encouraged), but the “hill surfing” episode really reminded me of how important it is to positively program our brains with the “YES I CAN!”. If you tell yourself too often that you CAN’T do something, watch out, you might need to tell yourself the opposite, times 2 or 3, to believe that YOU, in fact, CAN!
For your amusement, let me share my 2 seconds when I said: “YES I CAN!” only to be followed by: “Oh shoot, no I don’t! (ha!)
“Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Chose your words, for they become actions. Understand your actions, for they become habits. Study your habits, for they will become your character. Develop your character, for it becomes your destiny.”― Ralph Waldo Emerson
And just for the fun of sharing, this was me, early last year, trying to return to my guitar studies, starting again from the basics. Sadly I stopped practicing not too long after I filmed this, but there’s always hope that I will start again.
And I guess I want to close this post by saying: YES YOU CAN! Yeeww! ;)