I recently accomplished a goal I’d been thinking about for more than a year: Reaching the summit of a 4,000+-foot mountain in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. There’s a whole club of folks who have or are working toward climbing all 48 mountains that fall into this category. While I don’t know that I’ll hit all 48, I’m pretty damn proud of myself for bagging my first — Mt. Osceola.
During our two-hour drive to the mountain, I research all sorts of info on our pending climb (I’m not driving as I do this, by the way) — What’s the easiest trail up? How is the weather at the summit? How long does it typically take people to get to the top? Keep in mind, I had already done all of this research the day before, so this repeat behavior tells me that I’m nervous. When I’m anxious about something, I do lots of research, trying to give myself some (faux) sense of control.
And then, the monkey mind begins. “Oh crap. I didn’t realize I was nervous. What is there to be nervous about? Well, what if I can’t do it? What if other people on the trail laugh at me? What if I make it to the top, but am too tired to descend? What if I disappoint Melissa? What if I hold her up too much? Oh I shouldn’t be doing this. I’m not in good enough shape to tackle this mountain. Who the hell do I think I am? What was I thinking?!”
And so on, and so on. Talk about emotional clutter!
I dig deep and reassure my Little One that she’s a rock star even if she decides to turn around and go home. Any effort is great effort. As I climb, I also shift my thoughts when the monkeys go really wild and plant different messages; things like, “Thank you, legs, for your strength. Thank you, lungs, for your deep capacity. Thank you, back, for your support. Thank you, soul, for your perseverance and love.”
It’s these words that get me to continue to put one foot in front of the other and reach the top. And there’s nothing like the spectacular views and beauty of mother nature to clear my mind clutter. When I reach the summit, I (and my Little One) can’t help but cry a little — tears of relief, of pride, of gratitude.
If you shift your perspective and see the chatter simply as a bunch of fear-based, emotional clutter, then you can go about the business of clearing it out through reassurance and love. Have a dialogue with your Little One, similar to what I did in the car and on that mountain:
“Why are you even bothering? You’ll never finish,” says the chatter.
“I’ll certainly never finish if I never start, so let’s just go with the first step,” could be your response.
“You’re always full of ideas, and jump around too much.”
“I like to try different things. It’s fun! It’s ok to play, Little One.”
“Let’s blow off that interview. Sounds like a stupid job anyway.”
“I know you’re scared, but it’s ok. I’ve got your back. You don’t have to go to the meeting. That’s my job.”
So what makes your monkey mind go bananas (see what I did there? ;-)? What accomplishment, goal, or pursuit are they distracting you from attaining? I’d love to hear from you. Join the convo in the comments below. I’m listening…
Until next week, keep taking those small steps to Live Out Loud