How To Get Out Of Your Own Way

Sometimes you just have to get out of your own way. Or, more specifically, out of your mind. As someone who has been out of my mind more often than I care to admit, I understand how sometimes your mind can mess with your head. And your goals. And especially your dreams.

One of the things I learned as a brand new martial arts student was how to get out of the way of an attack. And I was really, really good at it. My technique of choice was to cover my head with my gi top and run off the mat screaming, “Don’t touch me!” Ah, yes. Those were the good old days.

Eventually I was able to get out of my head and into my body to stay engaged with my attacker and gracefully step out of the way. Soon after that, I was able to step back into my attacker and take him down. It was a slow and tedious process for me, but once I let go of my preconceived  conviction that I was going to get beaten to a pulp, magic slowly began to unfold.

Not only did I learn to get out of an attacker’s line of fire, I learned how to get out of my own way as well. Because it’s that negative self-talk, the fear that we are either going to fail, look stupid, be ridiculed, or fall on our face. Huh, been there, done that. All of the above. And yet I survived.

I have to be honest, and I have to confess that I still struggle with getting out of my own way, especially when a remarkable opportunity presents itself. And it recently did, but I’m not quite ready to talk about it quite yet. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it and wonder what I had gotten myself into.

But if we don’t keep reaching for new heights, think of all the incredible experiences we might miss out on. And that would just be sad, don’t you think?

Opportunities to learn

Opportunities to learn are everywhere, and they have a tendency to appear when you least expect them. I had one of those opportunities myself a few weeks ago when my husband and I went up to our favorite getaway, Estes Park. It’s located right at the base of Rocky Mountain National Park and is a fabulous place to hit the refresh button, relax, and to commune with nature. Or as I like to say, just to hang out with moose and squirrel.

The first morning we were there, I pulled the curtains open to let the glorious Colorado sunshine fill our cabin. I was greeted with the breathtaking sight of a small herd of elk milling about and grazing in the grass directly in front of our picture window. I’m still enough of a city girl to go a little crazy when I see wildlife, and I couldn’t contain the squeal of excitement that involuntarily escaped my lips.

I took a few moments to compose myself, made frantic hand gestures to my husband to signal the appearance of the elk, and together we quietly slipped out of the front door to get a closer look at these gentle giants. Of course, they wouldn’t have been quite so gentle if we got too close to them or threatened them in any way. But, while we stood still, they moved closer and closer to us.

They kept a casual but careful eye on the two of us as we watched them. I tried not to hold my breath as they came so close I could smell them. The elk moved in an elegant and effortless manner, with an ease and grace that belied their size. It seems like every time I come across these magnificent beasts they always have a major “take home” message for me. This time was no different.

Recently I had been struggling with several challenges in my life which were interfering with my goals and aspirations. I ended up exhausted, frustrated, and incapable of overcoming these road blocks that were preventing me from moving forward. However, as I watched the elk, I had one of those head-smacking moments. I realized that I had gone back into my old pattern of trying to force my way through obstacles in my path rather than accepting the challenges as opportunities to learn from them.

The elk reminded me that natural movement is always better than trying to force yourself into doing something that you think you should do rather than discovering what you could do. The result is effortless movement without stress, strain, or frustration. They silently told me that it is possible to move quietly through your changing environment with strength, grace, and confidence, as long as you are attentive to your surroundings and not allow anyone or anything to distract you. 

They also reminded me that it’s important to eat your greens. After all, there is always a blade of grass with your name on it, as long as you remember to keep your eyes open. Finally, they assured me that it’s okay to let people get a little closer to you, as long as they mind their manners and respect your boundaries–otherwise, there will be consequences. Like I said, opportunities to learn are everywhere. It was a powerful learning experience, and one I hope to remember for a very long time!