The Challenge to Try

“She was too far away.” Seriously, she was all the way across the meadow, but…maybe, not too far.

“ Well, she was running so fast I knew I wouldn’t even get a shot at it” .

“You could’ve shot,” he said.

“I can barely hit a target standing still much less something on the move”.

He turns and looks me in the eye. I see the softness of a man who knows and loves me, and the directness of a man who doesn’t waste his words, “ you’re going to have to try”.

Try. One small word with so much mixed emotion behind it.

Yes, I can… maybe…can I? Should I? What happens if I miss? I’ve never done this before. Do I even belong out here? All the questions of doubt flood in. I’ve never liked the word “try” as it is.

Try is a word that means to make an attempt at something new. We say phrases like: let’s give it the old college try, if at once you don’t succeed, try, try again, and give that a try. In me, it brings up doubt and question. Question of my own abilities, intellectual, physical, emotional, etc. depending on the situation that requires trying.

I tend to be a bit perfectionistic…some of you may be laughing right now to hear me say “a bit”. A wise friend of mine once said I don’t need anyone else to critique my work. I am my own worst critic. He was right. Heck, he still is. I’ve read lots of books about perfection and imperfection and all the things. Some stripes can’t be taken off the tiger.

With that said, I am honestly more kind to myself than I was even a few years ago. The jerk that used to live in my head has been replaced, at least most of the time, with someone who is direct but compassionate. That is, until I have to attempt something brand new in front of other people (especially men).

I’ve always worked hard to keep up with the boys. I was raised closest to three older brothers as my sister moved out when I was 6. I had to work like they did picking rocks and piling bales, but was always made aware that mine was not as strong, as fast, or as good because I was a girl and I was the little sister.

So, this hunting thing I totally got myself into was pushing lots of buttons inside of me. It’s amazing to me what can trigger the old stuff. Sometimes it really seems like I’m just innocently walking along in my day and whammo (please hear and see that in the old school Batman style) something that is part of a very old story will pop up and bop me in the forehead. Noticing is the thing that has made the difference. The mind does what it does, it thinks, constantly, but we are not these thoughts, nor are we the one thinking them. As we learn that we can observe our thoughts without taking them seriously we gain empowerment. From noticing we can make choices about what we do with those thoughts and what thoughts and feelings we would like to choose as a response. We move from being the victim of them, to having some power with them. Awareness is everything. Awareness that we are not the ones thinking those old thoughts is the most empowering position we can hold within ourselves, taking charge of what we do with those thoughts is a very close second.

From awareness, I can offer myself some patience, understanding, and some permission to do something I don’t necessarily know in advance that I’m going to be good at. Ew. I don’t like that. Try implies a level of courage, and sometimes this is not something I possess, at least not when I’m letting myself believe that the doubt I feel and the pending judgment of others if I miss, is real.

But it’s not real, and when I am mindful (as in present to myself and my thoughts) I know this without doubt. When I practice mindfulness, being in my own body, paying attention to my current thoughts without believing them as fact, or even a valuable opinion, I have the ability to shift my perspective, to choose what I think and how I’m going to feel. I have the power to try.

I don’t love putting myself out there in ways that challenge my old story, and yet in a weird kind of way I love getting the chance to notice what I notice inside of myself and do something constructive with it. I love my chance to show some love to myself in how I allow imperfection. I know it is my teacher, and I am a dutiful student. I know awareness is a practice. So is self love, as is empowering oneself to choose actively new thoughts and feelings.

We are trainable, this has already been proven. Think for a moment about some of the things you do on automatic pilot; brush your teeth, comb your hair, drive your car, log into your computer. Do you look up your password and search for each key every single day when you sign on? No. why? Autopilot. You learned how and so you know how to repeat it. Repetition is what our minds love! So if you can learn one thing, you can learn anything which means you can indeed unlearn an old unserving pattern and teach yourself to respond differently through self awareness. It all wraps around and leads up back to that old marshmallow of self love. It’s grand…and it’s practice.

So, my mind is less of a jerk than it used to be, and that is good. It takes me way less time to get to a space to try and leave the judgment, or fear of it behind me. Motto for life: I am not perfect, I am practicing.

Everything. Always. Now, give me another try.

Blessings Galore, Anne

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