I gave up hiking for the better part of two years. Not because I wanted to, but because my body wouldn’t let me. There was no “believing” that could overcome the reality of the near impossibility, yes — even if my life depended on it — of hiking. For many months, walking 400 feet to the mailbox and back was my biggest effort of the day, and I only managed that because I BELIEVED that I could and that it would be good for me to challenge myself.
Since I’ve been regaining my strength and challenging myself more and more each week, I have had to adjust my choices and be realistic. I’m unlikely to climb a mountain if I can’t go farther than the mailbox and back. I make slow and steady progress as I keep in my awareness the importance of attitude. If I’m in a bad mood, whiny, think I can’t — I absolutely can’t. I won’t. I’ll resist and complain and not even try. My old shadow beliefs* that I’m not good enough surface and if I don’t recognize what’s happening, sabotage is the result.
Sunday, on a beautiful hike back in my favorite stomping grounds in the Adirondack Mountains, I wondered if I had taken on too much with the decision to “do” this hike that I had “done” twice before and always found challenging. However the pull of the reward of getting to the top and the encouragement of my husband won me over. As I usually do, I decided at the trail head how long I thought it would take to get to the top, based on distance, past experience, trail guides, etc. I play a game with myself, “believing” it will take “this much time”, usually over-estimating, so I can be pleasantly surprised at the top.
As we walked, I thought about how far I had come, to challenge myself with this particular hike, not really knowing if I could be successful. I was a little worried that I might not make it.
And then something happened, I allowed a “shift” to occur, a shift from “maybe it’s too much”, to “maybe I can”, to “I believe I can”, to “I know I can”. A smile crossed my face as I knew that in that brief moment everything changed. It didn’t matter if I didn’t make it, I believed in myself again, even if it mean turning around.
On Monday, when I shared this experience with a support group that I facilitate, one of the wise women asked me if I have regained the strength I once had and I shook my head NO. I’ve been sitting with that question and my response ever since. Somewhere along this journey I believed that I would never regain the strength I once had. Now I’ve decided that when I believe in myself I am always at my personal best. Now the answer to that question, Judy, is YES.
*thank you Debbie Ford for helping me understand that my unconscious “shadow” beliefs rule what is possible for me and further that by shifting them, a world of possibility is mine. Suggested reading: “The Secret of the Shadow” by Debbie Ford.
I’m so glad to hear you’re hiking again and that you once again BELIEVE in your own strength. I’ll bet you’re back to the place where you could hike circles around me. You amaze and inspire me … ALWAYS!
Barbie, I would love the chance to HIKE circles around you as you RUN circles around me! What I didn’t mention is the passion comes first. I WAS passionate about walking to the mailbox and back, because I could feel myself pulled back to my true passion to hike in the mountains. Life is precious and we are truly blessed. Thank you.
Yes you can. “Never quit” as a former colleague used to say. It was a wonderful day hiking with you. You’re getting stronger every day.
Hi Cate, as you said so well, that internal message of belief is one of our prime sources of power and gives us the “strength” to do something we never have or something new. When my grandson Quinn was four he didn’t want to walk on the “swingy” bridge in the playground so we stood on each side and encouraged him. He finally crossed that few feet of unsteady ground and when he got to the other side, he waved his hands in the air and said, “I conquered my fear!” Another little lesson for me to tuck away.
Linda, your grandson is SO lucky to have such a wise and supportive YOU! Now that he’s so brave maybe he can talk me over the “swingy” bridges of life, lighthouses and fire towers! Thanks for sharing.
Hi Cate, Quite a touching story: thank you for sharing it. It is wonderful to hear you are doing so well. 🙂