Keeping a Steady Aim by Adjusting Targets

This week I’ve gained valuable insight into what I’m aiming for and why, and how to get there.. even when I can’t fully get there.

archery

I took up archery this week (hence the inspiration for the name of this post) and the biggest thing I’ve learned so far has nothing to do with my bow. New hobbies have a way of opening our minds to new ways of thinking and understanding. I’m just starting out with archery so it is easy for me not to expect myself to hit difficult targets, or any target at all for that matter (I’ve already somehow lost an arrow in the abyss of my backyard). Learning something new takes patience, understanding, and compassion. It’s easy when you are a beginner at something to accept that, and hand it over willingly. Unfortunately this willingness to accept where we are is not so forthcoming when it’s something that isn’t new to us.

The resistance we have to accept where we are is fueled by our good ol’ friend comparison. We compare to our own past performance, where others are, and where we think we should be. This leads to pushing ourselves too far, expecting too much, not giving ourselves what we really need, and ultimately setting ourselves up for failure. I have found this in many different aspects of my life.

beginner

During yoga class I notice this when I automatically push myself to where I was able to get last class- without even paying attention to where my body is that day. I assume because I know where I was able to get last time, that I know where I should go this time. I’ve been mindful of this tendency over the last few days and instead try to approach it as though I’ve never done it before. It has been great practice for staying in the moment, honouring where I am, seeing the judgement that arises, and letting it go.

whereyouare

Being mindful of where I am right now and responding to that non-judgmentally and with compassion is helping me with more than my downward facing dog.

I reached a low point this week after having a bad panic attack at ballet class, which forced me to leave early. I spent the rest of the night wallowing and beating myself up. I was extra frustrated with myself because ballet is one of my empowering activities, and now I’ve made myself afraid of it. I was petrified that this was the marker that the dragon is dead.

The next evening I was supposed to go to another dance class. All day I was anxious and contemplating whether to go. I was scared to go because I knew it was likely that I’d panic again. I questioned whether I should even go because if I had to leave again I’d only further perpetuate this panic response to dance. I almost had myself convinced that it would be healthier to avoid it. Thankfully that morning I had an eye-opening therapy session and the truth of how vital it is to my life to stay the dragon was clear in my mind.

My goal then was to figure out how I was still going to be a dragon, panicking or not. The first inclination was to set the target to where I was able to succeed before (go to class and don’t leave). Failing to be present and accepting of where I am was only digging the hole I’m in deeper. By looking at myself honestly and compassionately, I realized this was too much for where I am right now, so I adjusted the target.

hole

Just keep showing up. I decided that would be my mark of success. That will be how I’m still a dragon. I’ll measure my success by my perseverance in showing up. Not on if I panic, not on if I leave, just showing up.

showup

This was a light bulb moment for me. One thing about panic attacks is it feels like they control your actions. They feel debilitating because if you have a panic attack in one place, you will likely have one there the next time, and it becomes easy to assume you need to avoid these places in order to avoid the panic. This can feel like panic is forcing you to lose what you love, and can make your world very small. What I realized is with my “Show Up” rule I am taking control over my actions. Despite whether or not I have a panic attack, I am going to continue to show up. It also takes the pressure off my ability to not have a panic attack or to be able to control it once it happens. For now, I’ve decided I will just be in control of whether I show up. This felt doable and empowering.

Since establishing the “Show Up” rule I’ve managed to show up for another dance class and four yoga classes. As a bonus I was actually able to stay for all of them, but what I’m most proud of is showing up to them at all.

choices

I’m still aiming at targets, but now I’m being more mindful that they are targets I can hit.

I invite you all to try being mindful of where you are at any given moment and respond to that with compassion.

Are there targets in your life that may need adjustment?

8 thoughts on “Keeping a Steady Aim by Adjusting Targets”

  1. I also get discouraged and scared when I have set backs. I plan to re-set my targets and celebrate my successes.

    1. Garden Girl, Thank you so much for expressing some common humanity to me – “me toos” are always appreciated and very healing 🙂 And yay for re-setting targets and celebrating successes! Thanks for your feedback ❤️

  2. Great post! What I love about yoga is it forces you to be in the moment, and from what I have learned since making it a daily practice is just to allow whatever feelings that come up, release and let go. Its been one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I love your insight on trying new things, very inspired by this!!

    1. Thanks Lindsay, I love that you have found those valuable lessons in yoga- it can certainly be life changing when we accept what it has to teach us (and bring those lessons and experience to areas in our life outside of the yoga studio). “Allow whatever feelings that come up, release, and let go.” Beautiful.

  3. You make my day every time I read one of your posting, you are such a mindful dragon even when you are in the throws of anxiety! Let the anxiety come to you and wash through like a wave, the more you keep doing what makes you anxious, the less anxious you are going to be. Believe me, we have all been there, and like you we are feeling better and stronger about ourselves because we walked through the fear. You go girl (oops dragon)!

    1. Thank you Joan! Your reminder that “we have all been there” is a powerful reminder that it’s not just me. What you say about people being stronger and better for having walked through fear – it gives me hope that I will not just feel strong again someday, but that I’ll be even stronger because of this. I love your analogy of the wave. It so accurately describes the feeling when panic hits, and it also reminds me of the constant up and down cycle of life – the waves we all must endure, or better yet, ride the hell out of 🙂

  4. Mindful Dragon I love your courage to just show up and everything after that is a bonus! I also really appreciate your wisdom….show up, be present, non judging and compassionate. Targets…my own targets to live my life out of a place of love no matter what comes up, what I have to face and how harmful human beings can be toward each other. To acknowledge the harm and send loving kindness into the world. Thank you for posts they are awesome, so honest and written with such clarity!

    1. Thank you so much Noreen, I’m so glad you enjoy the posts 🙂
      Your targets are captivating, I read your comment about ten times before starting to reply. Your focus on love is enthralling, and a theme that keeps popping up for me lately. As Dr. W pointed out to me, there is no evil or good in this world – there is simply fear and love. And the choice is there- will we choose to live by love or fear? I admire how committed you are to live out of love. I’m not sure if you are familiar with Cheryl Strayed’s work (she’s my new found love this week) but I recommend looking into it if you aren’t. For now I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes from her: “The best thing you can possibly do with your life is to live the motherfucking shit out of love”.

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