Bad experiences are powerful things. They can truly affect us from the inside out. One of the tasks of our brain is to keep us safe...and if a past experience hurt or frightened us...well, our self talk can often assure us, with great certainty, that it would be best to avoid that experience again.
In some cases, at all costs!
It's our primal brain talking. It's not always a realistic assessment of the current situation but more a survival instinct.
I have had a couple of incidents lately where I have faced small fears.
Last Winter we bought a motorbike to ride around on our block and at my inlaws property. I putted around quite confidently. I didn't have much experience but I didn't want speed, just a little fun. The first time I rode a motorbike was when I first met The Man of the House so it had a nice feeling to it; nice memories.
Unfortunately, a few months ago I fell off. I kind of seized up, my hand was on the throttle AND the front brake and I couldn't remember to use the foot brake so I couldn't stop. As I drove towards the galvanised iron fence I decided that falling off would be better than hitting it....so that is what I did.
And it bloody hurt.
I damaged one shin badly, grazed my shoulder and hit my head.
I was out of action for the rest of the day and the following week I was sore and sorry for myself.
I wasn't sure I wanted to ride a motorbike again after that.
I needed a big rest.
But....after a few months, it was time to try again.
I went super slow and I only did a small lap of our block. It was just enough to face my fear. I got a huge adrenalin rush though, which I never did before, so it was interesting to be aware of my body while I faced my fear. And a small lap was definitely enough. I didn't want to push it.
Similarly, I remember having a bad experience while horse riding as a kid that affected me quite deeply.
I recall the horse owner asking me if I had had any experience riding and wanting to keep up with my peer group, I said yes.
Poor choice, little Alison.
I love you anyway :-)
So I climbed up into the saddle and off the horse went.
Slowly at first, nice and easy.
Then at the end of the paddock it turned around and decided it wanted to head back to it's owner.
In a hurry.
Perhaps it could sense my fear or my inexperience.
I don't know.
But it was fast.
And I was frightened.
Panic came over me and I held on tightly.
I had no control of the horse and I knew it.
Perhaps we both knew it?
Thankfully, I didn't fall off and the horse returned to where it was heading.
I can't remember any more of the day. I am thinking I was probably shaky and went into some minor shock and my brain has blocked it out.
I don't know. Childhood memories are funny things.
I have wanted to 'get back on the horse' for some time. At Gladstone Fair on the weekend, bright and early, I did.
I paid for Miss 5 to have a ride, her first time, then I held out another fiver, asking if they had a helmet for adults.
Yes, they did.
So I took the helmet, introduced myself to old Blue and listened carefully to the owner's instructions. I told her that I hadn't had any experience and that I was a little nervous.
All good. (Admit the truth - check. Be vulnerable - check)
So up I went. My heart beat madly for about a minute or two but then I was fine.
Did people look at me and wonder why I was having a ride in the children's section? I don't know. Maybe.
I asked my Dad to take this photo of me.
A reminder to 'little Alison'
You made a mistake.
You still make lots of mistakes.
I love you then.
And I love you now.
It is okay to be vulnerable.
It is okay to admit that you need help.
It is okay to admit the truth.
It is okay to be you.
You are doing just fine.