Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Throwing Away Your Mental (And Emotional) Blocks

In gymnastics our coach made us do a seemingly silly yet actually quite effective activity called "throwing away your mental blocks".  When we were scared of doing a skill - for either a plausible reason or no real reason that we could recognize - we called it a mental block. For whatever reason, something in our brain was preventing us from trying the skill. I didn't have this often, because I approach gymnastics with the same way I seem to approach life in in general - with reckless abandon - but when I did I found it very effective, and I saw it work for my teammates as well.

Our coach would give us a plastic block, the kind that you'd find in a kids toy set. He'd tell us to name the block for our fear. Then he'd have us ceremoniously throw the block backwards over our shoulder  and walk away from it, never to look at it again. We'd literally thrown away our mental block and the rest of the team was there to witness it for moral support.

While we laughed at the activity, it makes sense if you think about it.  Ever had a moment when you just completely got rid of a barrier that had been holding you back, even if you didn't know it? You make one step and suddenly you feel a flood of relief, energy or peace? I have watched friends who have lost a lot of weight do a very cleansing clearing out of their closets, tossing out (donating) all of the clothes that they wore at their bigger size. They told me it felt amazing afterwards. In a sense, they were banishing the part of their "old selves" that they'd had a negative feeling about.  Others have felt something similar walking out of the office for the last time at a job that they hated.

As we ring in the new year, it's the perfect opportunity to toss out the mental and emotional blocks from the last year (or years) that have been holding us down and building up walls around us. The new year is a fresh start. A time to leave the negativities of the past where they belong - in the past. So my challenge, to myself and everyone else, is to pick an item that represents your tie to to a difficult part of your past. Either aloud or to yourself (I find aloud to be more effective) say exactly what that item represents. Then take one last look at it, toss it over your shoulder and walk away. Make sure it can't come back to haunt you. This might require you putting it in the trash, shredding it, donating it (as in the clothing example above) or some other way of getting rid of it.

I should make an obvious yet obligatory note here, make sure the item is yours (I do not want to start law suits) and make sure it's something inanimate! Donating the cat of a neighbor you hate to the local animal shelter would NOT be a good idea.

I hope this helps you ring in the new year fresh. I'd love to hear what you tossed, either in the comments or privately if it's of a super personal nature.

Good luck, happy holidays and happy new year!