When I was a kid I was told that when a man beats up a puppy, no matter how big and powerful of dog it will grow to be, it would still fear that man. Although I’m not certain about the truthfulness of this statement, I’m pretty sure the same happens to us too. If we have negative experiences with something, it might shape our notion of it for a long time.
When I first started poling, I discovered my hands and feet were abnormally sweaty, more than regular grip aids can handle. I had Mighty Grip gloves so I could grip with my hands, but my feet were still bare. It didn’t bother me until we started learning The Cupid. That foot on pole point of contact made sure I stood no chance in sporting a beautiful floating Cupid.
I avoided it as much as I could. The closest I got to working on the Cupid was when I revisited the ankle on pole variation. I nailed that bad boy down with the less usable grip, long after I nailed much more advanced things, and kept on avoiding Cupids.
A lot have changed since than, but in my head Cupid was still the big scary man that would beat me up.
Fear is the mind killer.
Last week I trained with a lovely instructor named Julie. Julie, as I heard before had a sweaty hands and feet problem as well, and I have seen her compete Pole Expo’s Pole Classic competition. I’ve also seen her online tutorial on a cool transition from Cupid to De Janeiro, and was happy she chose to teach it that day.
When she spotted me, the Cupid was the hurdle I couldn’t get over. I asked her how did she do it, and she said that I didn’t had to stay in the Cupid, just enter it and bend back to catch the pole. I realized that more than my actual ability to do it, it was a mental block I had in my head which prevented me from getting it. I was perfectly able to put my foot on the pole, and catch it behind me as my foot was sliding off. My brain was the one that’s preventing my from going there, because once upon a time when I was a clueless little beginner, I couldn’t do it.
I’m all about figuring out fears and actively working on them to be able to succeed in my training. Fear is a big part of many moves on pole, and rationally addressing it can be very effective. What dawned on me is that there is another type of fear, the one that you don’t know exists, the one that hold you back without you being aware of it so you don’t even know you need to fix it.
On Saturday, in the contortion workshop I take, we were warming up our backs with simple backbends, working our way up towards the mighty chest stand. We did assisted drop to bridge, which I felt awful about and I was doing my best to contain my frustration in. I was almost holding back tears, yet I refused to understand why.
Back bending is, or at least used to be, a hard uphill battle for me. My back was never flexible, my shoulders got even tighter because I haven’t stretched them for the first year and a half of my pole training. Everything about it was hard and frustrating, and I failed to enjoyed it like some flexy people say they so. I was still too stubborn, so I never gave up. I wanted that Cocoon, and that Crescent Moon and many other pretty things.
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#Samturday with @bo_xox just keep getting better. It's the first time in my life I saw my own toes above me. And the first time I got onto a #cheststand without support and rested my feet on a high surface. It felt solid and comfortable and I would never imagined any of these things happening to me anytime soon. It's not in this video, unlike @gokimmygooo's hand of approval 😂
But when we moved on to the chest stand, I was at the grown ups’ mat, holding it and calmly working on deepening it. No frustration, no pain, no tears held back, just doing it. Chest stand was one of the things I thought were too advanced for my stiff back so I haven’t touched on it before much. Until this workshop.
Until I practiced a new back bend which was free of my biases.
Until this one instance with the Cupid where I realized mental blocks were a thing.
Until I realized I wasn’t a beat up puppy anymore, I’m a huge ferocious hound now.
These back bends got nothing on me. This is not a problem I can’t train through. Once I can free my mind from this notion, my body will be capable to go there. This makes me feel pumped to get back to my backbend training. Feel empowered.
I’ll keep looking for more mental blockers in my training, and undo them one by one.
2016 going to be amazing.