I have always felt all emotions in a big way. While you likely know I am a fan of feeling it all, I am learning more about the important difference between feeling and reacting. Feeling negative emotion can be uncomfortable, but is usually harmless to others. We can wait, in and through the discomfort, until it is time to figure out the next step. It might be that our body’s response to the emotion dissipates with time, and we can move forward without any reaction at all. Or, we might need to acknowledge a trigger, or even confront a circumstance or person.  

Feeling fully is different than reacting in a moment to the emotional indicators in our bodies. When I react to big feelings, it often ends up creating more, often unnecessary problems. 

I could tell many, many specific stories on this topic. Here is a generic version (since the details of each of our arguments would likely bore you to death… or maybe entertain you too much. 🙂

I get really angry at my husband about (insert topic of the moment). Instead of just feeling my anger, letting reside in me—I react. I yell and say things I don’t mean. He responds by yelling back. This goes on for “x” amount of time. And then the possibly perfectly reasonable reason for my initial anger has been hidden under all of the yuckiness caused by my reaction. Instead of addressing what was bothering me, we end up digging through layers of past hurts, personality differences, family of origin influences, and who knows what else in order to get back to the original topic. 

Anyone else been there before? 

I know that the struggle to feel without reaction can impact us as athletes. Sure, sometimes these feelings are indicating something that you should not ignore— signs that tell you to pivot, or to pull the plug entirely in order to honor safety. But, most of the time they are thoughts or feelings that can be present without reaction. I can feel irritated by others swimming into me without wasting energy becoming more aggressive in the water. I can feel tired without slowing down. I can feel discomfort without walking. I can feel envious of another’s speed or ability without throwing my plan away and chasing them down. 

I am excited to apply this lesson, and many others, to my entire race weekend in St. George. 

I will remain open and curious—about my first trip with just Jamie and Quinton (without my two older kids); about the race and my competitors; and about my own ability on race day. 

While racing, I am going to work hard while living in each moment, rather than striving for the race to be over. I sincerely want to remain grounded and enjoy the ups and downs of the entire journey, not only the few seconds of finish line. 

I will focus on being humbly confident. I will remind myself that I belong there, while remaining open to learning from the experience with such an amazing group of athletes. 

And I will honor the feelings in my body, allowing them to be present without reaction. 

Some oldies but goodies that I will also apply: Smile. Remain grateful. Trust myself. Keep dreaming. Have fun!

How will I do this? Well, first of all, I don’t want to ever mislead you all into thinking that I have this all figured out. This is not easy and it will not go even close to perfectly. I write about all of this because it is what I am working on too. 

But, I do see value in showing up to the battles with a plan. I write the above with “I will” statements instead of “I will try” ones in order to practice internalizing the belief that it is possible. I plan to journal daily and check in honestly with myself every 15 minutes or so during the race to see if I am still engaged in thoughts and actions that honor my goals. I have my awareness, my tools, and my willingness to learn from mistakes. And I am ready to use it all. 

On race day, I will not only check in internally, but I will also look out to take in the amazingness of my surroundings and to feel the love of the people I know, as well as those I have never met. I will allow all of the feels: the gratitude and joy; the nervousness, excitement, uncertainty, hopefulness, etc. 

I will feel fully alive as a human. I am grateful for the privilege to do this. 

And I can’t wait to see what I can do.