Restoring Balance: 9 Tips from a Former Gymnast
They called me the "Beam Queen".
As a child gymnast, there was one event where I consistently excelled, even earning an individual championship trophy... the balance beam. I loved that feeling when your alignment was spot on. It felt so good to land your new skills, sticking them solidly with confidence. The adrenaline rush of leaping and tumbling high in the air. The challenge of maintaining your center of gravity on a space only four inches. The grace and bodily awareness required to fine-tune your most subtle of movements from head to toe. The balance beam had it all.
The ironic thing about this, is it also happened to be the event I was most scared of.
Anytime I was working on a new skill, I recall my stomach actually hurting with anxiety as I rode in the back of our minivan to the gym. My palms and the soles of my feet would be damp with sweat as our coach told us that it was time for beam practice.
And when the balance was off, oof did that feel messy! You could easily spiral into a cycle of uncertainty and fear with each failed attempt to complete a skill and remain on the balance beam. More than physical strength or agility, the beam required a mental positivity and the spirit of self-belief. In order to succeed, you had to release fear and strongly envision how you wanted your routine to go before bringing it to life.
We all know what it feels like to be off-balance.
Our lives are full of ever-moving, ever-shifting parts. Just as on the balance beam, if you focus all of your energy on one area and neglect another... it's only a matter of time before you end up on the ground. The same is true if we allow our mind to focus more on fear than on believing in our capabilities.
While it may have been decades since I was referred to as the "Beam Queen", the lessons learned stuck as solidly as those back handsprings:
Keep your head up. Literally... hold your chin high, shoulders down and back. By assuming a posture of confidence you trick your brain into believing it.
Think positive. Not just a simple, "I can do this!", though affirmations can be powerful too. Take the time to envision the scenario you want to happen, seeing it all take place through your mind's eye. Visualize your best case scenario, and embrace how good it feels to bring it to life.
It's okay to reassess. If something continues to not work quite right and you continue falling... reassess how you're going about it. Perhaps one of those many moving parts requires a change.
Be open to constructive criticism. Sometimes we aren't aware of where we are making a mistake or have the capacity to do even better. Accept feedback from those you love and respect, and who love and respect you in return.
Nerves can be a good thing. If you're feeling nervous about something... it means you care and want to show up as your best self. A slight big of nervousness also indicates that you're aiming beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone, which is an honorable aspiration! Intentionally shift them into a feeling of excitement.
Practice, practice, practice. You will not stick it perfectly the first attempt. Just like you won't perfectly implement that new area of personal growth on the first attempt. Keep working at it consistently and with loving dedication.
Give yourself grace. There will be times all does not come together as hoped, even if you've prepared yourself to the best of your ability. When things don't work out as you envisioned it simply means there is a lesson to be found within the experience. Be gentle and kind with yourself as you discover the lesson.
Don't let your fear keep you from moving forward. We've all had times when we've let fear take the lead. Fear of falling, fear of a misstep, fear of others watching you blunder, fear of not being good enough, fear of imperfect timing, fear of being seen... even fear of our own greatness. Love yourself enough to allow fear to recede and faith in yourself to rise!
You are never alone. Though it's true that you're the only one on your own path, you have a team around you... ready to pick you up when you fall, here to encourage and support you if you let them. Just as I'll never forget that Springer's Gymnastics Blue Team, do not forget those who are there to learn on during hard times and celebrate wins with you as well!
Balance can feel difficult to achieve, as it is an ever shifting concept. You are always growing, improving skills you've already learned and acquiring new ones as you go. But these nine tips will keep your balance refreshed, supporting you as you do your best to balance the aspects of life most important to you.
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