There was a time in my life when I held an unnecessary amount of tension.
My natural set-point was stress. I enjoyed being busy and felt lost whenever I had downtime. This was not sustainable and I realized that this way of living was doing more harm than good.
“Sometimes holding on does more damage than letting go.”
I saw this quote and began reflecting on the “ropes” that I was holding onto in my life.
I realized that in many situations I was holding onto anxiety about something that had not happened yet. I was clinging onto a rope hoping that it would keep me afloat, when in reality I was only causing unnecessary tension in my life. Clinging to those ropes was cutting up my hands.
If I had a big project or challenge coming up in my life I would feel anxious leading up to the event. The root of this feeling was the fear of the unknown, and I conditioned myself to prepare for the worst outcome. In doing this, I was putting myself through stressful situations twice. When in reality, I did not know what the outcome would be. For all I knew, the situation could go extremely well, without any stress.
This is where the visualization of a rope helped me tremendously. I started to practice mentally letting go.
This is how I would do it:
As soon as I started feeling overwhelmed I would take a moment alone and look down at my hands. I visualized what they would look like if all of the stress I was feeling was channeled into holding onto a rope. This gave me a moment to reflect about what was worth hurting my hands for.
The next thing I would do is ask myself why I felt so much tension and what my biggest fear was. I would walk myself through the worst case scenario and then consider steps that I could take to mitigate or move forward from that outcome.
After I considered the worst case scenario I would challenge myself to picture the best case scenario and ask myself “What if it goes perfectly?”
When I think rationally through the potential outcomes I realize that I have the tools to overcome all of the outcomes. I will never be able to predict exactly what will happen. But assuming that the outcome will be negative means that I live in a negative headspace leading up to the event. Often, this sabotaged my ability to perform when I was put under pressure.
If I dropped the rope, I gave myself a better opportunity to be successful. People want to help positive people. My perspective is that the world will offer endless opportunities if you keep yourself open to them and adapt to a growth mindset.
What will the outcome be? You will not truly know until it is all said and done.
The worst case scenario could be that you sacrifice your mental state over something that has not happened yet. That is why visualizing tension as a rope has helped me change my mental pathways and gain clarity about what really matters.
I challenge you to recognize when you are putting yourself through something twice and consider the damage that this practice has on your overall well being and performance. When you feel your chest tighten with anxiety or catch yourself breathing heavily, take a moment to look down at your hands. Have an honest conversation with yourself about what rope is pulling you away from being your best self. Then make the choice to drop the rope.
Written by Jessica Orchin
Gasparotto Group helps organizations create cultures that develop highly effective leaders and build strong, resilient teams.