How not to indulge in panic

window of a red pickup truckI have a confession to make

Even though my life’s work is teaching equestrians solutions to stress and tension with the Alexander Technique, a couple of weeks ago I totally lost my cool and wound up picking up the pieces — literally.

I’m fairly new to the Portland area, so networking with riders, riding instructors and other practitioners is high on my priority list.

One of my new contacts invited me to have an Alexander Technique lesson with her teacher who was visiting from New Mexico. So of course, I jumped at the opportunity to meet my new contact in person, expand my network and have an Alexander lesson myself.

But perhaps even more than that, I wanted them to “like me, really like me” (as Sally Field said in her Oscar speech), and respect me without even knowing me.

In my hunger for outside approval, I got totally disconnected from myself

With plenty of time to make it to Beaverton, I dropped my stuff in the truck and strolled over to the mailbox to send off a bill. When I came back, you guessed it, the keys and my phone were locked in the truck!

As a friend of mine once said: I “indulged in panic”

My negative self-talk went off the charts:

  • You’re an idiot
  • You never do what you say you will
  • You’re never going to amount to anything
  • They’ll think you’re a joke
  • You’ve already wasted the entire day

I got so worked up, believe it or not, I even shed a tear or two. When I was done crying, I regrouped and told myself, “there must be a way to get into this truck!”

I tried to wedge open the “wing” windows on the sides of the cab, even though I secretly knew I wouldn’t be able to reach the lock in the front seat.

I opened the camper shell and climbed into the truck bed. The window looking into the cab was open but the back window of the cab was closed. and I pried and prodded and budged it just a little…

But I’m sure you know how this story ends: glass shards all over the back seat, and still no way to get the doors open.

My husband came back from his errand, reassured me that I wasn’t a crazed lunatic, and let me in to the truck.

I collected myself as best I could, called and left a message that I’d be late.

Of course everything worked out fine in the end. I had a great Alexander lesson and met new contacts in the equestrian world.

But I berated myself needlessly, endangered myself, and what for?

I don’t know if you’ve ever put all your self-esteem eggs in one basket, but I’ll bet you have.

Have you ever been in a situation where you:

  • Focused rigidly on only one “acceptable” outcome?
  • Poured on the negative self-talk like Niagara Falls even though it was totally untrue?
  • Totally gave up when you didn’t get your way?
  • Did something dangerous even though you knew in the back of your mind it wouldn’t really help the situation at all and might hurt you?

Next time you get between a rock and a hard place, you could (and I could have):

  • Stopped for a moment to breathe out (reasoning: this isn’t what I wanted to happen, but an ok solution will come to me)
  • Asked for help (gone to the neighbor’s and called AAA)
  • Laughed and savored the irony (while freaking out, I embodied the insecure person I didn’t want others to see)

As the Alexander teacher mentioned in my lesson, after I’d released the tensions that literally wound me up, there’s always something to learn. I agreed, “life’s cool like that.”

About Emily Clark

Feel free to use this article in your newsletter or on your website or blog. Just make sure to include the bio and link below at the end of the article.

Emily Clark, of, is an Alexander Technique Certified Instructor who teaches horseback riders of all disciplines to eliminate pain and improve their posture so they can ride as one every ride.

She’s worked with equestrians for over 11 years. She loves working with riders because they’re so passionate about what they do.

Comments & Feedback:

  1. Laura Partanen says:

    Emska, I love you!!

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