Sometimes in life, when we really want something, we can approach it in a way that might actually be closing us off from achieving it. Building up expectations, creating unrealistic time frames, feeling like our end goal is the end all, be all can all lead to frustration or anxiety. We end up feeling as though we have to power through what we want, rather than enjoy the process and just let the result come as it may.
Sometimes we allow this controlling place to consume us. We literally push ourselves to our breaking points. This is when we finally have to realize that nothing is worth that much stress and that we must let go. When we let go of any control we thought we had (but control we never really had to begin with, actually), when we let go of the expectations that we built in our minds' eyes, when we let go of the emotional heaviness, we are left with the only the here and now. It's as if we have cleaned the slate and we're starting fresh. From this place, we are free to maneuver from instinct and desire and all of a sudden things feel so light and easy. We've dropped all of our heavy baggage. This phenomenon is called the "Law of Least Resistance," and I've lived its power.
Two weeks ago, I was in Tignes, France for the 2011 Winter European X Games. One night at practice, I found myself teeming with anxiety. It was one of the last nights of practice, and the pipe was filled with fresh snow, which was really slowing things down. I hadn't thrown my finals runs yet in practice but had decided that it needed to happen that night, despite the fact that I was having trouble just getting enough speed to crack the lip of the pipe, let alone do any of my tricks.
After doing a few runs that were less than impressive, I came to a place where I was mentally teetering on the edge: I was either going to dig deep and push harder (because I hadn't done what I needed to do) or just throw in the towel and give up. That's when an opportunity came knocking, and thank goodness I had enough sense and awareness to listen to it!
Matt Ladley, who was going bigger and riding better than anyone else that night, asked me if I would want to follow his line. I said yes. When you follow someone's line in the halfpipe (especially when it's Matt Ladley's), your only goal is to keep up. It was no longer my job to think, but just to follow. The difference between that run and my runs prior were night and day. Now, I didn't end up throwing my finals runs that night, but that's where the "Law of Least Resistance" came into play ... I decided that it didn't matter anymore. What mattered most was that I was learning a valuable lesson on how to totally point it in the pipe and most importantly, that I was having a really fun time doing it.
That night, I took one step back to take two steps forward. From that experience, I got into a better mental place -- sometimes that's what you've got to do. When you find yourself hitting up against a wall over and over again, it's time to try a different route.
The reason it sometimes takes hitting the breaking point or rock bottom to change your approach is because you get so disturbed that you feel like there's nothing left to lose. When you operate from a nothing-left-to-lose mentality, it's essentially the same thing as the "Law of Least Resistance." You have a goal in mind, but you're not emotionally attached to the outcome. You're focusing on all of the little steps in-between.
The ultimate goal is to be so in tune with yourself that as soon as you feel yourself getting into a place of anxiety or frustration, you can take a step back and realize that you're focusing too much on the end result rather than the process of achieving it. By lightening up and enjoying your journey you will actually accomplish your task-at-hand faster and with more enjoyment. The key is to continuously build rather than get to a place where you knock yourself down and then have to rebuild, again and again.
All of this is much easier said than done, I know, but it's all about learning from your experiences and becoming more aware of your emotional triggers so that you can take yourself to a higher place than you've ever been!