Mindset Training Week 20: Connection
WHACK! My head met the unforgiving steel of the pull-up bar, and I collapsed to the ground. Dazed and dizzy, I squinted upward with blurred vision. Two bars in parallel formation glared down at me like a drill sergeant. In error, I grabbed for the bar furthest from my body, swung up with all my might—and met the second bar in a gross miscalculation. Direct contact with the center of my forehead. A cool trickle of blood ran down the bridge of my nose.
Embarrassed, I jumped up to get first aid before starting the workout. Pull-ups. Squats. I powered through somehow, then promptly rushed to the bathroom, close to passing out. I’d already tweaked my bad back the day before, letting my ego put too much weight on the barbell. Now I was bleeding from the head. With a goose egg forming between my eyes, I hung my head below my knees until I regained composure. My pride was long gone.
I’d booked a trip to Boston in chilly November to get my first coaching certification, planning to soak up learnings at CrossFit New England. At CFNE, I watched an innovative business live by its values, devoted to the betterment of the human race through fitness and personal growth. No matter who you were or where you came from, every person who walked through the door was greeted and made to feel like family.
The obstacles I’d overcome in my life by that point had confirmed I was on the right track with programming my mindset, but as I’ve already established, I’m not naturally athletic. My new routine was a mountain of constantly varied, functional movements performed at high intensity, integrating 10 categories of fitness. I was not great in any of the categories, but I was worst at coordination. Injury had plagued me most of my fitness career. I’d use my mindset tools to reset, find what I could do, and try again, but all roads kept leading me back to hurting myself. The most recent damage—prior to nailing my head on the pull-up bar—had been to my back, which left me unable to lift even 25 pounds.
In the years prior to going to Boston, I was in hustle mode building my skincare business. On top of that, I was also planning out elaborate yoga classes and carting a car full of supplies, including a life-size skeleton, to different studios. I loved teaching people about their bodies and how to love their bodies. However, it was depleting me—and my bank account. To create a financially sound business, I had to drop the elements that were diminishing my limited time, energy, and money. I was afraid that yoga instruction had to go. My trip to Boston was a chance to recenter my life on what mattered most.
One morning as I walked through downtown, ticker tape from a parade scattered the streets and bars were spilling over with people’s intoxicated laughter. The Red Sox had just won the World Series. It wasn’t so long ago that I’d have been in one of those bars too, throwing back beers in celebration. Instead, I was standing outside looking in. Eight years of efforts toward self-improvement had dissolved my desire to drink. I’d made a lot of progress—but it didn’t come without loneliness. Going out to bars and drinking had been my source of friendship and connection. I’d needed to wall myself in to strengthen my new habits and new life. Now that I felt stronger, I craved connection with a career and people who supported my growth.
After walking through Fenway Park, I found myself in Commonwealth Park, wandering along a perfectly manicured beltway. As I passed between brick colonial homes that spoke of heritage, naturally I pondered my own legacy. Was I to be an esthetician, a coach, a yoga teacher, all the above, or none of that? I loved being an esthetician and it was financially rewarding, but I kept getting nudged by the feeling that there was something more I was supposed to do. My career as a yoga teacher was a bust. So, what was it? Fitness coach? I knew if I continued to do everything, I wouldn’t excel at anything.
I paused at a statue memorial celebrating the feats of pioneering women in America. Lucy Stone, an abolitionist and suffragette who dedicated her life to fighting inequality. Phyllis Wheatley, seized from her home in Gambia and sold as a slave at age 7, who became one of the best-known poets in 18th century America—in a foreign language, no less. Abigail Adams, wife and advisor to President John Adams and an early advocate for women’s rights.
I stood in the center of these three brave women and asked them, What is it I’m supposed to do next? I knew I wanted to help humanity in some way. I also knew I needed wealth to achieve this goal. My business had yet to turn a profit and lack of clarity was not giving me the drive I needed for success.
Uncertain as to how this would all come together, I was certain of one thing—I wanted to run my business like CFNE. I trusted that God would show me the way.
I thanked these women who pioneered the way for me and headed back to the gym. I had a meeting with a pull-up bar.
On the final day at CFNE, I did my last workout and said my goodbyes. Just before I reluctantly walked out of the doors for the last time, my coach opened his arms, his eyes kind and warm, and wrapped me in a bear hug. It felt like the light from a thousand suns and awakened joy in every cell of my being. I walked away levitating on clouds, with a feeling of belonging that I’d longed for. The energy of friendship exchanged in that moment launched me into writing this book. Later revealed, it was the catalyst to healing the damaging childhood trauma which wrote the untrue narrative that I was unsafe in the world. One person, one singular act of kindness made the most significant difference in my life.
While at CFNE, not only did I see the results of a well-organized business, I saw the importance of connecting with tribe and community. Being surrounded by people working together with a united growth mindset was a battery pack of energy. I felt happier than I’d been in a long time. This reinforced the exhaustive lessons I’d learned by continually running myself into the ground with tasks: I was not meant to do everything by myself. I could trust people again. I could let people in.
PRINCIPLES OF BUILDING HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS
Entering any relationship, platonic or romantic, is accepting a certain grief, the always-present fear of losing that person. What we do with that grief draws the relationship closer—sometimes too close—or pushes it further away. Fear blocks the energy of love.
Come from a place of love in every interaction.
Making decisions based in fear will harm any relationship. Deconstruct fears around loss to identify the limiting stories you’re telling yourself that keep you in the same cycles. When you react with fear and other limiting emotions, you shut down and shut others out. Love opens the heart and opens your senses to the people who are important to you.
Deconstruct the emotions of others.
Review the steps to deconstruct the emotions of others from chapter 18 of your TMHH Workbook. Listen for the essence in the other person’s words: What feeling are they trying to convey? What do you want from the relationship? What does the other person want? Where is the misalignment? Hearing another person, whether you agree with them or not, sends the message of validation which will strengthen your bond.
Expect nothing and observe.
Ask for what you want but don’t expect anything back in return. Instead, observe. People will demonstrate their level of interest and investment in you. When they give you what you want, receive it gratefully. Expecting nothing and observing will allow you to be more mindful when deciding who you want close to you. You choose the people who show you respect, love, and actions in harmony with your needs and wants. When your happiness and sense of self is wrapped up in someone else, fear takes over and you’re dependent on that person for validation and happiness. When your sense of love and acceptance comes from your highest self, nothing is needed from others.
Set values, rules, and boundaries.
Create intentional relationships by aligning on your values. Depending on the relationship, this can be done together or on your own. Clarify what you want by making and communicating your guidelines. Set boundaries to make sure you’re remaining in a healthy space. Getting emotionally involved with someone diminishes the ability to be logical at times; emotions are not logical. Values, rules, and boundaries can always be trusted to help you to know when to pivot and take logical action when emotions are high.
Instead of pointing out what someone is doing wrong, try noticing what they’re doing right or not doing wrong. When we only point out others’ missteps, it sends a message that they’re not enough. Tell them you see the efforts they’re making: Try using the list of positive character qualities from chapter 7 of your TMHH Workbook. Begin a recognition statement with “I see” or “I hear,” followed with the positive action you’re noticing and a positive character quality the action represents.
Example: I see that you remembered to call me back after your busy day. that shows me that I am a priority in your life.
Through positive recognitions, you coach another person on what they did well without being demanding, and they will naturally do more of the quality you recognize. This creates a relationship based on friendship, safety, and security.
You are different people who have separate goals and purposes. Your lives have merged in certain areas, but will never merge in all. Strengthen your relationship by offering support. Listen and encourage autonomy. Know when your friends or partners need space. Trying to control others can make them feel suffocated and caged in. When you give another the freedom to spread their wings, you’ll fly together.
Show unconditional love for all beings. Love is an infinite resource and something everyone needs more of. Giving does not have to cost a thing, nor does it drain your energy resources, because it comes from something greater than you. Give your time and energy to those you want to develop strong relationships with. Give by listening and by demonstrating you care. Give kindness to all beings, especially those who you think don’t deserve it. They usually need it the most. Giving generously can be as simple as acknowledging someone’s existence.
Meditation brings everyone and everything together by connecting you to the universal source of energy that all beings share.
ON CUSHION: 20-MINUTE MEDITATION
Practice meditation twice daily, morning and night. Repeat a statement of intention and liberation around connection. Embody the truth of your words. I am a part of a community of like-minded people who love and accept me.
10-MINUTE EMOM + 10 MINUTES OF STILLNESS
- Set timer for 20 minutes with 10 one-minute increment bells.
- Sit with your spine in neutral, shoulders over hips, ears over shoulders.
- Close the eyes and focus gently at the third eye point between the eyebrows.
- As you breathe in, imagine a golden light entering your chest and exiting through the back of your heart.
- As you breathe out, imagine the light entering the back of your head at the point where the skull meets the spine, then exiting at the third eye point.
Minute 0:00 to 10:00
- Circulate energy from the heart to the mind as you inhale and exhale.
- Inhale: Silently repeat “Heart.”
- Exhale: Silently repeat “Mind.”
- Retain breath.
- Concentrate at the third eye point between the eyebrows.
- Silently repeat “Love.”
Minute 10:00 to 20:00
- Sit in silence for 10 minutes.
- Concentrate at the third eye point of intuition.
- Circulate the breath.
- Forget the body. Dissolve into energy.
- Silently repeat “Om.”
Notice the feeling of self-love awakened from meditation. Affirm I am worthy of love.
OFF-CUSHION: COMMUNITY OF ONENESS
Take the essence of your meditation out into the world. Connect with all beings you see today by acknowledging everyone as being part of the world community. The body is only your outer shell and the temporary vehicle for your soul. When you see others as separate from you, it fosters an us versus them attitude. When you see others as part of you, compassion and empathy come naturally. Love levels the playing field in a world encouraged to be so divided.
Just as you have been practicing the circulation of the breath through the heart and mind to awaken, imagine that same force circulating through the hearts and minds of all beings. Shed the idea of the body and its traits, and you can perceive that we are all energy mingling in the same energy field. Wish for all beings connections with tribe and community and the knowledge that they’re loved and they matter.
Further this practice by thinking of a place in the world that is facing unrest, violence, or disaster. Imagine this place and the people who dwell there at peace. Send love from your heart to the hearts of those facing immense challenge. Think “May all beings in this place know love and peace.”
Complete introspection questions and Chapter 20 exercise from your TMHH Workbook.