Tag Archives: anxiety

Fear is a liar

“Fear is a liar.”

We hear this statement all the time.

I say this statement all the time.

I truly believe this statement to be true.

But… when fear sneaks in through the window that you forgot you left cracked open it has the ability to infiltrate every single corner of your mind.

I equate it to having a flea problem in your house… you can wash everything, spray your house, and treat your pets but somehow fleas always seem to appear here or there from time to time.

“The enemy is fear. We think it is hate, but it is fear.” – Gandhi

Fear can paralyze you, it can make you believe that you are incapable of doing something that you are certainly capable of doing. Fear can negate days, months, years, or even a lifetime of hard work.

So, when fear sneaks in, what do we do? Where do we go? How do we overcome?

I battle these questions EVERY TIME I enter the pool.

I have an intense fear of drowning but even bigger than that is the intense fear I have of not being good at something, of failing at something.

I want to be an Ironman probably more that I could ever adequately express in words. I can’t even tell you why I want it so bad, I just know that I do. One might think this desire would far outweigh any fear that might enter my mind… But, alas, it does not.

Whenever I am getting ready to go swim my anxiety levels begin to rise… My heart rate starts to increase, my breathing becomes irregular, and my thoughts start to race. I start to make bargains with myself about how much I am going to swim. When I get in the pool, all my symptoms become that much worse. When I go underwater, the panic becomes palpable. I start to feel as if I am going to run out of breath, like I have forgotten how to do what I have to do. I find myself stopping after every lap to catch my breath, to give myself a pep talk, to convince myself to keep going.

Swimming is my Achilles heel.

But, sometimes, there is this strange thing that happens while I am swimming… Sometimes when I am swimming there is a strange sense of peace that comes over me. The panic falls away, I feel calm, I do what I have to do without overthinking it… It actually feels natural.

So, when fear sneaks in, what do I do? Where do I go? How do I overcome?

I keep going. I keep pushing. I go to that place within my heart, within my soul, where my confidence and drive live. The place where I know that I can conquer the world and anything that comes between me achieving my dreams. I overcome by pushing past the fear and continuing to get in the pool until swimming becomes second nature to me because…

Fear IS a liar.

Fear WILL NOT win.

Fear WILL NOT conquer me.

Fear WILL NOT steal my dreams.

When in doubt, pedal it out.

Lately I have been struggling with coming up with any ideas that I felt were worthy of developing into a blog post. I have no big events coming up that I am training for and am really just riding to maintain my sanity. I began writing this post several days ago and then life hopped in and I “forgot” about it and put it to the side. Last night something happened that triggered me to want to continue this particular post.


“When in doubt, pedal it out.” I am more than certain that I should be crediting that fantastic one liner to someone brilliant but I have no clue who first said it so I’ll just go with that it wasn’t me that came up with it…

I found myself driving in the car the other day when it felt as if a proverbial brick hit me in the face… I had the sudden realization that I am 36 (even though I’ve been 36 since June). I started to panic thinking that I was now closer to 40 than I was to 20 or even 30. I began to ask myself (literally out loud) what the hell I had to show for it. My life had not gone as I had planned it to… EVER. I was able to calm myself and stuff down the emotions associated with this horrendous realization simply by telling myself that I would consider this in more depth on my next ride. Riding is, of course, where I ponder life’s great mysteries or where I decide what I am doing for dinner… whatever.

The next ride came and think about it, I surely did. I began to think about all the things that I DO have in my life for which I have to be thankful rather than dwelling on those that I don’t have. I thought about my kids, my good health, the fact that I have the ability to ride as much as I do, my home which I own, the wonderful support system that I have built around me, and my amazing family. Thing is, I know all those things and yet I still experienced the anxiety that I had felt in the car the other day. I began to think about the things I had planned for myself in my life and the way life had instead dealt me its own version of a plan for me. I decided to focus on the saying that “everything happens in its own due time.” I also started to consider that, I am exactly where I should be at this exact moment in time.


That is where I left off writing and actually the same line of thinking is what brings me back to finish writing this specific post.

Recently, I have been struggling with managing my anxiety, whether it be in direct relation to something going on in my life or even in relation to absolutely nothing that I could pinpoint at all. Riding is my natural outlet to manage all sorts of emotions and the way that I keep myself level and grounded. I have learned to lean heavily on my riding over the last two years but I have also been actively working on making changes to the baseline thoughts that drive the anxiety I experience. One would assume that this would be a simple process for someone whose entire career is dedicated to teaching others to do this very thing. It is, in fact, one of the most difficult feats to accomplish. Our thoughts are truly the beginning to everything we are and I know that if I can focus on changing them then I can change so many pertinent things in my life.

There is a quote that I often refer to when talking to the kids I work with about how to make changes in their lives:

“Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become your character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”

I think I have reached a point in my life where I have finally realized that I don’t have control over much and that I need to relinquish my desire to control the uncontrollable (shocking, I know). Something happened last night that was once again a stark reminder that,

I am exactly where I should be at this exact moment in time.

That, most of my anxiety is driven by fear that is unfounded and by my propensity to overthink things. I am working on focusing myself in the ‘here and now’ and living the life that I have in the precise moment in which I am. There is something truly freeing in this way of thinking, similar to the freedom that I feel while I am out on the road. I find that I have to actively tell myself this and sometimes work even harder to believe it. But, I know that the brain needs to be exercised just like the body that I use to power my bike. The more I exercise all of me, the happier, healthier, and more grounded I will feel. So here’s to exercising all of me all the way closer to 40 and then waaaaaay beyond that. Oh Lord, here comes the anxiety again… I really don’t wanna be 40 and, at this moment, I don’t even wanna adult anymore. 🙂

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life