I have always enjoyed the change in mental attitude that many of my clients experience once they commence a strength training program. For women in particular, who have been conditioned to consider themselves weaker, smaller, and less powerful than men, there is something very empowering in lifting a heavy weight. However, to lift that weight, one must first believe that they can, and train up to it. The euphoria once the goal has been attained is always a pleasure to watch. Then we witness our client’s attitude change to “can-do”, and to see them do fantastic things that they never thought they could (one example that leaps to mind; one client telling me that they “couldn’t imagine” being physically able to ride around Samoa – of course she could and she did!).
I have always been somewhat of an odd-ball, in that I am usually pretty certain that I can do something, and have to fail or fall before I realise I can not.
Which brings me to my drug-free labour on Saturday morning. Hundreds of thousands of women have done this, and I was pretty certain I could too. It was simply a matter of focusing, staying calm, and not fighting it. Exactly what I say to a client that doesn’t believe they can do the task I have set them, when I insist that they attempt it.
I did a couple of hours like that, then completely broke down. I whined about what was the point of this pain, I snapped at the people trying to help, I begged them to drug me (not realising that the only thing I could have in the bath was gas, and my arms were too weak to hold it to my mouth). In the end, the midwife explained to me exactly what I would have to do in order to get an epidural, which began with “get out of the bath”. That was too overwhelming for me to contemplate (I was sure my legs weren’t working), and I finally accepted that this was what I had to do.
I started counting through the contractions (focus), I completely relaxed between them (stayed calm), and let my body to whatever it needed to do (stop fighting it!). The last point took some effort on my part, since I was fairly certain that my body was trying to kill me. It was actually quite incredible how that changed the experience, and my ability to handle it. It was easier in the end to let go and be in pain, then fight it or try to control it.
It gave me another perspective on what a client faces when they do not believe that they can do something (in particular, when it hurts – like when we are training!). It can be overwhelming, frightening, and painful. Mental attitude it still the first thing we need to address in order to achieve anything.
It was another lesson learned, and I am proud that I achieved it. However, as I said on Saturday “I am never doing that again”!
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