“You’re just afraid.”

April 27, 2016

fearBy the time we reach midlife and thereafter, we’ve got a whole lot of life experience to call on, both positive and negative.  If we’re awake and aware, we can draw on that experience to predict an outcome. Or so it seems.

Sometimes, though, that works against us, as I learned the other day in the gym.

The body begins to deteriorate with age, there’s no escaping it. I look around and almost everyone in my age cohort has an issue: a torn meniscus, a slipped disk, sciatica–you name it.  Some people over-train and get injured, others don’t train at all and get injured and some get hurt just doing an every day task.

If you’ve been reading along you know I’ve been working hard in the gym to regain strength and flexibility after lazing around for a while.  And while I don’t have a knee problem, it’s the one thing that really scares me.

Whenever my trainer asked me to do something that included bearing weight on my knees, I’d respond:

“If I do that, I’ll blow out my knee.”  That’s because my mind predicted it in living color. I could feel the muscle weakness, feel the pain and then, feel the knee give out, all in my mind.  These step-up boxes were my nemesis:

fearAll I’d have to do is look at one and I could envision my knee buckling as I stepped up.

For months, my trainer would adapt moves to protect my knee, even as we worked to strengthen the muscles around it.

The other day he pulled out that box and asked me to step on it with one leg–as in bearing all my weight on that leg, and make a move in the air with my other leg.

“I can’t do that…” I began.  He stopped me.

“Carol,” he said. “You can now do everything. You’re just afraid.”

I was taken aback.  He was right. My leg gave out in my imagination and that made me think I couldn’t do it. But I’d been working on those muscles for months.

“I’m right here spotting you,” he said.

I assessed him, all 6’4″ 270 lbs of pure muscle, and thought, yes, he could catch me.

Taking a deep breath, I stepped up and surprise! My knee didn’t give out. I could do it.

Fear is powerful. It’s powerful because we give it power.  But we don’t have to. We can imagine, visualize, a different outcome.

Now, I’m not recommending that the outcome would be different by just imagining it. Not at all.

But if we do the work and have prepared to meet the challenge, there’s no need to fear it.

So–what fears have you given unnecessary power to? What are you not doing because your fear is greater than it needs to be?

29 comments on ““You’re just afraid.”
  1. ryder Ziebarth says:

    Excellent post-showing this to Mom. She’s always shake when it comes to curbs, etc. but can well do them. I realized only recently it ‘s her own fear talking. Thanks you for this!

  2. Anna palmer says:

    I too have a weird knee worry. I have also imagined that happening. I’m not sure that’s the reason I loathe those step up boxes though. Love to hear that you are taking them on!

  3. Kim Tackett says:

    Interesting….I have a right knee that I think about every time I see or think about Zumba. I’ve never done it, because I fear for my imaginary knee pain….may have to reconsider my friend.

    • I think the key is to be ready. Note that I spent many months building those muscles. Do not do this out of the blue without having worked on strength or you will blow it out. But when you see my post that’s coming about cardio class, well….gee, when IS that? Gotta check.

  4. Leanne says:

    I had a shoulder that dislocated easily and for 25 years I guarded it ferociously. Finally had the surgery to stabilize it and yet it took years before I trusted certain movements – and I’m still a bit scared when I reach too high or too far back. The mind is a strange thing at times!

  5. Ellen Dolgen says:

    So true, I think fear is the worst “F” word of all! It hold us back in all aspects of our life. Thanks for the great reminder.

  6. cori says:

    Sounds like me with my silly knee. I hurt it once doing jumping jacks, and now I’m hesitant to do them. I need to start slow again and build up my knee strength.

  7. Jenny says:

    It’s amazing what fear can do to us!

  8. Candy says:

    I know many people who are like this now.

  9. I’m glad you could overcome your fear, you are one of the strongest women I know.

  10. I luckily haven’t had too many problems with my knees yet but I know you have to be careful with trainers. Not all are adept working with those of us who are older. One false move can mess you up. However, my biggest problem is being overly competitive.I try to keep up with those who are younger and sometimes older and in better shape.

  11. Kim says:

    As I sit here, with ice on my knee post meniscus surgery, I hope I won’t be afraid. But the amount of people (usually my non-runner associates) shake their heads and say “you’ll never be able to run again” or some blather like that.
    The way I look at it, I have osteoarthritis on my knees (and also my elbows.) I will have orthoarthritis with or without running.
    I’m planning on rehabbing smart, which begins tomorrow. Yay~!

  12. Lisa Brock says:

    Fear – the greatest un-abler.

  13. barbara says:

    Very interesting subject to think about. I have fear in general as parts of me are getting weak and not working as well. I went through a stage of tripping and falling while I was on my daily dog walk. It scared me as well as embarrassed me. I changed the type of shoe I was wearing and became more conscious of where I am walking. That seemed to help and I haven’t had any trouble for awhile. I still have that memory and fear of falling. I’ll remember this article when that fear strikes me.

  14. Sheryl Kraft says:

    I’m so glad this turned out well for you. Yes, we are prone to so many injuries as we get older, but that doesn’t stop me from going to the gym…it just makes me that much more cautious. You sound like you’re careful and you took your time building up to where you are now. Bravo!

  15. So true! When I am at the gym, about to do something “hard”, I have to remind myself to visualize doing it correctly and without injury. Getting hurt is one of my biggest fears too! Good for you for getting on that step!

  16. Liz Mays says:

    I think for a long time I stayed married out of fear of being alone and having to support myself. It all worked out when I finally just did it though.

  17. Great post. Fear is so frustrating.

  18. I have a slightly different take. Fear canbe irrational- but it can also be notifying us of our limits. You began expanding yours, to the point that the fear was irrational. But, at first, you would have been correct.
    the trick- address your fears, prepare an arsenal of protection- and then strive forward.

    • We have the same take– you are so right, I did prepare and that was key. And the reason I was unreasonably afraid. Because yes, fear can help. But not if it’s irrational, as you say.

  19. Jamie says:

    I once had bursitis in one of my knees when I was a teen and didn’t think of it for yeasrs, but now every time I feel the slightest ache in either knee I stay off it for days. Great post!

  20. Jessica says:

    Way to go!!! It’s one thing to be cautious – like not wanting to do those kinds of moves at the beginning of your fitness journey – and another entirely to hold on to that caution, turning it into fear. Conquer the beast!!!

  21. Excellent post! I think many of us give fear too much power and don’t even realize that we’re doing it! We need to keep our eyes open for this so we can STOP IT!

  22. The mind is a powerful thing! I train for and run in marathons, and if it weren’t for visualization techniques and positive self-talk, I wouldn’t finish.

    Good post! Keep up the good work with your training! You’ve got this!


  23. Lezley says:

    Sounds like me with my ankle, I fractured it, and ever since then I have been overly protective. Great post.

  24. Leslie Rossi | alifewellconsumed says:

    i have this fear too, my knees are rough from years of figure skating and martial arts.

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