Let’s think about the word quitting. Personally, I’m not sure how I feel about it. It's not a word that's inherently bad, although it's sometimes used in a defeatist way, as a label that you have failed.
Growing up as an athlete, the word quit was often used quite negatively. Now, as an end of life practitioner and as a Soul Midwife, I hear the words, “they quit” or “they gave up” quite a lot by people after someone has died and this doesn't sit right with me because that's not how I perceive death to be.
Pre 2011 I would say I had very much that whole ‘no pain no gain’ attitude, I never quit. I mean I NEVER quit. It was literally ingrained in me that I just didn't give up. I clung on to everything. I was proud of having this strong Capricorn mind which gave me the belief that whatever I wanted to achieve, I could do it, providing I worked hard enough.
Now this isn't necessarily unhealthy. It's quite a masculine mindset which can be a good attribute because it is an action taking mentality. I very much lived in my masculine energy for a long time. I looked like a woman from a gender perspective, I had curves and I was feminine, but actually I lived in a lot of masculine energy which was the ‘GO GO GO!’, never quit mentality.
The Toxic Masculine
I have since learnt that you can fall into a toxic masculine energy. When you take it all too far. And when my little perfect storm in my life was created, I was taking things too far. I had progressed into toxic masculinity. A balance somewhere in-between would have served me better at this point. What I actually needed here was a stronger mindset as opposed to physically forcing and pushing and fighting. If I wasn't feeling 100%, I still would have pushed on. I had got into the mindset that, you keep going. I would constantly tell myself “Everything's okay, you've got this.” or “You’ll feel better at the end if you achieve this target.”
Swimming was my main sport when I was younger, I played netball and I was also a county sprinter so I was very much into competitive fitness. I was fully immersed within the sports mindset but the thing is we're not all athletes. That mindset serves athletes. However once you're not an athlete anymore and you're living your life differently that mindset no longer works by itself. If fact, it can become toxic.
Old me would feel under the weather but would have still gone swimming. I’d tell myself; “I’m still going. I’ll heal quicker if I just force my way through it.” or, “Keep yourself healthy. Keep moving”. Life wasn't bad. I was doing really well, I was thriving and flourishing, it wasn't a bad mindset but when my storm was created, that mindset no longer served me.
These days I treat myself to a swim. I call it a treat because it really does feel like a treat to me. I love the water. I feel more at home in water than on land. Although I don't have any natural pools around me or the sea, I'm very, very lucky to have a local gym close by that has an outdoor pool. Swimming is a big part of my health plan. It is a big part of how I take care of myself. However, because of my own mindset, even when in the middle of my storm. I swam. Every. Single Day.
I had staples in my spine after spinal surgery, and the day those staples came out, I went straight in the pool. And I can tell you, I was in so much pain. I can't even put it into words the pain... But my mindset was, “This will be really good for you if you go in”. What I did without realising for a long time was push and force and fight my way through healing. This wasn't coming from a bad place - I wasn't consciously punishing myself. It was very much a conscious belief that I was doing the best thing but ultimately it was subconscious punishment. I would continue to fight my way through the sessions, I was fighting, fighting, fighting, fighting and doing really well, fight, fight, fight, and then I would crash.
My body would actually shut down and I'd be in bed for weeks on end. Then I'd feel better, and then I'd push, push, push again, fight, fight fight… Then I would crash again, and this would be a repetitive cycle, because that's all I knew.
More balanced days ahead...
Nowadays things are different. I’ve not been not feeling physically the best at the moment and last week I didn't go in the pool as it would have been silly. I had a chest infection and was on antibiotics. The old me would have still gone. New me is very much saying, “Stop and give yourself time to heal”. This morning, I really felt like going for a swim. I knew deep down I'm not yet ready for swimming, I still struggle to breathe a little bit & I can still feel some tightness on my chest. So instead of ‘quitting’, which would be literally doing nothing at all, even though I want to do it, I looked for ways to adapt.
This morning, I went to the outdoor pool, the sun was shining, which in itself is beautiful. Emotionally I felt drained because I'm tired and fed up with coughing but as soon as I got in the pool the water felt like silk. I became present in the water. Instead of thinking, “How can I swim, how can I move, how can I push myself forward?”, I thought to myself, “How can I enjoy this experience and be present and move my body in a way that serves me today?”.
I was present in water and it felt like silk and the sun was on my face, and the water was unnaturally warm. I walked up and down the pool. I enjoyed the sun. I tried to breathe as deeply as I could and smiled at everyone around me to make those connections. I allowed the water to carry me and float, and breathe, and just really be present in nature. It was beautiful. I couldn't have had a better experience. So yes, I did still move, but in a way that worked for me. I still got my ‘swim’, even though it wasn't actually swimming, it was floating and walking.
And you know what? I'm okay with it. I had a lovely morning. I was able to move my body in a way that worked for me today. I didn't ‘quit’ because things weren’t perfect. I adapted.
That's what not quitting looks like.
Not quitting is;
Working out the best way to move our bodies today.
Working out how we can still ‘get that swim’.
Working out how we can connect with nature and lift our mood in a way that serves us instead of pushing ourselves too far.
That is what balance looks like to me today.
What does quitting look like and feel like to you?
It doesn't have to be a fight. It doesn't have to be a battle, and it doesn't have to be painful. It is your own journey through sometimes your own storm. I understand sometimes that when you are in a storm, that joy can be stripped away from you and unity can be hard to find. At these points in life it is all about changing, adapting and looking at how you can find even a snippet of joy for a minute that day. Acquiring the gratitude for that minute and focusing on that powerful healing energy.
Not quitting for me is now a much softer, much nicer place to be. It's more balanced, and I find it so much healthier for my mind, body and soul.
Think about where in your life you could stop fighting and take a step in a new direction. A step that's more balanced and kinder to yourself. Give yourself permission to be kind and find balance.
If you'd like to find out more about living a more balanced life, visit www.evaandalma.com to explore working with Rachael in either a private, or group capacity. Click below to book a free 30 minute alignment call to explore your needs.