During a visit to a college where I was a keynote motivational speaker one of the students made a comment about whitewater and feeling out of control that I’ll never forget.
She was a sea kayaker and mountain climber who was interested in trying whitewater kayaking, but was very apprehensive about the sport.
Unlike climbing (on a wall or rock face) or sea kayaking (in protected shorelines and flatwater), she imagined that she would have a lot less control in white water.
When climbing a wall, she was confident that she could stop and rest when she needed or wanted to. In moving water she would have to pull into an eddy to stop. She couldn’t stop whenever she wanted because the water is dynamic and flowing. That scared her.
What she said is true. You can’t control the river. The only thing you can control is yourself!
Not only is this great insight into why some people are fearful about trying whitewater kayaking, it also parallels what I encounter in my private kayak instruction for women. Some of my clients are constantly dealing with the feeling of being out of control, and are in need of strategies to help them re-center and regain confidence.
A key strategy I teach my clients is how to cultivate a relationship with the river by learning how to read water. When you understand the flow of the river, your perceived lack of control diminishes and you feel more confident.
If you perceive that you’re out of control on the water then you open the door to panic, and have little mental space left to draw on the skills you do have. That leaves you feeling out of control because you no longer have control over yourself.
When you understand the water you discover that there’s a lot you can do to maneuver your kayak effectively and that doesn’t feel so scary.
As always, kayaking mirrors life. If there’s something you feel out of control about in your life, my suggestion is to get to know it instead of resisting it. Learn to ‘read’ the situation like you learn to read the currents in the river.
Here are 6 questions you can ask yourself when you feel out of control and you want to feel confident:
What can I discover about, and from the situation that can help me maneuver through it with courage?
- Is there a way to flow around this challenge?
- Has a different path opened up that I wasn’t aware of before?
- What is the most obstacle free path to my goal?
- Is this challenge a small wave or a big hydraulic? There’s a big difference! 🙂
- How is my perception of this challenge affecting my courage and my confidence? In other words, my story do I have about my lack of control vs how much control I actually have?
- What is my next move to get myself around or though this challenge?
As you contemplate these questions notice how your perceived lack of control shifts, even ever so slightly toward more confidence and courage. Take action from a place of courage, knowing that you do have control over yourself and you can take that next step with confidence.
Are you ready to feel more confident and in control of your skill and your actions? Join me for private instruction on the water this summer near Asheville, NC. I’m now taking bookings for August, September and October. Click Here to learn how my private instruction program works and the results you can expect!