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How do you climb the Himalayas

Spam Filter For Your Brain - Episode 73

What is the next smallest step? What is the tiniest thing that you can do that is going to move you in the right direction? I know that I've mentioned it on coaching calls before, but I really love the know.

How do you climb Mount Everest? One step at a time. It really does lean into that idea that it is just 1ft in front of the other, and off we go. And what is it that is going to keep you motivated and keep you with a sense of joy in your heart when your boots are heavy and they might be leaking along the way? I've told this story, I believe, on a coaching call before. I know that I've mentioned it online, but from 18 to 21, I couldn't. I really struggled to walk. I was on and off crutches, in and out of a wheelchair, for three years. And during that period when I was first on my crutches, and I had initially lost some of the use of my arms, and so I was struggling to walk, I'd got the use of my arms back. So I was back on crutches again now and being able to be a bit more mobile because I'm Anna and because I come from the place I come from.

I decided to climb a very small mountain in the Himalayas with my mum for sunrise one morning. And I had been really struggling over that time with my identity as someone who was not mobile and my identity as someone who'd had their career taken away. And on this journey, we’d got up at who knows what o’clock, let’s say it was probably 02:00 in the morning, to be able to get into the mountains to watch the sunrise over the Himalayas. And it was a tricky journey for me. I was in a lot of pain, and I was absolutely determined, and I needed more time than everybody else to get up this mountain, obviously. I was actually quite quick on my crutches, to be honest. But there was a level of rockiness about the terrain that I was accustomed to, and the altitude meant that the air was a lot thinner, and it was setting off my asthma. It was quite hard to breathe.

And so everybody went ahead, and I had a lot of thoughts about how I was being left behind. And wasn't this a great analogy for what was going on with me at the moment? And just as the sun started to rise over the mountains, I got within sight of the peak, and I looked up 200, 500 meters above me, and all I could see were jabbering tourists who were being really noisy. I can remember it feeling like a flock of crows. It was just noisy, and people were snapping cameras. It was back in the old analogue days, and people were chatting and busy, and there was quite a bit of litter on the path. And there was a hut just where I had paused for breath. And I was just taking stock of what I was walking into. And out from behind this hut came these two little kids, and they really wanted to go on my crutches.

So I sat down on a rock and I let them play with my crutches for a bit. And as sunrise was starting to peek over the mountains, I sat there watching these kids play and I sat there watching everybody else where I'd said that I was going to go. And there felt like a real moment of revelation for me about realising that I didn't have to go to the top, I didn't have to go where everyone else was going, just because I said that I wanted to. That's what I said that I was going to do. And there was no sense of failure. And not having reached the peak, I didn't need to go to the summit, that actually I was in the right place, having an interaction with two kids who probably by that time, I do recall, were using my crutches as machine guns. It wasn't quite as peaceful as it all sounded; they were definitely doing that. But it felt like a really, really profound moment for me to realise that I didn't have to push myself to go and do something that I didn't want to just because I'd said that I would.

And that only happened because I was slow and taking these small steps, and I was behind everybody else. Otherwise, I would have been. I think probably the group thinking of everyone going together would have pushed me into being somewhere that actually wasn't very pleasant for me. So you never know where your journey is going to take you to be part of what you need rather than what you think you want. And I really love that philosophy that life gives you what you need rather than what you've decided you're going to go after. But it is in striving ahead in the direction of something that feels aligned with your heart and your values that you get to discover moments like that, and you get to learn so much more about yourself. And what's really beautiful about having moments where you create a sense of determination towards getting to a goal is that you build and practice and rehearse the muscle of consistency. Consistency is a product of dopamine.

The way that you create dopamine all along the route of trying to get to a goal is you praise yourself for your wins, the tiniest things you get really good at noticing the stuff that you are doing all along the way. For me, up that mountain, literally, every step felt like a victory. 


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