Ive recently started hula-hooping. I was 5 years old when hula hoops first hit the scene. But like most boomers, I havent touched one in decades. Now I practice nearly every day and have mastered a few simple tricks.
Whenever I mention hula-hooping to friends, they respond in a surprisingly similar way: I did that when I was young. But I cant do it anymore. If I say, Sure you can. Youre just out of practice, they reply, Oh, no. Ive tried it. I cant do it.
Im surprised by this resistance. Seems many of us are loath to try something new, especially if we think well appear silly or incompetent.
The fact is, nearly everyone can hula-hoop. Theres nothing magical about the skill. Its a cheap, portable hobby, and its great for your back and core.
Still, our inner critics cast the ultimate vote. Theyre petrified of failing. They seek to protect us from being laughed at, so they keep us on a short leash.
This same fear crops up in a variety of settings. We want to take up painting but worry we dont have talent. Or wed like to join a gym but are intimidated by the hard bodies we see in our spin class.
Some of us are so failure-phobic that it severely interferes with our lives. Certain mental disorders, such as social phobia, generalized anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder, list exaggerated fear and worry among their diagnostic criteria.
Its easy to see how it develops. High achieving parents can set unrealistic expectations for their offspring. School kids can be insensitive and laugh at their less successful peers. Older siblings can mercilessly taunt their younger brothers and sisters.
Those painful memories get stored on our psychic hard drives. They become an integral part of who we are.
Even when were long past the original danger and have gained ample power and esteem, we secretly fret about not passing muster, about being laughed at once again.
Ironically, most of us are impressed by others efforts. Rather than scoffing or being critical, were inspired by their newest endeavors. Were spurred on to expand our own horizons, and we secretly thank them for paving the way.
Of course, some activities will never be appealing. Sky diving wont cut it for me. Still, Im eager to take on new challenges, even if Ilook foolish in the process.
EAGER TO TACKLE SOMETHING NEW? TRY THESE TIPS:
Find a mentor. Take a class or get a personal trainer. Youll get the expertise you need to get started. Their input and encouragement will keep you motivated.
Avoid judging your performance. Stop using words such as good or bad. Never tell yourself I cant do this. Simply observe what youre doing and make changes where you can.
Accept where you are. You are a beginner. Thats OK. You may improve or remain at your current level. Wherever you are is good enough.
Dont get too serious. Chances are youll never be a professional. So dont freak out about how you do. Back away and take some deep breaths if you do get too worked up. Thatll help keep things in perspective.
Enjoy the process. Dont worry about the endpoint. Instead, savor every step along the way. The activity will maintain its freshness, and youll avert needless stress.
Dont overdo. Its easy to get too excited in the beginning. You have a tendency to set unreachable goals and burn out if theyre not met. Instead, go slow. Be patient. Steer clear of longterm commitments. You dont have to accomplish everything right off. Theres plenty of time to enjoy it.
Practice for short periods of time. Brief, frequent practice sessions are more effective than hours of training. Youre guaranteed to improve if you stick with it. Too much practice increases the likelihood of injury and fatigue.
Have fun. The bottom line is enjoyment. Only you can ensure that you do. Laugh often. Be lighthearted. Allow the delight you experience in your activity to resonate in every aspect of your life.