P is for Perseverance


Last week I attended a training in San Diego. It was a certification for Neuro Emotional Technique (NET). This is a tool I use in psychotherapy that is a tremendous stress reliever for my clients. I first learned about the technique as an acupuncture patient since my practitioner also does it as part of her healing protocol. In fact, the technique was developed by a chiropractor, Dr. Scott Walker. Consequently, many chiropractors also utilize it.

For 2013 I attended the required courses to be eligible for certification. I also worked with clients and my NET buddy in preparation. I knew I would learn more and be stretched at the 5-day training and I certainly was, even more that I expected. In order to pass, we had to demonstrate our ability to perform the technique on a patient as well as pass a written exam. Our days were comprised of lectures and workshop time designed to allow participants to practice the 15 step technique on each other. 

Of course I was nervous about everything but especially about the practical exam. I'm one of those people who hate being watched. I'm also not a great memorizer of information and given a task, it's unlikely that I will get it 100% right ever. My mind just doesn't work that way. I am more of a conceptual person. I knew I was proficient at the technique but to memorize exact wording was stressing me out.

Nevertheless, I kept practicing. I worked through my anxiety and fear. I also utilized other strategies to help me. One was visualization. I lay down in a comfortable position and saw myself doing the technique, doing every single part. I saw my patient, gave her an "issue," found a corresponding emotion and walked us through the steps. 

As part of my way to manage the fear of memorizing, I even told myself to pretend I was in a play and these were my "lines."

My worst nightmare though was this: getting it wrong AND then crying. Because here is my confession: I am the world's biggest cry baby. The bad part about my crying is that sometimes, when I start it can be really hard to stop. I knew that if I made a mistake and was critiqued, it might just start the water works and then, my face would get puffy, my nose snotty, my eyes blood shot and I was a goner. 

So naturally what happened? Of course, my worst nightmare. Before the practicum, I visualized again, listened to soothing music to relax and went ready to get it done! 

Making a long story short, let's suffice to say that I didn't say the words EXACTLY perfect and then botched one line. In the follow up with the examiner, he started telling me where I had done well and where I had not. Naturally, I started to (you can guess) cry. The examiner groaned (a typical male response to tears). I was crying because I was angry, frustrated, and stressed out. I didn't really care that I had to do it again - well I did but not that much. What really stressed me out was that I was crying, and I had to go out of the room, through all the people milling about. They would see me upset and that was super embarrassing.

Honestly, as I began to walk out of the room, all I wanted to do was flee. I wanted to run out of the room, jump into my car and get the f*** out of there. I even heard this little voice in my head. "Screw this, let's just leave." That voice used to be a lot stronger in my head. Now it's a mere whisper. As that sentence began fading a resounding voice, infused with determination screamed, "absolutely not! You will stay and finish this tonight!" And I could feel the power mounting within me.

So I ran to the bathroom, blew my nose, and splashed water on my face all in an attempt to look like I was fine. Then I re-emerged into the sea of colleagues. I quickly found my friends who were supportive, starting a new eruption of tears. I said to them, "I want to be done tonight." And one of them immediately volunteered to act as my patient.

I knew I couldn't go through another night of waiting. I knew I had the technique down and just needed to demonstrate that. The new voice in my head, the power voice was the voice of perseverance. That's a voice I never really heard until I was in my 30s. Prior to that, I had the bad habit of giving things up, running away or chickening out. Then in my 30s I took up Tae Kwon Do. One of the tenets of this martial art is perseverance. Now obviously, everything taken to its extreme can be dangerous and sometimes people do persevere to the detriment of themselves. We all need to know when to quit. But for me quitting was my go to. I needed to learn about sticking things out even when they got hard. That inner determination was the energy that builds before I would break a board and shout, before I would spar or do a form.

Marital arts taught me how to stand up for myself, how to fight, how to see things through. I had no idea how much of those lessons would translate into my daily life but they have in countless ways. At the certification, it was through the act of not giving up. So despite looking "like a wreck" - which is what my 2nd examiner said to me- I did the NET technique perfectly and passed. And I thank Tae Kwon Do for instilling that discipline in me to not give up, to push through when things get hard and to do it anyway- even if I was teary eyed and red faced. I knew within my being that I was ready and that was all that mattered.