I tried something new a few weeks ago.
And something big caught me by surprise.
Actually, it wasn’t entirely new. I’ve done similar things before. Yet doing it in this way, at this particular place, that was new.
It wasn’t even that “big” of a deal. Not like I was speaking in front of thousands of people for the first time, base jumping off a cliff, or presenting a big project to big important people.
But it was a big deal, to me. And it caught me by surprise.
I went to a new cycling studio for a class.
One I hadn’t been to before. Whilst I enjoy the odd cycling class from time to time, it’s not exactly my usual go-to when it comes to moving my body.
I thought I was just scheduling in some movement to my week.
Turns out, I was practicing something much bigger than that.
Because from the moment I walked in the door I was checking everything out.
Noticing how long they took to serve me, if they were going above and beyond to make me feel welcome, doubting whether I was choosing the right shoe size, feeling confused about where to find the bathrooms, screwing my nose up to the smell of the deodorant they’d supplied.
And the moment I walked in the cycling studio itself, and the music was blaring so loud I could barely hear the instructor, I realised something else.
I was judging.
I was looking everywhere for reasons to “hate on” the place. Seeing all the bits I didn’t like. Doing some internal whingeing and complaining about everything from why I didn’t like the way my shoes clicked into the pedals through to why the music choice was too heavy for me and how the position of the air vent above my neck was just poor planning all round.
I was in full on judgement mode.
Everything felt like an attack. On me. On my nervous system. Every possible reason for me to excuse myself out of that room forevermore. And all the reasons I’d come up with were all about them and not me.
I’ve had enough of these moments and got to know my inner critic well enough to recognise this pattern now. And when it clicked into place as I clicked those shoes into place, I had no where to hide.
That judgment overload that was washing over me had almost nothing to do with “them” and everything to do with me.
I was scared.
I was doing something new.
I was putting myself out there and I didn’t really know what I was doing or how it would turn out.
I was afraid that I wouldn’t be “good enough” to be in a cycling studio pedalling away in the dark to blaring music.
What if I got it wrong? What if I couldn’t keep up? What would that mean about me?
The fears that come up around doing something new are pretty normal. We’re built to check in with new surroundings to make sure we’re safe. Yet what you choose to do with that fear is entirely in your control.
Noticing that my judgement was much more about my own fears gave me back a sense of control in that moment.
I realised it was my choice to be there. And my choice to make the class mean and feel what I ever I wanted it to.
I wanted to move my body. Check.
I wanted to stretch myself a little. Check.
I knew I didn’t have to “measure up” to anyone else in the room.
So I could relax and keep up with my pace and what I needed in that room. Which was as simple as: I needed to move my body.
Acknowledging my judgement for what it was allowed it to take the back seat and not overwhelm me so much into freeze mode. I didn’t buy into all the thoughts that were racing, I just allowed them to swim on by.
Yes, I still felt a little nervous and irritable in my body. And that’s okay. I acknowledged it for being there. And then just got on with it.
Not in a gripping pushy kind of way (I skipped the whole weights section and had plenty of breaks). In a soft, accepting, natural kind of way. The kind where you know your truth and you come back to your place of centre. Why am I here?
If you’re finding yourself in any judgement spirals, a great way to snap yourself out is to get real with yourself. Check in with those fears and ask what is it I’m really afraid of right now?
When you speak your fear out loud, its intensity softens. And when its intensity softens you get to take back the reigns and expand more into the truth of who you are, and what you want in that moment. And I know that’s what you want.