by Amy Schweim of Women’s Radical Pursuits
This article appeared in Issue 6 of Mountain Women Magazine
Have you ever been on a ride or hiking with a group of friends and found yourself at the back of the pack suffering, struggling, and beating yourself up the whole time because your mind was telling you how much you suck?! Or maybe you don’t even go on group rides or hikes because you are afraid you won’t be able to keep up. Do you ever feel like your mind is against you sometimes?
I humbly admit, this sums up my early years of mountain biking when I first learned to ride in Crested Butte 20+ years ago and how I went through life off my bike from time to time as well; as though my mind was my worst enemy.
I’ll never forget the first time I rode clipless pedals with a former boyfriend who took me to Horse Thief Bench outside of Grand Junction, to learn. I’m not sure why he chose to take me to the most technical trail to torture me on, but nonetheless, my mind was pretty harsh with me that day as I struggled to keep up with him and stay on my bike! Many times, I found myself stuck in my pedals, tipped over on a pile of rocks with a trail of blood, sweat and mind full of defeat.
To try and salvage my pride, I tried to laugh it off and crack jokes through the sufferfest. I battled my mind all day long, justifying, arguing, and cursing myself. All the while trying to psych myself up after each fall and keep my attitude positive as I humbly slung my leg back over the saddle each time picking myself back up. I felt psychotic trying to maintain the happy face and claim how fun it was to my boyfriend while battling the gremlins of my mind. Mentally and physically exhausted, I survived. But sadly, I didn’t truly enjoy it because I let my mind negatively control my experience.
I spent the next ten years mountain biking the Gunnison Valley throughout my 20’s, battling my mind to some degree or another. Not only on the bike, but off my bike too. I was a perfectionist and overly critical of myself in any endeavor I pursued.
Until I moved to South America….
THE UNEXPECTED SHIFT
After years of living in the land of extreme sports and enduro athletes, I picked up and moved myself to the Caribbean Coast of Colombia to teach internationally for two years. I went from a land of certain to the absolute unknown and uncertain. I moved from a small mountain town where I felt aligned, proud and falsely identified to the masculine energy side of my being. Upon moving, I found myself thousands of miles away from that masculine energy to the exact polar opposite vibe of the Caribbean embodied with feminine energy, the sea, and a subtle sense of ‘softness’ where I was able to tap into a more gentle way of ‘being’ by mixing up my recreation with mountain biking, surfing, yoga, and Latin dancing!
There weren’t many female riders and in the beginning, I rode alone a lot. What shifted the most for me was re-discovering why I loved mountain biking once I was out of the environment where I felt an invisible ‘pressure’ to perform. I was able to just enjoy the ride and stop fighting with the gremlins of my mind. I fell in love with mountain biking for the pure joy of it again. I let go of the feeling that I had to prove something on my bike, and also in life. I let myself simply be, in the flow state, happily experiencing joy!
It was like going back to being a kid in a way and learning again. Everything around me was new and I was beginning again: learning a new language, culture, country, singletrack and school system. Not even conscious of it at the time, I see that I had shifted from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset and was open to the process of learning, discovery, and the pure joy and bliss of the experiences! From that time in my life on, I really embarked on a path of self re-discovery, healing, and embraced living life with a growth mindset; excited to learn, develop, and evolve into my full potential both on and off the bike.
Carol Dweck helps explain the difference between a fixed mindset and growth mindset:
“IN A FIXED MINDSET, PEOPLE BELIEVE THEIR BASIC QUALITIES, LIKE THEIR INTELLIGENCE OR TALENT, ARE SIMPLY FIXED TRAITS… THEY BELIEVE THAT TALENT ALONE CREATES SUCCESS–WITHOUT EFFORT. IN A GROWTH MINDSET, PEOPLE BELIEVE THAT THEIR MOST BASIC ABILITIES CAN BE DEVELOPED THROUGH DEDICATION AND HARD WORK.”
For so many years, I beat myself up feeling like I was never ‘good enough’ and didn’t have the talent on the bike, and in life, to succeed and reach my goals. Once I shifted to a growth mindset, I was able to accept where I was and recognize what I needed to do to continue to develop myself. I focused more on my inner qualities and the way I perceived my experiences, my focus, values, beliefs, and thoughts about what I set out to do. I allowed myself to develop my skills (on the mountain bike and in life) rather than hold myself to an unrealistic expectation to be perfect and attain my goals without effort and struggle.
In all honesty, I went through some serious rock bottoms in my personal life that really brought me to the realization that I needed to shift my mindset, because it turns out, I was my own worst enemy and the biggest barrier in my way. I’ll admit, heartbreak was the catalyst that dropped me to my knees where I hit one of my first rock bottoms and the story isn’t pretty how I initially dealt with it. But the silver lining was discovering how to deeply love my own self, heal, forgive and then set out years later to inspire and empower other women seeking to do the same through adventure travel, yoga, and mountain biking!
It kind of felt like a global ‘rock bottom’ in some ways from the effects of COVID-19, eh? But again, it depends on how you look at it! I think one of the greatest silver linings of this pandemic was taking advantage of the time we have had to connect, turn inward, and reflect on how we are showing up at life. Do you see through a lens half full or half empty? Rose or brown shaded? Here are a few tips to start to explore your mindset and move towards one of growth!
4 WAYS TO FOSTER A GROWTH MINDSET
Understand the connection between thoughts and feelings – they create the reality of your experiences!
Start to build awareness around your thoughts and feelings. Pay attention to what you are telling yourself! Pay attention to how you feel! If you are beating yourself up STOP ALREADY! Take five deep breaths. Focus on your breath, change the story you are telling yourself to something softer and more loving! “You’ve got this! It’s not about the destination, it’s about enjoying the journey.”
Notice the beauty around you; the flowers, the trees, the beautiful sky, people you love. Then pay attention to how you feel after you shift your thoughts. It’s a really simple practice, but it takes your awareness and practice.
YOU are in control of your mind; YOU are a powerful conscious creator!
Everyday, start your day by planting the seeds you want to watch grow in your life. You choose: will you grow flowers or weeds? Intentionally create affirmations to tell yourself every morning. Choose a mantra or word or whatever it is you will tell yourself every morning before your feet hit the floor that you can bring with you into your day for when challenges arise in life or on your bike. You have to take control of your mind rather than be at the mercy of your subconscious mind!
If you learn from the experience, you are a WINNER every time!
Even if you come in dead last, miss a deadline or you don’t finish what you started, you are winning as long as you learn from your experience. Every mistake you make is progress IF you take a valuable lesson away and apply it.
Choose Progress & Growth over Perfection!
Perfection is driven by the ego. Let it go! Remember that life (and mountain biking!) is about enjoying the journey – it’s not about the destination. Strive for progress, growth, and developing yourself along the way rather than doing everything perfectly. You will have lots more fun along the way!
THE TAKEAWAY: TURN PASSION INTO PURPOSE
My international experience living, working, and mountain biking abroad changed me on many levels, but the biggest shift was that it sparked and ignited my calling towards a bigger purpose and passion in my life. Two years after returning to the United States, I started my company Womens Radical Pursuits in order to help other women tired of the daily grind, seeking to break free from their comfort zones in order to discover ridiculous fun, connection, and adventure through transformational international mountain bike and yoga trips.
I built Womens Radical Pursuits with the intention to help build deep, meaningful and lasting connections; to oneself, to other like-minded women, and to cultures and people beyond borders and into the world. As human beings, we are wired for connection.
Many other woman have discovered their passions are their biggest turn on and have crafted something new from their discovery and turned them into something bigger than the initial pursuit.
Amy Schweim is the owner of Womens Radical Pursuits. She is a Breathwork Practitioner, Integration Coach, Goddess Yoga Teacher & Ignite Your Passions & Purpose Facilitator for Sedona Soul Adventures ~Transforming Lives One Soul At A Time. Learn more –
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