This summer was the summer I was going to learn to surf. And while I have been out in the ocean on a surfboard a handful of times, I definitely did not consider myself a surfer. To me a surfer is someone that makes some minor tweaks to their board, tucks it under their arm, seamlessly wrapping their leash around their ankle and then Baywatch runs out into the ocean, diving over and under the waves until they paddle themselves into the depths where only surfers can go.
I on the other hand, usually talk myself out of the idea of even attempting to surf right when I get there. Because the waves are too little and I will look silly or the waves are too big and I will die. I instead try to convince my surfing buddy that I should just relax on the beach for a bit until the waves are just right. Okay Goldilocks, sheesh. I let the "real" surfers totally intimidate me, especially bad ass lady surfers. Once I finally get talked back into doing what I came to do, I have to fiddle with my outfit and my hair as the waves can really move those things around. Hello boobies and butt cheeks! I have to double check with my buddy that I have the leash on the correct foot, I awkwardly tuck the board under my arm and then finally make it to the water. Now this is where the "fun" begins.
My first few surf sessions were on days when the waves were fairly small and I felt like a kid again. Just paddling around and catching waves, yet staying on my stomach for the ride. I have gotten up to my feet a few times but have yet to actually ride standing up. This last time I went with a new, very experienced surfing buddy who was trying to catch some of the post hurricane swell. Am I using term correctly? If not, the day was rather swell :) Needless to say, the waves were much bigger and I was on a tinier board than I had used previously. After a few moments of paddling out, I realized that I was in over my head, literally. I glanced over to my buddy who asked if I knew how to duck dive and with a "sure I got this" nod, he was gone, into the depths.
After what seemed like 20 minutes (but I'm sure was more like 5), I was exhausted and in the same spot that I started. I started to feel defeated and not ready for my journey ahead. I heard my internal dialogue start to say things like: this is too much; you are going to get hurt; just go back and watch the real surfers from the shore; you look ridiculous; and oh shit, I don't actually know how to duck dive. And then the coolest thing happened, I heard these thoughts! I heard my old scared-of-everything self saying these rather awful things and I shut her down. I decided to paddle over away from the real deal surfers and just simply practice being on a surfboard in these bigger waves. I finally figured out how to duck dive enough to get through and make it out past where the waves were breaking. During this redirection I changed my language to stuff like: everyone has to start somewhere; look at you go; and just keep going! I started talking to myself the way I would talk to my clients and to my friends.
While I did not attempt to catch many waves, it was my best session yet. Logically, I completely understand that learning something new is challenging and scary and can even end up leaving us hurt, but in the moment I let fear rule my thoughts and in turn, my actions and I almost gave up. My fear filled speech was too loud. So by taking a step back and moving into my own little surfing space, I turned that shit talking down and eventually turned it off. I began using the bad ass surfing señoritas to inspire me and actually started to have some real fun. Coming out of the ocean I decided to officially call myself a surfer.
You don't have to be a master painter to call yourself a painter, just like you don't have to know how to do the splits to call yourself a yogi, but what you call yourself is crucial. What we believe about ourselves is reinforced by our thoughts and our words. Those thoughts and words will not only ingrain your beliefs, good or bad, but they will create emotions that intensify those beliefs. These emotions then lead us to take actions. Actions such as ending my surfing session at minute five or actions that led to me walking out of the ocean, board less awkward than before, calling myself a surfer.
If you want to know how I started this process of changing my self talk, I have a FREE guide down below.