Mind Over Matter – Your Guide To The Fear

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Mind Over Matter – Your Guide To The Fear

I Met Someone This Tuesday

Tuesday is pole night.

This Tuesday I met someone who doesn’t usually come to our class, she’s been going to the Thursday session for about 7 weeks now. I got talking to her and quickly realised something – we had something VERY important in common.

It’s not something you’d initially think of when you begin pole. And when you watch all these amazing videos of pole dancers who seem totally fearless with their tricks, you wouldn’t ever imagine they’d gone through it. When I was in that phase, I felt totally alone. Completely isolated – no one else seemed to have my problem…

It happened around week 6 when I began inverting. All of a sudden the game changed. My pole buddy Tom went straight into an invert and started making progress really quickly, but I held back.

What held me back?

I was scared.

What Was I Scared Of?

I was scared of falling, of not being able to hold my own weight, of losing my balance and falling onto my head, or my back. Even though my instructor and my pole-buddy were there spotting me, encouraging me, telling me it would be ok I didn’t – I couldn’t, believe them. I was never going to get good at this. I was a failure. Everyone in the class could invert, they seemed totally fearless. No one seemed to worry that their hands were slipping, or that they were pinching their legs, or that they were knackered after even TRYING to invert.

Watching our instructors, it looks so easy. You believe that you’re never going to be as strong, as flexible, as good at hiding the pain 😉

I felt totally alone. Completely isolated. I tried explaining. I tried reasoning with people. I tried justifying myself – “Oh I’ve always been scared of heights” “I’ve always hated being upside down”.

Talking to people about writing this article, it all came out. Yes, we all get scared. We all get nervous, we all question ourselves, or have off weeks. We all feel a little concerned when there’s a new move about where to put our hands, where to put our feet, what to DO.

When Did It Change?

For me it changed REALLY suddenly. There were a couple of things that precipitated the change:

Firstly – I was coming to a point where I knew it would be the breaking point. Do I give up the FIRST thing that I’ve TRULY loved because I can’t do something? Or do I swallow the fear and pretend I’m not scared. Fake it till you make it right?

The idea of giving up, just because I *couldn’t* do something galled me. I’ve never been a quitter. Last year I walked 70km on a broken toe, with a variety of torn ligaments just because the thought of *failing* was too much to bear. More painful than the injury. More painful than the 6 weeks I spent on crutches. I don’t regret a moment of it.

I love pole. I really do. It’s the first thing I’ve really identified with. I feel it fits me. Maybe I sound crazy, maybe you know what I’m talking about – but the thought of walking away was unbearable. I had a choice to make, where one of the choices was a no-go.

Secondly – Someone I knew died and I realised, with a sickening impact that we don’t get to live forever. Most people don’t get to do the things they want to do. I have so many things I want to do….How was I ever going to do the things I wanted to do if I was going to be scared for the rest of my life?

Where would it end if I gave into the fear now? I’d already spent 6 months in a self-imposed prison from illness. Was I about to shackle myself again? When would I stop crossing the road because I was scared I’d be hit? When would I put my motorcycle away, scared of what might happen? I had to draw a line. I chose to draw it here.

Now, I’m not saying you need a life-changing event to have this happen, or that you need to be as pig-headed as a pack of bacon; but I am saying that you need to make a choice. Do you let this fear control you? Or do you ride that mare bareback until you’ve got the handle on it?

Earlier that week I’d spent several days doing things I thought I’d be too scared to do. I went rock climbing, I went to a ballet class. Why was this different?

It started slowly – inverting wasn’t as traumatic. Then with a burst of confidence and a lick of dry-hands I nailed my nemesis – the Butterfly. I’d been too scared to even move my back foot off of the pole, scared I’d go flying. Now I could do it. With confidence. The first few times I faked it – then I made it.

My instructor (who I have a million gallons of respect for) noticed the change in me. She’d spent so long trying to gently encourage me, but now we had a new beast on the block. The glint in her eye should have warned me….in quick succession I started removing more limbs off the pole – Gemini, Geneva, inverted Thigh-hold, one-handed Knee Release, two-handed Knee Release, Gold Rush (from Gemini), Marley, Half Star and most recently a Hip-Hold…I’m not saying I’ve never ended up on my arse on the mat, but I’m saying it didn’t kill me. You’re never expected to do more than you can handle – even if you think it’s more than you’re capable of.

My Tips For Conquering The Fear?

I’m no pole instructor. I’m certainly no expert – but I do remember the fear. How can you make it easier?

  • Firstly, I think you need to know – you’re not alone. Not by any means. Ever. If you ever feel alone, come visit me and send me a mail!
  • Secondly – go easy on yourself. Speaking to this lovely lady on Tuesday, all she kept saying was “I CAN’T do this, I can’t hold my weight”. Ok, but can you accept that you WILL be able to?
  • Don’t rush it. Some people get it really quickly, others, like me, don’t. Don’t worry about what the people around you are doing, or feeling – concentrate on your game.
  • Try not to get too bummed out about it. This was a big one for me. I felt like an utter failure. Everything up till then had come easily, but now I found myself REALLY struggling. That’s the nature of progress – you have to struggle a bit. One of my favourite sayings along these lines is “if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you”. Truth.
  • Take photos. I said this last time, I’ll say it again – you’ll be able to see where you’re going wrong, what you can do to improve and you’ll have a record of your progress right there!

What Did I Say To “C” On Tuesday?

“Don’t worry, we’ve got you.”

She went from thinking she couldn’t do a Butterfly, to nailing a beautiful Gemini. What a star!

You’re stronger and much more capable than you think you are – never give up, never give in 🙂

And look what happens when you get past the fear! 🙂

Category: Tips

About MichelleS

Hi, I'm Michelle, otherwise known as Squidgeypaws (I'm a polEr bear you see ;) ).

The short version? I'm a pole addicted fitness magpie!

The slightly longer version? I'm a pole dancing, endurance hiking, WoW playing, psychology trained fitness geek. I wasn't always this way, a few years ago I was over 200Ibs and miserable. Then I got bitten by the fitness bug and haven't looked back! I first got into pole after waiting over a year to sign up for a class because I was too nervous to do it - within the first hour I was hooked. I love the strength and grace of pole dancers, it's pure, raw strength which you rely on your body to carry out complicated patterns. Dancing removes everything in the world around you - it's like having a silent space to chill in!

If you want to know more about me, check out my blog @ www.trailsandtribulations.co.uk. All of the monetisation of my site goes to charity, so come and have a look :)

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8 Comments to “Mind Over Matter – Your Guide To The Fear”

  1. Ally says:

    Thank you so much for this post! It took me all summer to get an inverted crucifix because they just feel so unstable, and at times I still psych myself out of them, so knowing ‘the fear’ is not just me, feels great. I’m off to pole tonight and ready to nail all the ‘scary bits’ of the routine after reading this!

  2. curvypoleprincess says:

    I am a TRUE beginner to pole. I self teach because there’s no studios in my area and I wouldn’t have a way there regardless. Doing just simple things such as a fireman spin sometimes scares me because I dont think I can hold myself, or that I’ll get hurt or do something stupid. And this is how I feel! All the time! I actually cried knowing I wasn’t alone. And then…I got up….and I did the spin about 5 times in a row with a smile on my face!


  3. Jenny Bean says:

    THANK YOU for this article! You hit the nail on the head as to how I was feeling 🙂

  4. Sky Meditation says:

    It’s very inspiring and helpful!

  5. julia says:

    Congrats for the post and for the effort you make to always get better! it was a very inspiring post as i feel exctly the same as you do! Having read this i must find the courage to practice more moves that sary me such as:superman,marley and the bird!
    thank you girl keep poling !

  6. Justien says:

    I totally know the feeling! I started pole dancing together with my sisters who is younger than me. She was always the brightsight, the more active girl. Wen we started I was the one who was scared of everything (even sitting without hands) and I coud not do a lot just because I did not have the strenght. My sister already inverted after one month in class. After 5 months in class there was a new girl and while the teacher was busy with her I inverted like it was something I already did for years. I just felt so happy that I filmed it the day itself. When I look back at it, I become again as happy as that moment.
    After 6 months in class I came to realise that everybody has it own strengths. I started after 21 years finally excepting and loving my body through pole dancing.
    Reading this just makes me wart to work even harder on my pole skills!

  7. charlie says:

    Thanks for this, for the past few weeks I have suddenly grown a fear of extended butterfly, the crazy thing is I know I can do it and do it well as I have done it many times in the past but then I took 6-7 weeks off due to an injury (not from pole dancing) and the next time I tried I had no confidence to do it!

  8. Hannah McLaughlin says:

    Hi! I just wanted to say thankyou so much for posting this, I found I resonated with almost everything you said, especially about feeling inadequate in comparison to others! It’s lovely and refreshing to see such bravery and honesty. You’re amazing!

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