"Yesterday, I had the privilege to sit with a 19-year-old Lady Baller and hear her story. This is my life every day and I love it – I listen to awesome athletes tell me about what they experience, and I help them reclaim the ability to love the sports they play.
This particular client had redshirted her freshman year because of anxiety and now it was once again threatening her college season.
She told me she was desperate to change it. I told her what I have learned to be very, very true: Desperation is a great place to be when you want to heal.
She told me she was having panic attacks in practice. I asked her what it felt like.
She told me that it scared her. I asked her what the fear felt like.
She said, “It makes me not want to play.” I asked her, “What does not wanting to play feel like?”
She finally stopped and after a pause said, “I don’t know.”
She actually didn’t know what any of it felt like because the nature of anxiety is that it is generated in the thinking brain, not in the feelings.
Don’t misunderstand me – she was absolutely having a TON of feeling going on below the neck. She was just unable to feel any of it because her reptilian brain (what I call the “ego”) was going bananas trying to protect her from feeling it.
Her ego was keeping her alive – helping her survive. But the stuff she was carrying in her body didn’t seem content to sit quietly, repressed in her unconscious anymore. In fact, it had been spilling over into her life for some time now.
So, we sat for some time next to a river and just FELT.
And I could see the relief on her face….. she wasn’t crazy. Her body was just carrying a whole bunch of mysterious energy that was hurting her. And it was time to face that energy and transform her life.
And we both knew that her game would become free as she became free.
How many Lady Ballers can relate to this experience?
I can see your hands out there and I want you to know this truth: you’re not alone and your body is telling you it’s time to change it all.
And it starts with reclaiming the right to feel. It starts with taking a deep breath and noticing that there is a world of experience and feeling below your neck. And the healing begins below the neck.
For the sake of practicality, here are three steps to start your movement to freedom from anxiety:
Freedom for your life and your game is closer than you think.
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Seth is a Writer, Life Coach, and Soccer Coach from Seattle, WA. His work has primarily focused on helping people deal with anxiety, depression, and other experiential struggles as they play out in work, sports, and family life. He is a keynote speaker for Major League Soccer on issues of identity and life/work balance in their athletes and is the author of On Frame: Exploring the Depths of Parenting in the World of Youth Soccer as well as The Coaching Revolution: An Interactive Guide to Finding Joy and Excellence in Coaching.