Treading Water

Nov 06, 2023

I’m a swimmer.


I wasn’t always a swimmer in the sense of knowing how to swim laps, but my desire to compete in triathlon necessitated the learning of the skill. I did, however, always love the water, even as a child.


As often as possible, I swim with a group and follow a workout. It tends to make me try harder and go faster when I’m around other people. One of the most dreaded things I used to see on the planned workout was treading water in the deep end between sets. It wasn’t just normal treading water where you can move your legs as you like and use your hands and arms. This was the kind where you’re scissor kicking vertically with hands and head out of the water. It was the most brutal kind in my opinion. And, of course, offered the most recognizable transformation over time.


Enter the metaphor for life.


I’ve often become frustrated and exhausted by the flow of life….or really the seeming lack of flow in times when I felt stuck. The nagging feeling that I was trying so very hard and not going anywhere would overtake me and prevent me from seeing any type of progress. To me, I was standing still. It wasn’t palatable to me to stay in the discomfort, anxiety, and fear I sensed deep in my bones. The changing of location, houses, and partners and the addition of new skills and accomplishments would quell the feeling for a time. Inevitably, however, when the quiet moments crept in, I would have this sinking sense that nothing had really changed. I may have looked different on the outside, but the feelings on the inside were painstakingly similar to all the ones I had before. Little did I know that those years of struggle and doubt were essential to move me into the journey I’m on today.


What I didn’t realize at the time was if I’d stopped trying so hard and allowed the feelings in, I would’ve likely been able to melt into the rhythm of the flow.


When you’re treading water, the best thing to do is allow. Sometimes the harder you try, the more you feel like you’re drowning. Fatigue sets in, everything hurts, and your mind wants nothing more than to get out. Of course you keep moving, but the movement is different when you allow. When you understand there’s a process to the process, it’s easier to ride the proverbial wave.


There’s such an irony to the feeling stuck and treading water analogy. We all know that if we simply stop fighting, we float, and if we choose to move in an intentional way, we can swim. But when we’re in the middle of the struggle, it’s hard to remember to let go….until you have tools to help.


Once I embraced the struggle in the water, I learned that’s where I actually got stronger. That’s where I made progress that helped my swimming become so much better. Similarly, when I embraced the feelings in the stuckness and started allowing movement, curiosity, and flow rather than pushing them back, away, and down, I found a strength I did not know I had. There’s a way to feel the rhythm and find your flow even in, especially in, the struggle.


There will inevitably be times we’re not traveling very far in life, but that doesn’t mean we’re not making progress. Our greatest movement may come when we’re not moving at all.


Next time you’re treading water in your own life, stop fighting. Move with intention, float, feel. Allow the water to hold you and teach you. Ask the question, 'What am I here to learn?'.


Find your rhythm! Rediscover your power!


All my love,


Coach g


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