In the 17 years that I’ve been training in flying trapeze, I’ve observed a lot of new flyers act out the same pattern:
As they release their hands from the flying trapeze bar and descend to the net, they instinctively grab the safety lines that are attached to their safety belt.
Plenty of seasoned flyers do it as well, and even though I’ve been flying out of lines for years, I’ve caught myself doing it at times when I’m working on a skill in safety lines.
It’s an unconscious action, a habit, triggered by the unfamiliar feeling of falling through the air, unattached to anything.
If you consider this from a rational perspective, it doesn’t really make sense. The safety lines are attached to the safety belt, and are belayed by a coach on the ground.
Grabbing the safety lines is like grabbing your own shirt. It’s an extension of the flyer. But that fact doesn’t register to the subconscious mind in the moment when the body is floating in space, untethered and ungrounded.
Our habitual instinct when we feel like we’re unrooted and falling through the air is to seek to grab onto something — anything that will give you even the illusion of control.
I assure you this habit doesn’t take 21 days to develop. It’s an immediate reaction driven by your unconscious.
You might not even realize that you have this habit, because how often do you float or fly in the air?
Of course, this isn’t about flying and falling. The experience on the trapeze merely reflects patterns that show up elsewhere.
Untethered in Life
You likely know what it feels like to feel uprooted and untethered, like you’re flailing through life without the ability to control what’s going to happen.
And if you’re human, it’s likely that your habitual reaction in such circumstances is to grab hold of anything that gives you the illusion of control.
The human bodymind is a system. When we put it in what feels like danger — whether it’s actual physical danger or merely a place of uncertainty — it grabs on to what it sees that it might be able to control.
It’s a natural human instinct, a habit, to hold on to something as a way of staying safe.
Children have their blankets and teddy bears.
Adults often hold on to more amorphous things: ideas, opinions, expectations, anger, blame, grudges, judgments, goals, outcomes, desires — for ourselves and for others.
Holding On to An Illusion
The thing about holding on is that it gives the illusion of control and safety while providing neither.
Holding on to your own safety lines does not give you any more control than you have if you let your hands be free. In fact, holding on to your own safety lines can actually be dangerous. And it defeats the purpose of the activity, which is to learn how to fly.
If you want to fly, you have to let go.
So too in life.
What is your holding pattern?
What (or who) are you trying to control?
What might free up for you if you simply let it go?