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How to address fear? - Page 2

post #31 of 54
Thread Starter 

I think a lot of this discussion is helping me get my head right. Part of my frustration is getting stuck in the mindset that pushing through the fear should be easy- Exasperated that she skied it before, we all agree she is capable of skiing it, so just swallow it back and drop in!  That's what gets me to reacting badly to the whole situation, but I think everyone is correct that the fact I am bringing up her past performance probably hurts, not helps. Rational discussion of an irrational block doesn't do much except make the person feel bad, and what is driving me crazy is that I know I am screwing up my reactions to her struggles. Really, really screwing up badly.

 

I'm not sure what the solution is, mainly because I want to fix the problem- even though it could be one of these things I can only impede not fix.

post #32 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Castle Dave View Post
 

That's your answer - Women Only ski clinics work wonders. There is no way men can fathom the inner workings of the female psyche particularly in an area where men and women are so different.

Don't even try, you don't have the solution but other women (instructors and fellow female groupmates) do. Females supporting females is the way women seem to learn and progress best and I assume you're the wrong gender. Thinking, studying, rational discussion, reading may be the primary learning modalities for men but not for women especially something as emotion based as fear.

Put down the keyboard and walk away, man. 

 

Come back when you formulate a sufficient apology for making such an ill-considered, misogynistic statement. 

 

Then reconsider your world view, because it's a little... skewed. 

post #33 of 54
I'm giving him the benefit of he' was trying to convey different ways of thinking. Then it got off the rails when it's written down.
post #34 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by freeski919 View Post
 

You call her fear irrational, which is more accurate than you may realize. In psychological terms, fear is never rational. It can be well founded, and understandable, but it isn't rational. That is, fear doesn't come from the frontal cortex of the brain, where ration and reason are. Fear is something that comes from the reptilian section of our brain, the amygdala and lower regions of the brain structure. I say this because it's always important to realize that when somebody is truly gripped by fear, they are fairly unable to access the rational centers of their brain. So giving them rational well reasoned arguments as to why their fear is unfounded is not going to be useful. 

 

Honestly, it sounds like she is at the point where she will benefit from professional assistance. Meeting with a psychotherapist may be beneficial. Honestly, and anti-anxiety medication may work wonders for her, even if she just uses it while skiing. Xanax or Ativan can keep the edge off of the panic, and allow her to still think rationally. 

 

The word amygdala reminded me of something I thought about a while ago relating to this post, which is EMDR, which is a form of therapy where you use these weird pulse things to basically re-experience the emotionally fraught thing and reprogram your amygdala to stop freaking out about it. (I'm sure I'm slaughtering the explanation). It sounded like woo woo stuff to me, but ... it actually does seem to help.

 

But. I am not convinced that she needs to lose her fear. She may be just fine, minus the feeling that she's not living up to her own standards, and that may really be the better solution rather than ramming her head against the need to ski things that are no good for her right now. Sometimes you need to be gentle with yourself. There's a time to push, and a time to lay low. Sometimes the more you push, the more you delay getting back on your feet. To mix a few metaphors.

post #35 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tog View Post

I'm giving him the benefit of he' was trying to convey different ways of thinking. Then it got off the rails when it's written down.

 

If you cut out every other sentence (roughly), you have a perfectly reasonable post. Maybe he has two different personalities typing at the same keyboard?

post #36 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by freeski919 View Post
 

So, it seems to me that there is an underlying psychological source for is anxiety. I'm wondering if she has struggled with anxiety in other areas of her life previously, or is this something exclusive to her skiing? An anxiety disorder can have triggers, and at this point skiing outside her comfort zone appears to be a trigger for it. I think you're right that the trigger largely stems from the incident of being buried. 

 

You call her fear irrational, which is more accurate than you may realize. In psychological terms, fear is never rational. It can be well founded, and understandable, but it isn't rational. That is, fear doesn't come from the frontal cortex of the brain, where ration and reason are. Fear is something that comes from the reptilian section of our brain, the amygdala and lower regions of the brain structure. I say this because it's always important to realize that when somebody is truly gripped by fear, they are fairly unable to access the rational centers of their brain. So giving them rational well reasoned arguments as to why their fear is unfounded is not going to be useful. 

 

Honestly, it sounds like she is at the point where she will benefit from professional assistance. Meeting with a psychotherapist may be beneficial. Honestly, and anti-anxiety medication may work wonders for her, even if she just uses it while skiing. Xanax or Ativan can keep the edge off of the panic, and allow her to still think rationally. 


I agree on much of this, but the Xanax/Ativan thing set me off a bit.  Ativan is a pretty serious drug, pretty seriously addictive, and recent studies have strongly suggested a link between long-acting forms of Xanax and Alzheimer's.

 

See: http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/benzodiazepine-use-may-raise-risk-alzheimers-disease-201409107397  

and:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2014/09/10/common-anxiety-medications-may-increase-risk-of-alzheimers-disease/

 

A person might want to use caution with drugs, especially when the anxiety-producing activity is optional.

 

Mermer Blakesly does fear clinics, too, I believe, if that's in the budget.

post #37 of 54
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post

I think a lot of this discussion is helping me get my head right. Part of my frustration is getting stuck in the mindset that pushing through the fear should be easy- Exasperated that she skied it before, we all agree she is capable of skiing it, so just swallow it back and drop in!  That's what gets me to reacting badly to the whole situation, but I think everyone is correct that the fact I am bringing up her past performance probably hurts, not helps. Rational discussion of an irrational block doesn't do much except make the person feel bad, and what is driving me crazy is that I know I am screwing up my reactions to her struggles. Really, really screwing up badly.

 

I'm not sure what the solution is, mainly because I want to fix the problem- even though it could be one of these things I can only impede not fix.


You're right.  You need to stop trying to fix "the problem."  She has fear.  Skiing has inherent risks.  She's not crazy.  How many people ski the terrain you ski?

 

Let her deal with her fear in whatever way she feels comfortable.  Let her deal with it at her own speed.  Keep her company while she does that.  I don't mean on snow.

Keep your mouth shut and offer other kinds of support.  Do not be a therapist, a doctor, a pharmacist, a teacher, a coach, nor a father figure.

 

Be a security blanket.


Edited by LiquidFeet - 1/21/15 at 2:06pm
post #38 of 54

The cool thing about her is that she still has the desire to keep at it even with all the fear (and for that matter the fear of the fear). Sounds like a strong lady!!!

post #39 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tog View Post

I'm giving him the benefit of he' was trying to convey different ways of thinking. Then it got off the rails when it's written down.

I can go with that, maybe, if I squint and tilt my head when I look at it. People need to understand their audience, though. The only women who sit around and yak with the esoteric skiing discussion are by and large going to be the ones who process with their heads first, thus the ones most likely to see red at that statement.
post #40 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by lakespapa View Post
 


I agree on much of this, but the Xanax/Ativan thing set me off a bit.  Ativan is a pretty serious drug, pretty seriously addictive, and recent studies have strongly suggested a link between long-acting forms of Xanax and Alzheimer's.

 

See: http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/benzodiazepine-use-may-raise-risk-alzheimers-disease-201409107397  

and:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2014/09/10/common-anxiety-medications-may-increase-risk-of-alzheimers-disease/

 

A person might want to use caution with drugs, especially when the anxiety-producing activity is optional.

 

Mermer Blakesly does fear clinics, too, I believe, if that's in the budget.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not going anywhere near prescribing anything. That's for an MD to do, if appropriate. I think there is a very large stigma on psychotropic medications, and those who use them. There needs to be a great deal of care in how they are used and in what dosage, but they can have benefits for some. My gist is to keep options open.

post #41 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post
 


You're right.  You need to stop trying to fix "the problem."  She has fear.  Skiing has inherent risks.  She's not crazy.  How many people ski the terrain you ski?

 

Let her deal with her fear in whatever way she feels comfortable.  Let her deal with it at her own speed.  Keep her company while she does that.  I don't mean on snow.

Keep your mouth shut and offer other kinds of support.  Do not be a therapist, a doctor, a pharmacist, a teacher, a coach, nor a father figure.

 

Be a security blanket.


This is sound advice, I think.  A person's emotional challenges are his or her own.  The best we can do is to listen, be supportive, assist in any way possible.  To do that, if we love the person, we have to dismiss our own expectations.  That's hard, maybe, but it's right.  You can't have expectations, not even hopes.  You can only wait to see what happens.

 

That said, Anachronism seems to be engaging pretty well with this issue.  It's not an easy one.

post #42 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post


I can go with that, maybe, if I squint and tilt my head when I look at it. People need to understand their audience, though. The only women who sit around and yak with the esoteric skiing discussion are by and large going to be the ones who process with their heads first, thus the ones most likely to see red at that statement.

Agreed.  I analyze everything with my head first.  Drives my ski coach nuts.  "Stop analyzing and just ski!"  he says.  (We've worked together for a long time.)

 

So, I'm with bounceswoosh - don't make assumptions that because I'm female, I'm always going to go all emotional/feelings/hormonal/whatever you want to call it.  Actually, don't make any assumptions at all.  freeski919 has accurately described the brain vortices and how they are centers for different types of brain activity.  There's a lot contributing to how that manifests in real life, not the least of which is social conditioning.  I wouldn't even go so far as to say the "only" women here are those who process highly logically - I'd say instead that gender aside, it's a mixed bag.

 

As far as the OP, LiquidFeet is spot-on when she advises to just back off.  If your lady friend expresses desire to work on something, suggest a private lesson with a professional.  If the relationship is important to you, you'll take the advice given by so many wise people on this board.  As I said before, enjoy the journey.

 

I agree with lakespapa - anachronism, you get props for caring enough about your lady friend to speak honestly on this issue - which includes recognizing that the "solution" (if one is warranted) is not in your hands.  Good luck, and do let us know how your journey goes.

post #43 of 54
Well this thread is going well...
We're close to putting the op's friend on Thorazine, and one poster practically has her in a Bhurka.
Has anyone suggested going to Vail yet? :-)

To be serious though it does sound like it's beyond "normal " range of anxiety. May require some help off the slopes.
Actually have been some great comments.
post #44 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by gardenmary View Post

...  freeski919 has accurately described the brain vortices and how they are centers for different types of brain activity.  There's a lot contributing to how that manifests in real life, not the least of which is social conditioning.  I wouldn't even go so far as to say the "only" women here are those who process ....

For sure. Didn't say "only" -- just "by and large" 😀
post #45 of 54
Thread Starter 

So... I realize my initial post asking for female perspective could leave people with the wrong idea. I was thinking along those lines because this problem is very much alleviated when she is doing things like women's ski clinics, and she LOVES all of those. Skiing with other women seem to help the problem while currently skiing with me seems to exacerbate the problem.

 

I'm not making the assumption that being afraid/locked up/panic is a girl trait.

 

I think fear is something everyone that skis deals with on some level. I just want to make that crystal before somebody makes the valid critique that what I wrote could be considered sexist.

post #46 of 54

You don't sound sexist to me.  

post #47 of 54
Ditto.
post #48 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post

So... I realize my initial post asking for female perspective could leave people with the wrong idea. I was thinking along those lines because this problem is very much alleviated when she is doing things like women's ski clinics, and she LOVES all of those. Skiing with other women seem to help the problem while currently skiing with me seems to exacerbate the problem.


I'd guess she is afraid of disappointing you, which generalizes into a general fear of "your" favorite terrain. I'd get her in someone else's hands for a while and then only ski easy groomers with her (and be happy about it!!) until she demands to visit other terrain.
post #49 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post
 

So... I realize my initial post asking for female perspective could leave people with the wrong idea. I was thinking along those lines because this problem is very much alleviated when she is doing things like women's ski clinics, and she LOVES all of those. Skiing with other women seem to help the problem while currently skiing with me seems to exacerbate the problem.

 

I'm not making the assumption that being afraid/locked up/panic is a girl trait.

 

I think fear is something everyone that skis deals with on some level. I just want to make that crystal before somebody makes the valid critique that what I wrote could be considered sexist.

Never got the sexist vibe from you at all.  Impressed that you care enough about her, and your relationship, to seek advice on ways to not make the fear thing even worse while offering as much helpful support as possible.

 

I also think Kneale's onto something - I wondered about the whole "am I disappointing him?" thing.  Not something you need to show (work on your poker face/happy face).  Wonder what the dynamic might be if you both worked with a female instructor?

post #50 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post

I think a lot of this discussion is helping me get my head right. Part of my frustration is getting stuck in the mindset that pushing through the fear should be easy- Exasperated that she skied it before, we all agree she is capable of skiing it, so just swallow it back and drop in! 
I think you've proven that your way of dealing with risk and fear--pushing through it without processing it--doesn't work for her, and that you're unable to come up with a different angle on the issue. I admire you for your honesty in admitting this and reaching out for more ideas.

Perhaps unlike other women here I do believe that women, at least in our society, generally deal with risk and fear differently than men. Some are more risk-tolerant than others, and some do fine just brushing fears aside seemingly forever; some rack up enough terror that they practically stop going outdoors; but most of us need to learn to actually work constructively with fear. "Managing" fear, for people who need to process emotion, doesn't mean stuffing it; it means acknowledging it, validating it, and taking the steps necessary to become comfortable with it. Think about it: how many jokes are there about how men always wanting to fix or resolve problems, while women want to talk about their feelings about the situation? Of course that's simplistic, but it wouldn't seem so funny if there weren't some truth in it. Whether it's hard wired or a weakness or whatever, it is what it is, and it does no good to pretend it ain't so.

I'm no psychologist, but what I hear is a traumatic incident surrounded by dozens, maybe more, incidents where she prevailed by shoving her fear into the corner, but probably never became comfortable skiing whatever seemed scary. "Just do it" is a great mantra when the issue is endurance or strength, but if you use it repeatedly to make believe fear doesn't exist and never make peace with it, all those incidents tend to fester in the corner, waiting for the right time to rear up and bite you in the ass in the most bewildering ways. In your girlfriend's case, it sounds to me like all the times she successfully ignored her fears have magnified the "burial" incident, which also involved pushing fear aside. So even though she wants to ski something she knows she can ski, the very idea of any kind of challenge churns the whole thing up, and she becomes so locked up that she probably doesn't trust herself to distinguish between a trivial risk and extreme risk of the ultimate penalty. And although she might not say it aloud, she can't trust your judgment either, because it's gotten her into this predicament. Now she can no longer ignore her feelings but doesn't yet know how to handle them, so she just freezes.

And I'm not sure she needs psychiatric help; even if she did, I'd be shocked if she were medicated unless she's got a general anxiety disorder and has panic attacks about everything. It's true that over time her fear has blossomed into what seems like a phobia, but it's entirely possible that the her behavior is so closely linked with specific patterns that just altering some tactics would give her space to break things down. We know she does well with women's clinics, which means pushing her limits with people who are 1) at her level, 2) supportive, and 3) probably share the same kinds of fears. Maybe more women's clinics would allow her to stop pressuring herself and work her way through her fears; maybe a series of lessons with a very high level instructor who has the will and patience to walk her through what's actually going on in her head would be the ticket. Whatever it is, she needs to ski in situations where she gets to challenge her fears on her terms, not anyone else's, and where saying "no" isn't a sign of weakness or failure.

Unfortunately, I can just about guarantee that she needs different ski partners, because she does not do well skiing with you. My take is that she's internalized your voice. Without meaning to, you've become a symbol of years of forcing herself to dismiss, ignore, and "push through" her fears, as well as the habit of calling them crazy. None of the skiing you do together sounds happy--when you ski together in her safety zone you're bored and impatient and she feels like she must be a dead weight, and when you encourage her to push through her fear she's panicky and you're frustrated. The longer you keep doing it, the deeper the rut will get. You need to let go--and for a while, that might mean that you need to almost push her away. If you can enjoy skiing easy terrain with her, do that and then go off and do your own thing. If you can't enjoy skiing in her comfort zone, don't ski with her. Push her to find other skiing friends, whether men or women, who don't know her well enough to push her around. Give her the space to experiment. Meanwhile, find other ways to enjoy each other's company for as long as it takes for her to take control of her own skiing destiny.

Best of luck with all this. You're a good friend, and I hope you manage to help your friend get through this.
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post

So... I realize my initial post asking for female perspective could leave people with the wrong idea. I was thinking along those lines because this problem is very much alleviated when she is doing things like women's ski clinics, and she LOVES all of those. Skiing with other women seem to help the problem while currently skiing with me seems to exacerbate the problem.

I'm not making the assumption that being afraid/locked up/panic is a girl trait.

I think fear is something everyone that skis deals with on some level. I just want to make that crystal before somebody makes the valid critique that what I wrote could be considered sexist.
I could see just how you managed to stumble into that tangle. The text is offensive, but as someone who runs off at the keyboard all the time, I know what it's like for the words to look right but be objectively insane. It's a good reason to stand up, stretch, and then read a preview of a post before hitting that damned "submit" button.
post #51 of 54
The advice I give to many students following a lesson, where the students SO is an advanced skier, is not to let their SO talk them into skiing terrain which is over their ability level. "Oh, you can ski that". I suggest that the student learn to ski aggressively on relatively easy terrain vs. skiing defensively on more difficult terrain. I find that if you tilt the slope very slowly as the skier develops sound fundamentals, the fear issue becomes less of a problem than pushing skiers over their head, which happens so often when one member of a couple has been skiing for a while. YM
post #52 of 54
Thread Starter 

I figured I needed to update this, because there was an entire part of the problem that went totally unaddressed.

 

First, an update. Since last January we largely decided to only ski groomed runs together with a few very limited sections of terrain that she felt comfortable on. This was better at avoiding fights and hurt feelings, but didn't really change anything. She felt less pressured, which was good, but it didn't really change the terrain she felt comfortable accessing, which wasn't so good.

 

We failed to really look at equipment issues. As the season progressed, we became more and more aware of alignment issues. She A frames. A lot. We went into our local bootfitter late last year to talk about the problem. He strongly recommended Fisher Vacuum boots as the best and really only solution that was more than a band aid, but we didn't have the cash to spend the better part of $1000 on them.

 

Fast forward to November. Level 9 Sports starts to blow out their inventory of vacuum boots, and our bootfitter agrees to mold and guarantee his work on them for a reasonable fee (Larry at Ski and Bow Rack, you are an awesome dude). So, we get her into vacuum boots.

 

It took two runs before she got used to the cuff alignment, and all the sudden started generating huge edge angles on both skis. I spent the rest of the day chasing her down the mountain while she skied with a level of aggression, precision and control ten times what she had ever demonstrated before. And then the tears came, and she admitted that she has spent years thinking she was too stupid to do what me and her instructors told her, or that she just couldn't physically do it. All of the flashes I would see of a really put together skier were suddenly there for her, and with boots that allowed her to get the skis flat, she could now reliably summon those skills.

 

That was 4 ski days ago, and I am still chasing her around. On her last ski day, she dived into a stand of steep trees with cut up crud while screaming "I'm a badass!" And yes, she killed it. All I could do was giggle with a goofy grin on my face.

 

This isn't to say that fear isn't part of the equation and that the issue is instantly solved, but now she gets to confront fear with the big flaming sward that is her skiing skills, and that kind of helps. The lesson I learned is to pay more attention at the total picture. 

post #53 of 54

@anachronism  - I'm so happy for both of you!!

post #54 of 54

Good news about finding the solution.  It sounds like she was greatly in need of alignment.  On firm snow she could lever against the snow and get her skis flat.  In soft snow she had nothing to work against, and the skis seemed to have a mind of their own.  Understandable.  If she'd been trying to hold a wide stance as we were taught, that makes the knock kneed skier much worse off.

 

We need a straight line from the knees down to the center of the feet.  A skier alignment specialist does that.  Here's more:

http://www.gmolfoot.com/gmolfootperformance.htm

http://cantology.com/why.htm

http://www.skinet.com/ski/content/alignment

 

There are several ways to cant--wedges under the bindings, angled plates on the boot soles, grind the soles to the needed angle.  Canting is not adjusting cuff angle; that's lower leg angle adjustment, something different and also needed.

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