This picture caused it all. The feelings intertwined with this pic are still vivid even though it was like 2010 (?) when it was taken.. Something fun in my thinking started to grow from that moment. The present moment. How it possess a possibility. An opportunity to growth. However, there was some fear involved in this tournament where this pic was taken. Or more like just a plain expectation to fail. But anyways, I realized something… Overcoming fear is the key because fear and possibility are the both sides of the coin called moment.

Saana Koljonen beach volley

So this picture is taken at the moment when we had just won our semifinal match in the Finnish Beach Volley championship tournament. Only six teams in Finland qualify for the final tournament and we had just barely made it to the tournament. I think we might have even been on the waiting list but made it to this tournament through some luck, can’t remember. Anyways, we definitely were not the team who was expected to be in the elevator going towards heights and medals. We just thought before the tournament started that yeah, we made it! Let’s just go, have fun, probably lose the first match which is the quarterfinals and then we will have a great beach volley season ending party! Yes that was the dream. The afterparty.

Well that dream did not come true. We ended up winning the quarter final and the semifinal. That was time when we absolutely and purely just loved playing, there was no pressure whatsoever. Of course we did not enjoy when other teams wiped the floor with us but humor helped us forget these unpleasant events faster. We just played so we could hang out more together, eat chocolate bars as “refuelling” snacks and train our abs by laughing, on and off the court.

I really remember how amazed and happy I was to succeed in that tournament against all the odds. We lost the final to Merja Korhonen and Kirsi Hyttinen. That was not a good match at all. That is when we probably realized we can win something really great there and could not shake that and just focus on the play like we did in the first two matches. I also will always remember Outi’s answer when we were interviewed after our first televised match and got asked “so what happened in that match?” She goes: “Well our onion split and spread across the court, we kept searching for it for the whole game and could not find it”. (Onion referring to our heads).

So the point of this memory or writing is not in winning. The trick is that getting to the final match was one of the first moments when I had a small, but very important, notion in my thinking that “Oh wow, pretty crazy good things might happen in this life when you just let go and try”. Two little realizations from this were:

1. You cannot always win but there is still always a possibility, even though the odds are not in your favor.

2. When you let go and try your fullest, you might definitely get your ass kicked and it’s ok to feel worried but at the same time, you can potentially access some amazing things.

Let’s go to that moment where the odds should be actualized, turned into reality, the moment where it might become real or not. If you jump into that moment and leave all of the other chaining thoughts on the ground and just let go (yeah much easier said than done), we also give a chance for everything to happen. Sounds like woowooo yadayada? Ok ok. I will try to stitch this together with other words.

Because the main point is that everything real that happens, happens in the present moment.

If you are not living that moment fully, it is going to be gone. It will disappear. It won’t wait for you to come back later with your odds. It waves at you and keeps going. And you are left behind at the traffic lights. The present moment has always a green light, it won’t stop. Also, the fact that the moment does not care about the odds means also that the moment entails a possibility.

Going for it Saana Koljonen

It is scary (and pretty cool at the same in a weird way) to push towards something that makes us scared. It does good for us as human beings when we sometimes manage to cut those chains (even for a slightest moment) we have as thoughts, doubts, and fears like these for example:

“What if this or that happens…”

“I can’t do/make that”

“I don’t dare”

“It is not worth it, I have to back down even though I don’t want to”

“I might get very disappointed if I fail” etc.

When we learned to recognize and note these thoughts but won’t give them too much power, we can jump a little higher when we have to/get to jump. Nobody can keep us grounded as well as ourselves. We have learned (at least in Finland) not to have your head high in the clouds. A pessimistic person will not get disappointed, we know that. But it would not hurt to try sometimes to give more space to the moment to lead you. Instead of the doubts. And see what happens.

I learned little by little from these experiences that even if you definitely won’t (and shouldn’t) get everything you want, the one thing that matters is possibility. Even if you are not the smartest person in the room, not prepared perfectly, not ready, you still cannot know the end result. Chance exists, almost always. And that is the thought you should rather chain your mind to. Firmly! πŸ™‚

Letting go and immersing ourselves in the moment we kind of get to open those doors and end up in situations where we might question: how the heck did this happen to me (in a positive way)? And the existence of those doors would remain secret, if we got stuck in those traffic lights, eyes downcast, and feet firmly on the ground.

Our brains have been created to think and calculate threats, failures and dangers but we can learn to manage it better. It is a different world when everything that could be a threat to us and we can’t take action because we get paralyzed. Seth Godin calls this our Lizard brain. We can learn to dance with the Lizard brain as Seth encourages us. Then we can find ourselves in moments where many previously impossible seemed things may become possible. After those experiences many of us can feel so much excitement: “Oh oh!! So if I could overcome my doubts more often, what else could I do?? I just did that! “

So now when Corona is hustling and bustling around all of us, and worry and fear are taking over the minds of many, it is good to remember that that is the basic function of our brains. To see threats and keep us as safe as possible by reminding us about everything that can go south. Mindfulness can offer you a much needed break. I still vote for Headspace app, or their videos on Youtube:)

Threats and fears will always be a part of us, they will not disappear anywhere and it does not actually even help if we try to deny their existence or repeat that “I am not worried, stressed, scared”. Denying them won’t remove them. Denying is kind of like trying to push a big, inflatable pool float (crocodile shaped! πŸ™‚ ) under the water. It will pop back to the surface anyways and some parts of it probably never submerge fully under the water in the first place. And then your focus will pretty much be all the time fighting to keep the crocodile float out of sight. The major part of your energy will go to wrestling with the crocodile when the actual moment you wished to utilize will float by effortlessly.

Below is one 1.5 minute video about letting go. The other one is long and about the lizard brain and learning (it’s good!) if some of you are interested, but if you don’t have time, watch at least this little part of it: from 11:15 until 13:56.

As an end note, knowing more about our brains and thoughts and how to “play” with them are very useful skills that help in many many matters. We can do incredible things when we can access things and dreams that matter to us but might be hiding behind fears, the locked doors. Or they might seem too faraway if we stare at them from the red traffic lights. One good question would be that what would you do, if you would be SURE that you cannot fail? What is the dream behind the fear and doubts?

Again, if you want, drop a comment below, email me at saanamkoljonen@gmail.com or contact me in social. I love interacting with you all!

Thank you for reading <3


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Personality in sports emails