During the latest Living Life to the Full course we looked at some tools from sports psychology and did some experiments to try them out on challenges in our wider lives. Martin chose to try out a visualization exercise to see how it could help him tackle trying to strim the long grass in his garden without wanting to hurl the strimmer onto the nearest piece of concrete. The group enjoyed hearing his story and Martin kindly agreed to write it up to share here. So here goes…

Petrol-driven strimmers or brush-cutters to give them their proper name can be notoriously difficult to start, especially after winter lay-off. The first important thing is to be pre-armed with this knowledge, ie ‘to be pre-warned is to be pre-armed’. The worst thing is to go blithely into the shed, pull out the machine with every expectation of leveling a sizeable expanse of grass, only to find yourself half an hour or more later with an aching shoulder, aching arm, blistered hand and a dumb machine you’re finding it very hard not to jump on or hurl against the nearest concrete.

So – I got fresh petrol and oil, mixed it well and filled up the machine’s little tank. I said to myself, “first task is to see if it will start. Remember it might not.”

“So – what if it doesn’t? “ Well, measure the success of the exercise not in terms of how much grass you’ve cut, but in terms of keeping your temper in the face of frustration. That will be a major advance on what usually happens when it won’t start.

“Okay, What then?… Go back indoors? Maybe have a cup of tea?

What about eventually getting it going?… Well, first try getting a new spark plug. Get the old one out with the tool that came with the machine. Take it up to Carters and buy another the same but new. Put it in. Try again. If not success, KEEP YOUR TEMPER. Don’t tamper any more! Give your garden machine mechanic Daniel a call and get him to come and have a look.”

After all that the machine actually started easily in fact.

When recounting his experience with the group Martin shared that he went on to clear a big swathe of grass but was really pleased to have the presence of mind to stop before he got over-tired. This gave him the unusual and delightful bonus of time to actually sit in the garden and admire his work whilst enjoying a cup of tea in the sun before watching the sun go down. A small step for mankind. Or at least for Martin.