How to Fight Fire with Water? - Affirmative Action!

Tues 6th May 2014
Living to Be Happy 

On Friday 2nd May I enjoyed my unplanned free third day at the thermal baths thanks to the manager there. I hadn’t fully regained physical health (still seriously blocked sinuses) but that extra day gave me enough time to calm down fully after the problems I had been having with the execution of my first ever paragliding course (see my previous post here)

As I lay in the warm thermal water, I turned to nature for an answer on how best to deal with any future bullying, humiliation or belittling - of course in the most compassionate way possible. Once again an answer came from looking to water, and the article I wrote was published today and can be read here

My article does not, however, answer the question whether or not I should still go ahead and finish the last 4 flights. I had found a way to positively deal with bullying behaviour, but I still needed to deal with the lack of confidence I was having.

Firstly, I had no confidence in the general organisation of the course. This does not have to be a bad thing. My excellent diving course in Taganga was also disorganised, but my instructor was also enthusiastic and passionate about his job, and he would admit when he or the diving school had forgotten something. I trusted my instructor Omar 100%, and that is very important when you are literally in deep water!

My instructors on the other hand did not show real enthusiasm in teaching at all. Often running late and with no real passion or fixed plan, any doubt in the weather or anything better to do, and we would just not head out. Jorge, in particular, spent most of the time talking about non-paragliding related experiences, including his travels, his contact with crime and corruption, and the tattoo shop that they used to own before.

But the most worrying thing was that what I was being told, or not told, could not be trusted! When you are told that you will fly with a reserve parachute and you will practise flying first in a harness on the ground, and then don’t, that is a lie. When you are told you will fly one more tandem flight before flying on your own, and then as you are preparing to take off are told that you will fly on your own after all, that is wishy-washy decision-making. When you are told that you can fly with a blocked ear and then told afterwards that you should not fly unless 100% healthy, that is changing the facts. When you are told it is your fault that you cannot inflate a wing and it then becomes clear that the wing is just not inflating well, that is bending the truth.

It makes you question what actually is your fault and what isn’t. You no longer know how much you can believe what the instructor is telling you!

Confidence in your instructor is essential, especially when learning to fly off a mountain - on your own - into the sky! So the ultimate question on whether or not I should do my final 4 flights had to be:

Do these two instructors have the experience and knowledge (the competence) to know what they are talking about while I am in the air to help me get to the ground safely?

The answer when all is said and done is ‘yes they do', and I particularly trusted Santi who is the one who talked me down to the ground by radio. So I decided to run off that mountain high above lake Yahuarcocha 4 more times, and complete my course!

I did two flights yesterday, and my final two flights today. Of course, the disorganisation and unprofessionalism continued with such goings-on as arriving yesterday morning at the correct time at Jorge’s house to find he has just gone into the shower so we run very late, and then getting told by him later that we must arrive on time for the paragliding tomorrow (this morning).

I think the highlight today was when he was rushing me during this last day of my course to get my flights done because he had to be somewhere else, and he also didn’t even make time to register me with APPI once we had finished the course either.

It is never ideal to have to project your own enthusiasm without the instructor being enthusiastic; nor is it ideal to give yourself positive and constructive feedback while taking your instructors comments with a pinch of salt. For example, he told me not to keep thinking in the air “I hope I don’t die!”, and he also said jokingly today that Englishmen are ‘maricones’ (gay) when they first start paragliding.

So why did I continue? Well, I only had 4 flights remaining in my course and there is an important difference between competence in your subject and being a good teacher. Jorge may be pretty bad at the latter, but his intentions are good, and he does have a lot of paragliding experience.

It would also be interesting to see Santi, the younger brother, run his own school completely without Jorge, I think Santi has more patience and more enthusiasm for the sport, and could do a better job building a reputation on his own.

But this post is about me not them! ;-) So how did I do? Really well!

Santi was really happy with all my flights and how they just got better each time. The two flights today, I did almost without any help from him on the radio down below at all, and he was super impressed with my final flight and my cool soft perfect landing– as was I! Check out the landing for yourself! A 2 minute short of my 12 minute final flight is shown in this video here:

It’s worth checking out just to me see how high up in the clouds I went! Yes, that really is me! In the end I registered with APPI through Santi - I am now an Open Sky Pilot! :-)

So why did everything go so well? What changed?

Well, I did!

The decision I came to in my article here was to be the water that would extinguish the heated tension, and in the article I summarised how this can be done – by being calm, cool, relaxing, refreshing, positive, confident, assertive, and worthy of respect.

In order to help me to do this, I made use of affirmations. Do you know what they are?

An affirmation is a positive statement that we keep saying to ourselves to make it true. Hmm. How does that work? Well, we have regular thoughts that make us miserable like, for example, "I can’t do it", “I’m so stupid”, or "I'm too ugly" or whatever our thoughts might be.

But our thoughts are only there because we got them from somewhere ‘out there’ so we keep saying a positive thought to replace a negative thought until we actually start believing it. For example, if we are always thinking that "I am ugly" then we keep saying in our head all day long "I am beautiful".

We do not even need to believe the affirmations we are saying for them to have a positive effect. We will all feel uplifted by the positive thoughts that we keep saying to ourselves anyway because our brain secretes chemicals corresponding to our positive and negative thoughts. That's just science ;-)

These are the affirmations I wrote down yesterday morning to help me:

I am always cool and calm. [calm, cool]
I always enjoy my environment. [positive]
I always think positively. [positive]
I always smile and laugh. [relaxing, refreshing]
I always talk with a soft voice. [calm, cool, relaxing]
I am always assertive. [assertive]
I always give positive feedback. [worthy of respect]
I always listen to and observe others. [worthy of respect]
I am always aware of my Self. [worthy of respect]

As the day went along, I kept saying these in my head, and guess what … They helped me to focus – to stay calm, to concentrate on the beauty of the environment around me, to stay positive and smile and talk softly and calmly (not getting angry).

I didn’t need to be assertive because this was having such a positive influence on the way the instructors were treating me, but I did give lots of thanks to Santi who was really great these last two days! He had so much more time for me because I was so much more focused, and I listened to him carefully (very important for flying cause you are being guided by radio!). Most importantly, though, I asked my Self all the time if I was okay.

The answer was ‘Yes, I am feeling fine and everything is going to go fine’ so I knew all was well. Some people say that they can’t hear their intuition because their mind is speaking too much. This is a common problem, but affirmations (just like meditation, or any other form of awareness) really do work to bring our attention into what is happening in the moment now, and when we know that we really will act upon our intuition’s answer, it makes it much easier for us to hear our intuition speak!

Download a free booklet on affirmations here

Be inspired ♥


  1. beautiful!! i really liked the way you handled the situation and didn't let rage,negativity or anger to control your feelings and at the same time the affirmations helped you to build your confidence in the situation.
    At the end you saw that any negative or "bad" situation always leads to a lesson for life.

    "You must learn a new way to think before you master a new way to be"

  2. Thanks for the comment. I love the quotation and I agree that we must deal with our thoughts if we are to deal with our behaviour! :-)