I listen to a lot of podcasts. And a lot of the podcasts that interest me have hosts or guests who tell me to regularly get outside my comfort zone. People like Ben Greenfield (BenGreenfiledFitness podcast), Joe DeSena (Spartanup podcast), and Rich Roll (Rich Roll Podcast) and their guests say to do things like: If you’re a morning exerciser, exercise at night. If you’re a night exerciser, go at 4a.m.. If you’re not good in water, exercise under water. If you hate running hills, run hills. If you don’t like being around crowds, put yourself in the middle of a Spartan Race. And my personal favorite: the ice bath! Take an Ice bath to really teach yourself to “Get Comfortable with being Uncomfortable,” as Joe says.
Well, to most I say “F*** that!” Are you kidding me?! I LIVE uncomfortable! My entire day revolves around dealing with discomfort! I’m in chronic pain most the day, and if not from my back or leg, I’m bloody cold all day. Being cold 100% of your waking hours, at least for me, pretty much puts the kibosh on anything “daring” that doesn’t involve warm bed sheets and turning pages.
However! I had an epiphany today….
I think Ben and Joe and the rest are missing a very important coaching opportunity with the valuable lessons learned in Getting Comfortable with being Uncomfortable.
But first, let me say that I do believe it is necessary for all humans to teach themselves to deal with discomfort. Life is uncomfortable. Whether in chronic pain or not. I think learning to put ourselves outside of our comfort zones, in very real and significant ways makes us Better People.
I like being Better People.
I usually have succeeded here by working out hard in the gym. I get very uncomfortable sometimes by making myself do one more rep or one more round than I want to. I’m very pleased with my success rate here. Another way I succeed in this “discomfort” lesson is by making myself do what I say I’m going to do. If I write a well-thought-out program that calls for 5 rounds, I don’t stop at 4 and say “That’s good enough.” I can say, most times I’m rock this.
But If I were honest with myself… I need to do much better.
Today, I challenged myself to face my fears. To be brave. And I’m thinking of that ice bath, and the time I like to exercise, and the training I like to do, and it dawned on me that the most important component of going outside our comfort zone is “WHY.”
If we can’t answer Why, then we have no reason to even try. It’s just silliness. That is why an ice bath has no appeal to me.
So, last night I prepped a borrowed wet suit, laid out my towel and shoes and sandbag, and scrutinized my morning down to the last minute. Before sunlight I was to drive 20 miles to a nearby lake, run the trails with the sandbag, don the wetsuit and dunk under the water. That was my plan! It was an act of bravery so huge that I didn’t want tell anyone because I knew they’d convince me not to go.
When morning came, and it seemed like the middle of the night, I told myself this is a crazy plan! You don’t need to do this. But I remembered first of all: I told myself I’d do it. So I need to do it! And secondly, I know my Why.
When I got to the lake, it was less like a lake than a flood zone. There was literally no trail. Just water. No shoreline. Just muddy, murky, scary water. Because my Why had nothing to do with getting a good workout, and everything to do with keeping my head on straight when I’m scared, and when I’m scared and in water, really dark water that had no indication of how deep it was, or if there were wild animals that could bite through a wet suit, or how rutty it was, I went ahead with my plan with some modifications.
I donned the wet suit, I grabbed my sandbag and started walking. I made it for about 5 minutes round trip. I didn’t dunk my head in, but I still feel like the trip was a win.
I can tell you with complete honesty!! This baby step has already done wonders on my self-confidence. I’m ready for the next challenge.
Know your “Why” readers! Know your Why and be willing to take those uncomfortable step toward your goals. It’ll change your life!