Why Cold Showers
Have you ever had a great idea? Maybe a thought for a new business venture? Or, a super book idea? Maybe you had a moment of inspiration that would finally turn your life around. You were going to get healthier, be more fitness oriented, improve organizational habits, focus on improving your relationship… whatever it might have been, did you stop before you even took the first step? Did you get through a first, maybe even a second step, than stop? Maybe you got distracted by life. Or simply couldn’t figure out how to implement your idea.
If this sounds familiar to you, you need COLD SHOWERS.
I know, I know, seems insane, and possibly even non-sensical. Purposefully taking a cold shower?! Well, actually, I’ll be suggesting you take a number of cold showers over a handful of days, maybe even for the rest of forever!
If you can’t do something uncomfortable and difficult for 5 minutes in the shower, how the hell are you going to do something uncomfortable or difficult in real life?
So says Joel Runyon, creator of Impossible HQ, where I first came across this idea of cold showers for self-development. His Impossible manifesto got me on my first attempt at the 30 day cold shower challenge. I think Christine’s Positivity Project re-introduced me to it, and really got it stuck in my brain, or vice-versa. Either way….
go back and re-read that quote again…
……..Exactly, and I’ve never talked to anyone who thought greatness could come without difficulty,so why do we wonder why we can’t make it? Or sell ourselves short by accepting our FEAR-filled decisions?
Why are we such wussies?!?
If you’re anything like me, you have extraordinarily logical conversations with yourself about how to make a thing reality. It’s simple, really, to become the thing we wish we were… except, it’s not. That step out the door to implement the plan never happens. As we reach for the doorknob, FEAR grips us. That FEAR is our FLINCH.
flinch: /flinCH/ – verb (used without object)
- to draw back or shrink, as from what is dangerous, difficult, or unpleasant.
2. to shrink under pain; wince.
This FLINCH keeps us from doing the things that would heighten our lives; the things that would make us most happy; the things that would bring us in-line with our true paths. The Flinch, by Julien Smith, breaks this reaction down, explaining how we think we’re obeying logical reactions, when really, we’re betraying ourselves.
There’s this place near my house— a boxing gym called Hard Knox…
The sign above the door says “VIP ENTRANCE,” because anyone who enters can be a champion. But to become one, you have to learn how to get hit.
In a fight, there is a fundamental difference between boxers and everyone else. The guys who have trained are different. If you hit them, they don’t flinch. It takes practice to get there, but if you want to fight, you have no choice. It’s the only way to win.
This is how The FLINCH starts, and I instantly related, understanding how I was living my life afraid to learn to get hit, therefore never able to move to any of those amazing places that can only be reached after being hit. Coming up with an idea is the easy part, and anyone who says an idea is worth something – well, I completely disagree. Researching the idea isn’t even that difficult. This is the information age. Google is at our fingertips every moment of the day. What is difficult, what very few people ever do, is get over their FLINCH. Very few ever get to the doing.
Facing the flinch is hard. It means seeing the lies you tell yourself, facing the fear behind them, and handling the pain that your journey demands— all without hesitation.
The flinch is the moment when every doubt you’ve ever had comes back and hits you, hard. It’s when your whole body feels tense. It’s an instinct that tells you to run. It’s a moment of tension that happens in the body and the brain, and it stops everything cold.
Sound familiar? It definitely did to me, and it made me embarrassed. It was a humbling realization that I was ruled by this fear, especially when, broken down, this FEAR amounted to nothing. In most cases the fear was nothing more than being afraid someone might say “No” to something I was offering (sales), or laugh at an idea I had (writing), or some such non-danger thing. If these are the worst case scenarios, there’s nothing to worry about. So, why the fear? Why so much Non-doing?
Human beings need the flinch to live. Or do they? In your daily life, you might never experience anything dangerous at all. Your life is safe— but you’re flinching anyway.
You don’t flinch at bears, because there are none. But you do flinch at the prospect of speaking publicly or joining a gym. You flinch at the doctor’s office. You even flinch for sitcom characters.
Anytime there’s potential change, there’s a flinch, whether it’s a threat or not. You think the flinch is natural , and part of your life, which it is. But have you ever asked yourself why your stomach tenses up and you can’t watch imaginary characters on a television screen do awkward, embarrassing things?
In my household, there’s an understanding that I will, seemingly out of no where, experiment with some physiological something; workouts, eating patterns, random-seeming topics I immerse myself in to establish a better understanding of universal paradigms… Pretty much, everyone thinks I’m nuts – especially since I’ll be more inclined to continue if I don’t like something. Why? Well, I want to know why I don’t like it. It’s “too hard” is not an acceptable reason.
Challenge yourself by doing things that hurt, on purpose. Have a willpower practice, such as very hard exercise, meditation, endurance, or cold showers. Choose something that makes your brain scream with how hard it is, and try to tolerate it. The goal isn’t just to get used to it. It’s to understand that pain is something you can survive.
What happened to Cold Showers?
We were talking about cold showers. Cold showers incite an incredible FLINCH reflex. Uncomfortable, sure, especially if you’re someone like me who shivers at 70 F, but not life threatening; not physically or mentally damaging. But, it just might teach us how to fight through the FLINCH that arises in us all day, everyday (unfortunately, it will never be gone. There is no way to completely get rid of FLINCH). There’s a whole world to discover on the other side.
Remember: no one has a problem with the first mile of a journey. Even an infant could do fine for a while. But it isn’t the start that matters. It’s the finish line.
Not that there isn’t something to be said for starting something. I’ve started things without reaching the finish line more times than I’d like to admit to myself, but each time I come back, I get a little farther. As I learn to fight my flinch, I learn to reach the finish line, and when I learn it in one area, it translates into all areas of my life. That’s why Cold Showers. It’s a not-so-subtle metaphor for an entire life.
You’re weak because you haven’t stepped on the path. When you do, a process will begin. As you climb the mountain, you’ll get stronger. Your plastic brain will be shaped by the path. You might think this path isn’t for you, but it is— you’ll just change along the way. The path itself will toughen you up for the end. Right now, you just need to start.
Sometimes, it feels like the flinch has a voice. “You’re not going to stick to this diet. You never do.” “You’re not going to get this job, because you’re not really qualified, are you?”
Learning that our instincts aren’t exactly instincts, that most of our fears should be ignored, is a huge step toward reaching dreams we may have forgotten, thinking they were impossible. Impossible IS – I’m Possible -, so go get it!. Get in there, and be great! Let’s take a cold shower!
- Go take a 5 minute cold shower, RIGHT NOW! How was it?
- Take the Cold Shower Challenge: 5 minute cold showers every day for 30 days! Whose doing it? Invite your friends!
- Take a look at Joel Runyon demonstrating how to take a cold shower: