The pit in your stomach
Fear is most directly related to that which we do not know or understand.
We love certainty.
We love the black and white.
The choice of two distinct options, A or B.
That is easy; red or blue, left or right, yes or no.
That, is not life. Life is more like a choose your own adventure story that ends when you do. The pages of the story are all written, the options in every situation seem almost infinite, with their subsequent situations providing an equal number of options that all travel down into a seemingly infinite abyss.
That is life, it is full of the unknown, uncertainty, challenge, twists, turns, ups and downs. The people who excel, those who are happy, those who have achieved success according to their own standards have at one point or another faced their fears. They may face them every single day. They may face them weekly, monthly, or yearly but they face them. They face them and act in the face of them.
To me I have used competition and fitness, more specifically CrossFit, to face my fears. Every single day I am afraid before the workout. I am nervous. When I am about to tackle the workout, I am overcome with nervous energy, the thought of pushing myself into that place that feels very uncomfortable is a challenge. Working out alone most of the time lately makes it even more challenging. It makes it easier to want to take it easy, it is easier to want to slow down or just not start. At times, I will swear at myself during the 10 second countdown because to me once that clock starts there is no turning back, there is no stopping.
By facing your fears in a controlled environment like we do here at CrossFit you realize some very important things on an almost daily basis.
First, most of us are stronger than we realize. There are these places that we rarely visit as adults, they are these dark corners, shadows. Places we do not talk about. Places where when something happens we respond with “Where did that come from?” There is a you below the surface that is literally dying, every day that you do not let it out.
We have inside of us a special power. The more you access it the greater it becomes. However, if you bury it, well it dies ever so slowly, like a person on life support just waiting for the time when the plug gets pulled.
This power, this special thing some many seem to crave is determination and will. This determination and will comes when we step outside our comfort zone and into this unknown. It may just be dipping the toe in. It may be jumping in that frigid and dark uninviting water. What happens is that we are shocked, mentally and physically by what happens. The first few times we may feel as though we are dying.
Breathing begins to quicken and shorten, you feel weak, tingly, your muscles are no longer under voluntary control. You will most likely need to sit down, eat or vomit. Sometimes it is all three. Your body is in this new place and it has no idea what to do, so it sounds all of these alarms!
The next time the response is less dramatic, and every time two things happen. It requires more work for you to get into that dark place and you leave it faster. You are able to recover more quickly. You start to realize that feeling short of breath, a little weak in the legs, and sweating profusely is ok. That you are just challenging your body to become stronger, not trying to kill it.
The more you do this the more you come to realize that the time during the workout will ALWAYS suck. It will always be a challenge. The difference is how you come out of it after. You recover much faster. You feel much better, sooner. It doesn’t get any better, you do.
This regular challenge to overcome your fears through exercise will lead you down a path of life that will make your life more enhanced. You will be better at everything. You will feel better, you will feel stronger, you will feel improvements in mental clarity, energy, vitality, and you will be more capable of handling everything that life can throw at you.
These are the benefits of what we do that many people do not see from the outside, these are the benefits that will be more helpful than any physical or blood work!
My son likes to ask me if I am afraid of certain things. Dad, you aren’t afraid of lightning are you? I tell him sometimes it will scare me because I do not know what it is but once I know, I am not. I try to teach him these lessons now. That fear is ok, fear is not a problem. The problem lies in letting fear control you. That letting fear paralyze you is a slow quiet death.