When did you last challenge yourself?
I like to set myself little challenges now and then to keep myself learning and growing but nothing like the challenge I faced last Saturday.
I first heard about the ‘Iceman’ Wim Hof through my husband Ben, who has Wim’s book that talks about how to challenge yourself and transcend your limits. Ben loves physical challenges. I do not. I am not sporty and never have been (as I mentioned last week, kayaking stretches my limits!)
Having said that, I am impressed with Wim Hof’s achievements – breaking world records and running barefoot marathons over deserts and ice fields. I’m intrigued by his work and the findings of scientists who show the power of the human mind and body. We are capable of greater challenges than we think.
As a Mindset Coach, I have seen first-hand the incredible changes that can take place as a result of one’s self-belief. I understand the positive influence breathing has on our health and wellness, and how to use the breath to calm (or stimulate) the body and mind.
What I had never encountered before was the positive impact of the cold, in particular ice!
My husband, who is much more adventurous than me, signed up for a Wim Hof workshop. He was keen to see for himself if these three pillars (cold, breathe, and mindset) really made a difference. And he wanted me to go with him. Those of you who know me, will realise how laughable this is!
I like to think of myself as open, and keen to learn and grow, however, I hate the cold. Being brought up in Scotland means that I was used to central heating, thick carpet, and lined curtains in every room. Only mad people would swim in the North Sea and I wasn’t one of them. So, I agreed to go but only to practice breathing and learn some new mindset techniques. I had no intention of stepping into an ice bath. There are challenges and then there are “Challenges!”
We were introduced to our teacher, who explained that we humans have become too comfortable in modern-day life. We use heating and cooling systems too often, instead of letting the body regulate its own temperature. She shared Wim Hof’s story. We loosened up with some basic yoga stretches and practiced the breathing exercises, which I really enjoyed. Then we were told to set an intention. I decided there and then to focus on having the courage to do the ice bath challenge. Crazy, right?
I changed into my swimmers along with everyone else. And stood feeling nervous and vulnerable. I watched on as the first guy in our group stepped into the ice bath and gasped. Then with a focused mindset and controlled breathing, he relaxed into the experience. My negative self-talk was screaming ‘I won’t be able to do that!’ I watched the next man do the same – an initial shock, then settle into the challenge. My husband did it, then looked encouragingly at me. I was so scared, my brain shut down as my body moved towards the tub full of ice and freezing cold water. I stepped in one leg at a time and my system immediately set off alarm bells in my head. I wanted to jump straight back out but for some reason, I bent my legs and sunk deeper, right up to my neck in ice! Every little hair on my body stood up searching for warmth and found none. The pain was excruciating. It actually felt like hot irons being pressed against my skin, the body reacts the same way to extreme heat and cold. I looked in panic at the teacher, and she gently reminded me to focus on my intention for the challenge and to control my breathing. I closed my eyes and looked inward. I raised my face to the sun (we were outside) and suddenly I heard the others count down my last 5 seconds – three, two, one – I opened my eyes and realised I had been in that icy bath for 2 whole minutes. I leapt out so delighted with myself because I did something I never believed possible.
I felt energised, excited, uplifted, confident, capable, and ready to challenge myself more. All because I stepped out of my comfort zone. Don’t rob yourself of a sense of achievement. It doesn’t have to be something as crazy as an ice bath, choose something that helps you build your belief in yourself and your confidence.
When did you last challenge yourself? Is there a challenge in your personal life or at work that you’ve been too afraid to do? Why not make this the year that you decide to do it. I can honestly say that as a result of stepping out of my comfort zone, I was on a high for days.
I would never have done this on my own. Without the teacher to help me stay on track and keep me committed, I would’ve given up. This is the power of having a coach who helps you overcome your limiting beliefs, who walks alongside you and encourages you, who shows you how to shift your mindset, increase your focus and not quit on yourself. I can be that Coach for you. Let’s have a chart about your next challenge – book in a call with me.
Enjoy some of my previous blogs