At the start of 2018 I made a resolution to try new things. I’ve always enjoyed unfamiliar experiences and have learned over the years that pushing myself outside of my comfort zone can lead to learning more about myself and those around me. This year I wanted a reminder of what I was capable of. I wanted to see how much fun I could have exploring the depths of my abilities and what I could learn along the way.
Last week I completed my first Tough Mudder. If you aren’t familiar with this event, allow me set the stage. There were roughly 9,000 athletes who signed up to jump into pits of mud, run 5 or more miles and complete 12 obstacles that tested their strength and endurance. Many of the obstacles took the support of your fellow “mudders” help in order to complete.
As my friend and I arrived to the race in a big, open field outside of the city, it looked like the set of Ninja Warrior. As we walked around apprehension began to set in and my inner dialogue was in hyper drive…
There is no way I can do this.
I’m scared. I’m going to hurt myself. This is crazy.
Why am I here? Who talked me into this? How do I get out of it?
I spoke some of my fears out loud to my friend, who promised me I COULD do this and that it was going to be fun. We made a pact that we would try the obstacles, face our fears, but allow ourselves to skip anything that we needed to. We vowed to embrace our fears and create some new story lines in our minds.
The first obstacle was a huge mud pit that you jumped into and then had to climb over mounds of mud, with the support of your mudder comrades pushing you up and grabbing your arms to pull you over. When I first saw this I thought there was no way I could do it and might humiliate myself trying. On the contrary I found it was easier than I expected and a ton of fun. It took other people’s encouragement and support, but together we did it. Everyone who jumped in not only finished and got to the other side, but had a blast doing it.
The rest of the obstacles were much the same. I did honor my body and skip a few but I noticed the only judgement about doing so came from my own mind. No one else was judging me or worrying about what I was choosing to do, or not do.
As I sit here and reflect on the experience and what I learned, I realize that so much of our limiting beliefs shape what we think we are capable of. It is often our own thoughts that keep us small and from doing things that we are not only able to do but might excel at, learn from, and have fun accomplishing.
I wonder how many of my deep-seeded beliefs are keeping me from learning and growing. I realize that in challenging my fears, I am capable of so much more than my mind allows for.
What fears are keeping you from living fully?
How often do you tell yourself you can’t do something, that you aren’t strong enough, smart enough, flexible enough, …… enough?
If you open your eyes and look around, you might discover that those around you want you to succeed. They want it so much for you that they are willing to help lift you up or offer a hand of support. In our fear of showing our own vulnerabilities we often neglect to accept that support and instead stay in our safe zone.
What would it feel like for you to face your fears?
What is the worst that could happen?
Who is willing to help? Do you have support?
What might you learn from your experience?
How can you take the first step?
Facing our fears isn’t always easy or comfortable. I actually threw up after the race and had to ice my achey legs for a few days. Even so, I’m glad I did it. I witnessed my own strength and determination. My ability to push beyond my minds limitations and open myself up to new possibilities. I experienced a sense of camaraderie and knowing that we are all in this messy world together.
I’m excited to see what the rest of 2018 will bring. Whatever it is, I know it may not be comfortable or easy. With the same confidence, I trust that it will help me to continue to expand deeper into myself and all that I am capable of. I know that there is nothing to be afraid of.
“Fear is nothing more than an obstacle that stands in the way of progress. In overcoming our fears we can move forward, stronger and wiser within ourselves.” ~ Author Unknown