I HATE getting into cold water. Like every ounce of my being screams NO!!!!!! at the mere thought of diving, jumping or, even, wading into cold water.
While I am known for my proclivity towards very warm waters and my high tolerance for heat, my preferred state of being warm has actually become a source of stress and struggle in our family.
My oldest daughter is a lover of water. And she is able to swim in any temperature. She has already swum in 4 degrees Celsius! I mean, how can we even be related?! But most importantly, she wants to share this love of the water with me and will beg and plead for me to join her in any given pool or ocean.
And nine times out of ten, I say “No”, as I watch the disappointment sweep over her face.
I am a firm believer in respecting our own boundaries and communicating them to our loved ones. I have always communicated my boundary with cold water as something physically impossible for me to get over. It feels tortuous to me to go into it. It feels like hell and I would rather do a zillion other things that get wet in cold water. It’s too much of a shock to my system (and I think I have an, as yet unspoken, fear I’ll have a heart attack!) and I just don’t fucking like it! Ok? Can’t that be enough of a reason? So leave me alone about it.
That is basically what I had to tell her, over and over and over again, until she stopped asking…at least for a little while.
But I felt like shit. I wanted to be that mom that went in and enjoyed her time with her child; to play and be goofy and show her that I could be brave and get over my “resistance”. But time and time again, I didn’t make it happen. And as the years went on, I started to feel bad. Respecting my boundaries was, and still is, important. But this felt like something deeper. I needed to shake this up.
So I promised to try harder and be courageous and “just do it”! And here’s what I learned in the process:
My comfort is in the warmth. I am happy, content, cozy and deeply comfortable in the heat. The thought of physically disrupting that comfort is, well, uncomfortable. But why? Am I someone incapable of being with discomfort? Am I not able to push myself into uncomfortable situations? Do I always stay in my comfort zone?
The answer is I am capable of being out of my comfort zone and I have lots of examples to prove that! I fly in airplanes a few times a year (it takes lots of self-coaching to not lose my shit while flying), I left a cushy career to start my own business, I learned a new language at 25 years old while moving to a new country, I am currently on a 1-2 month anti-candida diet/cleanse, and finally, I gave birth with no painkillers (YO, was THAT uncomfortable!).
I can handle discomfort. So what’s up with the cold water?
Last summer, while vacationing in Italy with my extended in-law family, I made a pledge while looking at the beautiful, happy face of my daughter, to be brave and go in the pool. Even after I knew how cold the pool was. Not only had I seen my daughter’s reaction when she jumped in (Miss I Can Swim in Any Temp Water!), but I had also dipped my toe in and, let’s just say, I was terrified.
The anticipation was awful. I would wait for as long as possible, get as hot as humanly possible and only then would I move closer to the water. Sometimes wading works best for me. Sometimes, you just gotta bite the bullet and plunge in head first. That’s my preferred way.
So here’s the beautiful lesson I learned last summer when I dove into the freezing cold pool: it was horribly cold, awful, shocking, uncomfortable, “fucketdy fuck fuck fuck” is probably what I said…but, that only lasted about 5, tops 10, seconds. That’s it.
After that, I was able to swim around, play, relax and enjoy feeling refreshed and cooled off. And, most importantly, I saw the smile on my daughter’s face and felt the pride in my own heart.
All this fuss for 5-10 seconds of discomfort? What had I been so afraid of? Every uncomfortable second was worth it.
I used that piece of information to help me for the rest of our trip. I coached myself through the resistance…reminding myself that discomfort is nothing to be feared but rather to get through it so we can feel the benefits of what else is being offered to us.
I cannot tell you how much this realization and, now, technique has helped me. I like to call it the Cold Water Dunk. It’s a three-step process:
- Give yourself the permission to feel uncomfortable
- Remind yourself that it won’t last too long
- And the bask in the physical exhilaration you feel from the glory of your effort, your courage and your willingness to show up for your life and say “YES, I am going to dive in!”
Since Italy, I have used this technique to help me do FB lives (I coach myself to do them every single time), to help me speak my truth even when I know other’s won’t agree, to take care of my health through an elimination diet, to swim in the cold ocean with my daughter in the Dominican this last March, to name a few.
Discomfort is a wise teacher. And my aversion to the cold water really helped drive this point home for me. It only lasts a few seconds. We can do this. We were made for this.
So next time you doubt yourself or feel the resistance to doing something uncomfortable or revert back to your default ways, think of the Cold Water Dunk and jump in. I can almost guarantee you won’t regret it!