For the first 40 days of this year, I jumped in a cold swimming pool with two of my sons, as a practice in facing discomfort and fear.
We never looked forward to it, but it taught me a lot about facing things I don’t want to face.
The things we don’t want to face can look like a top hits list:
Does any of that sound familiar? Turns out, facing difficult stuff is huge!
In this article, I’ll share what cold swimming taught me about facing difficult stuff.
Every day, I noticed myself not wanting to jump in the cold water. Luckily, I had two other people I’d committed to, and they helped me to stick to the commitment!
I would pause and notice how my resistance felt. It is a tightness in the chest, an urge to go do something easier or more comfortable, and urge to not even think about the hard thing. An urge to turn away, to go to the busywork.
Imagine having to dive in a pool of icy water right now — OK, some of you masochists would probably enjoy it (Canadians and Finnish!) — but most of us would quickly think of a few other things that need doing. We’d feel that bodily resistance, and maybe a little feeling of dread as well.
That’s the same thing we feel when it comes to tackling an overwhelming project or having a difficult conversation. We would rather scrub the kitchen.
For 40 days, we faced this resistance. And here’s what I learned that helped:
These were beautiful lessons for us. I hope to carry it through to my other challenges this year!
About Leo: I am is a regular guy, a father of six kids, a husband, a writer from Guam (moved to San Francisco in 2010, now living in Davis, California). But I have accomplished a lot over the last couple of years (and failed a lot) and along the way, I have learned a lot.