If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know that I started a series of posts about an amazing day I took part in back in October. It was an event designed to help people overcome fears and challenges and take a giant leap forward in just one day. You can read my first post here, which was about how not taking part in one of the activities actually taught me something about myself. Part 2 was about being first in line to break an arrow with my throat! Find it here. This 3rd and final part is about walking on hot coals and how it made me challenge my fears.
I Can Do It!
This rather blurry picture is me walking along a path of hot coals measured at around 1700 degrees Fahrenheit! It didn’t happen by accident and I don’t recommend trying anything like this without the proper preparation.
If you’ve been reading, you’ll know that I’d got myself to the front of the queue and broken an arrow with my throat! At this point I was still slightly doubtful as to whether I would go ahead with the fire walk, but I was a lot more sure than at the start of the day. The afternoon that followed was all about preparing for the big event and it started with viewing the fire!
Funnily enough, rather than putting me off, seeing the fire actually calmed my nerves slightly. Then we headed back to the training room to find out how we were going to do this crazy thing.
Walking on fire is a mental challenge rather than a physical one, because it is perfectly possible to walk on these coals without injury – I know, I did it! But if you’re not mentally prepared it could end horribly. It’s a bit like life really – you can bimble along through life without any real direction or planning, but you can end up getting lost or hurt. As soon as you start putting some planning into life you move quickly towards what you really want, with less effort and fewer detours.
Preparation Is The Key
The main thing we had to do to prepare was to come up with a strong mantra that we could say (shout) during the action of firewalking. We needed a set up statement that meant something to us and anchored us to a feeling of strength, and we needed something to punctuate the end – either a repeat of our anchor or a new affirmation. We also practiced walking purposefully along a similar stretch of floor so we could get used to the pace we needed to set. I chose “I can do this!” followed by “I can, I can, I can…..” as I did my purposeful walk. Finally, “I did it!” was to be my strong finish.
As a little extra boost, we were reminded of the tip we used for doing the arrow breaking exercise – telling any negative or unhelpful thoughts to “Shut the **** up!”
As I always say, you get more of what you focus on, so it’s best not to focus on how hot your feet feel when you’re halfway across!
The Moment Has Come!
Finally the time came for us to head out to the tarmac-covered tennis courts and face a most primal fear – walking on fire! Let me tell you, taking your boots and socks off in the dark and standing barefoot on muddy tarmac is a very strange feeling and was a nice distraction from what I was about to do.
As the last checks, measurements and leveling of the coals was taking place, we formed an orderly and rather British queue. It felt like an age as we waited to be given the go-ahead to start. I found myself saying “I just want to get it done now!” I never thought I would be so keen to get my feet into such a precarious position!
I was about 6th in the queue and as we finally got word that we could start, the first person took his place. The tension grew palpably and I went from telling my thoughts to shut the **** up in my head to saying it out load, as the intensity of my fear bubbled up. It came to my turn and I took my place on the piece of cool, damp turf at the head of the glowing coal path…
I tried to focus straight ahead as we’d been taught, but I found it so hard to take my eyes of those glowing coals and it was impossible to ignore the heat blasting up at my face. I took a couple of deep breaths and then, finally, I shouted “I CAN DO THIS!” and stepped forward.
I was away with the fairies as I marched along the red-hot path shouting “GO, GO, GO!”. There was no space for distracting thoughts, although about halfway across I did become aware that some spots on my feet were painfully hot. I redoubled my efforts to focus on “GO” and quick as a flash, I was stepping back off onto cool, damp turf – it was such a relief.
I turned and shouted something unprintable at the fire (no idea why as it wasn’t what I’d planned) and then shuffled off onto the tarmac. So it turned out I changed my mantra and strong finish as I went along – never mind, it still worked! My feet felt fine and in fact, the small gritty stones on the tennis court surface were causing me more of a problem than any heat-related injury you might expect.
I was high on a cocktail of hormones and feeling euphoric as I wandered round hugging everyone who’d done their walk – it was surprisingly emotional.
We’d been taught that the worse thing to do would be to inspect our feet and focus on any red spots (you get more of what you focus on), so I completely ignored the soles of my feet, which were smarting a little, and pulled on my socks and boots.
We headed back to the training room for a debrief and the close of the day and then it was time to go home. But I felt like I wanted to drag out my time with these people, because we’d been through something awesome together and nobody at home will understand the enormity. In the end I had to go home though, or I’d have been locked in 🙂
We’ve come to the end of this rather epic story of a life changing, fear squashing, self-belief building day. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my exploits and that you have gained some learning of your own along the way.
What’s changed for me is that when I go to do something that used to scare me, even something as little as picking up the phone and calling a prospect, that little voice that says “I can’t do that, I’m afraid” is pretty much drowned out by me going “Don’t be daft, I walked on fire! I can do that!”
We let so many fears get in the way of being our true selves and living our best lives, and most of the time we find out later that the thing we feared was nowhere near as scary as we built it up to be. My closing thought on this 3 part series is to urge you to get out there, do that thing that scares you and then give yourself a massive pat on the back for breaking the trend and setting yourself up for awesomeness!
PS Just in case you’re wondering, I didn’t have a single blister or burn on my feet – just a couple of slightly pink spots that had disappeared by the next evening.
To find out more about John Denley’s fear-busting events go to his Find Your Fire website. The next one is the 31st January so you still have plenty of time to book.
If you’re open to finding out more about how I help my clients get more confidence and increased self-esteem, you can check out my website The Feel Good Coach. For even more value click here to get monthly feel good updates, and in return you will receive my gift to you, my ebook ‘5 Steps To Meditation For People Who Can’t Meditate!’
Thanks for reading. Please remember to add your thoughts below and use the buttons below to share with your friends on social media or to connect with me really easily.
Until next time…