A life changing day
I know it might sound a bit dramatic to say that taking part in a firewalk changed my life, but it’s true. Every day I’m discovering more things I can do now, that I found difficult or impossible before. This blog post is part one of a 3 part series about one short day that changed everything.
It all happened just a couple of weeks ago, when I went along to a one-day event aimed at overcoming fears and challenges. The event was organised by my friend John Denley and was called Breakthrough UK 2014 – the name certainly turned out to be very apt.
I learned loads throughout the whole day, but definitely the most valuable to me were the two physical challenges: arrow breaking and the firewalk. There was another challenge too, a walk on broken glass, which I didn’t take part in. Strangely though, not taking part taught me something too.
The suitcase that changed everything
I remember when the firewalk guy, Steve, wheeled out his suitcase from behind a banner. It looked really heavy by the way he was pulling it along and it made a huge thud as he let it fall flat on the floor. My curiosity grew as Steve quickly unzipped the suitcase, lifting the lid and revealing a bundled up white sheet. As he lifted out the bundle, a slight chinking sound could be heard and then, as the bundle and its contents hit the floor with a crash, I think we’d all guessed what was inside.
Broken glass! Shards and shards of smashed up bottles and jars all piled up in the middle of a clean white sheet. We’d all worked out what was going to happen next, as Steve took out a piece of wood from the suitcase and began to spread the glass out. The shards of glass made a horrendous noise, crunching and shattering as they were spread out in an even layer on the sheet.
A whole load of excuses
Before I go on, you need to know that back in January 2000 I suffered a massive blood clot in my femoral vein (the big one that runs through your groin) and ever since then I’ve needed to take daily anti-coagulants to prevent further clots. As with all medicines there are some side effects of taking these every day, in this case mostly to do with bruising and the risk of excessive bleeding from cuts. These were very good reasons for not doing certain things but they also served as very good excuses for getting out of doing things I was afraid of. But I’m getting ahead of myself, because I didn’t realise I was using it as an excuse until this day.
Let’s get back to the glass. As soon as I realised what was going on my first thought was “I can’t do that, I’ll bleed everywhere and have to go to hospital.” Luckily for me, or so I thought, there was only time for a handful of people to do the glass walk, so I didn’t volunteer. However, as I saw each person, including my friend Janette (who’d clearly stated she did NOT want to do it) slowly and carefully walk across the glass with no injuries whatsoever, my thinking started to change. Janette’s face was full of triumph as she finally stepped off that sheet – it was truly a joy to see.
I began to think that I could have done that if only I’d tried. I thought about all the things I hadn’t done in the past, in case I would get a cut or a bad bruise. I laughed at myself for thinking I would bleed everywhere, when the risk of getting a cut under the circumstances was minimal. I decided right there and then that I would be first in line for whatever the next challenge was. I’ll tell you more about that in Part 2, but for now, I’ll share with you what I gained from not taking part in the glass walk.
It got me thinking about other excuses I use to avoid things I don’t want to do
This was a little uncomfortable for me, because I like to think I’m a good person that gets on with what needs to be done. I thought to myself, so if I’ve been making all these excuses about stuff, what does that mean about me? But we all do it don’t we? I’m too old, too unfit, too tired, too busy, it’s too cold outside, it’s not up to me to do it, I need x before I can do it…..and the list could go on. We’re all human, mostly nice people that want to get along, and making excuses is one of the ways we get to say no to people without feeling like we’ll hurt their feelings. And if we make excuses to ourselves, it’s a way of letting ourselves off the hook and staying within our comfort zones.
It made me realise that I can stop making excuses whenever I choose to
Seeing my terrified friend take on the glass walk and succeed made something click in my head. She could have found an excuse not to do it, after all we would have understood, but she pushed through the fear and did it anyway. It reminded me of the book by Susan Jeffers, Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway. It’s so easy to give in to fear and stay inside your comfort zone, but all those things that you really, really want are outside it!
“Remember that underlying our fears is lack of trust in ourselves”
which brings me nicely to my next point…
My self-esteem and confidence were suffering
We make a fundamental mistake, us humans. We link our self-esteem (what we think we’re worth) and our confidence (what we think we’re capable of) to the results we’ve had up to now. If I deliver a workshop well, my confidence soars. If I didn’t live up to my own high expectations, it nose-dives. If a loved one likes the gift I made for them, I feel worthy and loveable. If they clearly don’t like it (however well they try to hide it) I beat myself up for being such a rubbish person. I don’t trust my own opinion of myself so I look to my results. This is insane!
Saying ‘yes’ when you mean ‘no’ is squashing your self-esteem
Something else impacts massively on self-esteem and confidence – making excuses. Excuses are little white lies, seemingly harmless untruths that don’t seem to cause any problems. But self-esteem is built up by having a positive self-image and being true to yourself, so unfortunately, every tiny little lie you tell yourself chips away at it. Saying yes when you want to say no, saying you can’t meet a friend due to illness when really you just don’t feel like it, there are so many ways that you are unknowingly eroding your self-worth. Well now you know.
Over to you
In conclusion, it’s worth reflecting on how many excuses you tell yourself and the fears behind them. How often do you say yes when you mean no? Are you willing to give up on those things you really want in life just to stay in your comfort zone? Only you can decide.
Find out how you can take part in a whole weekend of activities like this in October 2015 or if you can’t wait that long, get updated about the latest events by registering on John’s Find Your Fire website.
If this blog has got you thinking about the excuses you’ve been making and how they’re holding you back, you can either comment on this page or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange a free phone consultation.
Enjoy life again, you deserve it!