“Could the young but realize how soon they will become mere walking bundles of habits, they would give more heed to their conduct…” -
We all have fears. Some are critical to our survival and some are not. I would go so far as to say most are not. The majority of our fears are like little prisons of our own devise. We have built up ways of dealing with these fears over the years and they are now ingrained habits in our thinking that can actually sabotage our way of life.
So, what has this got to do with Kevin Spacey and cold showers?
About a week ago I came across The Blog of Impossible Things and a post on Cold Shower Therapy (CST). The premise of the post was that taking a challenge of having cold showers for 28 days straight could help you get unstuck. I signed up straight away and I have braved two days so far.
The first day and a visit from Kevin Spacey
I went to bed the night before D-Day all pumped up thinking ‘Yes, I can do this’. Bear in mind I have had this pumped feeling many times before going to bed and it was wiped out first thing in the morning before I even opened my eyes.
Next morning my first thought was ‘What the F*%&, what was I thinking? Why the hell have I signed up for this?’ I went downstairs and turned on the laptop. I lit a cigarette (and, yes folks, smoking is high on my list of habits to break.) My internal dialogue went something like this:
‘Ok. I can do this. I’ll just have one more cigarette.’
‘God, if I can’t even do this, just 5 minutes of discomfort, how can I do anything?’
‘I really will do it in a minute. Check my emails. Ok. Just one more cigarette and then we shower’ (I did actually say ‘we’. I obviously felt that I needed more than just me to accomplish this!)
‘I need to get a fresh towel and have a drink of water.’
‘Have I watered the plants?’
I finally went to the shower and turned it on. I stood and looked at the shower head for about a minute, as if I had never seen it before. I looked at the time then tested the water with my hand. It was ice cold.
‘OK, it’s 06:47. I will get in at 6:48. Shit! 6.48. I stepped into the cubicle and waved goodbye to my family and friends.
I put my arms under. It feels cold, but not too bad. Then my legs and this is a little worse. You can guess at this point that although I was in the shower cubicle, I wasn’t directly under the shower. My head was next, but this is surprisingly OK. Then my face and ’God, I can’t breathe!’ Once I get the ability to breathe back I turn around and back under the shower.
The noises I make as the water hits my back are very scary. God knows what the neighbours think. ‘Oooh – Ahhh – Agghh – Oooh – Ahh.’ Suddenly, without warning Kevin Spacey pops into my head uninvited, and I think that any neighbours listening will wonder if I am doing a ramped up version of his scene at the start of American Beauty
You try this and you will know that was the furthest thing from my mind!
I turn around and it is time for the nether regions. I am now singing Phantom of the Opera in a falsetto. Well, it’s some form of operatic vocalisation but I don’t think it will be getting a run on Broadway. Shower gel. Rinse off.
‘Shit, I forgot to set the alarm.’
‘ Is that 5 minutes yet?’
‘ OK. Make sure my whole body is in’
‘Hold a little longer. That has to be it.’
‘It is probably only 2 or 3 minutes. This sucks’
I stop the water, open the cubicle door and look at the time on my phone. Wow. 6 minutes! I grab the towel and start to dry off and I am actually laughing out loud. Damn, I feel good, both physically and mentally. I feel very, very proud!
What is interesting so far is my thought process. Doing CST is increasing my self-awareness. It is making me pay attention to my thoughts. And this raises the question – How often do I have the same thoughts about other things? What other things am I not doing because of how I deal with little fears, things much more important than a cold shower that could actually be good for me.
The drama I created in my head all over a cold shower is actually quite phenomenal. If I am applying the same habitual thought processes to other areas of my life where there could be any element of fear, like relationships, work, social occasions, hobbies and dreams, then what is the impact of this on how I live my life?
After a few more showers and some more reflection, I will write more in Part 2 of this post. For now though, you know what Kevin Spacey has to do with all of this. I don’t know why Kevin Spacey paid me a visit in the shower, and quite frankly, I don’t want to know why. He just did so let’s leave it at that.
Are you prepared to take the Cold Shower Therapy challenge? What seemingly harmless fears do you have that could be a reflection of how you think about more important matters?
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