Minutes after the French won their nail-biting match against Argentina during the World Cup, my husband noticed a giant water splotch the shape of Russia on our carpet.
We looked at it and immediately blamed it on our 2-year old. He’s at an age where he will only drink from big cups and when he does he opens his mouth so wide that he spills 89% of the water on himself and the ground. He refuses to go with a smaller cup. #toddlerdetermination #whyaretheylikethis
But after 30 minutes that water splotch started to brazenly conquer new land. We ran over to the hot water heater, felt the ground, and realized we had a huge problem. We had a leaky tank and it was the weekend and no repair service was open.
My husband is pretty handy. He figured out how to stop the leak, shut off the electricity on the heater while keeping the cold water running in the house. So we have water, thank god, but it is cold as a cucumber.
Now, as I said, Paris is having a heatwave so it’s not like we’re freezing our tushies off in the house. But still, a cold shower is a cold shower, and I don’t like cold. In fact I hate the cold. Hate it, hate it, hate it. HATE it! My 25% Greek genes are to blame for my extreme intolerance.
Thinking of showering in cold water (with not even a little warm water to cheat) makes my shoulders bolt up and my chest heave in.
I immediately think of Surprise Lake Camp in Cold Springs, NY, the summer day camp that I went to as a pre-teen. I signed up for swimming class there (like a fool) and we often had to practice early morning when the lake was super cold. I remember that horrible feeling of jumping in, my breath seizing up for a couple of seconds before I got used to the temperature. It was the worst feeling.
Well that was what I felt again when I thought about my upcoming shower.
My husband’s advice about my impeding shower was to just go for it. Not to dance around and delay the torture, just embrace it.
I didn’t like that idea. So I texted my friend Lili who has been very vocal on her blog about her daily cold shower ritual. I told her my situation and asked her advice about how to do the cold shower in a more gentle and humane way.
Her instructions were totally compelling, clear and easy to follow.
- Massage your body with oil before getting in the shower
- Introduce the cold water to your feet and hands first
- Work the water up to your chest
- Breath deeply and then scream if you have to!
- Then shower your back, arm pits, arms, etc :)
- Don’t direct water to your thighs (they have a lot of veins, and you don’t want a flush of blood there)
- Don’t let the water go above your chin
- Wash your head/hair in a sink with warm water (boiled in my case)
- Feel amazing and alive after your shower.
So, I've been following her instructions to a T since and I have to say I feel like a million bucks afterwards. My skin is silken smooth, taught and tingly in a good way for hours .
Why should you care about my cold shower story? Well because the whole process is a great example of how visualization works.
- We often fear the unknown because the experience we predict reminds us of something we already lived through and didn’t enjoy. (e.g. swimming early morning in a cold lake at sleepaway camp)
- We think we can’t possible get over our fear because we are just built that way and lack the resources. (e.g. my Greek genes making me unable to like cold).
- By imagining someone else, someone not so different from us, even an ideal version of ourselves overcome that challenge, we start to realize that there might in fact be a way to move ahead (e.g. remembering Lili's love of showers)
- By projecting into the future, and then retro-planning how to get there, our brain becomes more familiar with the task (e.g. preloading Lili's step-by-step action plan)
- Our excitement to accomplish our end goal helps us find the motivating and energy to get us there (e.g. the excitement of feeling alive and amazing after shower)
So next time you’re confronted with a challenge that chills you to the core try to find the root of the feeling.
And know there there is someone in the world that overcame a similar obstacle. How were they able to do it? What action steps did they take? How could you do the same? How would that feel once you overcame your fear?
What shower challenge you're working through right now? Write a comment below or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you've got going on!