Adelaide Therapist & Communication Skills for Leaders

An Ice Way to Face Your Fears

When you run your own business, you’re constantly wrestling with some level of fear. The never-ending quest to gain and keep clients, increase profits, and grow your brand forces us to keep pushing day after day, even on the days when we really (and I mean really) don’t feel like it. As someone who makes their living teaching others how to be more courageous, I’ve found it ironic that recently I’ve been struggling with what has been at times, some paralysing imposter syndrome. Phrases such as, ‘I can’t do this…’ and ‘who do I think I am?’ have set up camp inside the darker recesses of my consciousness and like a band of travelling salesmen you wish would move on, their insidious brand of snake oil has begun to slowly poison my mind.

So it came as no surprise last weekend when I emerged from my Pilates class to see two ice baths set up that my first thought would be, ‘There’s no way I could ever do that.’ I’d seen sportsmen extolling the virtues of ice baths on tired muscles and I’d even had a friend wax lyrical about the Wim Hof method but the idea of plunging into ice cold water seemed beyond my capabilities. ‘Would you like a go?’ asked Albert, the studio owner, ‘today’s the last day you can try it…’ It was at that moment I realised I had a choice. I could decide I wasn’t brave enough to do something I’d never tried before and keep drinking the snake oil, or as Susan Jeffers famously wrote, I could feel the fear and do it anyway.

Overcoming my own fear with an ice bath

‘Let’s do it’ I said.

‘We recommend a minimum of two minutes’ Albert informed me and my ice bath partner as we stood gingerly next to our baths, ‘but, keep in mind,’ he added, ‘the last two girls managed five minutes.’

‘I’ll aim for two…’ I said cautiously.

With the hot morning sun on my face, I stepped in. ‘Remember to slow your breathing,’ Albert instructed. And it was at that moment something came over me. Breathing techniques are one of the most common aids I teach my counselling clients. Slowing down your breathing can help lower anxiety, manage panic attacks, aid sleep, the list goes on. I’m a huge advocate of incorporating breathing techniques into our daily lives and it’s something I have practiced extensively over my career.

‘I can do this’ I told myself.

As you would expect, the water was bitingly cold. As I slide deeper into its depths, I noticed my chest constrict and I immediately began to take long, slow breaths, just as Albert had told me. For a moment I had a vision of myself submerged in an icy lake and a flash of panic gripped me. ‘Remember where you are,’ I said to myself, grounding myself in the moment. I took in the hot sun above me, Albert’s kind, encouraging face, the cars driving by. I was safe, I could manage. One minute past, then two. My ice bath partner and I began to chat, even laugh as the seconds ticked by. Our fingers became painful, so we rested them on the edge, the relief making it possible to keep our bodies submerged. Before I knew it, we’d passed the four-minute mark. And what felt like moments later, we’d hit the five-minute mark. When I finally stepped out of the ice bath, Albert clocked our time at seven minutes and ten seconds. As we dried ourselves off, my companion remarked, ‘Well, there’s nothing like baring your torso to Richmond Road on a Saturday morning is there?’

Overcoming fear

Opportunities to be courageous come along all the time. Sometimes they’re big, like taking your business in a new direction and sometimes they’re small, like jumping in an ice bath. But the ice bath taught me that even small acts of courage can have a big impact on our confidence. Looks like the travelling salesmen will need to find somewhere else to sell their snake oil.

Leadership Communication skills trainer_Kirrilly Falivene

Kirrilly Falivene is a trained Counsellor and Leadership, Communications Coach for Corporates. Read more about her success stories with other clients.

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