The Savage Race 2.0: The Deeper Lessons
For many of you who have been following my blogs for a while, you may remember last year around this time when I wrote a few blogs about facing your fears, discovering your courage, and what I learned on my first go around with the mud run obstacle course adventure that is “The Savage Race.” My brother had talked me into it last year, after much persuading, and I was terrified! However, once committed, I prepared as best as I could at that time and followed through. We ended up having tons of fun! In spite of the many successes and lessons that came from that day, and being very proud of myself for finishing the race, there was one memory that kept coming back to me. In fact, it haunted me for an entire year.
Halfway through last year’s race, when I encountered “Davy Jones Locker” (a 16-foot platform that I needed to jump off of into deep muddy water below), I hit a snag. I got very scared as I peered over the edge of a platform that looked a lot higher from the top than from any other angle. As the volunteer shouted, “1, 2, 3 JUMP!” I hesitated as everyone else jumped ahead of me. I knew I had to go, so I reluctantly stepped off. As I fell into the water, I went into shock. As I came to realize that I was not going to hit the bottom and bounce up, and my muddy shoes were pulling me down like a weighted anchor, I panicked. I needed to start kicking my way to the surface! In the course of kicking in a panicked state, my calves cramped up.
As I got out of the water, I was shaking and my heart was racing out of my chest. My calves could not settle down and this limited my ability to complete some of the remaining obstacles and completely prevented me from running after that point. From that day forward, each time this memory came to me, my body would remember it too – I would start to sweat, my heart would race, and my body would feel very tight. Crazy, I know. But this is an amazing example of how the body never forgets! Memories are stored in ALL your cells, not just in your brain. To truly have a corrective experience, it must include the entire body.
Conquering this fear and redeeming myself became a mission. I wanted a different story to tell. As I asked myself, “Why this? Why is this particular experience so hard for me to let go of?” The awareness that began to come to me over time was that this experience was a perfect metaphor for so many of my life experiences, which included a level of ambivalence that in the end was almost paralyzing. I came to realize that I needed to change this pattern not only to have a new RACE story, but to forge a new LIFE story moving forward. I challenged myself to overcome this.
To overcome my ambivalence and go forward (off the cliffs) in my life with clarity, purpose, and consciousness would be not only transformative but triumphant. I remained steadfast in this mission as I prepared for the Fall 2016 race. This required me to put more efforts into my physical body. I finally transitioned to an official Crossfit box, intensified my workouts, lifted heavier weights, ran farther, reigned in and got disciplined about my nutrition and how I fueled my body, shed a few extra pounds, and pushed through my physical limits.
I also went deeper within my mental, emotional, and spiritual body to face that ambivalence. This process included meditation, prayer, and journaling along with periodic breathwork and hypnotherapy to release shock, fear, and confusion that were in my way. This vision, intention, and action set the stage for an amazing and powerful lesson to take place for me and one that I want to share with you today.
Have you ever wished you could rewrite the story of a particular experience that you had? If you had a second chance to do the same thing again, would you do it differently? With all that you know now and the knowing that you could benefit from a different outcome, would you use that knowledge and that knowing to create that different outcome for yourself? You may not always have that option, but when you do, it provides a unique opportunity to create a corrective experience that is healing, empowering, and builds amazing trust and confidence in yourself.
That is what this year’s Savage Race gave me.
Overall, this year I was much more prepared for the race, and I knew a bit of what to expect. I once again joined my brother and several of his Crossfit friends and we traversed walls, crawled through mud and under barbed wire, swam in muddy water, scaled half-pipes, slid down vertical water slides, and swung and spun across grown-up monkey bars. Over the course of 7-miles and 26 obstacles, I continued to surprise myself as I was able to keep running after each obstacle and my calves held up pretty good. All my training was paying off!
This year, Davy Jones Locker (see picture) was towards the end of the race. My brother knew of my need to avenge and redeem myself from last year and knew how important this particular obstacle was for me. I made sure he and I were together and I asked him to just be next to me when we jumped. I didn’t need him to hold my hand, just to be there. Asking for help and support is something that I have learned over the years, and it makes a huge difference! He teased me as we waited in a long line to climb up to the top of the platform as he noticed me breathing deeply and focusing, “you’re not going to chicken out of this thing, are you?” I immediately answered, “I WILL NOT! I WILL NOT get to the other side of this thing with the same story as last year. I MUST have a different story to tell!”
I knew this was it! I left myself no other option but to follow through. This was my chance to really show up for myself. I knew I could do it. So when it came time, up we climbed the ladder to the top. We stood 6 people across. With my brother by my side, I heard the volunteer yell, “1, 2, 3 JUMP!!” And off I went!! Fully conscious, with no hesitation!! In the picture above you can see me in the green shirt. Of course my brother is way out ahead of me (he missed the fear gene), but we all actually jumped at the same time! I hit the water fully conscious and kicked my feet immediately so I came up fast and swam to the edge. I jumped out, hugged my brother and felt ELATED!! I DID IT!!! My calves were okay and I was so happy I just skipped and ran all the way to the next obstacle cheering and smiling and giggling. In fact, as I write this now, I am tingling and I can feel the excitement and joy flooding my body and I can’t help but smile and giggle. Our body remembers the positive too!!
I went on to finish the race and even though my muscles were tired, my body was dirty and scraped up and worn out, I felt like I could conquer the world. I was able to really experience what it felt like to reap the rewards of all of the hard work I had put in and the absolute payoff of the commitment and dedication I had given myself. I had a very deep anchor now for what it meant to show up for myself. I drove home that evening thinking, I can truly accomplish ANYTHING that I set my mind to! I realized that I was feeling confidence and trust and belief in myself in a way that I really had never experienced before. This was a very powerful and empowered feeling for me.
And then something else happened.
Over the next couple of days, as I rested and recovered, my body was fully integrating this incredible experience. As I reviewed the events of the race in my mind, different memories would come to me. And inevitably, as it had so many times before, the old memory of Davy Jones Locker showed up. BUT THIS TIME, I had something else to replace it with. I would feel the old feelings and then what came to me was, “Wait! I don’t need to do this anymore, I now have a new experience!” And I would shift to the new memory of the recent experience. I imagined this process like overlaying a new sheer picture over the old one until eventually, you can no longer see the old picture. The new one has taken its place. So that each time the old memory would come back, I would stop, shift to the new thoughts, experiences, and beliefs, and eventually the old memory faded away.
And I now had a new reference and story about the ambivalence I had struggled so deeply with. I knew, down deep in my bones, what it felt like to get clear, make a plan, follow through, and come out on the other side. So when issues surface or cycle around again, as they tend to, I will be able to process and deal with it faster, get clear, and know how to move forward. I no longer need to stay stuck.
As a therapist, you can imagine that this meant a lot more to me than maybe the average person. I was completely fascinated by what I had only understood in theory before. This is what we do in hypnotherapy, but this helped me to have a much clearer picture of the process. Now I know that this is not only possible, but I now have a reference for how to help you experience this level of healing through a new narrative.
I’m not saying you have to go out and run the Savage Race, but think about it, what is your Savage Race? What issue, pattern, obstacle is holding you back? What do you need from yourself in order to change, shift, and/or overcome it? What type of sacrifices might you need to make to maintain the level of commitment it takes to follow through? What would be the payoff for you to have a new experience? The extras that come with this are confidence, value, respect, and trust in yourself. Ready?
So needless to say, my brother is a wise teacher. Whether he does it consciously or not, he has always pushed me out of my comfort zone into an even better version of myself. I am so grateful for him and the playful relationship we have been able to create with each other as 40-somethings in the grown-up playgrounds of Crossfit and Mud Obstacle Course Racing. If you had told me 20 years ago that I would be doing this at 44, I would have laughed on the floor until I cried. I would also still be stuck in my fear and ambivalence and perfectionism.
Give yourself permission to break out of the molds you have locked yourself into. Tell yourself, “I will NOT come out on the other side of this with the same story! I refuse to live with that story any more.” Create a new story, a new memory, a new experience, and a new belief in yourself! Surprise yourself with what you are truly capable of. And then go celebrate!! I can’t wait to hear all about it!
How to change your story:
It’s not easy
Sometimes it’s uncomfortable
You can create a new memory
Sometimes it hurts
Keep showing up
Don’t give up
What you believe you achieve
Yes you CAN!