I’ve been reading and watching quite a bit about explorers and exploring. It seems we humans have a penchant for testing the odds, for pushing the limits, for taking a risk in pursuit of a reward so great, they often perish in its pursuit.
How does this relate to exercise? Well, if you’re heading out on a exploratory trek that will take you across great plains or tundras, or into luscious ran forests or up mountains, you’re likely going to get a workout. Yet, most of us don’t have the time or the means for such adventures, nor do most of us want to.
But we don’t have to engage in a massive or life-threatening journey to be considered an explorer. We can explore on a smaller scale – within our neighbourhood, city, or ourselves. We can explore our own physical limits, but also our mental limits through a variety of means – going to a new exercise class, trying an activity we are afraid of (for whatever reason), joining a running group, attending a meditation class, finally setting up an appointment with a counselor etc. We often establish limits – both physical and mental – to what we can and will do, even when we want to push past them. We’re often left standing at the starting gait because we’re afraid.
Okay let me give you an example. I’d like to see the underwater world, but the times I’ve gone snorkeling have been petrifying (I don’t like the fish swimming at my goggles…this happened…I’m not lying) and I’m afraid of dying underwater if I go scuba diving. Death is a pretty big fear. But seeing as I’m comfortable with the notion of going sky diving and that I ride horses and hike in the bear-filled mountains, death isn’t the real reason I’m afraid.
I have to dig a little deeper because the reason I’ve provided isn’t the real one. Underwater, my oxygen supply is determined by a tank – I don’t have control of when it empties or if it malfunctions. Underwater, my swimming ability is aided by flippers and a wet suit, but I will always remain a slow and nervous swimmer. Underwater, I would have trouble defending myself from a predator, more so than on land (at least in my opinion). Underwater, I lose a lot of control and that’s the real reason I’m afraid. Not because I might die, but because I wouldn’t have a lot of control over how my death could occur.
Okay here’s another, less extreme example. About a year and half ago, I was asked if I wanted to become a Zumba instructor to teach at a local community centre. Training would be provided for free. At first, I was extremely hesitant. As a fairly uncoordinated, non-dancer I didn’t think I had the necessary skills. I was afraid of making a fool of myself. At first I said ‘no’, but I kept thinking about it. I couldn’t back down because I was afraid (this is why I will go scuba diving one of these days). I finally accepted, completed my training, taught for a few months at the community centre and eventually, started my own business teaching business to the community. I absolutely loved it. Every minute of every class was a delight. I’m so thankful I got over my fear of failure and accepted the challenge.
Perhaps you have some fears or well-established boundaries holding you back from participating in a challenge. Perhaps you’re afraid of injury. Perhaps you’re afraid of not accomplishing the challenge. Perhaps you’re afraid of succeeding – yes, succeeding.
Whatever the fear or the boundary, I encourage you to evaluate it. Dig deeper. Understand the true root of the fear. Get comfortable with the fact you have fears and boundaries. Once comfortable, start to challenge them. Come up with a strategy to get around the fear. Come up with a plan.
Why am I encouraging you to explore your physical and mental limits? Because if you don’t, you’re likely going to miss out on something or some things that are great, fun, exciting, life-changing, life-affirming – you get the picture.
I know if I don’t go scuba diving one of these days that I will miss out on the splendor of the sea and all the creatures that it holds. What will you miss?