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Dismantling failure and conquering cold showers
I chickened out for a long time...
This week we’re covering cold showers.
Before you delete this email, hear me out…
I avoided cold showers for years.
And finally, just a few weeks ago, I overcame my aversion to cold water and made them a part of my daily routine.
So, I’m sharing a key lesson on failure I learned while overcoming my fear of cold showers, and the self-talk and strategy I used to get myself under cold water consistently.
Here we go…
I chickened out of taking cold showers for a long time. At least three years.
I would dabble but could never make it a consistent habit until now.
I was scared of taking the uncomfortable action of stepping into freezing cold water. It sucks.
My fear of discomfort led to a lack of commitment.
Committing meant I had to step under cold water or else I had failed to execute the plan.
But not committing allowed me to avoid the uncomfortable action (standing under cold water) while eliminating the possibility of failure (if I never commit to the action then not doing it isn’t failure).
Not committing was the easy choice. A cop-out.
That realization led me to understand this lesson:
Failure is often the result of a lack of commitment.
And a lack of commitment stems from:
Being scared of failing.
Being scared of taking the uncomfortable actions required to succeed.
Simple as that.
It’s the same reason people struggle with consistent exercise and diet.
They aren’t comfortable actions and we would rather not take them.
Even worse, we don’t want to tell ourselves and others that we will take those actions only to fail.
Humans hate when their actions aren’t aligned with their words or beliefs.
It’s easier to simply brush off commitment and avoid both failure and the uncomfortable action.
This would be a sound plan if those uncomfortable actions (exercise, healthy diet, cold showers, etc.) weren’t critical to our energy, strength, lifespan, vitality, endurance, mental clarity, judgement, and decision-making abilities.
But they are.
So, we must figure out a way to do uncomfortable things consistently despite our initial distaste for them.
With the mindset out of the way, let’s cover the strategy and self-talk that finally enabled me to overcome my fear of cold showers.
If you open yourself to the possibility of discomfort, this strategy can work for you too.
Conquering The Cold: A Simple Cold Shower Routine
“Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.” — Jerzy Gregorek
This is the approach I used to overcome my aversion and make cold showers a daily routine:
Turn the shower on cold. It will be less uncomfortable when your body temperature is elevated such as after a workout or sauna.
Perform a few quick reps of anything (I prefer push-ups). This will help raise your body temperature and stop you from thinking too much. It also acts as a habit cue that will make future cold showers easier.
Get in. Hesitation is not allowed. Yes, it’s cold. Don’t fight it. Control your breathing, and rub your arms, face, head, torso, and legs to stay moving if it helps.
After 30-90 seconds, turn the shower to hot. Heat up for a few seconds and then lather yourself with soap.
Turn the water back to cold and wash the soap off. Once washed, stay in for as long as you like. This step will hardly feel cold. Enjoy.
For this routine to work you cannot allow your brain a chance to think.
Take your clothes off and perform steps one through three as fast as possible.
If you can’t do 30 seconds to start, that’s OK.
A habit must be established before it can be optimized.
Focus on consistency for now.
Fancy breathwork routines and complicated pre-cold-shower rituals are not necessary.
If they help you, fantastic. But you don’t need to do anything special to prep yourself for cold water.
Just get in.
And remember, suffering exists solely in your mind.
Pain is a fact. Suffering is an option.
Your body will feel cold water. You can choose to suffer from it or get curious about the sensation.
I suggest the latter. Accept it. Deal with it.
Are cold showers actually beneficial?
I don’t need research to answer in the affirmative: Yes.
For the sole reason that a cold shower forces you to do something difficult that you don’t want to do, they are worth doing.
They build mental toughness and reaffirm the belief that you are capable of facing and overcoming challenge.
But there are also a host of physical and mental health benefits to taking cold showers:
Build willpower and discipline
Keep your skin and hair healthy
Reduce muscle soreness and fatigue
Reduce inflammation and relieve pain
Improve mental health, lower stress levels, and increase alertness
Boost immunity and fight off common illnesses (colds and the flu)
CAUTION: You should always consult a doctor before listening to me (or anyone on the internet). But if you have heart disease or have had a heart attack or stroke, you should certainly consult a doctor before taking a cold shower. Or just avoid them entirely.
That’s it, folks.
Finish the week strong and have a fantastic weekend.