Friday, 12 March 2010

The Comfy Chair

I’m all for pushing myself, testing myself and putting myself under pressure.
I write a lot about how we must take the tough roads and make the difficult choices. How the power of growth is in restriction and having self control to be able to place ourselves under restriction in order to grow further.
I totally understand the value in taking ourselves out of our comfort zones and facing adversity head on.I have learned my biggest lessons by doing these very things, and I continue to do this on a daily basis.

However, in order for something to feel tough, uncomfortable or restrictive, we need to do it intermittently and not constantly, in my opinion.

Anything we do continuously will become familiar and gradually will become normal. The result will be continually reducing impact and effect on ourselves resulting in ever diminishing returns.
One way to do this is to frequently change what we do to apply the pressure.
For example, Animal Days, the all out fighting I have written about in the past, were ways of adding extreme pressure to our training. The nerves and fear we all felt before and during these sessions was a great test of will and character and a very good way of exposing weaknesses within ourselves.
However, over a prolonged period of time, the effects lessened, to the point where myself and most of the other lads actually looked forward to these session with relish and excitement, rather than paralysing fear.

The real purpose of these Animal Days was then lost and made redundant by our familiarity.
So, the only way to re-kindle that fear is to find it in another way.
I found that fear again when I started doing lots more public speaking and presenting, but again, that fear has reduced over time as I become better, more confident and more comfortable with that arena.
And so I continue on to find other ways to induce the fear and test myself again; new uncomfortable zones; more areas of restriction.

What comes next is the realisation that you are no longer becoming comfortable with each fearful environment, such as the full out fighting, or public speaking, but you are actually becoming comfortable with Fear itself. You start to realise that all of these different stimulus that conjure up fear and anxiety and stress are simply different ways to create the same internal reaction and it is the management of this fearful reaction within, that is the real key.
So the next thing is to find ways to activate other unwanted or non-productive emotions and feelings. For example, restriction training focuses on creating frustration, another negative emotion that can kick start lots of other unhelpful responses.We place ourselves in restrictive situations, whether that be in the gym punching with your back to the wall, or in our home lives with lack of time or money. This restriction will activate frustration as we cannot do what we want or get the results we desire. Learning to deal with this frustration, to replace it with relaxation is the result of this type of test.But again, these different tests are all geared towards exposing the same emotions and feelings and teach us to control them in the same way.
So now to the real reason for this article.

With all of this pressure testing, and self-empowering benchmark testing, we can all get a little bit weakened by it.Too much and it can actually start to have a negative effect.
If we consider our minds as muscles, then just as every body builder knows the value of rest and recuperation time, so our minds and our spirits need the same time to recover from these pressure tests.

It’s true we should all seek the tough path, the rough and hard course that is uncomfortable and challenging, but equally, some days, the comfy chair is good.
The comfy chair is not only a nice place to be, some days it’s actually THE place to be in order to allow yourself to recuperate, recover and recharge from all of these challenges.It’s the place where you can sit, switch off your guard and relax in the knowledge that you can review your recent achievements without worrying about the next fearsome test that lies ahead.
I’m not saying the comfy chair should be your first port of call, it should be a reward for your efforts; a safe harbour after weathering a storm.
Nor am I saying you should stay in it too long, as you’re likely to expand in the wrong directions, if you get what I mean.If anything, the comfy chair becomes a great test in itself as leaving it can be another challenge.

It’s perhaps easier to remain on the tough path continually than it is to have periodic moments of comfort that you know you will have to get up from and leave behind again and again.Kind of like the smoker who has given up but who has the strength of character to know he can still be surrounded by cigarettes and other smokers, or the recovering alcoholic who can still frequent the pubs with his drinking buddies and not partake himself. That’s real strength and real test of character.

So, some days, the comfy chair is great.
Getting on it is great for recuperation and getting off it is simply another challenge.

Enjoy the comfy chair – you deserve it
Thank you for reading

Stay Safe and Have Fun
Al x

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