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  • Writer's pictureJoe Lofshult

They Were Stuck in the Icy Lake

This past weekend, one of my daughters and a friend joined me to participate in an annual Polar Plunge event that raises funds for Special Olympics. The polar plunge involved walking into a frozen lake where they'd cut a hole in the ice, walking out to a mannequin in water that was chest high, optionally dunking under the water (which we did), and then walking back out into the cold air.

The whole time the event was going on, through all of the teams that entered and left the water, there were four rescuers standing in the freezing water prepared to help anyone that might need it. They were each wearing insulated dry suits to keep them comfortable in that bone chilling water to allow them to stand in place the entire time.

It occurred to me that the plungers and rescuers represent two choices we have when it comes to approaching our lives. We can choose the path of wearing dry suits, insulating ourselves from the uncomfortable or downright painful feelings that inevitably come in life - fear, anxiety, feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, boredom, etc - by avoiding them or numbing them. Common approaches to numbing the feelings might involve binging Netflix, drinking alcohol, eating junk food, or scrolling mindlessly through social media. Other approaches might involve staying busy - cleaning house, working long hours, cooking, volunteering - just to keep yourself from having to feel those feelings.

None of those approaches are inherently bad. The key question to ask yourself is whether what you are doing is helping you move forward toward becoming the person you want to be or is keeping you stuck in place, stuck in the icy lake being comfortable in your insulated suit.

The other path, that of the plunger, involves being willing to experience the discomfort that life often brings, to accept it as being part of being alive, and to keep moving forward toward what is important.

Growth only comes when we are willing to experience discomfort and keep moving. When we stay in the same place feeling comfortable, we slowly and steadily shrink.

What is the insulation you commonly wear, and are you willing to shed that insulation, enter the cold water of life and keep moving forward toward the life you want?

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