In this information age, it’s easy to find the “how to” for nearly anything, but what is that ‘something’ that is still preventing us from taking action and achieving success in our fitness endeavors.
Julien Smith calls this missing piece ‘The Flinch’. The flinch is the real opponent, and no amount of new information will help with it.
The flinch mechanism is based in the primal part of our brain and is designed to protect us. It has been hardwired into our patterns of behaviors due to millions of years of survival and evolutionary pressure.
In situations such as car crashes, bike accident, wild animal attacks we need to ‘flinch’ to survive.
Since the recent technological inventions and modernization of today’s world, most situations we encounter in today’s world don’t warrant the need for the flinch to be activated and flight, freeze of fight mechanism to be activated.
We are usually very safe, but we still flinch. We flinch at public speaking, at taking a cold shower and at food when we’re dieting.
That fight-freeze-flight mechanism that helped survive in the past is today holding us back. It inadvertently prevents us from break out of our comfort zone.
As little kids, we used the trial and error method to learn. This is the natural way we understood our environment. We thought we could do anything; we got hurt but we learned fast and the lessons were ingrained in us.
But then after a while we started turning into observers, we begun playing it safe.
Our parents, teachers, and adults in our lives began to give us advise, instill their beliefs onto us, tell us “No” when we’re about to do something that they might have thought was wrong. We start taking their word for it, don’t take action and hence don’t learn anything by living vicariously through their experiences.
As the author says, “No scars, no lessons.” Over time we become even more careful, and we wait for others to tell us if it’s okay. We wait for the permission to act.
Instead of climbing trees, now we’re hesitant, we watch others do it. Is this you? Did your parents and teachers fears become your fears?
The problem with this is that life lessons are rarely learned through second-hand learning. Too often we protect ourselves from things that haven’t even happened.
It feels like we’re getting smarter and wiser but we’re not. This is where most adults end up.
We often quitting before the pain even starts. We forget that the path makes us stronger, and the very reason it’s uncomfortable is why it’s making us grow. We end up weak because we’re not on the path of resistance, which is the way of improvement.
How do you know when fear means something or when it’s just pointless?
The flinch makes things look worse than they are. It paralyzes us when we’re about to take a cold shower, speak up, express our thoughts. None of these things are in any way dangerous for our survival.
What are we afraid of? There’re a few strategies to fight this. One quick one is to call it out. Face the flinch and do it anyway. Another one is to start doing things that push you outside of the comfort zone, such as daily cold showers in the morning.
The biggest problem with the flinch is that it becomes automatic, we start flinching at everything. It turns into a habit; we stop taking any risks. Flinching can’t be undone or removed, it’s a natural part of being the human being, but it can be transformed into a compass.
In a state of fear most people put up their hands to defend themselves, they back away. However, the most successful people use the flinch as a compass to guide them in the right direction. The flinch is the signal pointing in the direction where we will grow the most.
Thanks for reading!