Back in November 2019 I completed a Firewalk for charity. I had always wanted to walk over hot coals. This might seem like a weird thing to want to do but let me explain…
I had always wanted to do a Firewalk, partly because I’m naturally curious and I like to try different experiences that I have a feeling I would like but am a bit scared to do. I like to push past fear in order to prove to my mind that it can’t limit me through fear tactics. A kind of brain training if you will! It’s a bit like – feel the fear but do it anyway mindset! In coaching, we encourage clients to name the different voices we hear in our heads and the one who tries to convince me out of doing stuff like this, I call, Backaway Betty – because she always appears at the point where I am trying to stretch myself and tells me to “backaway” from the obvious discomfort I will feel if I proceed. But rather than listen to Backaway Betty I use her appearance as a sign that if she’s appeared then it’s something to proceed with rather than backaway from and I use it as impetus to sign up to whatever she is trying to warn me about! I reverse engineer her message of fear!
I am quite used to doing this – back in 2004 when I tandem skydived from 14,000ft over Byron Bay in Australia, the night before, I was having the expected stress dreams of falling and the parachute not opening or fearful news stories running through my head of someone cutting the wires to my parachute?! I remember trying to sleep but my mind was racing with numerous death scenarios and keeping me awake until I said to my mind, “Stop it! I have always wanted to skydive! I have always wanted to experience the feeling of flying! It’s going to be great. So Zip it! I need to sleep!” It worked. I slept well and the next day I skydived. I was scared but also super excited for having a life-long dream fulfilled! It remains to this day one of the best things I have ever done and I’m glad I was able to push past the fear and do it! I’ve tandem para-glided off a ridiculously high mountain in Turkey too which was way more scary than any skydive trust me on that! And the drive up to the top of the mountain was even scarier still!
My mother who is a world-champion worrier, used to dread me going on holiday because I’d always want to throw myself off somewhere from a great height whenever on holiday – even when I had M.E/CFS.
I did my adrenal glands no favours back them! But these days I recognise that I need to look after my adrenal glands and I have for the main part gotten over my need to “fly” and instead like to challenge myself usually from the ground!
But I wanted to walk over hot coals for another reason: I have a genuinely deep-rooted desire to experience the “impossible becoming possible”. The proving the impossible is possible is hard-wired into my DNA and reinforced by parents who would drum into me, “Don’t ever take no as an answer.”
From a young age I have never liked the word “impossible”.
I belong to the club that believes deeply that those who think something is impossible should get out of the way of people who just want to do it.
I have come to love the word “impossible” because as soon as I say I’m interested in something and someone directs that word towards me, I can hear my internal monologue say,
“Brilliant! Well now we know that we’re definitely going to be doing this, because they think it’s impossible so we’re going to have fun proving it is possible.”
I can’t begin to tell you the amount of times I have loved hearing this word and the utter joy of proving to myself and them that the seemingly impossible is in fact possible. I move mountains and high water in a very short space of time and just sit back and enjoy! You could call it a hobby of mine.
If you wanted to look at the psychology of it, you could simply say that in my own small way, I hate being limited by other people’s perceptions of me. I am dedicated to 2 concepts in my life: Truth and Freedom and when someone says something is “not possible” it brushes up against these 2 concepts which I hold dear.
I had seen a number of times that a firewalk was often organised to raise money for charities, but I guess because usually when I have an idea of something challenging I want to do, I’m usually alone! No-one wants to sign up with me! So, I guess I put it off and put it off, until last year when I saw that a children’s charity was organising a Firewalk and I thought that it was high time I put soft skin upon burning embers!
I signed up and was grateful to receive sponsorship, but a month before the event, something unexpected happened. I had been suffering from bad/ unpredictable digestion for a while even though I eat healthy and I so I couldn’t figure out why. I considered that I should do some kind of detox to reset my metabolism and had been investigating heavy metal detoxing, when suddenly it was taken out of my hands. The Universe very “kindly” (there is a reason for those speech marks!) decided without warning to “help me out” and give me a 7 bodies detox. Starting with the physical body. To say that the physical detox was brutal was an understatement. For approx 2 weeks I couldn’t keep anything within the confines of my body limits. I basically should have slept on the toilet the amount of time I spent there! And then I couldn’t eat anything. Every part of my digestive system was purged. I was empty on the inside but everything hurt all the time. I was in no position to self-heal so my Quantum Touch pendant became my new best friend to quell the pain enough so that I could sleep). I had become so weak so that I couldn’t talk or walk (I lost 6-7kgs in the process)… not being able to walk was a bit of a worry considering that’s a main ingredient of fire-walking! But I knew it was for my own good so I weathered it . And because of my previous experience with M.E/CFS, having to learn to walk again/ generate energy to walk again was something I was already very familiar with. But I had to keep checking with my Guide Elizabeth that in fact the Universe was helping me and not trying to kill me! Which she very patiently assured me repeatedly and confirmed I would be walking again in time for my firewalk.
So I arrive at the day of my firewalk a bit tender. I had only just begun to walk again and so I was very unsteady and slow on my feet. My main concern was not the walking on burning embers itself but actually being able to walk!
We were to be given 1 hour training and I was looking forward to it… mainly because I wanted to know the “secret” to walking on fire! I had watched some videos on YouTube ahead of the training just to see what other firewalk teachers/ firewalkers do.
There seemed to be 3 main types:
- High adrenaline, get pumped and walk fast whilst shouting
- Shamanic – gentle, request permission from the fire to walk safely
- Mind over matter internal commands.
I certainly didn’t fancy the first one. I had seen Oprah firewalk with Tony Robbins on youtube and it felt a bit like “cheating” the fire – I already knew the power of adrenaline and I wanted a very different experience. And anyway I didn’t have the physical capability for high energy jumping and whooping due to my recent detox!
I liked the Shamanic approach which I always find to be respectful and I would be happy with the mind-over-matter approach too. So I joined the training with a fair amount of trepidation of what style I would be presented with.
As it turned out the training was very brief – approx 25 minutes. I won’t reveal the actual technique except to say that the firewalk leader basically convinced us that it was super easy and not as hard as you would think as long as you followed his rules for safety.
He got us to remember a time where we expected something to be hard or scary but actually when you did it, it wasn’t hard or scary… I had a whole locker-full of these experiences to draw on and so felt sure that he was right… it was just plain old boring fear at play but in fact firewalking was super easy when you know how.
What I liked about the teacher is that he went through step by step what was going to happen before we left the training room. I have learnt over the years of doing stupid stuff, that my fears get out of control if I don’t know the steps ahead of me. If I know the sequence of events, I’m fine. I just need to know the steps mentally ahead of the physical part. This guy on the top of the mountain in Turkey discovered this about me too – the hard way! I would ask him questions about running and jumping off the mountain because they basically provided ZERO instructions and just expected me to be ok with that! He would say to me, “I’ll tell you later.” and I screamed at him, “NO! TELL ME NOW!” Once I had landed safely on the ground, he came up to me and said, “Remember me?” And I was confused and said, “no.” To which he did an impression of me shouting, “No! Tell me now!” and we both laughed!! I apologised. He was really worried I was going to hate the experience based on my earlier shouting. But as it turned out, in a group of 10 jumpers I was actually the only one who enjoyed it! Someone in the group threw up on themselves, someone closed their eyes and prayed for it to end, Tom my husband had too tight a harness and was in a lot of pain! But me, I was as happy as Larry once my tandem partner realised that it was no use saying to me “I’ll tell you later” too and he explained everything before we needed to do it!
So, by the time we got to the firewalk, I felt prepared for what was ahead of me!
As fate would have it – the group of charity firewalkers was actually pretty big (about 30 of us) and because I was relearning to walk again they ran off towards the fire but I hobbled towards it and I ended up the last in line to do the walk. This turned out to be quite fortuitous.
To have a nice atmosphere for the people watching/ supporting there was a band playing big drums to get everyone excited. The Firewalk teacher explained to the crowd about the temperature of the coals and showed the digital readings of the heat coming from the fire. It was a cold November evening and I was less concerned about the heat and more concerned about how cold I was! My feet cramp instantly if they get cold/ touch a cold surface and my concern was that my feet would cramp from the cold before I even got to the fire!
Being at the back of the line meant that I watched about 25 people walk over the coals without any problem ahead of me. It was the same when I skydived – I watched a group go up before me and come down safely and I said to myself, “hey it’s just fear, no-one died, I’ll be fine.” and the same happened this time too. I watched everyone walk over coals fine and I believed I could do it too.
What really helped is that all the people who went first, came to the back of the queue to go again and we asked them, “how was it?” and they replied, “easy-peasy” and we all relaxed even more!
As it came to my turn, they raked the embers to make sure that I got super hot coals which I appreciated… because I didn’t want to think that my turn would be cooler in temperature and feel like I got an easy go of it being last.
I took off my socks and took my shoes in hand, went through my safety checklist in my head and I stepped onto the coals.
I walked calmly across, wiped my feet on the grass and it was done!
People asked me afterwards, how hot did it feel? And honestly, it felt like walking over cold gravel… It wasn’t cold gravel, it was hot embers.. But as I always tell people, “ The mind is more powerful than the body” and I had been so convinced that it was easy, that I hadn’t felt the heat at all!
So much so that I wanted to go again too because I wanted to check that it was actually hot! So I rejoined the queue to have another walk over the coals. After the first go, everyone thought it was “easy” and so everyone including myself got a bit blase about it! But unlike others in the group, I heeded the warning of our teacher – he warned us not to get too cocky otherwise we would get burnt feet! But on the second round I noticed people not following the instructions and I wondered if their feet would hurt later that night (after the adrenaline wore off!).
I completed my 2nd firewalk – this time, I took my phone with me and videoed myself walking over the coals.
It didn’t feel any hotter under foot the 2nd time either.
But my feet were black from the soot and fire and so I had some kind of proof that I had walked over fire!
I was on a bit of a high having completed my walks… but I noticed something really interesting about myself that night. As I tried to sleep, my mind kept trying to convince me that it had all been “a bit too easy” – it questioned the temperature of the coals, it questioned my teacher, it questioned if it was even a difficult thing to do considering everyone seemed to do it so easily! Yes, my mind was trying to invalidate my experience because it had been “too easy”!!!
The next day, I woke up not feeling good about my firewalk but questioning whether I had been tricked into believing that the coals were hot when really they weren’t!
My husband had been there for support and I asked him, “did the coals seem genuinely hot to you?” He confirmed they did! You could feel the heat coming off them on the cold evening and he saw the digital readings. But my mind was still not convinced!
I emailed the charity to let them know my donation total amount and to thank them for the experience – and I told them that my feet were completely ok. They replied back to say they were glad that my feet were ok because some people had reported very sore feet/ trouble walking after the event!! This feedback seemed to stop my mind devaluing my experience and I was able to enjoy the memory!
But I found it very interesting that it had been the power of my mind which had made the coals feel cool under feet – and yet – it distrusted itself and me because of it! It made me wonder what other difficult things had I experienced in my life which my mind wanted to devalue because it seemed “to easy”? And what the hell was wrong with “easy”??!!!
Later, when speaking with someone about it – they suggested that the teacher used NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) techniques to convince us of the ease of the firewalk. And I have to say – it worked!
It made me even more certain about how powerful our minds are – and if we harnessed that power rather than become subjugated by it – we could fulfil so much more of our potential.
If I can turn the experience of walking bare feet over hot embers into a walk over cold gravel (with just 25 minutes of convincing) what else could I convince my mind is possible?
What else could you change your experience of with a bit of help?
What could you no longer avoid or put off (for fear it being difficult) – if you just convinced yourself that it would be easy?
What OTHER “impossible” things could you make possible?
For help making impossible things possible why not book a Free Consultation Call with Sharon? https://youdeservebetter.co.uk/product/consultation-call/