The Harder the Pounding, The Closer You Are
Changing Your Mindset Towards Adversity
The other day, I was having an internal struggle to even get into the water to surf. I was watching from the shore at these big sets rolling through (15 foot+ wave faces). It wasn’t clean, it was messy. When it is big and messy it is even more daunting, because there’s no identifiable safe route to make it to the outside beyond where the waves are breaking. Since a lot of the waves were sectioning or closing out (meaning you get a quick ride before the whole wave crashes down and closes out), wave selection becomes even more critical, and at over 15 feet that isn’t an easy thing. Basically, I can distill this paragraph down to: it was really scary.
Very few people were getting into the water, mostly just the professional surfers and a couple others. I was telling myself in the parking lot, “I just don’t know if I have it in me anymore to charge these monsters.”
Part of the problem was the paddle out.
If you timed it wrong, you would be destroyed by the set waves. If you timed it right, you could make it out okay. The problem? There was no way to time it. In other words, you either got lucky or got your butt kicked.
Finally I decided I needed to get over this fear and at least give it a shot. I’d surfed bigger days. I knew I had the training. It was all mental.
I decided that if I ended up too far down the coastline and hadn’t made it to the outside of where the waves crash, I would go in. I just needed to give it a shot and see if I got lucky.
I started paddling out a little behind a friend of mine.
Here’s how it went:
Paddle, paddle, paddle.
Duck diving walls of white water and the inside waves.
Paddle, paddle, paddle.
Getting closer to the outside, and the waves and walls of whitewater are getting more powerful.
At this point, I was still in the “Oh f***, I’m going to die” version of my mental dialogue and needed to switch it to something more positive, because it actually makes a difference the attitude by which you approach the waves.
If you are viewing the situation through the lens of a “Holy Sh**!” attitude, you tend to tense up and you aren’t as relaxed when you are being pounded by a wave. Tension and stress aren’t good out there because you use more energy, which translates to using more oxygen, which means less usable oxygen stored in the body, and when being held underwater by big waves that’s no bueno and more dangerous.
It dawned on me that the closer I am to the outside (beyond the breaking of the waves), the harder the pounding, because the waves get progressively larger. So I switched my mindset to: “That was super strong and powerful, so I must be getting closer! That’s great!”
Viewing the difficulty as an indicator of my closeness to reaching my goal was a positive change of mindset.
Now I was getting really close to the outside.
Here comes the set.
I see my friend scratching up the wave and just making it over the top.
“Buckle up, buddy.” A mountain of water is about to come down on my head.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Transcend with Nat to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.