How to do Tough Mudder's Electroshock Therapy

How to Confront Fears and Get through the Electroshock Therapy Obstacle

Most mud runs you do will have at least one obstacle that at least raises some hairs on the back of your neck. For example, Tough Mudder’s Electroshock Therapy obstacle, where you have to run through a muddy pit with live electric wires hanging down, is a pretty universal hair raiser. You’ll have the choice between walking around the obstacle or biting the bullet and giving it a try. What do you do?

For someone who really enjoys obstacle courses and other somewhat dangerous pursuits like mountain biking and snowboarding, I have a lot of fear. Even jumping on a tall box in a CrossFit class sometimes makes me freeze. It’s hard to explain, because the actual risk (hitting your shin on the box) is both unlikely and not really all that bad given how much fear I have.

So as you might imagine, when I got to Electroshock Therapy at my first Tough Mudder, I certainly didn’t charge through boldly. Nope, I probably stood around for at least 10 minutes and watched as all these people I’d passed a while back went through. I heard their screams as they got hit (I found out when I finally did it that the screams were more from the surprise, not pain), and my fear about it just got worse and worse. In those ten minutes, I kept trying to justify not going through. I thought, I’m about to finish my first Tough Mudder, does it really matter if I do this particular obstacle? Eventually I decided that it really did matter to me, because that’s what growing people do. They challenge themselves.

While I was standing there, a woman who had already finished the race saw I needed some help. She said, “Put your hands over your face, go on the side rather than straight through the middle and just keep going. It’s really not that bad.” So that’s what I did. And she was right, it really wasn’t that bad. I got zapped a few times, but it didn’t hurt that much, it’s just a really jarring jolt.

A few takeaways from Electroshock Therapy:

  • When you’re doing something you’re scared of, try to focus really intently on two to three things that will help you succeed. So for this particular obstacle, it was going on the side, protecting my head, and not stopping. Focusing intently on what you need to do as opposed to the what you’re scared of means that you’re controlling what you need to control and keeps your focus away from your fear.
  • Find that woman. When a fear is keeping you from doing something you want to do, find that woman who will tell you (or remind you) what you need to focus on. Whether you need tactical advice or just an extra nudge, surround yourself with people who will help you grow.
  • Be that woman for others. Whether it’s a stranger at an obstacle course or a friend who is letting fear stand in their way from accomplishing what you know they can accomplish, be that woman.

Our minds are muscles and confronting fears is one of those high-impact exercises that yield major results no matter what we’re pursuing. Does running through live electric wires have to be a fear that you confront to develop that muscle? Absolutely not- I’m sure there are saner and more powerful ways for each person. Go find yours.

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