Navagating the “Gray Zone” – The Role of Values and Your Inner Game

In two of my previous posts, I outlined the clinical/scientific criteria and conditions relevant to hypothermia. However, there are no absolutes in any open water swimming situation. Not only is the outside environment highly variable, but so is your own internal physiology and mindset.

The truth is that you have a highly dynamic and uncategorizable nature that is constantly adapting to a highly dynamic and uncategorizable environment. And the key, therefore, is to maintain an astute awareness of both so you can optimize your physical and mental state to flourish in your chosen environment – which in our case is an open body of water.

Notice the use of the word “flourish.” Why is this significant? Because you don’t sign up and train for a swim event in Lake Superior, San Francisco Bay, or the English Channel out of a nihilistic desire to harm yourself (if you do, however, please do not attend any of my scheduled swim meetups). You undertake these challenges because they somehow feed some core value of yours.

So what is it? What value (or set of values) defines you and compels you to spend your limited resources of time, money, and energy on this and on any other area of your life? You may not have given this much thought up until now, and that’s okay. But you need to develop some focus in this area, because your values provide the “cognitive override” you need to persevere when your dynamic external environment becomes less than comforting – or even adversarial.

If you need some help getting started, here’s a “stream of consciousness” list of values that you might have in your life. This is by no means all-inclusive, just a sampling of values that may be at work in your psyche. Some are based on achieving pleasure, while others represent pain that you’re seeking to avoid (or vindicate). In either case, they provide the “why” for all of the choices you make in your life:

– Achievement
– Adulation
– Adventure
– Anger
– Community
– Competence
– Confidence
– Control
– Curiosity
– Embarrassment
– Envy
– Excitement
– Failure
– Fitness
– Freedom
– Fulfillment
– Growth
– Health
– Humiliation
– Inadequacy
– Independence
– Inspiration
– Integrity
– Joy
– Loneliness
– Making a difference
– Outrageousness
– Power
– Recognition
– Resentment
– Respect
– Role model to others
– Spirituality
– Vindication

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