Stretching Your Comfort Zone

Words by Ru Hill

Big wave surfing blows my mind and the techniques to mentally prepare yourself for a challenge really fascinate me. Contrary to common belief, studies show that visualizing yourself being successful correlates strongly with failure (researchers have hypothesized that it can lead to complacency). Where as visualizing the specific steps required to achieve success works well. Focusing on the task in hand really helps put worries out of your mind. Public speaking is good example: you should focus on knowing your subject matter and not waste time imagining the crowd naked. When you’re paddling out into big surf think about what you need to do, your tactics, your line ups, your stance and you won’t have time to start worrying about what you think may go wrong. Thinking about what you need to do and constantly making decisions (even if they turn out to be the wrong ones) is the key.

Before you even go in the ocean you can reason your way through an irrational fear with a logical thought process like this: “”Once you’ve wiped out and are rolling around under water, then it makes no difference how good you are at surfing. If pro surfers can wipeout on 20 foot waves at Pipeline over and over again then I know I can wipe out on 6 foot waves at Playa Guiones and be ok.” Now when you paddle out the fear has been left on the beach”.

To me big wave surfing doesn’t just mean 20ft+ surf, it means waves which are at the edge of your comfort zone. Laird Hamilton said that he was more scared riding 5 foot waves as a 5 year old than riding 25 foot waves as a 25 year old. Maybe big wave surfing for you is paddling out into head high waves, maybe it is just going out of your depth. Whatever your current limit is, when you’re up against it take comfort in the fact that every surfer in the world goes through the same thing that you are going through, it is just the size of the waves that change. When I meet people who are willing to keep stretching their comfort zone inspite of their fear, rather than because of a lack of fear, it always impresses me.

This week we had some amazing guests: some old friends returning again to stay with us at the resort and some new ones. Three sisters who were some of the most gifted natural surfers I’ve ever seen, and a girl called Emma (above and below) who, merely a few weeks ago couldn’t even put her head underwater. By the end of her stay she was paddling out and taking off on solid unbroken waves. That is what big wave surfing is all about. Hat’s off to you Emma and to everyone who has made the same mental steps to take them outside their comfort zone.

Here’s our favorite moments from last week along with some thoughts from our guests (shot on our groovy new HD camera). Happy New Year to you from everyone at Surf Simply and a big thank you to all our guest this week: Evan, Pam, Emma H, Emma S, Bella, Camilla, Dan, Brett, Cara, Steven, Mary Ann, Tyler, Sarah, Kate and Rachel. I hope you enjoy our little movie…

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