Self-Sabotaging Fears, Kevin Spacey and Cold Shower Therapy – Part 1

“Could the young but realize how soon they will become mere walking bundles of habits, they would give more heed to their conduct…” -
William James

We all have fears. Some are critical to our survival and some are not. I would go so far as to say most are not. The majority of our fears are like little prisons of our own devise. We have built up ways of dealing with these fears over the years and they are now ingrained habits in our thinking that can actually sabotage our way of life.


So, what has this got to do with Kevin Spacey and cold showers?

About a week ago I came across The Blog of Impossible Things and a post on Cold Shower Therapy (CST). The premise of the post was that taking a challenge of having cold showers for 28 days straight could help you get unstuck.  I signed up straight away and I have braved two days so far.


The first day and a visit from Kevin Spacey

I went to bed the night before D-Day all pumped up thinking ‘Yes, I can do this’. Bear in mind I have had this pumped feeling many times before going to bed and it was wiped out first thing in the morning before I even opened my eyes.


Next morning my first thought was ‘What the F*%&, what was I thinking? Why the hell have I signed up for this?’  I went downstairs and turned on the laptop. I lit a cigarette (and, yes folks, smoking is high on my list of habits to break.)  My internal dialogue went something like this:

‘Ok. I can do this. I’ll just have one more cigarette.’

‘God, if I can’t even do this, just 5 minutes of discomfort, how can I do anything?’

‘I really will do it in a minute. Check my emails. Ok. Just one more cigarette and then we shower’ (I did actually say ‘we’. I obviously felt that I needed more than just me to accomplish this!)

‘I need to get a fresh towel and have a drink of water.’

‘Have I watered the plants?’


I finally went to the shower and turned it on. I stood and looked at the shower head for about a minute, as if I had never seen it before. I looked at the time then tested the water with my hand. It was ice cold.

‘OK, it’s 06:47. I will get in at 6:48. Shit! 6.48. I stepped into the cubicle and waved goodbye to my family and friends.


I put my arms under. It feels cold, but not too bad. Then my legs and this is a little worse. You can guess at this point that although I was in the shower cubicle, I wasn’t directly under the shower. My head was next, but this is surprisingly OK. Then my face and ’God, I can’t breathe!’ Once I get the ability to breathe back I turn around and back under the shower.


The noises I make as the water hits my back are very scary. God knows what the neighbours think.  ‘Oooh – Ahhh – Agghh – Oooh – Ahh.’ Suddenly, without warning Kevin Spacey pops into my head uninvited, and I think that any neighbours listening will wonder if I am doing a ramped up version of his scene at the start of American Beauty :)

You try this and you will know that was the furthest thing from my mind!


I turn around and it is time for the nether regions. I am now singing Phantom of the Opera in a falsetto. Well, it’s some form of operatic vocalisation but I don’t think it will be getting a run on Broadway. Shower gel. Rinse off.

‘Shit, I forgot to set the alarm.’

‘ Is that 5 minutes yet?’

‘ OK. Make sure my whole body is in’

‘Hold a little longer. That has to be it.’

‘It is probably only 2 or 3 minutes. This sucks’


I stop the water, open the cubicle door and look at the time on my phone. Wow. 6 minutes! I grab the towel and start to dry off and I am actually laughing out loud. Damn, I feel good, both physically and mentally. I feel very, very proud!


Self-Sabotaging Fears

What is interesting so far is my thought process. Doing CST is increasing my self-awareness. It is making me pay attention to my thoughts.  And this raises the question – How often do I have the same thoughts about other things? What other things am I not doing because of how I deal with little fears, things much more important than a cold shower that could actually be good for me.


The drama I created in my head all over a cold shower is actually quite phenomenal. If I am applying the same habitual thought processes to other areas of my life where there could be any element of fear, like relationships, work, social occasions, hobbies and dreams, then what is the impact of this on how I live my life?


After a few more showers and some more reflection, I will write more in Part 2 of this post. For now though, you know what Kevin Spacey has to do with all of this. I don’t know why Kevin Spacey paid me a visit in the shower, and quite frankly, I don’t want to know why. He just did so let’s leave it at that.


Are you prepared to take the Cold Shower Therapy challenge? What seemingly harmless fears do you have that could be a reflection of how you think about more important matters?


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26 Responses to Self-Sabotaging Fears, Kevin Spacey and Cold Shower Therapy – Part 1

  1. Keith: I remember once when I had to take a cold shower because I did not have any hot water. That was one of the hardest things that I have had to do. I am okay until the water hits my back or stomach then, well, you know what happen next. In my experience with fears, once I overcome one it makes the next not seen as scary. I have been told to start small and make my way to the bigger fears.


    • Keith says:

      Hi William,

      Yes, the back and the stomach are a killer :)

      You are also right, that overcoming one does make overcoming the next easier. Starting small and building up is perfect. The trick is to do it every day. Overcome some fear, no matter how small, and to be aware we are doing it. This way we change our old thinking habits and build strong new ones.

      Thanks for the comment, William. Appreciated.



  2. Vishnu says:

    The very simple answer is absolutely not will I jump into a cold water shower unless my life or a million dollars depended on it. I do know what you mean though – trying to challenge yourself to break your self-sabotaging fears.

    SO much of the time it’s a mental game that prevents us from doing what we are capable of doing. I guess a cold shower is a real cold wake up call and getting through that will allow you to get through anything, huh?

    Can’t wait to see if you keep up with it – I guess posting in publicly is going to hold you accountable:) You’re going to so love hot showers after this experiment! (actually and interestingly, I kind of had to this experiment early this morning when the *%)*2(*&^^ shower wouldn’t turn hot in costa rica. i barely got wet and jumped out.

    I need a different experiment I feel:)


    • Keith says:

      Hey Vishnu,

      Are you certain about that? It really isn’t that bad from the third day on (although ask me again after I have completed 28 days) :)

      It is a wake up call, and a bit of a jolt. Hopefully after the full 28 days I will have had a bit of a paradigm shift regarding facing certain things in my life.

      And I can’t wait for the first hot shower at the end of it! Ha Ha!

      Thanks for dropping by again


  3. Kryten says:

    I think raising self awareness is the entire point of CST. The majority of folks dont know how to be self aware, let along self analyse their thoughts, and CST is a nice simple way of forcing that.

    I know I wasnt self aware until I did a cognitive behavioural therapy course as part of my counselling a few years ago, which I found to be extremely useful. Its certainly an eye opener when you recognise some of the stuff you do as avoidance behaviour for what it is :-)

    Interesting blog btw


    • Keith says:

      Hi Kryten,

      Thanks for commenting. Appreciated.

      I also like the simplicity of CST. Sometimes we can overcomplicate things. And you are right about self-awareness. I think everybody has it to a different degree, and it is up to each individual to decide how they feel about it and what they want to do about it. There can be a lot of pain involved, so it can take a lot of courage to face it. So kudos to you for diving into your cognitive behavioural course.

      Glad you like the blog, and hope to see you again.

      PS – I love Red Dwarf!


  4. Reeta Luthra says:

    Hi Keith

    I tried this when I was a teenager and actually got into the swing of it for a few months. Don’t remember why I stopped.

    Tried again a few years ago… got through the first shower – no Kevin Spacey, but lots of giggles for some reason. Next morning I gave up half way through telling myself that my learning was that it’s best to avoid unnecessary suffering!

    Seems I was more adventurous in my youth… hmm… think there’s a clue in there about something.

    I would try again but the cold tap here in Dubai never actually gets cold… what a shame…


    • Keith says:

      Hey Reeta,

      Isn’t it amazing how we just stop doing things that either felt good, or worked for us, or were even fun? All without any explanation. Some more exploring could be done there, methinks :)

      Ah, but sometimes we need to go through some short-term suffering to avoid the long-term unnecessary suffering ;) Suffering of course, is absolutely subjective. And I think there is a clue indeed. Let me know how you get on with that ;)

      And you sound *devastated* about that tap in Dubai. Ha Ha

      Good to have you here again.


  5. Rita says:

    It’s quite possibly THE BEST THING I’ve EVER EVER done for myself. I did the previous 30 day challenge too and continued on. So I’m somewhere in the range of about 80 days and it’s quite possibly the best thing EVER. I don’t even consider NOT doing it. I don’t love them. Well…I kind of do. But it doesn’t occur to me to NOT have a cold shower in the morning. I was sick one morning and had a fever, but did it anyway…and only for a moment did I consider not doing it. it was freaking cold, but i did it.

    I love this post. Thanks for sharing your experience.


    • Keith says:

      Hey Rita,

      80 days!!! I think you could well and truly consider that a colder shower habit :)

      Glad you liked the post.

      Thanks for visiting.



  6. Claire says:

    I hope you’re still doing it. In your honour I turned my shower from hot to cold this morning. The only effect it had was making my hands go faster pushing the shampoo off my head. It also made me laugh my head off and think of you. I managed 20 seconds and had the most miserable day. I won’t be doing that again in a hurry. Keep blogging, keep showering. Stay happy.


    • Keith says:

      Ha Ha! Hi Claire!

      Thanks for joining us. You see where you went wrong was only doing 20 seconds. Deep down you really wanted to do the 5 minutes which is why you felt miserable ;)

      Seriously though, I feel very honoured by your attempt and moral support.

      Talk soon


  7. Izzy says:

    Keith this is 1) a hilarious post and 2) darn interesting.

    At first I kept reading because I was like “Okay, okay, where is he going with this?” and then BAM! you hit me with an awesome insight.

    Taking cold showers can wake me up and increase my conscious awareness of life itself. That is some deep shi — man! I have never thought of that.

    You may have convinced me to join you in this venture… But I’m not totally sure.

    I am always trying to figure out ways to increase my awareness and this sounds like a simply fantastic way to do it. Oh man, but cold showers SUCK! But then the benefit of beign more aware is awesome… Do you feel my struggle? And I haven’t even made it to the morning yet?

    F it! I’m in! 28 days? Is that the length? Dang…


    • Keith says:

      Hey Izzy,

      Welcome :)

      I feel your struggle, lol. But you don’t have to wait until the morning ;) Just do it!

      Anyway, I have read your blog (which I love by the way) and I think with what you have done, a cold shower is a walk in the park!

      Yup, 28 days. I look forward to seeing how it goes.



  8. Wendy Irene says:

    I have to say, reading this post my feet are now freezing ;-) It is great that you are finding ways to push yourself outside of your comfort zone in order to provoke positive change. I find that changing one unhealthy habit regarding food has a similar effect for me.
    By the way, I saw on Dr. Oz that taking a cold shower is really good for your skin, so be sure to let us know if you notice any improvement there. Have a great day!


    • Keith says:

      Hi Wendy,

      I hope your feet warm up soon :)

      I know what you mean about changing one habit. I don’t think it is the habits themselves that are the problem. They are the symptoms. So by changing one habit, we have a shift in our thinking, the source. And as everything is connected it has to have some cross-over effect. That’s my story anyway and I am sticking to it (for now) ;)

      And you are right about the skin benefits. There are other benefits too. All that to come in Part 2 though.

      Thanks for popping in.



  9. Ellen Berg says:

    Yikes! That sounds excruciating, and I don’t even have the super sensitive external “nether regions” to worry about. And yet, I can see how it might launch me right out of my comfort zone and into some serious blockade busting.



    • Keith says:

      Hey, Ellen!

      Thanks for checking it out. Seriously though, I am two weeks into it now and I am so far from that first experience it is incredible. I don’t want to say too much because all of that will be revealed in Part 2 of the post (when I have completed the 28 day challenge).

      Sorry, but I have to give your own advice back to you – DO IT! Try (or consider) is not acceptable, lol ;p Talk to Izzy, too. It changes your perspective daily.

      Thanks for commenting. Appreciated.



  10. “The majority of our fears are like little prisons of our own devise.” So incredibly true. Having a “physical” therapy like that makes sense, as we carry the fear in our bodies (mostly below our level of awareness). And for SURE you are going to wake up to SOMEthing doing it.

    As a pre-teen, I once gave up hot showers for Lent. I don’t remember seeing Kevin Spacey in there with me ;)


  11. Moni says:

    Hi Keith

    Was wondering if this HAS to be done in the morning? I don’t have time in the morning because I have school, and it takes 2 hours to air dry my hair- making it impossible for me to take a shower in the morning. However I would really like to try this out, but I was wondering if the benefits wouldn’t be the same because of the different timing?


    • Keith says:

      Hi Moni,

      Many thanks for commenting!

      I haven’t tried it other than in the morning so I can’t answer that from personal experience. However, maybe it it something I will now have to try :)

      Benefits include improved mental health (and there is research to back this up), better skin, and a heightened sense of achievement and purpose. I will be writing more on this in the future when I am up and running fully again, so experimenting with doing it in the evening would be very interesting :) All these benefits would still remain doing it in the evening. I think the only thing missing would be starting the day with a bang, alive, alert and raring to go. I can imagine though that getting home from work and jumping straight into the shower would make a huge difference to how we spend our evenings.

      I will try this in the future and write about it, but what would be really cool was if you tried it too and dropped me an email to let me know how you got on, how did it change how you felt and what other differences you noted.

      Thanks again for stopping by :)


  12. Stefan says:

    Sorry, but I cannot understand the point of this.

    Your motivation to do this is because if you endure some pointless uncomfortable situation, you will learn can endure other uncomfortable situations?

    But these “other uncomfortable situations”, have a carrot on the end, a goal, a meaning.


    • Keith says:

      Hi Stefan,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      I would disagree that the exercise was pointless, and there is a carrot at the end :)

      Starting the day with a cold shower is physically stimulating. Mentally my mind-set was shifted into one of possibilities and achievement, and a sense of being in control and able to face challenges. My mood was lifted.

      I see all of those things as a huge carrot when rolled into one :)

      My challenge to you would be to try it, and then see if your view changes :)

      Thanks again for engaging and I hope to see you again.


  13. Ross Dunn says:

    Hi there, thanks for sharing this. I am going to start tomorrow morning… I am actually a fan of cold showers but 5 minutes will be interesting :-D

    Anyway, the reason I am commenting is the article does not have a link to part 2 at the end and I can’t search for it because your site inexplicably lacks a search option. I know how to find it in other ways but it would be a lot more convenient if you could post the url to part 2 here.

    Thanks and I look forward to reading more of your posts.



    • Keith says:

      Hi Ross,

      Nice to meet you.

      The 5 minutes certainly is interesting :)

      The reason you can’t find part 2 is I haven’t posted it yet. Had a number of personal issues over the last year I had to deal with so the blog went on a bit of a hiatus. I am currently looking at a re-vamp and re-launch and I will be putting part 2 up then.

      As for the search function, it is inexplicable. Can’t believe I missed that myself, so thanks for the heads up.

      Hope to see you again when I get the re-launch done.

      Take care


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