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Boxed in Fear: Why Fear is a Lie

Every single one of us has fears. And each of those fears is a lie.

We fear events that haven’t happened, telling ourselves we’ll mess up, embarrass ourselves, or fall flat on our faces. Each of these scenarios is a story invented in our minds. Or, after one small setback, we tell ourselves, “I fell flat on my face once, which means I’ll fall again,” convinced history will repeat itself.

Fear stops us in our tracks. We convince ourselves we won’t like the outcome, so we don’t attempt the obstacle in front of us. We see and hear examples of this inside the studio: an unwillingness to try a pull-up without assistance, reach for a heavier weight, or even try class because someone told themselves they couldn’t. 

We interviewed three different athletes who, at one point, were too scared to do a box jump

Syd Gorman, Cami Mokri, and Alex Perrin are all regular Cut athletes. Syd is a regular 7AMer while you’ll see Cami at 10AM, and Alex, as you know, owns the place we call our second home.

Each of these women, at one point, were scared to do a box jump. And if you’re too scared to jump on a box, what else are you refusing to do? By facing a small fear inside the studio, a controlled environment where you have a coach and teammates who believe in you and want nothing but the best for you, you can train yourself to face the scary shit that holds you back outside these walls. 

Small Wins Helps Us Gain Confidence

By day, Syd Gorman works sales for IBM. She makes a living facing risk and rejection, hearing 97 no’s for every three yes’s she gets. She would, without question, be one of the last people you’d expect to fear jumping over a 20 inch box—because frankly, falling on her face is how she makes a living.

Because of Syd’s experience in sales, she’s pretty comfortable with uncomfortable shit. Whether she’s writing a cold email or loading up a sled, she tells herself, “The worst thing that happens is it doesn’t happen.” And something she’s learned is that every time she’s scared shitless of something then does it anyway, her confidence grows a little more.

But she refused to jump, and before that, even refused to come to class. “For the longest time, I wouldn’t go to Cut,” she says, “Everyone seemed really in-tune with each other and really athletic, and I wasn’t sure I would fit in.” Now a GOAT with an unlimited membership, she remembers the first time she felt like she belonged on the turf. “It was Leg Day, and I remember looking around the studio thinking, ‘I am putting as much or more weight on this sled than any girl in here.’” 

That tangible knowledge of her strength translated into confidence. It’s the realization that, If I’m strong here, maybe I’m strong there. Small wins matter: Before you hike a mountain, you’ve gotta get over a few hills. In reality, conquering the fear of jumping on a box is a small win, but like we’ve said before, the shit you do in here is practice for the shit you do out there.

Visualization Helps Us Conquer Fear of the Unknown

For the vast majority of her upbringing, Cami Morki had her life planned out. “I always knew I’d go to college and grad school—for most of my life, I knew that next step.” She pursued things she knew she was good at, going to law school and becoming an attorney in New York then DC.

“It bothers me that I don’t know what happens to us,” she says. To Cami, the unknown is scary (case in point: She lists death as her #1 fear) and therefore the risks she takes are calculated ones. She works in a field where calculated risks are the norm, where avoiding precautions could cost clients tens of thousands of dollars. 

Inside the Cut studio, she never once attempted a box jump. She convinced herself she’d fall flat on her face, safely choosing to step up instead. “Then one time Chris saw and he wouldn’t leave my side,” she said, “He kept saying, ‘Picture yourself getting over it,’ and for some reason that helped me.” 

He made her do tuck jumps and watch herself in the mirror. Her feet clearly rose higher than the box, so all she had to do was stick the landing. “Those small wins in class gave me the confidence to try new things,” she says. 

Studies show that the brain does not distinguish between real memories and visualized ones. Imagining herself jumping on the box helped her overcome her fear of the unknown. We visualize subconsciously all day, and it’s important to remember this. The difference between positive visualization and negative visualization has a major effect on our self-esteem, confidence, and success at task completion. The box was practice for Cami, subconsciously (thanks to dopamine)  the unknown got a little less scary and a little more exciting. 

Your Support System and Environment is Everything

“I didn’t refuse to do box jumps because I feared the box,” says Alex, co-owner of Cut Seven, “I refused to do them because I ate it.

Which was true. She hit her shins on a wooden box during a workout, and when she met Chris eight months later she refused to do another one. But she didn’t refuse because she split her shins open or got injured—in fact, she will be the first to tell you that the pain of embarrassment was far worse than the pain of physically hitting the box. 

“I think the pain of embarrassment or the pain of failure is far greater than the physical aspect of getting hurt,” she says. Alex’s fall happened eight years and sixty pounds ago, back when she, as she says, “didn’t feel safe or comfortable with her life.” 

“I needed to feel safe, not safe in the sense of jumping on the box, but safe being vulnerable. I wanted to feel like I could fail without judgement. I finally tried another box jump because I knew there were no consequences to failing in front of Chris.”

Shame and embarrassment hold us back. We’re afraid of looking bad in front of other people. We’re afraid of being vulnerable, and often don’t feel safe striving toward our potential because our bosses, family, and friends are boxed in by the same fear. A big reason why people don’t try new group fitness classes, pounce on their brilliant ideas, or jump on a fucking box is because we don’t feel safe. We live in a culture of judgement, which permeates fear. 

Fear Is A Lie

Each time you willingly put yourself in an uncomfortable situation—one where you don’t know the outcome—your confidence grows a bit more. And without you knowing, that confidence spreads to other areas of your life (see above: dopamine). 

Think about it: If you’re not willing to jump on a box, what else are you too afraid to do? And which of those things will you regret not doing? 

It has absolutely nothing to do with the box. Believe it or not, your coaches and teammates give zero fucks about whether you can chest press 45s, clear a 20 inch box, or grab a red or blue band.

What your coaches and teammates care about is that you feel safe trying and feel safe failing. From shoes flying off pushing a slightly-too-heavy sled to the strongest coaches dropping to their knees doing push-ups, we LOVE that shit. Every Cut Seven athlete will tell you, it’s not the best athlete who completes the finisher first that inspires us, it’s the athlete who has the courage to keep going even though they may be last. And we make sure that person doesn’t finish alone.