“Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!” Fervent, hypnotic chants erupted from the Galen Center in LA, a firm resolve punctuating each “yes!” accompanied by a forceful, energetic clap of the hands. It was almost midnight on Day One of Tony Robbins’ Unleash The Power Within, almost 12 hours after the event began.
At 10am the arena opened its doors to 9,000 people from over 62 countries, and in flooded face after happy face, filled with high hopes, anticipation, and excitement. Some (like mine) showed a mix of inquisitive, reserved looks as well, because we had no idea what was about to happen over the next 4 days.
And now, we were here.
The stage was aflame with images of fire and Tony Robbins’ larger-than-life, charismatic being filled the stage, igniting the crowd to new levels of intensity, continuing the 12 previous nonstop hours of incredible, invigorating content and activities. In those 12 hours, there had been zero breaks or pauses. Not one. There was only a deluge of blood-pumping, heart-stimulating, thought-provoking stuff. The man on stage never took a single break, not one single moment. Tony Robbins was on fire. Heck, I was on fire! All of the people clapping and chanting around me were on fire!
9,000 people starting their day in a peak state at Unleash the Power Within! The difference between peak performance and poor performance is not intelligence or ability; most often it's the state that your mind and body is in. #TonyRobbinsUPW
Posted by Tony Robbins on Saturday, March 25, 2017
And now we were going to walk on it.
When I first signed up for this event, I did so out of curiosity. After all, it seemed to me that almost every successful, powerfully amazing person I could think of had attended a Tony Robbins event, so I was interested to discover what could emerge out of me. The famous fire walk wasn’t really even on my radar. Of course, when I told people I was attending, the first question on everyone’s lips was “are you going to walk on FIRE??” I would simply shrug it away, and nonchalantly reply “maybe. I don’t know.” I mean, I didn’t feel this burning need (haha) to walk on hot coals. I live in Vegas, and scalding pavement is a regular occurrence. But even more, 15 years ago, I had a baby come out of my body. Naturally. No epidural. Leaving all of the details of that aside, I could confidently say that I felt I had already engaged in an activity that was something of which I didn’t think I was capable, that pushed me way beyond my comfort zone. I already had that measuring stick for all future tough things. “Yeah! I can do that. I had a baby come out of my body! This…is NOTHING!”
So all of the buzz about walking on fire didn’t hold great interest for me. I was pretty sure I could do it, but wasn’t really sold on why I would want to, when there are plenty of perfectly lovely places available for my feet to experience.
But now, packed in a contagiously energetic room, feeling the drum of clapping and the mesmerizing chanting, I began to reconsider.
See, in my mind, being a Mom meant that I put my yearnings, desires and even private moments (like going to the bathroom without invasion) on the back burner for a while. And I was happy to do it! To me, love could be measured by how one stood by another, and was there for them, to support and help them. In my mind, I felt like I never received this fully in life. Not like everyone else did. I got it in small increments, but it always ended. My story was that people always left. Abandoned me. These thoughts and memories caused me immense pain. Naturally, for my daughter, I would move heaven and earth to be sure that she never had a moment when she would feel this way. I refused to let this cycle of pain repeat itself with her. As a single mother, I was compelled to fill in all of these holes and create this network of love and support for my daughter all by myself. Somewhere in my doing this, I lost my voice. My power. Myself. I fell victim to my mind. My fear.
“Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!”
When was the last time I said yes to MYSELF? When was the last time I felt powerful, like I had an actual choice about ANYTHING? And where the hell did my power even go??
“Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!”
I could do this. It would be easy. After all, I had a baby! I could walk across some burning coals. That’s why I came here, right? For ME. To find myself again. To claim my power.
“Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!”
It was time. Barking out instructions (in the most ironically loving way), Tony had us slowly filter out of the arena, into the streets. Still clapping, still chanting, my eyes met hundreds of eyes in the hallways. Beautiful eyes, filled with excitement, anticipation. Resolve. Sometimes I saw questions flickering in pairs of eyes, blinking on the edge of fear, but holding steady nonetheless. Smiles turned up lips and jaws were set in determination.
“Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!”
We flowed like lava out of the building into the parking lot, getting closer to our goal, closer to the place where the flames awaited our answer. And then…
Apparently, it takes a long time for 9,000 people to walk over hot coals. We stood, shoulder to shoulder, chest to back, pressed against one another. After 30 minutes, the chanting stopped. After 45 minutes the clapping stopped. I grew weary, the full day catching up with me. I wanted to do this. Badly. I needed to show up for myself. To say yes. To reclaim my power. But I still couldn’t even see where these “fire walks” were laid out, nor could I observe anyone doing it. I was the kind of girl who needed to survey the entire length of a roller coaster before I rode it. The dips and drops, bends and turns all needed proper evaluation so I could “see” myself riding it. Here, in the dark of night, all I could see were heads.
Suddenly, Tony’s crew was directing us to take off our shoes. Get them into bins. Heart pumping, ears ringing, I complied. Just when my feet hit the cool grass, I noticed the girl in front of me was doing it. There were the coals, right in front of me and she was just finishing her bold walk across them. It was happening! And now it was my turn.
I stood tall, smiled at the crew member next to me, gazed down the end of the coal path, where more team members awaited, took a deep breath and said “yes”. It was small. It was timid. I tried again. “Yes”. The girl next to me looked and said “Ready?”
“Yes!” I said. And then glanced down. Suddenly I found my lips saying “No! No. no. no. no” I couldn’t do it. I HAD to see it done. So I slid back in line, back in time, letting 5 people go in front of me. I watched them in their power, fearlessly striding across the coals.
Can I do this? Am I good enough? Strong enough?
“Yes!” Once again I was at the front of the line, and right as I was about to take my first step, a guy with a giant wheelbarrow scooped out piping hot, red coals and laid them on the path, adding another layer of heat, flame, and doubt.
Receding yet again to the back, my shoulders slumped, the rational voice in my head overpowering the will of my soul. I considered leaving. I could just tuck my head down and go find my friends. Heck, I could lie to them, say I did it, and no one would ever be the wiser, Except for me. I would know. My body twisted in knots, contracting. Frustration started to rise, generating an angry heat in my face.
You’d think I would go up and nail it now, right? Wrong. I continued this dance for several rounds. Marching up to the front, melting to the back. Finally, a girl from Tony’s team came up to me and said “What’s going on? Do you know you can do this?”
“Yes! I know.” I did know. I just couldn’t.
“Do you think you’re so different from them? Thousands of people have just walked over these coals. Do you think there’s something special about you that makes you unable to do this?”
Just my monkey mind.
Glancing around to avoid her scrutiny, I noticed that now I was the last UPW guest. Tony’s team started to gather around, looking at me. Waiting. It was now or never.
That’s when something inside of me snapped. Why can’t I have what everyone else has? Why do things other people do look so effortless, easy and fun, while I have to sit here in pain and turmoil and not get what I want?? Why does it always have to be this way for me???
Inside my body, I felt it: yes, yes, yes, Yes, YES! A sweet whisper, bursting into thunder. Squaring my shoulders, standing straight and tall, no longer caring if the coals burn my feet, because the pain I was putting myself through just standing there was so much worse. The girl next to me yelled “make your move!”
And I marched across those coals like a badass. I didn’t even feel them. The skin on my feet was really soft and smooth afterwards, like I had just gotten a nice pedi…except my soles were beautifully blackened.
Of all the pain that can be experienced in this world, I have learned that for me, there is no pain greater than that of standing in fear, letting the voice in my head abuse and control me. Once I decided to break free of that voice and had taken that first step in MY fire walk, the hardest one to take, the rest followed effortlessly and seamlessly. I didn’t even have to think much about it. I feel like I have finally unlocked the greatest secret: if I’m not feeling happy, GET BUSY. Do the thing, instead of squirming around like a worm caught on a fishing hook. I am not a worm. I am a POWERFUL GODDESS! I have realized that all of that stuff, the abandonment, the unworthiness, it was all just a story. If I don’t like it I can shut that book and open another. It’s my life and my story is completely my choice! Whenever I step into this knowing, all of my fear and pain drop away, instantly. Suddenly, I have been inducted into the club of “Everyone Else”, listening to my soul, getting what I want, and settling for nothing less. It feels OUTSTANDING.
I invite you to join too, if you haven’t already. Membership is free…