The challenges are not for the faint hearted. I’d lie if there wasn’t a time when my own breathing increased rapidly just watching what they have to go through on screen. The challenge where a huge NRL player, Sam Burgess was stuck underneath in a tunnel underground that reduced in size along its length and where he spent 40 minutes there trying to negotiate his bulk to fit through the hole was particularly harrowing.
I agree that the show is not for everyone. In fact, when I think about it, I do wonder “why would anyone put themselves through this?” However we are such illogical and wonderful at the same time. We need to prove to ourselves that we can overcome the pressures and challenges that life presents.
For me, I see this show not about whether they can succeed the SAS course but whether they can overcome their mind. Yes, the course is brutal, but I believe what’s even more brutal is if you go through life thinking that you’re not worth enough, you are weak, you get what you deserve, that you are the victim.
All of the people who go on this show have had trauma in their past.
The one particular stand out in this recent series is ex-Labor politician Emma Husar whose back story about the abuse she copped by the media, the treatment she received by her colleagues that resulted in severe depression to the point it affected her body responses, were disgraceful, disgusting and confronting about how women are treated.
She went on this course to prove something to herself and to others that she is not a victim. She can hold her own. (She did well on the course, she gave it her hardest, she was open, she was a team player and when she handed her number in, I did hope that now she could hold her head up high by telling her story and unveiling the awful way male politicians treat women).
Yes the irony isn’t lost on me that it takes a woman to get on a television show to share the story of her abuse before we take notice. It’s a sad state of affairs that we, as a society, has got ourselves into where we need to share stories of pain through this method. But that’s another story.
Watching the show, for me it’s not about the actual challenges. It’s not about linking the challenges to war, to fighting, to the physical aspect but it’s more the intention of them. It’s not even about linking these to what is happening on the news regarding their conduct. Take all that away because we know that this service will be used, and continue to be used by countries in their own forms in one way or another. I’m not going to argue here about whether they have a right to exist or not. Whether they are right or wrong. These questions are beyond me. I have absolutely no say on this matter.
For me, it’s about the mental challenges.
The biggest thing is to overcome your own thinking, to control the panic that comes over your mind and to trust the process – to trust your instinct. It’s letting go of the ego, stripping it all away.
In some ways, watching the show brings me reminders of the time I went through six months of basic training in the Navy. Jumping out of helicopters into the sea; being winched up by them; being gassed in Nuclear Biological Chemical Defence training, being put into shipping containers with full OCCABA suits and having to fight fires in these tight claustrophobic spaces; or in mocked up ship cabins that filled with water as we tried to block up all the holes that water was poring through and so much more, brought back memories of the sheer panic, your body’s response to this fear but also the wonderful feeling of having to overcome the fear.
To me when I see people on these shows, I see people who in some way want to make amends in their life, to overcome that mental block they’ve had because if they can get through this, they can get through anything.
The DS (directing staff) yelling into their faces is nothing really. Trust me, I’ve had that. It shocks initially but if you look away from their eyes and straight ahead, you’ll be fine.
But you know what’s worse?
It’s your OWN berating of yourself in your head.
The instructors only have your best interest. They’re giving you clues of how you need to get through it. These clues are being thrown at you all the time and when you realise what they’re doing, then it’s a bit easier because you can apply it to whatever situation.
They also provide little words of support through it all. It’s those little instances where you take note. A small “good job!” is enough to keep you going. You’d be surprised at how motivating these small scraps of positive words or a tap on the arm is.
I joined the Navy as a way of escape too. I have my own story which I don’t care to share here so I went to Officer training with something to prove to myself too. The fear of not passing and returning home was greater than the fear of the punishing basic officer training. There were a few times, I was ready to quit but what got me through it were my Division mates where I felt part of a team who I didn’t want to let down, the questions my own DS asked me at times I was in their office in tears, snot down my face and sobbing “I can’t do this anymore, just get me home please” and most of all the positive words that I take it one step at a time, trust the DS, keep calm, control my thoughts and just do the job.
I feel as if going through something like this in my life DID help me.
Sure, I didn’t have to join the Navy but at the time, I didn’t see any other choice. I had to be away from my typical location and from the situation I was in and not find an easy way to go back. There had to be only one way out – and that was forward.
Overcoming and passing the basic training course set me up to be the person I am today because it taught me teamwork, giving things a go, not sweating the small stuff and discipline. It also taught me ways to not let my negative thinking or anxiety get the better of me.
Sure, I have some days where mentally I’m all over the place but on the whole, I have strategies to get my thinking back on track when it needs to go back on track so that I don’t wallow in it. It’s like a little switch that says, “ok Helen. You’ve wallowed enough. Time to get back on the horse. ”
I’m someone who likes to vocalise their emotions as they come – the good and the bad.
Also this kind of experience showed me the power of teamwork and it explains the reason why I get SO ANGRY when I see situations where we could be doing things better – for the benefit of the whole and not the individual.
I can’t explain the euphoric feeling of being part of a group and being acknowledged for what you bring to the team.
This is something I believe we have lost in some way in our lives especially our work lives where ego, individuality, competition is rewarded above everything else. It’s why I believe the importance of team and community endeavours – whether they’re sporting, musical, creative, whatever and having an opportunity to be part of something bigger than yourself but also at the same time bring something OF yourself to it.
If you haven’t read baby of Ant Middleton’s books then I highly recommend them. They are inspirational in that they give you ways to overcome the mental blocks. They are also simple and at times, “no brainers” but it’s amazing how our minds like to complicate matters when they shouldn’t be so.
So that’s why I watch SAS Australia. I love to see people who overcome their mental blocks and build themselves up to the people they were before life or certain situations knocked them down – and I cheer for them every time they pass because they deserve it. We all deserve it.