The term reality TV is a bit of a misnomer. It is generally a soap opera with unpaid actors. Big Brother and Survivor were the first of the genre and to the surprise of many are still on our screen some 20 years later. A further twist has been celebrity versions of these shows. Who says that TV executives cannot figure out what the public will like to watch?
Now in its second season is SAS Australia which is based on the British version. A group of celebrities are out through a series of tests/activities as if they were being selected for recruitment to the SAS. This is complete with spartan living quarters which have cold showers and toilets without flushes.
Necessarily it is made for TV and the editing is done to create a certain effect. However, this does not diminish what in my opinion is the central point. That is the ability of us as human beings to do that which we believe we cannot or to push ourselves to undertake that which scares us.
Of course, the tasks are done with safety ropes and in a controlled environment. Nobody is going to drown or fall from a cliff face to their death. But even knowing that, holding your breath for 40 seconds underwater or scaling a cliff face looking downwards is not what most people will try their hand at.
There is certainly a level of physical fitness that is required but the key to this is more mental attitude than simply physical fitness. The supervisors or “staff” as they are referred to make the point repeatedly that it is about belief in self and a “can do” attitude that counts.
Now, of course there are limitations. Believing I can fly is not going to enable me to leap off a building and do so. Neither is it the case that there is not a limit to how far one can walk or run and how much one can lift. The fascinating part is that so many of us do not find out what our limits are. And this does not just apply to physical activity, but all aspects of life.
The main emotional driver is fear. This can be a useful emotion but can also be restricting. We may not apply for a new job which looks better than out current one out of fear of not being good enough. We may not change our diets because we fear trying new foods. The potential list is endless.
For everyday life we do not have to throw caution completely to the wind. It is not necessary to constantly push ourselves to the limit. However, as a society we have become less resilient and more fearful over the last two decades or so. When we see the reactions of some people to opinions that they don’t agree with, one can only wonder what they would do if presented with a genuine threat of even the mildest form or a serious challenge.
Shows like SAS Australia are dramatised for TV. The central message though, if you delve a bit deeper is that many of us are held back more by our beliefs and conditioning than our abilities. In particular when we want to bring about change in our lives, we can be fearful of change and default to the familiar.
If people who have never done such things before, can jump into ice baths, walk down cliff faces, dive backwards into water and an assortment of other tasks, what might we all be capable of that we don’t attempt because we have a belief that we cannot. A can do approach is not a guarantee of success but not having a go is a guarantee that you will not succeed.
As Henry Ford is reputed to have said, “Whether you believe you can or you cannot – you are likely to be right”
Medical Doctor, author, speaker, media presenter and health industry consultant, Dr Joe Kosterich wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life.
Joe writes for numerous medical and mainstream publications, is clinical editor at Medical Forum Magazine, and is also a regular on radio and television.
Joe is Medical Advisor to Medicinal Cannabis Company Little Green Pharma, Chairman of Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association and sits on the board of Arthritis and Osteoporosis WA. He is often called to give opinions in medico legal cases.