Have you ever had that feeling that the walls are closing in? Your heart beats fast. Your mind becomes clouded. Your breathing becomes heavy, and maybe you feel your body heat up. Then your heart skips a beat. You want to put your hands up and push away the people and the situation. It’s fear!
I have always loved water and swimming yet feared drowning. As I grew older and had children, my fear grew stronger. So, when my husband and children wanted to get diving certifications as a family, my anxiety ensued. It was an excellent idea, but…
Fear can be crippling and can drive all logic away. As we began the classes, I felt the anxiety at least 24 hours ahead. Even though we were in a pool of less than 15-foot depth, my mind would take over and keep me from enjoying the experience. What would happen if I didn’t pass a skill? Would I have to do it again? What if I couldn’t breathe? It took a lot of focus to get through my skills, and my children would breeze through the skills. Step by step we made it.
Then the day came to go to the lake and complete our open water certification. Our certification was in Wisconsin, 60-degree water, full wet suits (heavy), with 15 foot of visibility. The walls were closing quickly in these conditions. My mind was swirling. I put my mask on as tight as possible so it wouldn’t leak. I focused on breathing as I shivered in the cold conditions. Then I watched to make sure I would pass, and that my kids were confident in their skills. The first day ended, and I had a horrid headache, which was probably brought on by the tight mask and self-induced anxiety. By the second day, I just needed to drive through the dive skills. By the end of the day, I was so happy to be done. I had faced my fear of drowning.
As we drove home, reality set in. We are going to do this for vacation, for fun? Really? Oh no! How would I make it through a 40 minute dive? Maybe I hadn’t faced my fear.
On the first vacation, I was still hesitant and anxious when we would dive. By the second vacation, I found peace. On the second dive of the second vacation, we were slowly moving through the water. I found a way to calm my fear. I was able to loosen my mask and allow my curiosity to lead me. What would we see on the bottom? What colors would we see in the next fish what swims by? Curiosity took over. It took courage to get through the class and curiosity to lead me to continue diving.
Why do I tell this story? I would encourage everyone to face their fears in 2020. Face them with Courage, Calm, and Curiosity.
- Find the courage to drive through the fear.
- Access your calm state.
- Lead the next instance with curiosity.
While these steps can be steep, I would encourage you to get outside your comfort zone. Brené Brown coaches entering a rumble with a sense of curiosity to avoid your fears and defense mechanisms. (1) Her advice like the new year rings true!
Consider these thoughts on facing fear in 2020 with Courage, Calm, and Curiosity. Please share your thoughts and comments as you see fit. An interactive audience enables learning for us all.