It was one of those hot Caribbean summers. I was nine years old and had been waiting for this for the whole year; summer camp, adventure, and new friends. Like any kid, I was eager that morning to show off my swimming skills. Ready, set…someone unexpectedly pushed me to the deepest side of the pool. I froze; memory went blank forgetting all the previous lessons. The pool was over for me that summer and the summer camp I had been waiting for so long lost all excitement. It would take many years before I dare to get in a pool again and water turned into a being I respected and feared.
Fear dwells in every one of us. It doesn’t matter if it is mistakenly created or innately felt. It is one of those feelings that serve well at times. It gives us the tools to explore a situation and make quick decisions; the fight or flight effect. Learning to adopt it as an ally instead of an enemy is vital for our well-being and survival. Unfortunately, many of us see it as a paralyzing force and we literally stop living and enjoying the wanders of life over-thinking and forecasting bad weather well ahead the storm has taken form.
My failed encounter with the pool, made me develop a whole false belief about water. After that day, my brain sent fiery messages; water is not safe, there’s no joy in swimming, you will always be in danger, every time you approach it, you’ll be facing the same experience, and so on. The same happens with many other situations and feelings in life. How many of you are not afraid of heights, closed spaces, or falling in love? We all have some kind of fear. We had a bad, hurtful experience and from that point on everything associated with it turns into a nightmare we refuse to repeat. So, how to overcome these fears and start living once more?
After many years, I decided to face my old water friend again; born and raised in the Caribbean where water is crystal clear it would have been disastrous not to fully enjoy this gift of nature! So I forgot the pool and went into the ocean with its high-low waves. Acknowledging the cause of your fear is the first step. You need to face your enemy in order to measure both strengths. Once submerged, I began shifting my old belief, feeling the salty water, seeing it as a buddy, part of who I was from birth. It wasn’t easy at first but, you’ll be surprised of what the right attitude and a letting go of can do. Acknowledging and transforming my belief, from a bad memory to a positive relationship, changed my perception. Instead of keep thinking that any water related encounter would inevitably lead to danger, I thought about all the fun and exciting adventures I could devise to finally enjoy the pleasures of that powerful element that surrounds us all.
It doesn’t matter what you are afraid of, you can get rid of those fears with a little bit of courage and intention.
1. Acknowledge your fear
2. Go back in time. Identify the precise moment or situation creating your false belief towards it.
3. Face it!
4. Change your belief.
5. Ask yourself. How could I change this dread towards…into something positive? How could it work for me instead of against me?
That summer was a total mess for me. I lost many years of enjoying my natural environment. Now, we are back together in total synergy, just the way it should be; humans and nature as one!