Facing my fears…
“This could be dangerous, you know. Are you sure you’re not bleeding somewhere?”
A man is looking me in the eye.
I silently nod.
There is no way back now.
I’m on a tiny boat on the Pacific Ocean, near the Galápagos Islands. I’m getting prepared to swim with sharks.
Without a cage.
These waters are occupied by mighty Whitetip Sharks and Hammerheads.
While the man on the boat is checking my gear for the last time, I give myself a pep talk.
I’m ready to feel my fears and do it anyway.
Or so I say to myself.
My heart is pounding.
I need to calm myself down.
I push myself to sit at the side of the boat.
Count to 3.
And let myself fall into the ocean.
Cold, salty water everywhere.
I hold on to the boat, catching my breath.
And then bravely I let go of the boat and start to swim…
A failed expedition
Now let me disclose upfront to you, this expedition failed.
Yes, that day I swam with dozens of sharks.
And they were big. Silent. Fierce. Grim.
And let me confess to you, I was not shitting my wetsuit to meet these sharks. Heck, I almost wanted to cuddle them. Almost.
To be honest, cold shivers run down my spine only thinking about these schools of thousands of tiny fish occupying these waters.
I’m pretty phobic about all those little, cold, slimy, twisting creatures, and paranoid they might want to nibble at my feet.
Anyway, that day I got into the water. Because, so I reasoned, if I’m able to face sharks in the middle of the ocean with nothing more than a wetsuit and some snorkel gear, I will never fear those little fish again.
But it turned out the sharks were not so scary.
Because I was able to see them coming. I was prepared. They were just not creeping up to me
But all those little fish… Brrrr…
Big fears and daily worries
And I realized the same goes for our daily life fears and worries versus ‘big event’ fears.
I don’t know about you, but when something impactful happens in my life or work that triggers fear, I get into a focused and clear state. Very aware and in problem-solving mode. And even if this fear can be really big, I stay in a calm and present state. Like when I was encountering these sharks. As they were big and one-by-one. That made them sort of manageable.
But then those daily worries. They creep up on you like schools of thousands of little fish. They overwhelm you, especially when you are not expecting it. Swirling and twirling around you, uncontrollable, fast, overwhelming. They nibble at your brain in the middle of the night. Or when watching Netflix. And those fears and worries stumble over each other, so you can’t see and think clearly anymore. You get lost in the school of thousands of thoughts.
The aha moment
And that’s the key here.
The fear was actually feeling out of control, lost, and overwhelmed.
So in the end it was not helpful at all to battle my fear of little fish by swimming with sharks. So the same goes for after going through some big event fears, it won’t take away your daily worries. As they are just not igniting the same kind of fears.
No, I had to deal with my daily control issues. And with my ability to let go and enjoy the beauty of things.
And I did that.
Will I happily swim with schools of fish now?
I’ve not tested it yet.
But what I do know is that I enjoy my nights and Netflix moments in peace now.
Do you want this too?
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