Overcoming Fear

This week’s newsletter begins with a boy of 4 years of age learning to swim. There were five students in his class and as he was floating, his instructor took her eyes off him to watch another student and he ended up under the water. Water entered his mouth and nose and he coughed to get it out. He thought, whilst he was floundering, he was going to drown.

From that moment forth, this 4 year feared water, especially when it was near his face. He wouldn’t put his head under water for anything – not even in the shower or bath.

As a 13 year old, he would stand in the shallows with the water never getting to above his waist.

Swimming at school was a disaster as he avoided it at all costs. His PE teacher said he needed to overcome this as it affected his self esteem and he may never do well at anything.

His parents knew this to be incorrect as he was great at nearly everything he had a go at.

The 13 year olds problem was that all his friends could swim and they wanted him to go to the pool and play. Some understood he feared water and made allowances for this by playing in the shallows.

One day, this 13 year old was down at the river, standing in the shallows when a friend who often teases him arrived. This friend had no idea he hated water around his head.

The friend quickly suggested they jump in and float 30 meters down to a pontoon.

You could see the fear in the 13 years olds eyes.

Not wanting to look stupid, he jumped in and walked down to the pontoon. The water often came up to his neck. While he could feel the bottom, he felt safe.

His Dad suggested he would go with him and they jumped in together. They both floated down to the pontoon. Soon, this young man was doing it all by himself. He became gamer and ventured further out from shore and then swam to the pontoon.

He amazed himself. For all these years he had avoided deep water and now it was so easy.

Having accomplished this, he decided it was time to take it one step further.

He got on the net and Googled “How to stop water getting up your nose when swimming”.

The results indicated he could get a nose clamp.

This was a boy who had trouble putting his head under a shower.

The next time he showered he put on his nose clamp and let the water run over his head. He even got in the bath and put his head under the water.

Success.

He now wanted to go to the pool and give this a go.

With the nose clamp on, he lowered himself under the water.

More success.

The next step was to dive down to the bottom.

More success.

From there, he decided it was time to swim so headed for the lanes and did a lap with his head in the water.

Now, he wants to spend as much time as he can in the pool diving beneath the surface and playing in areas where he is unable to stand.

While this is a true story, I tell it for two reasons:

  1. If a 13 year old can master a deep-seated fear all by himself, imagine what you can do.
  1. It is amazing what you can do if you put your mind to it.

And, how good is it, that at 13 years of age, he worked it out all by himself?

Let’s summarise what he did:

(a) He reached a point in his life where it was time to master this problem that was holding him back.

(b) He researched possible solutions.

(c) Under controlled circumstances, he gave the solution a go.

(d) On looking back, he now wonders why he was so fearful.

Franklin Roosevelt once said

“There’s nothing to fear but fear itself”.

Fear has a function: it is present to keep you safe.

It kept this 13 year old safe by keeping his head out of the water. As soon as he realised he could put his head under water and still feel safe, he mastered his fear.

He often has the nose clamp come off when playing and water gets up his nose and runs down his throat. He realises he is not going to drown, rectifies the problem and goes again.

Jane, do you have a fear that is holding you back?

Now may be the time to deal with it.

Imagine your life without the fear and looking back at the hold it had over you. What a great feeling.

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