While on a recent vacation, I learned something really important life lesson regarding the journey of healing in my life – that just might be helpful in your life as well.
Here’s the background on my story:
When I was about 6 years old I fell into a lake while on a family camping trip and almost drown. I can replay this memory in my mind like it happened yesterday. The long term effect of this incident is that I’ve have an issue being in water if I can’t touch the bottom. I’ve had, in the past, panic attacks while trying to learn how to water skiing for example, and almost drown my aunt. I know how to tread water and even owned a home with a swimming pool and I’d putter around in – but the second, the thought “I can’t touch the bottom” happens, my mind freaks out.
So for the rest of my life, I stayed away from lakes and water sports, afraid that I’d embarrass myself and everyone else.
Well, about 4 years ago, I traveled with my partner to Cuba and we did a day trip that included a couple opportunities for swimming and snorkeling. Of course, I opted to stand with our stuff while he went off and checked things out beneath the waves. But I felt so guilty – we’re on vacation together and he has to go do activities by himself.
So I vowed that our next vacation, I would at least try. After all, I am a life coach and I teach women how to overcome mindset and limiting beliefs. I should probably practice what I preach. Besides I meditate!! It’s got to be good for this kind of stuff, right??
My partner is very supportive of me and quickly found a full face snorkel mask. That way I wouldn’t have to focus on breathing or worry about inhaling water. He ordered them and we had them the week before we were scheduled to leave. I was so apprehensive that I didn’t even try my mask on. I focused on being successful and trying on the mask “might” jeopardize that (there’s the anxiety from my mind playing tricks).
When we got to our destination I could kind of feel the anxiety and anticipation creeping up on me and on the day we decided to try, his words of support actually made me want to cry. But I just focused on what I was going to accomplish.
“I can do this. I can do this” played over in my thoughts.
We walked out into the waves and I found a spot that had some coral. I quickly splashed water on myself to acclimate to the water temperature and stuck my head under the water.
And there was no panic, no anxiety … just the beauty of the ocean floor underneath me. It was glorious!!!! I was SOOOOOO proud of myself (my second set of welling tears!). We swam for a considerable amount of time, looking at the brightly colored fish and interesting coral.
And it was awesome.
Later that day, I sat down to journal my thoughts, to think about the experience and to put it into perspective.
What I realized is that I was able to overcome my fear because I’m at a place in my life where:
1. I feel safe to try (he was very close and could grab me if I freaked out),
2. I feel safe to fail (no judgement from my partner), and
3. I feel that I know enough about myself and how my mind and thoughts work that I can make it a success.
And those things are really important.
Sometimes we’re so focused on ‘fixing’ ourselves that it only causes more anxiety, more depression and a ton of self-sabotage. And maybe now isn’t the right time, the right place and/or you might not have the right people supporting you.
Trust the process and do what is best for you right now and if you want to address it in the future, you can. I was totally fine with never participating in water sports – until I wasn’t. And then I used my determination and all the hard work I’d done to find the courage to attempt the very thing I was the most afraid of. The interesting point also is that it was my compassion for my partner (having to do fun things alone) that motivated me to overcome my fear. Sometimes when we make choices because we want what’s best for someone we love, we can move mountains.
The other thing that this experience taught me is that sometimes a massive accomplishment and a very proud moment is hard to share with people who take these things as normal or for granted even. I feel silly explaining why I’m all teary about snorkeling but if I was sharing this experience with someone else to overcame an obstacle they’d probably cry with me. Support that gets it is so validating. Now don’t get me wrong, hearing my partner tell me how surprised he was with how quickly I went for it made me feel very good also.
Do you have a thing that you’re afraid to attempt? Want help with it? Want to celebrate it with someone? Let’s talk.