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WHAT I HAVE LEARNED ABOUT FEAR

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Age 9: Jaws is released on home video. I am what is known as a latch key kid, so I watch it. I have never actually seen a shark in real life. I become fascinated with sharks. I think they are both powerful and beautiful creatures. And then I notice that there is this story in my head. The story goes something like this. I could at some point in the future be swimming in the ocean at dusk and be torn limb from limb by a shark. I’m in my living room. This fear is not useful. I’ll call it FALSE fear. It is created by the stories in our head.

Age 24: We are snorkeling in the deep sea waters of the Caribbean island of Saba, where my grandmother was born. We are approaching a cave. I have a clear gut feeling that I should swim back to the boat. I listen to my intuition. I do not go any further. I swim through a school of jellyfish on my way back to the boat. The stinging on my arms is fiery and fierce. I contemplate asking the captain of the boat to pee on me!

Just then he exclaimed, “I have a vinegar solution!”

I am grateful to be spared a golden shower.

My snorkeling companion was my dad. He was a championship swimmer and an underwater welder in his younger days while growing up in Aruba. He was a strong swimmer and much more adventurous than me. He did not turn back and encountered a shark in that cave! This fear is useful. It told me to turn back and not to swim into the cave. I’ll call it TRUE fear. TRUE fear is intuition. It quite possibly saved my life.

Age 34: While on vacation in Aruba, I go for a splash in the waves on Palm Beach. I am looking all around me to see if there might be a shark. There is no sign of a shark. No intuition in my gut. My fear of the possibility of a shark in the water takes over. I learned by watching Jaws when I was 9 years old that splashing attracts sharks. Even though I love the ocean, I don’t stay. The pool is safer, so I go back to the hotel. I step into the pool. I hear the theme song from Jaws in my head. I take a quick look around to make sure the pool is a shark free environment! This fear is not useful. It kept me from enjoying a swim in the ocean. My heart loves the ocean. My fear literally kept me from my hearts desire. It is a story that my mind created in my own head that there could be a shark in the ocean. Even in the freaking pool! There was no evidence of a shark near the beach where I was splashing in the waves. It is impossible for a shark encounter in a chlorinated pool! Yet, my fear felt very real. This was a serious case of FALSE fear.

Age 44: I am on vacation in the Dominican Republic. We are swimming with dolphins. My heartis singing. I am grateful to have this opportunity. I am filled with joy. Also included in our dolphin experience is the opportunity to swim with sharks and stingrays. I practically skip into the ocean pool where the sharks and stingrays await. It’s exhilarating! I see a shark at the bottom of the ocean. I am excited, not afraid. The guide asks if I want to hold a shark. WHAT?! I visit aquariums so that I can stare at the sharks from the safety of the thick glass. I have seen more Discovery Channel Shark Week episodes than I care to admit. My life long curiosity about sharks could be satisfied. That would be a HELL YES! The guide turns the shark on its back and places its smooth rubbery body into my arms. Yes, I am holding a freaking shark! This feels like True Freedom! It felt even more powerful than when I broke my fear of heights. Once I learned how to break my main fear of heights, my fear of sharks and my other fear dissolved. I was in the ocean with a shark in my arms!

Now: I know for sure that swimming in the ocean feels like True Freedom! I will always listen to my intuition. I will not let FALSE fear keep me from my hearts desire. I deserve to have what my heart yearns for and so do you. What I am most proud of is that I have healed in my broken places. I am not afraid anymore.

True Freedom means to live without FALSE fear. Now, I am not suggesting that you go shark diving. I am inviting you to start breaking your own fears by questioning the stories that are in your head. The stories that are causing you to be afraid. Are you in danger in this moment or is it just a story in your head? I am inviting you to learn the difference. What I want for you is True Freedom! Contact me if you are ready to start your own journey towards True Freedom.

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