For the past 6 weeks I’ve been working on a long-time fear of deep water by taking swimming lessons. I didn’t always have this fear and swam with ease as a child. I’m not sure why I slowly developed water nervousness – perhaps it is related to infrequent swimming or the vertigo I encountered after being knocked over in the ocean. Or it may have been triggered by the unpleasant experience of shopping for a bathing suit in stores with fun-house type mirrors.
Whatever the reason for this fear, I felt it was finally time to do something about it so I could swim laps when on vacation and in my neighborhood pool.
To lose the fear of a physical activity, you have to trust your body to know what to do. When you overcome that fear, you experience a special satisfaction and appreciation of the activity – even if you haven’t totally won the battle yet.
It was a victory when I swam the length of the Olympic size pool without having a mild panic attack. To keep my state of calm, I thought about what my swimming teacher said, “You’re swimming on top of the water…it doesn’t matter how deep it is.”
Gazing down into the deeper part of the pool, I remembered the joy of underwater swimming as a child and relaxed. I’m not as comfortable as a fish yet but I’m working on it.
Fighting fear is a worthy quest and there are many opportunities for battle. You might not be up for conquering all your fears at the same time and that is okay. Do what you can.
As an observer of marriage, divorce, and the single life, I see many examples of fear: unhappy couples afraid to divorce, divorced individuals afraid to date, people in relationships afraid to ask for what they want.
There is one fear that can help you conquer relationship-related fears. That is fear of missing out. If you fear missing out on happiness more than you fear the breakup of a bad marriage, you might be prompted to make a move. If you fear not being coupled – even if you are happy in the single life – you may work harder to find a mate.
Life is more complicated than a single emotion but I think you can use fear to your advantage.
Try it. What are you afraid of? Can you harness the power of fear to make your life better?
For an interesting read on fear, check out this Psychology Today article.
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Until next week, happy dating or not dating.