The problem: fear.
When I was a little girl, I was terrified of the water. I had a fear of going under, getting it in my ears, not being able to hold onto something sturdy, and getting salt water in my eyes. It was a mess, because I lived on an island and loved going to the beach.
I would always wear armbands whenever we went to the beach or a pool. Even so, I would hang on to any adult I could find rather than floating around on my own.
It wasn’t until I focused so much on my goal to the point of forgetting about my fear that I was able to get over it and learn how to swim. One day, when we were on a family vacation on the south coast of Jamaica, I really, really wanted to get into the pool. But I had just had my lunch, so my mom made me wait half an hour before she would let me get in. You know, as any
mom who likes torturing her kids good mom does.
My older brother and my godparents’ kids were all splashing around in the pool and having a great time, and I was just wistfully watching them. There was a floatie in the pool that I really wanted to get on.
The moment of action.
The water looked so inviting. It was hot, and only the adults were sitting with me. Every fiber of my being was focused on getting into that pool and climbing onto that floatie. So when my mom said I could go ahead after the requisite half hour had passed, my heart leapt up, and my body followed. I jumped straight into the pool and swam off with unrestricted glee towards the floatie.
It was at that moment of absolute bliss that my mother reminded me that I didn’t have my armbands on, and the panic set in. I fluttered and splashed around, doggy paddling back to the steps to get my armbands on as soon as possible.
My mom realized then that we really would have been better off if she hadn’t pointed it out to me. She tried to backtrack and say that it looked like I didn’t really need them after all. But it was too late – when I thought about my fear, I needed to insulate myself against it.
Does the potential good outweigh the potential bad?
Looking back on this memory, I realize it taught me an important lesson. When we think of something we are afraid of, our minds then start working on how to protect ourselves from that fear. But that protection can come at the cost of personal growth, happiness, or just some fun with friends.
Had I continued to swim out to that floatie, which was in the middle of the deep end of the pool, I would have realized that day that swimming, and being in the water, was not something to be afraid of. Instead, that realization came gradually, and many swims later. I’m not quite sure when it came, but my love for being in the water ultimately outweighed my bizarre and ironic fear of things the water could do to me. I eventually went on to join my high school swim team, so it turned out alright.
Focus on the desires of your heart.
My point is that we can work through our fears and let go of them so much more quickly if instead of focusing on what we are afraid of, we focus on what we want to achieve in our lives. Then, set your mind to work on how to accomplish those things, rather than focusing on the roadblocks.
When you compare your desires to your fears, usually the good will outweigh the bad. I mean, come on – what sounds better, swimming in a pool with friends on the south coast of Jamaica, or staying safely on the sidelines where the water can’t get in your ears?
Go forth, let go of your fear, and live freely today.