Drowning Myself To Overcome Fear


Borrowed from Steve's Picasa Album: http://bit.ly/9zLUVV


When I was younger, for one reason or another, I couldn’t learn how to swim as fast as other children. Like many, I wasn’t able to stay afloat or successfully hold my breath underwater because I feared I would drown.

This fear of drowning captivated my every move and my every thought. It kept me from floating, it kept me from breathing properly, and it paralyzed my focus on going under.

There were four routes my parents could have chosen:

a) Enroll me in lessons at the local swimming pool.
b) Stay patient and continue to work with me for several more weeks.
c) Give up and accept that I would never learn how to swim.
d) Throw me in the water and hope I’ll learn to move my arms.

You guessed it. My parents took option D and I distinctly remember my father picking me up and throwing me in the middle of my neighbor’s pool completely against my will.

It worked, and it worked really well. Apparently, when you’re drowning you can overcome your fear of the water and somehow all the swimming lessons kick in.

The way my parents helped me overcome this problem may not have been the most ideal or the safest solution at the time, but it worked.

Throughout my life, there have been several instances where I have held back on a project because of my fear of failure. I held back because I didn’t want to embarrass myself or face others if my project or plan had failed, and this particular dilemma wasn’t restricted to myself. I know of several people who function in the exact same way and you may very well be one of them.

The issue here isn’t about erasing fear, because we all know that it is a healthy and natural emotion. Rather the issue is how to balance fear and subdue the hesitation to keep the issue in perspective.

If I have done proper research and consulted the right people about a pending project, I feel the best way to overcome my fear and hesitation is to throw myself in the mix and launch right away. To this day, my last swimming lesson continues to be the push I need to overcome my personal hurdles.

I won’t say that it has led me to success 100% of the time, but it has always given me the momentum I need to continue moving forward.

Is their a magic pill? I’ve read several stories on fear.less, a popular blog about overcoming fear, and its helped to convince me of the absence of one singular method to overcome fear. Everyone has their own unique way of subduing their anxieties and taking that next step. My swimming lesson worked for me, but for others it could spell disaster.

I’d love to learn your methods of overcoming fear so I can compile a list for a future post to help others. Using a single or a combination of methods to gain the energy needed to jump that hurdle may very well serve as the impetus for change in ourselves and in others.

So, my question to you is this: How do YOU overcome your fears?

16 Comments

  1. Faizan
    Feb 24, 2010

    We fear the loss of security. We are always willing to settle for security. Never wanting to change status quo because we are not sure if it will be a positive or negative change. You were lucky that you were forced to burst out of the bubble. People live their entire lives wondering what they could have become and what might they have accomplished.

    Taste of failure is as important when everything is successful as is the taste of success when everything is failing. For the one who is continuously failing, the turn of the tide can be a rogue successful moment. That point in their life where they realize what success is and that they too can be successful. For the one who is always successful, it is equally important that he taste some failure because it harnesses our tendency to be the father figures to rest of society. Success can be equally harmful if gets to one’s mind. The tendency of people to turn into father figures to everyone else alientates the rest of us. The successful lose touch to their audience eventually. Soon after they stop being successful. Failure humbles the mind and allows one to accept new ideas and challenges. It allows for competition and innovation.

    So never settle for security, whether it be in wanting success or keeping success. Always conquer the fear of security. It is the human condition and we will have to struggle against it till the end of time.

    [Reply]

    Shariq Reply:

    Excellent! I don’t see much wrong in settling for security other than it stagnates our emotional and mental state. When we are continually challenged both physically and mentally, we are able to move forward in life and achieve greater goals every step of the way.

    And I’ll second what you said: NEVER settle for security!

    [Reply]

  2. PagalNauman
    Feb 24, 2010

    Could fear of failure actually mean a person is more concerned about looking good and impressing people instead of attempting and completing the task at hand? Just something to think about.

    [Reply]

  3. Irumium
    Feb 24, 2010

    ROFL! My father threw me off the diving board! This brings back memories of another time. I like how you used it to conquer your fears.

    Praying helps me.

    [Reply]

  4. Jack Ryan
    Feb 24, 2010

    “In life we don’t get what we want, we get in life what we are. If we want more we have to be able to be more, in order to be more you have to face rejection.”

    Farrah Gray

    [Reply]

  5. x{X}x
    Feb 24, 2010

    Pot = No Fear.

    It’ll be legal in no time and then the whole world will know it makes you superman.

    [Reply]

    Shariq Reply:

    Pot? Really? I have a feeling it won’t be legal anytime soon… and especially not in Texas. However, using an intoxicant may only help with the initial step. Continuing to use an intoxicant instead of facing a natural emotion may actually weaken a person and force them to become dependent on a substance they don’t really need. I feel as though as it’s thinking in the short term instead of the long.

    I also don’t smoke pot… or anything else. Thanks!

    [Reply]

  6. Melissa
    Feb 24, 2010

    Keeping a cool head under pressure and digesting my environment helps me make level headed decisions when I’m scared.

    [Reply]

    Shariq Reply:

    That helps me too! Taking a few steps back and truly analyzing the situation has always helped me. Sometimes we make things out to be a lot worse than they actually are. And a third-party perspective never hurts too :) .

    [Reply]

  7. You wish
    Feb 24, 2010

    How do YOU overcome your fears?

    Hmmm…I guess you have to believe in your self and be happy with who you are, or else you will always be scared.

    [Reply]

    Shariq Reply:

    You’re right. Self-esteem plays a major role in being afraid to fail. What if you fail a few tasks and your self-esteem drops? Should overcoming fear be based simply on self-esteem alone? I feel as if self-esteem can go up and down depending on success/failure, compliments/rejection, personal issues in life, physical appearance, etc. etc.

    [Reply]

  8. Haytham
    Feb 24, 2010

    To answer your question…… it really depends on the reason of this fear!

    If this fear is a life or death type of fear… then the only way to overcome it is to get away to safely and that would end this situation and fear of that moment.

    You can (and most probably will) develop fear from whatever caused this life and death fear… to over come that fear you need therapy and professional help!

    If this fear is more of an anxiety of/from something than fearing it… then the way to overcome it is to manipulate my thought process to picture myself succeeding in this matter (i.e acing an exam or a delivering an awesome public speech..etc)

    If this fear has to do with losing something or some one close (ie. death, breakup, etc) then its pretty difficult to deal with this because one loses all rational thinking since its a personal matter! So, I think, the more you rationalize your thoughts about this “lose”… the more you will be able to overcome that fear!

    Just my 2 cents..

    [Reply]

  9. Nelson Mandela
    Feb 25, 2010

    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

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  10. Adnan
    Feb 25, 2010

    I’m not sure if I fear anything (besides freaking snakes or other weird/dangerous creatures). I think typically when I have been afraid of something I force myself to overcome it by facing it. I too, was thrown into a pool to overcome my fear of water and it was miraculous in a sense because I went from being deadly frightened of being in the water to loving it. Other fears I’ve faced is heights, flying and public speaking.

    I think overall, the key to living without fear is to have a strong faith in God. There are many instances in both the Quran and the Bible which mention to the people of faith that they should not fear anything but God. When you actually try to live like that, you find yourself no longer frightened of anything or anyone, because at the end of the day whatever God Wills to happen will happen; so why be frightened?

    I will end with a beautiful verse from the Quran that says: “And whoever puts their full trust in God, He is sufficient for them.” So if you’re spiritually near to God, He will ultimately be enough for you in all matters, including overcoming your fears.

    [Reply]

  11. atta
    Apr 1, 2010

    Human being is most powerful creation on God’s earth.So why to fear? we need to identify why we fear? Is it the analysis of consequence of our action in realistic manner that deter us from doing something or simply we can’t do what is easily done by so many people? If we are afraid of jumping from 50 feet high building with out any aid then this fear is positive and helps us survive. But if practicing para drops or learning hiking skills despite aids we can not jump off than we need proper coach and skillful practice.Practice proper practice is the key.

    [Reply]

  12. Fahad
    Jul 2, 2010

    Fear will definitely keep a person from achieving what they want. I noticed this in language acquisition, especially. There are a lot of people that want to learn Arabic, for instance and they have a really hard time. Part of the reason is fear of making mistakes when you speak. That is why children can pick up languages easily since the component of fear is missing.

    [Reply]

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