Choosing Bravery

 One of my favourite quotes (not sure who said it..) goes something like this… 

Being brave doesn’t mean you aren’t afraid it means you do it anyway.

I’m at a lovely spa healthy getaway with the girls today (at the J.W. Marriott Rosseau in Muskoka) and enjoying all of the facilities here! 

  
We did a kick butt bum workout in the fitness room, spent some lovely time in the hot tub and sauna… 

  
  
And then I ventured off on my own for a swim in their indoor-outdoor all season pool, and a soak in the outdoor hot tub. I know you’re jealous right?! You should definitely come here!!!
  
What I wasn’t expecting was the feelings that came up as I went to enter the pool. All of a sudden I realized I was feeling fear. Not a paralyzing, frozen in my tracks kind of afraid but a very strong, uneasiness and tangible kind of fear. Hmmmm. How interesting. 

  
One of the best things I learned from my studies in psychotherapy was to GET CURIOUS ABOUT FEELINGS.  

I stepped into the pool despite my uneasiness. I tuned my awareness and curiousity into this… With each step: consciously noticing my experience. This is what they call MINDFULNESS
As I approached the doors and flaps to the outside part of the pool… I realized I was even more uncomfortable with the idea of having to go under the flaps. I tried to pull the doors apart or push them open. Nope. Access denied. It appeared I would have to go under. Increasing uneasiness at that idea!  There was no rational reason for me to be afraid!  I’m a competent swimmer! 

  

  
I ended up lifting the flap and going under. I swam outside with equal parts exhilaration at the feeling of the cool frosty air and the warm water… It truly is a heavenly experience… And that uneasiness of being alone in the pool. 
My fear was not that I was afraid of drowning or my competence to swim alone… (And you really shouldn’t swim alone anyway- we all know that)… It was an irrational fear that there was something in the water…like when you go down to the basement and run up on your way out in case the boogie man is behind you! 


So what have I learned about facing fear?

  1. Reality check time!
  2. Breathe!
  3. Step into it!
  • Check yourself before you wreck yourself:

The first thing you need to ask yourself is whether or not your fears are valid?
In this case? Um, no. The experience I was having wasn’t a fear of being competent to swim it was a strange feeling of something being in the water … Like something was going to get me!

 Totally irrational. I noticed that when I would swim on my back I was more afraid because I couldn’t see the water … And be able to react when that creature was about to get me! Crazy, I know!!!

  • Focus on your breath

 When you’re afraid your body goes into fight or flight mode. The sympathetic nervous system activates and your breath becomes shallow and quicker … Your eye sight becomes more sharp and your senses are on high alert! Ready to fight or run from that imagined predator! To counteract this … Breathe. Breathe deeply and gently and slowly. Breathe in and extend your exhale breath. Calm your system down.

  • Then step into it. 


Swim. Swim on your back you lunatic! Step into your fears and see that YOU ARE OK. Look at you being all ok and not being attacked by some imaginary creature. This is
CHOOSING PRESENCE: In this moment I am ok. 

Fear often comes from a place of future thinking. You are imagining something bad might happen. The antidote is to get present.  
This is also CHOOSING EQUANIMITY. 

Equanimity is about non reaction. Letting the fear be. You look at it. You acknowledge it. You do not react to it. Instead of running or fighting you get still. You know that the fear will pass. You let it move through you.
So, that’s what I did. All those things! I enjoyed my swim and I learned something new about myself. Next time I go for a swim alone, I will no doubt experience the same uneasiness. But it won’t be a surprise and I’ll know that I have the tools to face my fears.

What are you afraid of? Have you ever had a similar experience? Share in the comments!

In good health,
Melissa Scheichl

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