One of my favorite lines when coaching new swimmers comes from Finding Nemo. 'Just keep swimming.'
As I'm in Florida watching my two boys learn to swim, I'm the proud papa of some water babies. Hawk, a month shy of 4, is swimming on his own across a 30-foot pool. 🎉 In my experience, it's way easier to teach children than adults to do almost any new activity. An adult who fears water will be more resistant to face that fear than a child. We build up a history of beliefs over time from our experiences that we embed as protections, though often can be obstacles for growth. As we build more experiences of fear, shame, and judgment, most of us desire to avoid them. I certainly do. So, how do we overcome?
As one example, this simple mantra to keep moving in the face of our fears or overwhelm can be an excellent reminder to stay in action or, in this case, motion. 🎡
Indecisiveness and inaction can leave us stuck and reaffirm our false evidence of fear. I like asking myself if my fear is based on reality through the question, 'Is it really true?' Watching a 6'2" man swim in 4' of water, telling him he can stand at any moment, can be a great demonstration of how this works. Will he indeed drown if he can stand up at any moment? You might be surprised how many people won't keep trying even when safety is readily accessible like this. It can feel like life is happening to us rather than for us. Often depression, anxiety, and the underlying fear put us in a state of freeze or slow down. Our 'old brain' is running the show.1 We can make sense of it until we reset the autonomic nervous system putting our 'new brain' back in charge. This is why I like today's mantra so much. We can reset. Take a break, and then go again. Whether you continue an activity or come back to it after a pause, the point is to stay in action and forward towards our desired goal. In this action, we can physiologically break down our mental and emotional barriers piece by piece. Staying consistently in action can then help us realize a more meaningful version of our health in every sense.
Just keep swimming! 🏊🏽♀️