I heard this expression a while back, I think it was a subtitle for a book. It mentioned “How to punch fear in the face!”
Now, on the surface, that sounds like a positive thing, right?
I want to accomplish something, therefore I need to get rid of my fears around that thing, therefore giving that fear a good punch to the face will eliminate the obstacle and allow me to do what I want to do!
Unfortunately, fear doesn’t work like that.
Fear is a natural human emotion. It comes up for a reason, or for several reasons.
I was talking to a woman in our The Fit Triathlete Transformation course, and she mentioned that her partner wanted to learn to swim but did not want her help.
Long story short, I correctly guessed that he had a fear of the water.
But, like many men in our culture (and some women too), admitting this fear is not acceptable!
So we come up with this idea that we can simply “punch that fear in the face” because, of course, we cannot admit weakness.
The problem is, all this fighting of fear often leads to fear actually growing stronger! And we are back where we started, or even further behind.
So what can we do?
Befriend your fear! Just like at Tri Swim Coach we talk about “Befriending the water”, this concept can take you further faster, and allow you to “flow” with your stroke, with the water, as well as make your training an exciting adventure instead of a frustrating task.
Most of us actually have to get over a fear of deep water (I did myself, I still remember thinking the drains at the bottom of the pool were going to suck me in!)
This is so common and I see it as hidden in plain sight when it comes to the beginners.If you currently have this fear, try these steps:
1. Accept this fear at a deep level and make it your friend. Realize that this is your brain trying to protect you. Say “Thanks” and move to resolve it.
2. Start with just standing in the shallow end of the pool and put your face in the water. Easy! This will help your brain to eventually understand you are not in danger.
3. Blow bubbles. Yes, it’s goofy, but it works!
4. Go down to deeper levels in the water. Little by little, until you are at the bottom of the pool. This also teaches your brain that everything is safe! Stay at the bottom for a bit, 10 seconds, 20 seconds, etc. Ease into this!
5. Use fins and kick over the shallow end, then later the deep end of the pool. Little by little, the fear steps aside, and you will find yourself easily swimming with no panic setting in.If you treat it (and yourself) with full respect and empathy, you can have amazing break throughs.
If you try to “punch it in the face”, it may grow stronger, and you will be fighting an un-winnable battle.
This strategy of befriending fear can be used at any level, any part of your race, any part of your life. And while it’s maybe not as catchy as getting in a boxing ring to deal with your fear, it actually works, and will make you a stronger, more resilient, more empathetic person in the process. 🙂
Just keep swimming.