On a recent bucket-list trip, I went snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. So cool, right? It was an amazing experience. But it wasn’t without anxiety.
Because despite the excitement of being in Australia on one of the world’s most amazing reefs, I was worried about sharks.
Sharks are scary. I mean, have you seen Jaws? Images from that movie have been lodged in my head since the 70s. Sharks chase. Sharks attack. And sharks kill.
Nevermind that shark attacks are newsworthy because they are rare. Nevermind that Jaws was a product of Hollywood. I had labeled a shark as very dangerous a long time ago.
As I prepped to snorkel, I spoke with the on-board marine biologist. He told me that while the Great White and a few other sharks are indeed dangerous, most sharks are afraid of humans. They are actually a very cautious animal and do their best to avoid us. He said if I see a shark underwater, I should tell others by imitating a fin on my head, so they could see it too.
I was shocked. And this guy was an expert in marine life. He clearly knew what he was talking about.
Yet still. Despite this credible expert, I wrestled with my 40 year-old irrational belief!
But I still wanted to snorkel. So I put my brave face on and jumped in.
Shortly after I submerged, a member of our group did the shark-head-fin-thing and (gasp!) I followed her so I could get a glimpse of the shark! And I kept going back to look for the shark until I lost site of it.
I continued to look for more sharks.
I had essentially overcome my fear.
We are taught many concepts throughout our life. We are conditioned through our ethnicity, our roots, our environment, the media and our family. We may have been taught to strive for perfection. We may have been told to keep quiet. These ideas get imprinted in our brains and our subconscious. We form beliefs that impact our every interaction. We steer clear of situations that “scare” us.
A fear of sharks is just one example. And it really takes effort–stopping, researching, examining the facts, seeking truth–to make a conscious change in our belief.
But it’s worth it.
I am so happy that I overcame my fear of sharks. What belief could you overcome in 2019? What could you take a closer look at?