As I stood at the edge of the water, frozen with fear, I felt my mind shut my whole body down. Being an avid Game of Thrones fan, I pictured myself as the mighty hound, Sandor Clegane, still frozen and fearful at the sight of fire despite being one of the most feared men in Westeros. I thought of all that could go wrong and of all the times I had managed to avoid this fear. I contemplated the plunge for what felt like far too long as I stared into the treacherous ripples of the 9-foot deep YMCA pool…the mind is a powerful thing.
The mind can hold you back from facing a fear no matter how small- like my fear of water. At this point you’re all probably laughing, but go ahead! While the fear of water may sound silly to you, we all have irrational thoughts that hold us back from doing things. The physical and spiritual scars from your past can inhibit you from stepping outside your comfort zone and hold you back for a lifetime. While fear can be something trivial like a pool, some fears are crippling to your life.
There are days you wake up and don’t want to get out of bed. There are days you feel hopeless and tired, like you are dragging an anchor that you can’t get rid of. That anchor is built from all of the fears holding you back. Whether it be “my presentation is going to go badly today” or “I have no idea what I’m doing with my life.” Fears can leave you feeling stuck and give you a headache trying to break out of that cycle. We all have days like this, but sometimes it turns into weeks, months, and years.
Confucius said, “the man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can’t are both right.” Your mindset influences your success. Once you truly believe something it is hard to let that feeling or thought go. It becomes a fear that is holding you back from being everything you were called to be. “The only thing to fear is fear itself.” That classic FDR quote is so powerful because it simply shows that if we allow the fears to keep us on a leash, they will hold us back from where we want to go.
I decided to face my fear at the YMCA that day. As I stood frozen trying to overcome the fear that was gluing me to the ledge of the pool, I began to speak to myself. I said “there is victory on the other side of my fear.” I let this thought take over my mind until I eventually took the leap of faith into the water. GoPro in one hand and the other hand free, I swam to the top. Emerging from the surface, I began to spit water, realizing in all my excitement I jumped in with my mouth wide open. After coughing up water, I laughed thinking about what a joke my fear had been. As the fear turned into joy, I scoffed at my fear realizing what I had been missing for 15 years.
All of us need to realize that everything we need to become unstuck from the fears that paralyze us, we have living inside of ourselves. I heard the coolest line in the show “How To Get Away With Murder.” One of the actors said, “I don’t know what you are looking for in this bottle of liquor but everything you think you are going find in it is already inside of you.” Some of you may be thinking that I don’t know what you’ve been through or your fears are too big, but I’m telling you right now you are a conqueror. On the other side of your biggest inhibitor is your breakthrough, victory, and life changing moment. Yes, you may be stuck right now, but I challenge you to get up, face it, and speak life into the situation. Go full throttle towards what you think you can’t do. I know that after you emerge up from the depths of the water that is your fear, you will breathe new life, find new joy and realize what you’ve been missing.