Facing Your Fears

As I’ve been pondering about what to write about the last few weeks, a memory popped into my mind this morning that created a bit of an “aha” moment and I thought it was worth sharing.

It was July 4, 2015 and I had just moved to California only a month before. I was excited to experience my 1st Independence Day in Huntington Beach as I had heard a lot of hype about the festivities and events that take place there (and yes, if you’ve never experienced it, you really should check it out).

After the traditional 5k and morning parade, a few of us headed to the beach to enjoy the sun rays and play in the ocean. Now, for those that know me well, know that playing in the ocean is NOT my thing (ever since I was a child, I’ve had this irrational fear of sharks…thank you JAWS), however on this 4th of July, I told myself I was going to be brave and get in the water.

My bravery only lasted so long. I stopped inching forward once the water got to my thighs and I suddenly became very aware of the big and powerful waves that were approaching. Being uncertain in how to deal with this “problem”, I instinctually faced my back toward each oncoming wave thinking it would keep me stabilized and allow me to take the brunt without falling over.

No such luck.

With one fell swoop, a wave crashed into me, my legs gave out and I was tumbling to and fro for what seemed like an eternity (although, I’m sure it was only a matter of seconds).  Feeling quite scared after the fact, I quickly exited the ocean and headed to my towel, trying to calm my nerves.  As I sat down, someone nearby said, “I can tell you aren’t from here.” When asked how he had made this observation he stated, “because people who grow up playing in the ocean know you must go through the wave, instead of against it. It’s the path of least resistance.”

And here’s the life lesson.

It’s a natural tendency to avoid pain of any kind. When we experience something disturbing or difficult, we instinctually withdraw, pull back and avoid. But like my experience with that “problematic” wave, resisting is so counterproductive. And as long as there is resistance, that (emotional) pain will always be right behind you and you will exert a lot of energy trying to protect yourself from it. 

So instead, I encourage you to go through the pain and face your fear because I promise that on the other side, there is an ocean of love, peace and freedom awaiting.

Until next time,