What happens when we find ourselves in deep waters in our lives?
Deep waters are intimidating, anxiety provoking, and instill doubts. Not being able to touch or see the bottom of the pool, lake, or ocean puts everything on the individual in that moment. Every insecurity vividly fills the mind and takes over. It can be a very unsettling place to perform.
I found myself in this exact mental and literal place during a sprint triathlon this past. Swimming further than ever before in open intercostal waters near the ocean, filled my head with doubts, insecurities, and uncertainty. Being halfway through the swim with my breath seeming to be escaping me, it was an uncomfortable position to be in to say the least. Looking for the next buoy to swim towards, wondering how much further until shore, and questioning why I signed up for a triathlon again filled my head. Not the best headspace to perform in.
How many times do we experience being in deep waters in our lives? It may not be the ocean, but when we are pushing ourselves to our physical and mental limits, there will be times that it seems like we are in deep waters. This could be in our training sessions when we are lifting more and moving faster than we have before. It could be in our businesses when we are taking a risk and betting on ourselves against the odds. It may be when we are asked to do something we have never done before and expected to do it at a high level. Do we panic and allow our minds to take over or do we perform with the fear and make friends with it?
When we find ourselves in deep waters, we can bring an awareness to what we are experiencing in that moment. Notice what is happening in our bodies as the pulse quickens. What thoughts are popping into our heads, and what emotions and conclusions we are jumping to in those moments? If we want to be our best in these moments, then we have to be aware of how we operate in them. Once we have awareness in those moments, then we can choose how to we want to be. We can shift our focus to what we can control and what will make a difference in those moments.
In that moment, halfway through the swim, when I realized the alarm signals were going off in my mind, I had to remember the training swims and remind myself that I've done hard things before. I changed up my breathing rate and swam with the uncertainty knowing that the swim would end just like any other challenging moments. I ended up finishing the swim, the bike, and the run and put a cap on the triathlon. It was another great reminder about how incredible individuals can be as 60+ year old competitors raced past me! Humans are capable of incredible feats and everyone is finding their own way to express that capability.
Next time we find ourselves in deep waters we can appreciate the opportunity to push our limits in the moment and learn about what it is we can achieve.
It also helps to do hard things with great friends and have their support!