Swiftly identify what is holding you back.
When I was around 4 or 6 years old I had a phobia. I actually do not remember my exact age. What I do remember is being really freaked out by any deep water.
I grew up nestled up in the small country valley outside of Durango, Colorado. In the safe bosom of the country. In our backyard, we had a stream trickling down from the mountain that was filled with snails and water bugs. I loved the stream, it was meek, simple and gentle.
My fear of water eventually led to swimming lessons, in an attempt to lessen my fright and be able to swim if needed. After all, we had the Animas River in town and loved to camp at the beautiful nearby lakes, Lemon Dam, Vallecito and Haviland.
I remember the day of my first lesson very clearly.
The female instructor was very outgoing and friendly. There were lots of kids splashing around, which felt intimidating. I refused to get off that first step. I was perfectly content to keep my feet in only and stay securely on the pool’s edge.
She came over and asked me to come with her. I eventually agreed and grabbed onto her for dear life as she peeled me off of the pool’s edge.
She walked with me on her hip, bouncing us gently, into the deeper waters. She reassured me every step of the way, “You are safe. You are ok. It’s ok, you can trust me. See, you are ok.” I was petrified, but felt safe grasping to her and with her strong presence by my little side.
And then. The game changed.
She proceeded to hold me tight and dunked us under the water without warning..
Seconds felt like an eternity.. I wanted out, I was drowning, the rug had been pulled, “us” being in the water together, shifted into ‘me’ feeling desolence and abandoned. I held my breath in the sheer terror, not knowing how long she would hold me under.. I squirmed trying to free myself to breath again..
Finally, up we came.
I think I screamed. Probably for my mother’s arms.
What came of this? I look back and realize this woman had the fully fledged intention of showing me I could survive going under. However, what was accomplished was very different for me.
Without knowing it, my perception of the world shifted that day.
“Adults are not trustworthy.”
“Just when I feel safe, the rug gets pulled.”
“Life is chaotic and unpredictable.”
“I’m not safe.”
These filters we see the world through, created for one reason, can persist for others. Yet, while they may have had meaning in the past, in a single moment of fear or trauma, there is a point when they no longer serve us.
“Adults are not trustworthy.” Not only does not serve me, it is not true for the majority of adults.
“Life is chaotic and unpredictable.” Is a great belief if I were a ninja. However, when I desire solace and peace, it is limiting.
The brilliance of these beliefs is that we take them with us, consciously or not, to keep us safe. The limit of them is that they eventually keep us small, keep us from blooming fully and keep us looping in predictable patterns.
Thinking back to the first fearful experience you can remember. What beliefs did you take away that day? Write them down.
Are these beliefs true today? Do you they serve the mission of your Highest Self? What becomes possible without them?
By Laurel Elders, PCC
IICT Founder / Senior Faculty