How to Fight Fear with Fearlessness
Fear is a powerful thing. Fear is paralyzing; it binds our hands, narrows our vision and imagination, and prevents us from reaching our true potential. With such an enemy, accomplishing our life goals seems truly a daunting task. At least, that is what I thought until Diana Nyad proved it all wrong.
Diana Nyad tried to swim all the way from Cuba to Florida when she was 28 years old. Due to high winds and oversized waves, her attempt was aborted. A few years later, she decides to try it again.
So what is the big deal?
It is actually 33 years later. She is now 61 years old. Nyad casually reflects on her decision, “One day I was driving, after a long swim, and I stopped and looked hard in the rearview mirror. And I said to myself: ‘This is one dream I actually could go back and achieve.’” No big deal. In fact, she insists she is in even better shape than she was 30 years ago.
Let’s take a few steps back and get the full view: Diana Nyad is a 61 year old woman who wants to attempt a 60 hour, 103 mile swim through shark-infested, ocean waters – without a shark cage (maybe she has never watched Shark Week). If this is not the definition of fearlessness, I don’t know what is.
Diana has overcome fear of injury, fear of death by shark attack, and fear of failure. It makes my fear of standing on my hands in the middle of the room or launching a new direction in my jewelry business seem insignificant. When asked her secret to defeating doubt Nyad says, “If you want to touch the other shore badly enough, barring an impossible situation, you will. If your desire is diluted for any reason, you’ll never make it.” It makes sense. Her will and desire is so strong there is no room for fear. She has created a goal and holds it so close doubt can never catch hold.
Diana attempted the swim from Cuba to Florida for the second time this summer, but after 29 hours she had to be pulled from the sea. Her struggle to complete the swim was complicated by extreme shoulder pain and hours of asthma that culminated in a life threatening asthma attack. She ended her swim short because she had to, not at all because she was afraid.
Diana’s courage has been a major inspiration for me. Life’s little worries and setbacks seem less a discouraging and more like stepping stones. If I keep my intentions close and my eyes focused on my goals, I know I can ward off feelings of doubt and fear. I can accomplish anything I want to. But I still think sharks are pretty scary.
I would love to hear how you have overcome fear in your life. Tell me in the comments below.
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