I am a big believer that fear is not necessarily a bad thing. Feeling fear makes us know we are in dangerous situations. Sometimes these fears are physical, sometimes they are emotional and sometimes they are simply mental. The older I get, the more I want to challenge myself to push through fear and not allow it to interfere with my life.
When I was younger I never struggled with claustrophobia. However, as I have aged, it has really become something I deal with on a regular basis. I don't like feeling as if there isn't a way out. Tight spaces cause me to panic. For some reason, I thought scuba diving was going to make me feel claustrophobic.
I took a trip to Sandals in Antigua to challenge myself to another 49 Before 50 NEW experience. They are world famous for their scuba diving and it was time to work through this. I began with a video that went through a review of what I was going to learn and the anxiety kicked it. I worried about breathing underwater with the tank and when we got into the pool (with very shallow water I might add), I did not feel confident in my ability to actually participate in a dive in the ocean. The instructor worked with me and felt certain that I would be successful in a shallow water dive.
We took a short boat ride out to a ship-wreck that was about 25 feet below the water. I focused on my breathing and telling myself I could do this the entire way to the site. My equipment was strapped on, I jumped in as instructed but I could not lower myself down the rope. I would get down a few feet and panic, popping back up to the surface.
I had a quiet conversation with myself and attempted it head first by pulling myself down the line. I concentrated on the rhythm of my breath -- "inhale, exhale-glub glub glub, inhale, exhale, glub glub glub." Once I listed to this, I was able to surrender enough to do the dive.
This experience taught me that facing fear isn't always about tackling it aggressively. This one was about surrendering.