On our recent surf trip, my middle grom was scared, of “the huge waves, the rocks, and the sharks!” So, quite scared!
How did I help him overcome those fears?
One step, or stroke, at a time. We got specific about each fear, what we were really scared of, and how likely it was to happen. We discussed what he had experienced before. Have we surfed waves that big before, or similar, anywhere as heavy? Heavier? Have we surfed anywhere else rocky? Where? What happened? Anywhere sharky? How did we go? We acknowledged his competences, built some natural confidence based upon them, and then some inner confidence, by imagining him getting a wave, and changing his inner voice and his body posture.
And then, we took another action, a small step towards overcoming his fears, we paddled out together, and sat wide, in the channel.
We got a better look and understanding of the situation. We watched and learnt from others, what they were doing, where they were sitting, paddling in, taking off, and where the rocks were. We discussed what challenges he may have, and how he would react if they happened.
Once he was comfortable, he took the next step, and paddled into a wave. He missed the first one, and returned to the channel sharpish, dodging the set.
The next one he went for, he took off on. He shot off down the line, cutting back in and throwing some spray, and paddled back to me with a huge grin on his face.
You do not have to be a big wave surfer to be scared, all of us have different levels of competency and confidence, and find fear different situations, in surfing and in life. We can overcome it by facing it head up, getting specific about what we are afraid of, figuring out what is likely to happen (not the worst case scenario), understanding our competencies, and then taking 1 action, 1 step, at a time. Then we reflect back, see what happened, gain a new understanding, and then with that new knowledge, take another step, and repeat. When we face our fears, and view them as opportunities to learn, have new experiences and gain new competencies, we can progress.
In my son’s case, it took all of 15 minutes for him to go from, “I am not going in” to telling me where I should sit so I’d catch more waves!
The student overcame his fear and became the master!