Do you remember the game show “Fear Factor?” In each episode, the contestants would undertake a series of daring stunts to win the big prize.

One of the acts of the show had caught my fancy. The act required the participants to swim inside a steel cage with a group of ferocious sharks. The freight amongst the contestants was palpable but they managed to complete the task successfully. Almost a year after the episode was aired, I came across a sign of the shark diving adventure while visiting a marine water park. You had to be inside a cage below the water surface, with a group of sharks swimming around freely. I remembered the participants of Fear Factor rejoining after completing the task successfully. 

While all the safety precautions were in place and the instructing divers were keeping a close watch, I was in a dilemma. I too wanted to do it, but there was a small problem. I did not know how to swim. I had never gone down deep, below the surface of the water. Even after going through an elaborate security briefing, my initial representation of partaking in the experience was that of fear. I started wondering “what if I drown?”, “what if the sharks attack me?”, “what would I do if I needed help?”. I stood outside the booking booth frozen in thought. I was struggling to gather the courage to go ahead. Few minutes passed by. Frustrated, I asked myself “What can I do to get over this fear?” The first thing that I did was to get answers to my questions from the diving instructor. I shared my concerns with him, and he patiently addressed each one of them.

After listening to the answers, I imagined myself in the cage, with a group of sharks swimming outside. I recollected how the participants in the TV show were overjoyed after the task. I imagined myself coming out of the experience perfectly safe and thrilled. The visualization helped me to overcome my fear and I went ahead with the dare. I live to say that it was an amazing experience. I will remember it for the rest of my life. And more importantly, it helped me overcome my fear to a large extent.

Did I experience fear while I was in the cage underwater?

Absolutely! I had never been more scared before. As soon as the cage went underwater, I had panicked. I struggled to hold my breath and had to come to the surface frequently to take in some air. It was difficult for me to hold still underwater as I couldn’t swim. The initial few minutes were tormenting. But I persisted.

What helped me go on?

I kept my eyes closed for the initial few minutes. I not only wanted to survive at that moment but also savor the experience. I realized that I could do that only if I was calm inside. I closed my eyes so that I could calm myself down. Once I felt I was ok, I opened my eyes. There they were – three large majestic sharks swimming around my cage. It was amazing!

Have you struggled with fear? The next time you feel afraid, remember to close your eyes and take few deep breaths. Once you feel calm, open your eyes and face your fear head-on.

P.S. If you would like to know more about the effects of fear and how to conquer it, take a look at my book Maximum Results. You will benefit from it.

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