Does the fear of sharks make you feel nervous and freak you out so bad that you have to get out of the water?
What if you could surf without fear of sharks holding you back from having fun and enjoying the waves?
Close calls, seeing a shark or hearing someone getting bitten or killed by a shark can leave such strong emotional that you can’t relax in the water and enjoy surfing.
I call these mental scars that can come back to haunt you over and over again.
As you read through this article you’ll discover one simple and easy techniques you can use today to overcome fear of sharks.
MENTAL SCARS & EMOTIONAL LINKS
Remember Ivan Pavlov’s famous dog feeding experience from psychology class?
Every time he would give food to the dogs he’d ring a bell. After doing that for multiple times he would just ring the bell without giving any food.
The dogs would start to salivate from the ringing of the bell because they had been conditioned through repetition to expect food when the bell was rung.
Human brain is programmed to avoid pain and seek for pleasure so it learns to avoid the negative things.
This works with us humans too and it also works reversed.
If you fall enough times trying a trick move or maneuver or you freak yourself out in the water with your thoughts of sharks you end up creating a mental link between a negative emotion and a trigger.
If the emotional impact of just one time event like in this case a shark attack is strong enough it creates a mental link between the recorded memory of the incident and the massive emotional surge that came with it.
After you recover from the incident and go back to surf the mental link is still there, pulling back not necessarily the memories but the feeling of fear and panic.
PAST & FUTURE INNER DEMONS
I’m sure you too have seen a fin pop up in the water and the first thing your mind says is “Was that a shark or a dolphin? That fin was round, not sharp, right?!”
Then for the rest of the surf session you can’t get it out of your mind, you’re unable to focus and you end up underperforming or freezing.
Your mind might go into the past and remember a time when you had a close call, or saw someone get attached for instance.
Or your mind might go into the future, the “What if I get bitten?” and see all the worst case scenarios that might happen.
And again your surf session is ruined and you can’t make yourself relax and enjoy surfing.
DIRECTING YOUR FOCUS
Here’s an easy method how you can consciously direct your focus in the right place so you don’t freak yourself out and can enjoy your surf session.
If you choose to be in your head while surfing and you think of your past, remind yourself all the amazing surf sessions and good memories when you felt confident.
Or if you think of the future, imagine all the great things you’ll achieve in surfing. Imagine yourself surfing at a level you want to be and how confident you feel doing that.
Stay focused in the present by studying the nature around you through your 5 senses. Listen to the sounds of the waves, the birds, anything you can hear. You can even count how many different things you hear.
Notice the different kinesthetic feelings like the feeling of the water against your wetsuit or skin, the feeling of the board under your fingers and feet. Notice the taste in your mouth and the different smells.
This will help you ground yourself in the present.
SIMPLE METHOD TO ERASE MENTAL LINKS
I’m going to show you one method that you can use to quickly overcome and cut the link between a trigger of a negative emotional event.
I call this method “PullOut” because you are literally pulling yourself out of the negative memory.
In most injury related memories and close calls which leave performance sabotaging mental scars you have a mental image (a memory) of the situation where you see it through your own eyes.
Step 1. Bring Up The Memory
Just for a second, I’d like you to recall an event or thoughts about getting freaked out in the water.
I’m guessing you don’t see yourself in that memory but you see it through your own eyes.
And this is exactly why thinking about that memory brings up all the emotions back up again and makes you doubt your abilities, hesitate and underperform.
Step 2. Disassociate – Pull Out
Instead of seeing the memory through your own eyes, now imagine seeing the same situation instead seeing it from a third person perspective.
We humans were giving this amazing tool called imagination where we can recreate memories like artists. Try how the memory feels when you watch it as if someone was filming you in that situation.
This may already be enough to unlink the feeling from the memory so when what ever it is triggers you to relive the event, now it’s just another memory with no negative emotions attached to it.
Now pull out even further so you can see yourself from 100 feet away, 200, 500, one mile away and all the way from the other side of the ocean so you can’t see yourself any longer.
Step 3. Repeat
Next I’d like you to repeat 3-7 times the disassociation step. Seeing it through your own eyes and then as if you’re looking at it from further away from a third persons point of view.
Step 4. Test
How do you feel now thinking about the the event that you picked up for this exercise? If you don’t feel anything at all congratulations!
Next I’d like you to go surf and see how you feel. You can do this exercise while in the water as well.
Of course this doesn’t make shark attack any less likely but what it does is help you feel relaxed and enjoy surfing without being terrorized by fear.
If you are still struggling, contact me and I’ll personally help you overcome what’s left of the anxiety.