Busting beliefs to sail on

April 3, 2017

After my first solo sail at Leven Yacht Club, a mate said to me afterwards “I kept watching you and thinking ‘stay away from those bad rocks and the beach.’ You were getting pretty close”. I made a lame joke of it and said “Well I am a Badrock, so I guess it makes sense to want to hang out with other bad rocks. Besides I wasn’t that close.” Or was I? How would I know? I hadn’t sailed before.

Later I found myself wondering what I’d been thinking as I was sailing. Well that was obvious; “how do I get the boat to go that way?!?” But what other underlying thoughts were there? “You don’t want to go out to far.” “Yep you’ve been in this spot before so you know it’s safe.” Without me consciously knowing it my unconscious had being keeping me close to the shore.
 
Question: What am I believing about myself to be doing this?
Answer: I believe it’s not safe for me to be sailing.
 
Next Question: Is this a useful belief for me to have?
Answer: No, because I’d like to go sailing. This belief will continually be limiting me. 

We run our world according to our beliefs. For example when people believed the world was flat they didn’t want to explore too far in case they fell off the edge. Then people started to notice things that didn't fit this belief. For example the way the moon and sun were round, did this make sense that the Earth was too? When a lunar eclipse happened, how come the shadow on the moon from the Earth was round? Shouldn’t it be flat? Things didn't make sense. Then people set about finding answers to these questions. This in turn busted the belief that the Earth was flat.

This is a similar thing to what I was noticing. Things weren’t adding up. Yes a little bit of worry is OK because it’s not natural as a human to feel totally safe and ecstatic about floating on a nutshell in the ocean. But it didn’t make sense for me to become so worried, scared and frightened. Sailing isn’t exactly a new thing. It's been going on for thousands of years. Other people have survived this activity and actually found it enjoyable and fun. There’s new technology and equipment to make sailing safe. Boats are designed better. We have better equipment to tell us what the weather conditions are going to be. I logically knew all these things but still had this fear. I also knew that the thrill, challenge and excitement of sailing would motivate me to want to change this limiting belief.
 
Next question: What needs to happen for me to feel safe sailing?
Answer: I need to learn how to swim. I also need to make sure those sea serpents, giant squids and other strange creatures of the deep can’t get me (huh, where did that come from???).
 
In case you haven’t guessed I can’t swim (yet). To be accurate up until about 3 weeks ago I couldn’t swim. For the last 3 weeks I’ve been heading to the beach about 5 times a week to teach myself how to swim. I can now swim about 10m. Yes this is taking some determination, focus and lots of practice but I know it’ll be worth it. So that’s fixing the first part of that answer.

Now onto the second part. When the thought and images of all those scary creatures of the deep popped into my head I didn’t really know what was going on. Quite clearly I would love to delete this section of my BLOG to appear as a sane, mature adult of the world but I’m leaving it in here to show you how the mind works (yes, that’s right yours to). When I was a kid I remember watching a lot of David Attenborough docos featuring weird, alien ocean creatures. I could never figure out how they functioned and was shocked and alarmed by all the bizarre ways they would behave. This combined with stories my brothers used to tell me about the mysterious happenings in the Bermuda Triangle plus my very vivid imagination created a belief that there are definitely a lot of strange things in the ocean to be scared, frightened and alarmed about. I’m actually not too bothered by sharks by the way, it's just my imaginary creations that cause a bit of grief.

I hadn’t realised I had this belief until I started sailing about a month ago. This is because our unconscious forms our beliefs. Beliefs are formed from different life experiences, knowledge and people around us. It made sense for the younger me to form this belief based on my life experiences and knowledge I had at the time. Just like how you might have believed in Santa as a kid. It was a logical belief to have at the time but then you get new knowledge and experiences which allow you to believe something else and run your world differently.

The unconscious runs our beliefs because if we had to think about all our beliefs we'd get overloaded with information. The belief about sea serpents and giant squids hadn’t bothered me growing up because I’d never been in a situation where I had become aware of it. Growing up I didn't go on boats, go snorkeling or swim in deep water. I was always happy to splash around in shallow water but because I couldn’t swim I didn’t go out too far. I had always thought it was not being able to swim that had kept me from going out further. My mind was happy because I was staying in shallow water and away from those dangerous creatures. I was living within the belief I had. The belief was keeping me safe, which is what the unconscious wanted. This was until I started sailing.

Busting the belief

So now I knew that I had this belief what did I do to bust it? Writing about it helped me realise how irrational it was and that there was a lot of evidence stacked against it. Talking to other sailors about what creatures they’d seen (seals and fish, surprise surprise) was more evidence that there wasn’t many alarming, bizarre creatures out there. Also going swimming in the ocean with my goggles and remembering the times I’d gone snorkeling helped me realise that I’d actually been in deeper water and there wasn’t a lot down there. Talking and laughing about it with a couple of mates also helped. Then they shared some of their irrational fears which made me feel better.

What does this means for you?

Think of something you'd really like to do in your life but you know something is holding you back. Or notice a time when you go to do something and find yourself feeling worried and apprehensive. Then ask yourself: 

  1. What am I believing to have this response?

  2. Is this belief helping me?

  3. What would be a better belief for me to have?

  4. What needs to happen for me to believe this?

This will help bust your limiting belief.

P.S. A little bit of info about this picture. Yes it is a legit trophy won in a legit race. Isaac and I won "Best Catamaran on Field" in the Burnie Round Hill Classic. I'm told it still counts if you're the only catamaran in the fleet haha. After all we had to finish the race which was an achievement given my skill level and calm conditions (catamarans are better when there's more wind). It was a good opportunity to have a go at steering (or is it called helming?). Go on the trapeze which is when you're attached to a wire and stand with your feet on the edge of the boat and kinda balance on the side. Plus learn from lots and lots of mistakes :) So glad I've changed that limiting belief. Get out there and change yours!

 

Something to think about...

 

"Fear is not your enemy. It is a compass pointing you to the areas where you need to grow."
- Steve Pavina

 

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