Inspired by a recent documentary about a Finish freediver Johanna Nordblad who used freediving as a rehabilitation method to condition her injured leg, I finally got my Freediving certification. Freediving is a fascinating concept about developing an inner power, discipline, and control while being ‘without air [Apnea]’ under water for as long as possible. Breathing correctly is critical. Whilst it seems totally natural, breathing is actually a complicated process. A freediver manages a combination of long breath holds, aiming to lower the heartbeat, completely relax and conserve energy, while balancing the body’s primary urge and desire to breathe, and risking a blackout under water. To do this successfully it is also about tricking your mind, identifying the true urge of breathing – often manifests itself as a burning sensation in upper portions of the chest or in the form of contractions/convulsions of the diaphragm. Despite these feelings, which can be overwhelming and unnerving, these are only signs that the levels of CO2 in the bloodstream are increasing and there is still plenty of usable oxygen remaining in the system. The ability to recognize the personal limits and tolerance to increased carbon dioxide levels – identify ‘fake’ versus true urge to breath – is something that will be developed overtime and with practice ultimately resulting in increased dive times by training the body to tolerate higher levels of CO2. If fear is overtaking and panic sets in, 67% of the oxygen supply can be used up. Therefore, it’s in the freediver’s best interest to control any raising fear and be happy. A challenging endeavour, controlling upcoming survival fears and overruling flight-or-fight responses with the emotional brain, allowing the body to relax and enjoy the experience.
We can be conditioned to fear, and fear can vary between gender, age, geography, cultural background, and personal, childhood experiences. 4-5% of the western population is suffering from one or more clinically significant phobias in a given year. In a recent crowed-sourced Yahoo survey, the top 10 most commonly cited fears are certainly relatable to many, including Acrophobia (heights), Arachnophobia (spiders), Claustrophobia (enclosed spaces), Thalassophobia (deep water), Necrophobia (death) and Glossophobia (public speaking).
Many fears we experience in our life are not survival threats and do not necessarily have life threatening consequences but are based on self-fabricated situations, irrational narratives, believes and thoughts causing simple fears to fail or to succeed and hindering us to express and experience our full potential.
Let’s take Perfectionism, in the psychology described as a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting high performance standards, accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations. A personality trait often found in athletes, top performers and leaders, who are entering in a mental game of having high expectations and try to be perfect, want to look and feel good, but have lack of confidence and trust in the environment, fear of other judgements, of losing respect from others, of making mistakes, letting others down and embarrass themselves. The fear of failure (or even fear of success – not being able to duplicate a breakthrough) is either pushing them to try too hard or more often prevents them from taking actions and giving it a go.
Rationally we all would agree, nothing will ever be perfect, no matter how much we try. By setting expectation to achieve perfectionism, it is setting us up for failure. Expectations are feeding fears and our emotional brain does not override the initial flight-or-fight responses, consequently a lot of opportunities will be limited and even lost. Perfectionism is killing the creativity and performance. By accepting and making peace with imperfection, it is taking off the fear to fail and is setting us free to breath, think and act rationally, with control and inner power. To rewire our brain to identify fake threats and change the narratives is not easy but effective in the long run. You will be able to freedive to the deepest waters with joy every day– and be the best version of yourself!
‘Have no fear of perfection – you will never reach it’ [Salvador Dali]
Author: Barbara Meister, Transformation Lead, Executive Coach at ‘4iGroup’, NED at ‘Share The Spark’
Part 2 of Series ‘Be the Best Version of Yourself – Be the Best You!’