I Can Swim If I Have To...
I have always had a fear of deep water. If it reaches my chest, I can not breathe. I literally feel like I can't expand my lungs. So all of my life I have used the negative phrase "I can't swim." Many people have tried to teach me but I was not receptive. I even took swimming lessons at 4H Camp but I did not learn anything. On the last day the students were to jump off the diving board. When I learned our final task, I turned around and went back to my cabin. I always stay in the shallow water. I might wade around a little bit but I am completely satisfied sunbathing near the edge of the water. I prefer it this way ever since I nearly drowned when I was younger. Let me tell you about this horrifying, near death experience.
This is the way my memory recorded this traumatic event from my youth. I was about 13 or 14 and on a trip to Pointe Mallard in Decatur, AL with my church youth group, aka my best friends. Several of us were floating on floats in the wave pool while the waves were turned off. I was sure to stay near the edge of the pool so I could grab the side if I needed to. I guess I had become too comfortable and unaware of my surroundings when something terrible happened. I'm not real sure what it was that happened. I don't want to think that someone pushed me over. Maybe some people were goofing around near me and knocked me over accidentally. The waves may have started up but I don't know if they were strong enough to tip over my float. Either way, I was flipping and completely unprepared to go under water. My eyes, ears, nose, and mouth were all open and I was probably screaming or gasping during submersion. All I could see around me were feet and legs. Billions of feet and legs. I do recall grabbing some random legs to try to pull myself up. In response, this person kicked wildly, scaring me away. I then remember seeing my float above me. I grabbed one corner and tried to pull it under the water so I could get on it. It took a while for me to realize that I could pull myself up onto the float but eventually I did. I couldn't see or hear or breathe. I was choking uncontrollably. I could vaguely make out a blurry lifeguard sitting in his chair not 3 feet away from me. I lifted my hand as high off the float as I could (about 3 inches) to get his attention and I choked out the word "help". I know I asked him for help about 5 times before I gave up. He was looking right at me so I know he heard me. I guess he saw no danger although I was pretty sure I needed CPR. I finally grabbed the side of the pool and used my hands to pull myself and my float along the side until I reached the shallow end and walked out. With trembling hands and a shaky voice I retold my horror story to my friends and they said the water was only like 4 foot deep there and the whole incident lasted less than 5 seconds. Well, I'll never ever believe that the water was only 4 ft deep. No way. But I have heard that you can drown in an inch of water.
Looking back, I realize that I had repeated the phrase "I can't swim" so often that when faced with an emergency I couldn't even come up with a plan to save my life. The only information I could retrieve from my brain was my subconscious mind screaming "I can't swim! There is nothing I can do! No need to try!" I couldn't even clear my mind enough to remember any encouraging words such as relax and float. I couldn't remember where the top of the pool was. This negative self talk had formed my very strong belief and my subconscious brain made it my reality. That is why I have changed this negative phrase into a positive affirmation. I must be able to save myself if a similar situation were to happen.
I know that I actually could learn to swim. If swimming were a priority, a good place to start making changes would be by repeating an inspiring affirmation such as "Swimming comes naturally to me" or "I make swimming look effortless." Then I would need to take additional steps such as dedicating myself to swimming lessons. But this isn't really on my priority list. There are many other areas of my life I want to focus on changing first. Since we can't actually fool our subconscious, there is no reason for me to recite an affirmation that I don't believe in. Instead I am going to start saying "I can swim if I have to." That ought to stop my panic and remind me to relax and float if I find myself in danger again.
I am trying to cut out all negative self talk but just like in this instance, I still catch myself doing it at times. Is there a negative phrase that you often repeat which could actually be harming you or holding you back? Many times we are blocking blessings and great opportunities by becoming a prisoner of our untrue "beliefs".