Eleven miles off the coast of southern California, a man is submerged in water. His hands are tied behind his back and his ankles are bound together. It’s dark and the water is cold. His life is in imminent danger. He has one objective: to survive.
He has been trained extensively for this exact situation. He knows what to do, but every muscle in his body wants to do the opposite. Impulses of fear are flashing through his mind and are resulting in uncontrollable twitches. In his mind he consciously knows he is under water, but his lungs instinctively want to gasp for air. He knows he needs to conserve energy, yet his body desperately wants to thrash around violently seeking freedom.
This man is an elite US Marine in training to become a US Navy SEAL at Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL (BUD/s) training facility in Coronado, California. He is participating in a training program called “drownproofing.”
As a coach and a friend, I often hear others describe their life as overwhelming. They use words like “drowning” or feelings of “being under water.” Understandably, with the modern stresses of life, it is common for many to feel this way. Perhaps you feel this way at times.
Here are a couple of techniques that Navy SEALS use when they feel like they are drowning. I think you will find it relevant to your life:
Step 1: Acknowledge the Situation
Ignoring the situation will not help. Putting your head in the sand is not an effective survival method. Open your eyes, look around, and take it in.
Step 2: Embrace the Fear
Fear can be paralyzing or, like pain, can let you know you are still alive. Fear is a great motivator if we harness the energy behind it.
Step 3: Sharpen Your Focus
Often the result of embracing fear, a heightened sense of focus will allow you to see solutions that once eluded you.
Step 4: Keep Going and Survive
Never give up. Keep moving, keep going, keep trying. The solution is often just beyond what you thought was possible. It may seem obvious, but survival is paramount. Do not let any other objective distract you.
Step 5: Thrive
Once out of imminent danger, what has been learned through the experience makes you stronger, faster, and more resilient in the next challenge. From fear comes growth. Through growth, we thrive.
The US Marine acknowledges the situation. He embraces the fear. He sharpens his focus. He does what he has to do stay alive. He learns and becomes stronger and more ready for the next challenge.
He will survive. He will thrive. What about you?