Decisions In Stress
This week I learned that stress can be comparable to scuba diving; which I did for the first time this week. I went around 8 meters/24 feet in-depth, good enough for a beginner like me who is scared of deep water and can’t swim. I was nervous but I tried to relax and think of the beautiful animals I was going to be able to see if I overcame my fear.
I got excited when I saw the first group of fish and breathing the air from my equipment through my mouth became more natural. We kept going deeper and I was fascinated about this new world. Suddenly, some water started to filter through my goggles and I could not see anything anymore. I panicked, I did not know what to do and told the instructor with my hands that I wanted to go to the surface immediately. My heart was pounding and my breath quickened. At some point in my panic, I realized that I was still breathing and that I was not going to die. This calmed me and I remembered I should not go up so quickly, because rapid ascension can be harmful or deadly. I waited patiently while the instructor helped me to go up and I could finally take the water out of my eyes.
Reflecting on this experience, I noticed that I can apply it to similar situations in my everyday life. I’m scared when something feels uncomfortable, unusual or painful. It is crucial to have an inner checklist in times of panic that give me an accurate assessment of how harmful this situation actually is. The literal fact of knowing I’m not going to die opens my mind to think of other thoughts and notice resources I previously overlooked which can help find a definite solution.
Whether it is a problem at work with a customer or being in a sketchy situation on my walk home, making an accurate internal assessment to see if I’m breathing now is the most important response I can have. The danger might still be very real, but making decisions knowing I’m still breathing is much safer than making survival-based decisions when I have no capacity to think of the possible consequences.