Do you remember your first dive? Maybe you were excited,nervous, or even a bit scared. However you felt, it was a new experience for you. Taking the plunge took confidence. As a human, you have always known you are not capable of breathing underwater. It is a fact. Humans cannot breathe underwater. Except, we can and we do!
Scuba divers have the confidence to breathe underwater. But what is confidence, and can diving really affect it?
Diving takes and makes confidence
People often think that to be confident means that you are not afraid. It doesn’t. The word “confidence” means “with faith”. So having confidence means to do something with faith in yourself. Everything you do (and don’t do) has an impact on the image you have of yourself and your abilities.
Learning to scuba dive might have been something you never dreamed you could do! For you to find that out that it was possible took confidence, because you had to trust your abilities. That one leap into the unknown creates a shift in perspective that can completely change how you see yourself:
“if I can breathe underwater, what else could I do?”
Scuba diving shatters the limits
People create limits. Some limits are useful, such as maximum depths for specific qualifications and no decompression limits. Or choosing to set personal limits and dive conservatively, which may be helpful to ensure safety. But some limits are less useful. Psychological limits that are built to protect a person, at one time, later become barriers that get in the way of development. These barriers are often fixed beliefs about ability and personal traits. For example, have you ever thought “I’m good at this, I’m not good at that”, or “someone like me can’t do this”. It is possible to get tangled up in these barriers!
The things we do as scuba divers have the potential to put a lot of pressure on this fixed way of thinking about ability. Learning to dive is challenging, and rising to challenge is essential for growth. It can sometimes break into those fixed beliefs and demonstrate that you can develop ability and change what you do. Whether that is increasing your strength, understanding the physics of scuba diving, or perhaps the fundamental realisation that you are capable of learning!
“I can’t do that”, becomes “I can’t do that YET!”.
When you understand that skills can be learning through training and practice, the limits that are shattered are the barriers you had placed on yourself.
Scuba diving demands confidence
Learning to dive means taking a leap that you may never have taken before: A giant stride! But it can also be a source to grow in confidence and can shift your whole perspective on who you think you are and what you believe you are capable of doing.
You are a diver, you can breathe underwater! Be confident.
Dr Laura Walton is a Clinical Psychologist and PADI IDC Staff Instructor with a fascination for the psychology of diving. Visit scubapsyche to learn more about our behaviour as divers.