What do you want to do with your diving and where will it take you? More importantly, how will you stay out of your own way when seizing all the opportunities in scuba diving?!
Maybe your ambition is to become an instructor and help other people to learn to scuba dive. Perhaps you are keen to work hard on your skills to achieve technical proficiency and participate in exciting, exploratory diving. Alternatively, you want to inspire people and support communities to appreciate and protect the ocean environment. Or you simply want to take good care of your health and emotional wellbeing by getting into the blue whenever humanly possible!
Strangely sometimes, the more we want something, the harder it is to take action. Psychological barriers, like fear of failure or feelings of not being enough, can often build up just at the time we attempt to move forward. Have you ever felt unable to act in the face of a situation where you want to make a difference? Here’s what you can do to get moving again and seize opportunities in scuba diving…
Look at your mind, does it ever try to talk you out doing the things you want to do?
“Don’t even try, you are not good enough, why bother, you’ll probably fail, it won’t make a difference…..“.
That’s because the human mind is a naturally cautious entity. Its job is to protect the human it belongs to, and it will say anything to keep you safe. When they aren’t doing that, they distract us from everyday life by telling stories, daydreaming and worrying.
Occasionally minds are right, so it’s important to notice what they say. But that doesn’t mean we have to act on everything they tell us. We would not get very far if we did! Step back from the mind chatter and the important stuff comes back into view.
Focus on what matters.
Life above the surface is filled with many pressures and distractions. Your attention is being pushed and pulled all of the time, and this can make it hard to concentrate on what really matters. Periodically take time to think about what really matters to you in your diving and focus efforts there.
Especially over your expectations of the outcome of your efforts. Focus on doing the work and let the rest take care of itself. This is especially true when learning new skills. With limited time or resources it’s tempting to look for a quick fix to gain perfect buoyancy skills, for example. But the fact is, that just is not how human learning works. Being uncomfortable is part of learning, because experiencing the challenge is what stimulates growth.
But don’t be too hard on yourself either
Because, when you do the things that mean the most to you, it’s going to hurt! If what matters to you are the lives of ocean creatures and the health of our seas, connecting with what is happening is going to be painful. It’s frustrating and sad to see the things you love destroyed, marine life entangled in nets or beaches strewn with litter. Sometimes it’s hard not to drown in all that destruction. This reaction is human. Be kind to yourself.
Then, take action!
No matter how small, it can have an impact.
Diving presents endless opportunities to do what matters. You can choose to connect with aspects of the underwater world that mean the most to you. You can develop yourself as a diver bit-by-bit. Along the way you may even influence other people and make an impact on your environment.
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.