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  • Writer's pictureNadine Bennett

Confidence part 1: working your fears

Updated: Jun 24, 2023

This year, I'm working towards new goals and taking on my longest swim yet. You can read more about that here if you like. It's become an opportunity to document how I prepare myself for longer swims, and to share what I'm learning along the way in case my practices and experiences help others in their own swimming.

I've decided to tackle the subject of confidence this week, just ahead of my first swim of the season this coming Saturday. Tonight, let's talk about fear.

I'll let you in on a secret: I'm a little scared before pretty much every swim.

That's right, scared. I'm a planner, an over-thinking, a worrier, give me a scenario and I'll go down every rabbit hole imaginable trying to think of what might go wrong with it. It serves my project management work life brilliantly, but my personal life not so much.

And it's a hard thing to talk about, I've learned that if you openly admit you have fear, you're vulnerable to others who might judge you. Then there's the usual unsolicited advice:

- Nadine if you don't conquer your fears, you'll never find success

- Nadine if you're not more positive, you'll never be a winner

- Nadine if you just believe more, your dreams will come true

But what if I'm not actually the problem, and what if fighting how my brain works just makes things harder for me, makes me feel bad about myself for wanting to think it all through?

This past couple of years, I've reflected a lot about who I am, how my brain works, what I need to be my best person. Why not work with who I am, instead of against myself?

I no longer try to push fear down, or pretend it's not real. Instead, I face it, write it down, examine it, expose it. And once fear is exposed, laid out for examination, I can work it, figure out where it's coming from, what it means, and whether I can do anything about it.

This is how I regain control and confidence in tough situations, I use this approach as a way to redirect my thinking, and turn problems into workable plans. I look at my fears for things I can do something about, and learn to give myself over to things I can't control even if I tried.

I shared the list with my coach last year when I first wrote it, we talked about it, I asked for advice, I listened to her perspective. Talking it through also helped cement my confidence in my own abilities, in my training, in myself. I carry the list with my training plan, check things off, highlight things I'm working on, come back to it every once in awhile to see my progress. And I find my confidence grows each time I think about these fears.

So here's my fear list, my "fear training", if you will...

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