You’ve probably learned that your thinking creates your experience. I believe it. I’ve seen countless times how the energy of my thoughts not only crafted my life experience, but affected everything around me.
Several years ago, I was learning to scuba dive in the Bahamas. On the second day with my instructor, I was still awestruck by the beauty at the bottom of the ocean. The beautiful coral, the spectacular array of sea creatures, and the vastness of the sea - it was just incredible. And I could see it all because I was breathing under water! It was unbelievable. I remembered my childhood television hero, Jacques Cousteau, and could hear his beautiful French accent as his melodic voice played in my head eloquently describing the breathtaking underwater scene that enveloped me.
We were diving near a large coral reef when a brightly colored school of fish silently glided by, followed by a trio of six-to-eight-foot reef sharks. I watched with amazement and noted the group was only about ten feet away from me.
Whaaat? The sharks were only ten feet away from ME!
In a flash, the theme from JAWS started playing in my head as did each brutal, bloody scene from every single shark movie I've ever seen. And I’ve seen a lot. The tempo of the music increased and as I became completely terrified, one shark broke away from the group and began circling me. I could see the shark's dead eyes staring through me and I became even more horrified. Captain Quint’s famous line in JAWS flooded back to me, “You know the thing about a shark, he's got... lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll's eye.” It’s true.
As the shark got closer, I was forced to drop down on my belly between two coral shelves where I was trapped. I was breathing hard and using up oxygen fast when I realized there was at least 50 feet of ocean straight up between me and the boat. The more scared I was, the faster my heartbeat, the more aggressive the shark became. I remembered sharks could sense fear and were drawn to any creature that gave off "victim" vibes.
Even in full panic, a small voice inside me realized I have to calm down.
I forced myself to breathe deep and slow. I began to repeat "I am safe, I am safe, I am safe" over and over in my mind. As I felt my body start to relax and my heartbeat returned to normal, the shark began to lose interest. As I completely relaxed and became calm, it suddenly turned and swam away.
What a gift I received that day! I witnessed, in real time, how my thoughts immediately influenced my experience. This is when I realized how dramatically our external world reflects our internal chatter. When I was thinking victim thoughts, I was actively stalked by a real shark. When I consciously changed my thoughts to “I am safe,” the shark left.
The best part of this story? You don’t need to be stalked by a shark to get the message. Your thoughts create your reality.
Thanks for the life lesson, Mr. Shark.