I think a common misconception when people see higher level big wave surfers is that they don’t have fear. I have fear sometimes, but because I am so concerned about keeping my mental state strong I almost don’t even allow myself to acknowledge it. It’s not that I have a big ego and don’t want to say that I am afraid sometimes, it’s that I don’t even want to hear myself saying that, because I am already thinking two months from now when and I’m in a situation and I am alone.
I’m not going to sit around here and do a hundred interviews and talk about how I get scared sometimes. It’s so important to protect and control your mental state. So, yes, on big days I have a ton of adrenaline, a ton of anxiety and fear in that I know if certain situations happen, I am going to be in a very bad spot, and I’m just going to have to deal with it. But my fear is not like, “If I get in that position, I’m done.” It’s like, “If I get in that position I’m going to deal with it as it comes.” If I panic, I am done.
Types of Fear
There are a couple of different kinds of fear. There’s fear that helps keep you alive, and there’s destructive fear. Destructive fear leads to panic. Destructive fear is fear without logic. It’s fear without a plan A, B, and C. Destructive fear is going to rely on luck and no game plan. Fear or apprehension, in general, can actually serve you well. It can make you focus. So it’s essential to differentiate between the two.
Destructive fear can also be like some of our automatic systems in our body. Those ones that happen subconsciously. Whether it’s that initial urge to breathe that can send you into a panic where most people interpret that as “I need to breathe now or I am going to pass out and die.” When, in fact, that’s your body being an overprotective parent. You can get past that point.
That would be a destructive form of fear, letting something like one of these feelings in your body take your mental state and just have it go to chaos. So we want to stay away from destructive fear and we want to stay away from panic.
Take an inventory of why you are feeling this way, and ask yourself, “How does logic apply to this situation?”
To boil it down very simply, focus on the things you can control. And nothing else.