Fear of sharks is out of proportion to the risk of attack.
Humans can be an extra food item for some sharks, water is their domain. Our vision, hearing and sense of smell are limited and we are thus at a significant disadvantage when swimming in ocean, or river waters, which potentially dangerous sharks inhabit; such as here on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia.
When we see media articles such as this:
…complete with a picture of the huge shark which gives a sense of scale, how should we react?
Or this video:
Should we be afraid?
What risk management strategy should we use?
How much are our fears, or even phobias, exacerbated by sensationalism in the media, or stories we have read or heard?
Shark attacks are rare, says scientific data.
Multitudes of people swim in the ocean and rivers without a problem. Significant numbers of people do not however, due to a fear of sharks.
Wikipedia has a useful and interesting article on shark attack, which among other things gives an idea of the risk, suggesting it is low compared to other risks which we usually never think about.
Reading rational, science based data about risks such as a shark attack, rarely helps reduce the effects of our fears or phobias. We are not as ‘rational’ as we might like to think. If someone asked us whether we are rational, few would say they are not. Yet, our subconscious mind is in control – if we have fear lurking there it will have a significant influence, affecting our decisions, giving some a degree of irrationality.
A recent Gold Coast Bulletin article: Two Gold Coast medical professionals give insight to treating shark attack victims, which is available to Bulletin subscribers only, offers an interesting perspective. For example; a Gold Coast University Hospital doctor is quoted as saying “In terms of the effect on me, it’s unlikely I will ever swim in the sea again, just from seeing that one shark attack victim.’’ Note how an ‘immersive’ and highly visual experience has affected this doctor’s perspective.
The article mentions, and quotes from, this book, Shark Attacks: Myths, Misunderstandings and Human Fear, by Blake Chapman, published by CSIRO Publishing, Australia’s leading publisher of quality scientific, technical and health journals, books, multimedia and magazines.
“Humans spend more time in or on the water than ever before. We love the beach. But for many people, getting in the water provokes a moment’s hesitation. Shark attacks are big news events and although the risk of shark attack on humans is incredibly low, the fact remains that human lives are lost to sharks every year. Shark Attacks explores the tension between risk to humans and the need to conserve sharks and protect the important ecological roles they play in our marine environments. Marine biologist Blake Chapman presents scientific information about shark biology, movement patterns and feeding behaviour. She discusses the role of fear in the way we think about sharks and the influence of the media on public perceptions. Moving first-hand accounts describe the deep and polarising psychological impacts of shark attacks from a range of perspectives. This book is an education in thinking through these emotive events and will help readers to navigate the controversial issues around mitigating shark attacks while conserving the sharks themselves.”
Logically and scientifically, we are at low risk of being attacked by a shark, especially when we take key steps to cut the risks. (Some advice on avoiding shark attacks here.) Fear of shark attack can be one example of a fear out of proportion to the real risk involved. Such fears limit people’s lives and can be difficult to dislodge, even with education, because the subconscious mind has been conditioned to fear and generally cannot be ‘educated out of it’ with logic. The subconscious mind does not know what is true or false (I prove this to clients), which is one reason the logical and scientific explanations usually have little or no effect.
If you would like to find out more about how subconscious mind coaching can help you remove fears, limitations and even phobias from your life please contact me.