“I slept so badly last night, and I forgot to hydrate well… I don’t feel concentrated enough for this deep dive today”
Technical Diving is a challenging sport. Before an exciting dive the diver is caught up in analyzing and marking gasses, setting up his configuration and making his dive plan. Usually, when a unique dive site and experience presents itself, there is even more pressure for everything to work perfect. It is often at these days your subconscious tries to communicate with you making you realize your stress or apprehension towards the dive ahead.
Today technical divers follow a certain mindset and protocols to minimize errors, they are taught that Murphy’s Law is ever imminent and you should do anything to minimize the risk for an emergency scenario.
Here at Team Blue Immersion we have the rule of 3 strikes. If 3 things go a bit wrong before the dive, being someone forgot something; a regulator has a sudden leak from an O-ring or sudden environmental changes are apparent, the dive is called off.
This may sound a bit superstitious, but has ever so many times been proven right having dived after 3 errors and something having gone wrong during the dive. I believe that having a logical approach to things and having done any challenging dives in different environments, you automatically become more paranoid and systematic about your approach, but there is always that hunch some days even when things seem to be going right… what is going on there?
There is a great example of this from a radar officer aboard a battleship of the coast in Kuwait.
He is aboard one of the ships looking for incoming threats. All is quiet, until suddenly a blip appears on the radar. It could have been a friendly aircraft coming from a bombing run or an enemy missile heading for the ships. The Radar officer had a decision to make, he orders a counter measure attack eliminating the enemy target or possibly shooting down a friendly aircraft.
Hundreds of people’s lives are at stake, if it was the people on the ships, or the staff aboard the potentially friendly aircraft. The Radar operator has a decision to make within 60 seconds. He had a gut feeling, and ordered a counter measure strike. He sees the unidentified object fall off the screen only half a mile from the ships. It turned out to be a missile not a friendly aircraft. In the final review of the incident, researchers found that a friendly aircraft would have appeared on the first sweep on the radar for a split second faster then the missile would. The officer’s brain had picked up on this pattern, and warned him off imminent danger, although at the time there had been no manual, training or warning for these differences. He was not consciously aware of what he was doing, he was following his gut.”
In summary the subconscious is most valuable in life-or-death situations where a decision must be made now. It notices patterns that your conscious does not, which just might save you in a do or die dilemma. You can however make your subconscious work however you want and unleash the true potential.
How does this apply to technical diving?
Today with technical diving being more developed then ever, quality education never been more comprehensive and available and equipment being cutting edge resulting in a safety record unparalleled to our past.
However, as you progress as a technical diver over the years statistically you are more susceptible to make mistakes trough being malaise or just from the fact that you have done so many dives the 1 mistake that might kill you is mathematically becoming ever more plausible. We learn to accept this risk as technical divers, but how can we prevent them?
Here are a few steps you can follow to be able to listen to the invisible back-up brain that is always with you.
• Listen to your gut
If you find yourself preparing for a dive and something seems off, may it be your equipment, your environment or the emotional levels with the team members around you, listen to it instead of ignoring it and act accordingly.
• Do not let irrational fear take over
If you are attempting a deep dive and you feel the sense of fear, your body is trying to alert you. Analyze the difference; is it your nerves or fear? Never be afraid of calling off a dive, but if you decide to go ahead do not be afraid of going trough with it, be confident.
• Especially as a professional, do not ignore the warning signals
Being a technical instructor requires good physical and mental health along with a healthy lifestyle. However life will throw things at you trough your carrier: emotional problems, working too hard or not taking care of yourself properly. Even though we feel the deep sense of having experience and that we can carry on, all these compounded will do damage to your health one day. Listen and do no be afraid to step back, it shows your responsible.
• Practice positive self talk
If you possess nervous fear saying, “I will fail, I cannot do this” you most likely will. Say to yourself “I can do this!” Affirmation can do wonders to your mental state before a deep dive.
• Visualize the dive
This can be one of the best techniques for a successful dive. The night before run the plan, the configuration and logistics trough your head and you will feel much more confident in the morning.
• Trust your subconscious to be able to turn everything around
In the end, you are the master of your actions, thoughts, actions, emotions and reactions.
Team Blue Immersion