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Key Points


  • Interfacing with nature, particularly the ocean, can teach us valuable lessons about honesty, self-trust, and inner safety.
  • Self-trust can be developed through practices such as courageous acts, getting up from failure, and confidence in how we will show up in challenging moments.




Nature as an Honest Teacher

The Ocean’s Lessons on Trust

Interfacing with nature, especially the ocean, teaches valuable lessons about self-trust and confronting uncertainties. The ocean, with its depths and unpredictable waves, serves as a profound instructor in the complexities of trust and self-assurance.

When you consider the ocean, it resembles the many kinds of relationships you may have—be it a friend, son, daughter, or any type of connection. It encompasses something that you both love and fear, something that can nurture you and also be dangerous.

Interacting with the ocean connects us with something true, real, and honest, setting clear parameters. If we don’t engage with what’s genuine, we might be misled.

In the digital world, in spaces like the metaverse, experiences might be curated or manipulated, designed to feed you a certain narrative.

The ocean, however, is just that—the ocean. It’s authentic, reliable, and consistent. Once you understand some of its characteristics, you can trust its behavior no matter where you are in the world.

Consider our relationships with people—the ones we can truly rely on, those who are steadfast. In a world where reliability is scarce, the ocean becomes a sanctuary and a teacher. It’s an integral part of us. Who or what in your life can you rely on for honesty and truth?

The fear of the unknown is initially terrifying, but with time and understanding, we learn that something as scary as sharks aren’t as scary as we once thought, once we understand its nature.

Our imagination has the power to generate beautiful possibilities and also has the power to generate fears with the unlimited nature of the unknown that can imprison us. It’s our task to free ourselves from this self-imposed prison.


“Fear is a powerful enzyme in you. You can do some pretty radical stuff with fear if you use it correctly. It can be the thing in that moment that determines whether you have success or failure.”

– Laird Hamilton, Big Wave Surfer


Practical Example: The Man on a Paddleboard

A man on a paddleboard symbolizes a state of equilibrium and composure. Until he notices a wave forming in the distance, his immediate reaction is fear and panic—an anticipation of a potential threat.

This fear is not based on the current reality, as the wave has not yet reached him, but rather on a projection of what could happen. This anticipation triggers a response in his body and mind, causing him to wobble and eventually fall off the paddleboard before the wave even arrives.

This scenario is a metaphor for how our anticipatory fears can disrupt our present state of balance and focus. When we project too far into the future, our imagination can conjure up unwanted scenarios, many of which are highly unlikely or exaggerated.


Self-trust is born from a latticework of courageous acts and getting up from failure, each one of these experiences a testament to our strength in the face of the unknown. With each journey into uncharted territory, familiarity with uncertainty grows, and it is here that an unconditional sense of safety can be experienced.

Trust, then, is not a feeling or something to be externalized; it is the realization that we are the authors of our own resilience.


Self-Inquiries to Cultivate Self-Trust

1. What situations or environments, like the ocean, challenge me to confront my fears and uncertainties?

2. How have I allowed fear of the unknown to disrupt my present state of balance? Can I recall a specific instance?

3. In what ways do I typically respond to fear? Do I confront it, avoid it, or use it as a catalyst for growth?

4. What lessons have I learned from nature that I can apply to my everyday life?

5. How does my understanding of the natural world influence my sense of trust in myself and my ability to adapt?

6. Who or what in my life represents a consistent and honest presence, much like the ocean, and how do I engage with this presence?

7. When facing new and intimidating challenges, how can I stay present and respond to the immediate situation rather than becoming overwhelmed by what might happen?

8. In what ways can I cultivate a stronger sense of self-trust through daily practices or decision-making processes?

9. How do my anticipatory fears compare to the actual outcomes of situations I’ve faced, and what does this reveal about the nature of my fears?

10. Can I identify any “paddleboard moments” in my life where I’ve lost my balance due to fear, and what could I have done differently

11. When have I last listened to my body’s wisdom over my mind’s chatter, and what was the result?

12. What are some ways I can practice being more present in my daily life to strengthen my ability to handle life’s waves as they come?

13. How does my relationship with technology and the digital world affect my connection with what is “true, real, and honest”?

14. What practical steps can I take to free myself from the self-imposed prison of fear and embrace the beauty of the unknown?

Source: For those keen on delving deeper, check out Aubrey Marcus Podcast with Laird Hamilton on Spotify.


More Tools for the Toolbox:

  • Mental Models: A mental model is simply a representation of how something works. We cannot keep all of the details of the world in our brains, so we use models to simplify the complex into understandable and organizable chunks.
  • Hard choice model: A guide to discerning the nature of the decisions you’re faced with.
  • Speed vs Quality model: A guide with an emphasis on when to optimize for speed or quality.
  • Hanlon’s Razor: This is a mental model that advises not to attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by neglect or ignorance.Research shows that generous acts can result in dramatic health benefits.