On a warm summer night with a crystal clear sky, my co-workers and I gathered together with our families at Lake Geneva Canopy Tours. With zip lining and climbing high ropes, we were eager to challenge each other and push our boundaries to new heights. Filled with excitement, I was ready to go.
But then, I looked up into the trees at the obstacle course of high ropes above. And oh boy, those ropes were high — 18 to 32 feet high. Suddenly, my heart hammered out of my chest as my stomach dropped below my knees.
I stood paralyzed on the ground. I watched as my team ventured on and walked the high ropes like superhero acrobats. Sure, they were safe. After all, they did have safety harnesses on. And tour guides helped them too. But, I was reluctant and unconvinced this was a great idea.
Then to my horror, Hunter looked up at me with sweet, inquisitive eyes and said, “When are you going up Mommy?” With bursts of short breaths and feeling like I was going to hurl, I suddenly realized…it was my turn to climb.
Fear is an intense emotion that arises whenever you venture into uncharted territory. It grips tightly around your body and soul affecting your ability to respond. But, fear can either hurt or help you. It’s your choice. You can decide to become paralyzed or energized by it.
If you let fear consume you, it steals joyful moments and exciting opportunities from your life. But, if you choose to work with fear, it pushes you out of the comfort zone to try different things. Anything that challenges you to learn and grow deeper is scary. But to bring out greatness within, you must befriend your fear allowing it to teach you more about yourself.
Here are some suggestions on using fear to help you.
Dive into the Deep Waters
You want to explore a new hobby. Or you decided to follow your passion. But you are scared because you don’t know what to expect. The fear of the unknown is strong and feels debilitating. One solution is to dive right into the deep waters of your adventure. You might be clumsy at first, but you’ll find a way to swim through the rough waves. Once you gain momentum and move faster, the fear will dissolve and float away.
Embrace your Fear
Instead of letting fear immobilize you, embrace it. Accept that you are fearful and allow the emotion to move through you. Being mindful of how fear affects your mind and body gives you the opportunity to learn how to respond effectively. Feeling fear is uncomfortable, but that’s perfectly normal. Just stick with it. Lean into it, go with the flow and slowly become one with it.
Release the Courageous Spirit
Fear allows you to release the courageous spirit. If you were never afraid, you would miss the opportunity to gain courage. Overcoming your fear develops character, builds confidence and makes you stronger. You awaken the warrior heart that ignites your deepest passions. The next time you’re afraid, be grateful. This is your time to grow and learn. Say to your fear, “Hello, Fear. Thank you for coming into my life. Because I faced you, I am now a tougher, stronger and better person.”
Signals and Clues
Fear is a signal showing what you are meant to do. It’s telling you that it matters and it’s meaningful. If you feel fear when thinking of trying something new, then it’s a reason to do it. If you don’t feel fear, then it’s not the right thing to start. You must act when fear is speaking to you. Let it motive and guide you in the right direction. Do it because you feel it and use it as fuel to bring out the best in you.
Remember to be positive. It’s tempting to think negative such as “I am too scared to try” or “I will never succeed”. Instead, fill your mind with positive affirmations such as “I’m afraid, but I’m following my passion anyway.” or “I can do this thing even though I am scared.” Usually, reality turns out better than our fear makes it out to be.
Hunter anxiously waited to see if I was going to climb. I looked down at him and thought, “Should I face my fear of climbing heights and walk the ropes? Or should I play it safe and stay on the ground? Really, who would it hurt anyway if I didn’t go?” But, I realized I had to climb. I had to teach my son how to face fear. And, I had to teach myself I had the courageous spirit to forge ahead in spite of being afraid.
So I took a deep breath and like a woman on mission, I marched towards the ropes. I clipped my harness on the wire and climbed up the wobbly stairs to the wooden platform high up in the trees. Even though I was scared shitless, I slowly stepped on to the high ropes and walked across to the other tree and back. I definitely was no superhero acrobat. But listening to Hunter cheering me on from the ground as I faced my fear, sure made me feel like one.
Now, it’s your turn to climb.