As you know, I often work with my clients to help them break through the fear that holds them back in life. You also know that I’ve been on a quest to understand my own fear, so that I can better support my clients.
Early in 2008, on a trip to Costa Rica, I thought a Zip Line Canopy Tour would be a great place for me to explore my fear.
Boy was I right!
Not only did I grow up with an intense fear of barking Chihuahuas, but I also grew up with an intense fear of heights. Maybe it stems from the time when my best friend Brenda taunted me with, “you’re a big chicken!” until I jumped off the jungle gym and landed face-first on a rock. Or the time I jumped off a kindergarten model of a spaceship and sprained my ankle so bad that it swelled up to three times its normal size.
It doesn’t really matter where the fear started. What matters is how it sometimes stands in the way of my experiencing joy and accomplishing what I want to accomplish.
Years ago I was standing on the Eiffel Tower, only able to keep my back plastered to the mesh wall, struggling to wrench myself to the edge, and straining to see the amazing view of the buildings, gardens, and boulevards of Paris. I finally forced myself to move to the edge for a few moments, but my ability to feel the full joy of the moment was blocked by the fear coursing through my veins.
So strapping myself to a Zip Line in Costa Rica to fly through the air, 30 feet above the jungle was a bit of a challenge. But I’m determined not to let fear stand in my way.
It was higher than I thought it would be, and once I got up there I clung to the tree supporting the platform. I didn’t want to move. I literally thought, “I could just live here forever clinging to this tree. That way I won’t risk falling to the ground. But the nights would be freezing and I’d miss my husband.”
Once again, my darn life motto kicked in, “Don’t just do what’s easy, do what’s interesting.”
So I jumped off the platform and soared high above the forest canopy, with my brain screaming, “Why did you leave that perfectly good platform!!! Is the cable going to hold? Am I going to collide with that tree?”
Then I hit the platform, the guide steadied me, and I wrapped myself around the platform tree again. My brain raced, “Wow, it’s a long way down there.” My hands were shaking and my mouth was dry.
“OK, I didn’t do a great job of managing my fear that time. So let’s try again. Remember, accept the fear, be in the moment, focus on your senses. Feel the wind on your face, and see the beautiful trees.”
Then it was my turn to jump again.
This time I did better. I thought “hey, I’m flying through the jungle, it’s a little scary, but it’s also fun! I feel free and alive. Who’d have thought! Fear is fun!”
Fear is fun. What a radical concept! I learned that day in Costa Rica that no matter how big or small your fear is, these strategies help:
- Remember, Fear is fun!
- Practice makes facing fear easier.
- Accept the fear, don’t fight it.
- Be in the moment.
- Use your senses to focus outside yourself.
- The reward is almost always worth facing your fear.
So go out there and face your fear and get what you want!