Making the Most of Fear

Let’s get one thing straight: I am the anti-daredevil.  I loathe adrenaline-inducing activities.

Signs like this scare me

I prefer slow cars, flat terrain, and sturdy ground.  Unfortunately (or fortunately?) I also am part of a family where speed, heights, and other scary things are thought of as the ultimate in cool.

Recently I was in the mountains and my family decided to go snow-tubing down an ENORMOUS mountain.  I was scared.  Super scared.  My heart was pounding and I started to sweat despite the single-digit temperatures.  Normally I would have stayed back and opted to be the official photographer of the event rather than actually participate.  But this time I decided that I wanted to give my fears a run for their money, if for no other reason that to teach my kids (and it turns out, myself) an important lesson.

Making the Most of Fear

1.  Say it out loud. Instead of suffering in silence, let the good folks around you know how scared you are.  Let them know your fears (what if this snowtube never stops or I go flying off the mountain?) and listen to their responses (you can put your feet down to stop yourself, you’re wearing a helmet, and the edge of the mountain is nowhere in sight).

2.  Have a set goal. When facing a scary situation, give yourself a goal or a limit so that you can experience success once it’s reached.  For example, my goal was to go down the mountain one time.   If my goal would have been too big (“I have to snowtube all day”) or not set at all, I might not have been as apt to go for it.

3.  Do what you have to do. I used a lot of anxiety management techniques to get through my fear.  I took deep breaths (think blowing out birthday candles), visualized myself safely and happily at the bottom of the mountain, and said to myself “I’l be fine, I’ll be fine, I’ll be fine.”  Some other ideas for getting through scary moments:

  • use the buddy system  – taking a friend along can help ease the fear
  • distraction can be good a good thing – take your favorite trashy magazines on the plane, cue up the funniest parts of your favorite movie when going over the bridge, play doodlejump just before your big talk – whatever you can do to (safely) distract you from the task at hand
  • Remember the good lessons you are teaching your kids when they see you conquering your fears

4.  Remember your success. I often see folks forget the successes they’ve had in the past.  No only is this just a bummer, but it also causes them to miss out on potentially confidence-boosting situations.  What can you do to remember your successes?  Take pictures, write it down, tell people about it – but whatever you do don’t let yourself forget – it will make the next time a whole lot easier!

This is me remembering the conquering of my fears of snowtubing, speed, and sharp drops in altitude.