“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
“… the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” ~ Franklin Delano Roosevelt
The Roosevelts didn’t play; apparently the pair ate fear for breakfast.
Me, I live my life with a veritable feast o’ fears that when I give them an ounce of consideration, prevent me from doing numerous things including:
- Going to the circus (coulrophobia – fear of clowns)
- Casually strolling through the American Girl store (pediophobia – fear of dolls [although Victorian ones are far creepier])
- Hanging out in pitch-black places (nyctophobia – fear of the dark)
- Going to carnivals (fear of carnies)
- Attending puppet shows (fear of marionettes especially)
- Hiking in the heat of day (ophidiophobia – fear of snakes)
- Lazing around on the banks of a river or stream (ranidaphobia – fear of frogs)
These are not necessarily day-to-day concerns –the more frequent, harder to confess fears include:
- Fear of failure
- Fear of not being perfect
- Fear of rejection
- Fear of being “found out” that I’m really a poser
- Fear of success (Is this possible? I’m afraid it might be!)
My ultimate fears, though, are both literal and metaphorical AND are a combo platter: Acrophobia (a fear of heights) and basiophobia (a fear of falling).
The further you climb up any ladder — success or otherwise — the more terrifying the ascent can be.
If you think about it.
Rather than dwelling on fear, though, I’d actually prefer to think about a joke (classic Henny Youngman!):
Patient: “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.”
Doctor: “So don’t do that.”
I’d submit that it’s not about NOT doing something; it’s all about not THINKING too hard before you take the plunge.
So when my family recently went zip lining on vacation, instead of being my normal self and insisting that I should just stay on the ground to take pictures of everyone else having a blast, I decided to face my fear of heights by joining them in the fun.
That there was a secure harness around my body was helpful, although when I allowed myself to think about the 10-year-old boy who was decapitated on a 168′ waterslide a few days before our adventure, I almost didn’t go.
See what I’m saying about letting your lizard brain — that irrational resistance that buys into False Evidence Appearing Real — lead the charge?
On the first of nine zip lines — the “easiest” one — I almost had to be pushed off the landing. And I did the whole thing with my eyes squeezed tightly shut.
The second one I forced myself to look, and screamed bloody murder as I thought about what would happen if the cable snapped.
But a funny thing happened as I careened toward the far side landing — once I stopped worrying about what might happen and focused on what was really going on, I started to laugh.
I wasn’t freaking out; in fact, I was having fun.
Seven zip lines later and I was jumping off the platforms, then balling myself up the second I was airborne so I could fly as fast as possible.
Not to get anything over with, just to Spinal Tap the crap out of things and kick it up to 11.
I was filming the journey for my YouTube channel, and the result captures the emotional ride. It’s often bumpy, unfocused, unpolished, filled with choice words and a fair amount of screaming… but it’s all real.
And that’s the key to understanding that facing a fear by taking a plunge is best done when you don’t edit or censor yourself.
Or think about it (too much).
Drop the fight, face the fear and before you know it… you’ll be having some fun.
Now, go ahead and take the plunge! And enjoy the zip lining video: