Our guide Molly gives her take on overcoming your fears and stepping up to the next challenge
Personally I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie, my hobbies include flying trapeze and climbing the steepest looking mountain I can find… But that definitely doesn’t mean I don’t get scared. Some things I do absolutely terrify me! I’ve just learned to befriend that uncomfortable feeling and I’ve become addicted to overcoming my fears. Once you know how it feels to do something you thought was never possible for you… it just leaves you wanting more! Trust me… once you get started you won’t want to stop.
As a flying trapeze coach, I’ve been able to witness first hand how fear affects people, and I’ve been able to help many people face their fears. If you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about when I say flying trapeze, let me give you a visual:
You climb a long ladder, up to a small platform about 8 metres above the ground. If you’re afraid of heights, you’re probably starting to sweat already… but read on, it gets better, I promise! You’re wearing a safety belt and when you reach the platform you get hooked up onto safety lines. There’s also a huge net about 6 metres below you. From standing on the platform, to be able to reach the trapeze bar, you have to lean your whole body forwards, trusting your instructor (me!) behind you, to support you as you reach out, grab on tight to the bar, then jump off and go for the swing! The first time you do it is the biggest, scariest, rush of adrenaline and excitement, but no matter how scared you were when you started, I can guarantee almost everyone once they set their feet back down safely on the floor wants to get straight back up there and do it again!
From my perspective, having watched SO many people who thought there’s no way they could possibly do it, let alone ENJOY doing it, end up having the time of their lives, it’s a very interesting psychological phenomenon. Trying to convince someone to face their fears, to be completely vulnerable, trust themselves to reach out and grab the bar, would be so easy if I could just fast forward in time and show them how differently they’re going to feel once they’ve done it. If they could see into the future, and see how much fun it was, how it wasn’t as scary as they imagined, if they could see what I’ve witnessed thousands of times over, it wouldn’t be nearly so hard to take the leap. But that’s the problem of course – we don’t have a time machine, we can’t fully grasp that feeling of accomplishment, of being on the other side… until we actually get there!
We often use our past experiences to give us the courage to take on our next challenge. We think about past successes, say, completing a 5km run, and use them to convince ourselves to go a step further, maybe on to a 10km run. This is a great tool to build us up to facing bigger challenges, the ‘one step at a time’ approach. I always tell people who are nervous about climbing the ladder, just think about the next step, nothing but your foot on that next step, your hand on the next rung. That’ll get you to the top of the ladder for sure, but once you get up to the platform – what’s going to get you to take the leap off? That’s where you need that curiosity, that desire to see what will happen, and the courage to go beyond what you know. You haven’t taken a leap like this before, you can’t compare it to anything else or truly prepare yourself for it, sometimes you’ve just got to close your eyes and go for it! Disclaimer – I actually don’t recommend closing your eyes when trying flying trapeze, not the best idea!
If you can just imagine how many times I’ve seen people that are terrified at even the sight of the trapeze, then manage to convince themselves to take on their fear and give it a try, and end up not just swinging but even learning to hang upside down or do a somersault, its truly inspiring and it continues to remind me that our only limit is in our own mind. I hope this inspires you to get out there and do something that scares you!
So, if you are thinking about taking on a new challenge, like booking an overnight hike (something I think everyone should experience!), here’s your reminder that there’s really no other way than to just go for it. Prepare yourself with walking, shorter hikes, practice carrying a pack… but in the end, you’re going to be doing something new, and you can only know what it feels like once you’re through it, you’re on the other side and you’re revelling in your success!