3 Life Lessons from Overcoming Fear

Fear is something we all experience at some point in life. For 2015 one of the two areas that I decided to focus on, was being fearless or specifically taking courageous action. I had been reflecting for about a month towards the end of 2014, on what I wanted to focus on for the New Year. This fear thing kept circling back around.20141216_101359

For the past few years, I hike on New Year’s Day. Now I’ve had a few dramatic things occur on New Year’s Day. In 1999 I suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. I struggled with health for 14 years. In 2009 on my way to hike with a group of friends, I lost control of my car on the snow, missed a curve, and ended up in a snowbank. I had to get towed out. In 2013 I went for a hike alone, on my way back to the house, through the heavy snow, I didn’t navigate a hill/curve well (the same one from ‘09) drove my car over the side of a mountainous curve. I nearly rolled my car, and yet again, I had to be towed out. It was the same tow truck driver from years earlier.

This year, I went hiking alone, I headed North instead of South from my home, and chose a rock formation that I wanted to hike. I had no idea what kind of trail or if I could even get to the top. Here are the lessons I learned on New Year’s Day, as I overcame my fear.

1. You just have to do it. It’s not going to have a guarantee of success. No matter what it is that you are afraid of, when you tackle it, you aren’t going to know the end result. Picturing and envisioning how you want it (the circumstance or situation) to end up will have a dramatic impact on the results. You have to see it in your mind, first.20150101_123228

As I approached the rocks above, I decided to go for it. I went up about 15-20 feet, became afraid, and came back down. I didn’t know if I could really make it to the top. I for sure wasn’t confident that my knees were up to coming down. There was a man that I watched go up, and come down. He said it wasn’t bad. He said the place where I turned around and came back down was the toughest part.

Then I thought about my focus for 2015, taking courageous action. So, up I went again. I had a calm resolve. A picture in my mind of me at the top.

2. Take help when it’s offered. As I started back up, I paused where I had turned around, and then from down below, the man that I had watched go up and come back down, was talking me through the hand holds. He even came up and was encouraging me. I listened to someone that had already done what I wanted to do.

I realized that I hadn’t wanted someone to watch me stumble and look awkward as I climbed. I don’t know of any female that wants someone watching them from behind. Yet, by humbling myself, and being willing to look silly, I made it to the top. The first time this man had offered to help, I refused, out of fear, to accept help. The second time it was offered, I didn’t fight it, or decline it. I had decided I was going up, so why not get some help?

3. Take time to celebrate your accomplishment. Once I made it to the top, I took a minute, and I said out loud to myself, “Great for you, you did it!” That might seem kind of silly, but I just accomplished something huge. I hike a fair amount. I don’t rock climb. It was winter, and I had never been on this trail. Other than the man I met on the trail, I was alone. My self-talk was very positive and encouraging.

As I made my way down, with relative ease, I was smiling the whole way down. It felt great, even as I had to jump down to a rock and reach out to a tree to stop my forward momentum. I had overcome my fear. When I made it back to the trailhead and my car, I had a pep in my step that the cold couldn’t slow. I really was proud of myself. I posted pictures on social media, relayed my tale to family members, and stayed in the feeling of accomplishment. It was a big deal, climbing that rock. Getting to the top.

View from the top

View from the top

No matter what your fear is, cold calling someone for something, physically challenging yourself, or stepping out of your comfort zone, picture it in your mind, the end result you want. Reach out to someone that has done what you want, or take offered help. Acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishment. The next time you have fear staring you in the face, remember past wins.

My next post will be about my other focus for 2015, wisdom. There just may be another mountain story to tell. Until then, take courageous action.

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