Fear, a powerful force that can make you run for the hills or be paralyzed without hope. You have it, I have it, it’s something that runs deep within all humans.
But, how do you overcome it? Is it possible to face your fears without going crazy?
For this post, I decided to run a whole example. So. I want you to visualize it.
Stick with me because at the end you will clearly know what you should be doing to overcome your fears when you can’t run from them.
A series of unfortunate events
You wake up, it’s early in the morning. You know that today you must deliver some goods not far from where you live. You left them at the workshop yesterday. You prepared everything, the goods are neatly packed and near the front door. An easy start for the day.
You get ready quickly. It’s 8 in the morning and you need to deliver the goods by 9. The place where you must drop them is just a 15 minute stroll from where you live, and the workshop is just crossing the street. Nothing can go wrong.
You come down the stairs, and look at the lady who cleans. She is cleaning the offices above the workshop, where you usually spend your day working in front of your computer on stuff you really love. A honest ‘good morning’ greeting makes you feel even better. Everything inside you makes you feel like you already conquered this day and you own it.
Then it happens, you notice that the workshop is locked. That’s a bit uncommon, but you remember that your friend locked it last night right before saying goodbye for the night. Your hand instinctively reach the keys in your pocket. You look at your keys and then you suddenly remember it: You lent your key to your brother!
You start getting nervous. You breathe faster and start feeling how your day turns into a nightmare. Your first thought is that you should call your brother, but he is at college right now, certainly his class already started and it’s impossible to reach him.
Your head is spinning and you decide to try to unlock the nearby window. The cleaning lady notices your efforts and agrees to help you after your rushed explanation. You start cursing the moment you decided that it was a bad idea to give her a key to the workshop.
After 10 minutes of struggling with the window you manage to open it, but it’s impossible for you to pass through it. The added security to protect the equipment makes impossible for you to pass. You try another 5 minutes to open the door using a broom to push the lock. Nothing.
You breathe deeply because you know you can’t panic as long as you breathe deeply. Then an idea hits you. You can climb down from the office above tot he small service room of the workshop.
You run upstairs, open the window of your brother’s office and suddenly you are paralyzed.
You can see that you have to climb down maybe 15 feet. You start to sweat, it’s a very real fear. But you have less than 30 minutes to deliver the goods. Time is running out and your options vanished one by one.
You use the furniture to climb outside, your hands are shaking and your legs feel like jelly. You are breathing faster and faster, you are about to panic.
Then you remember a friend told you that you can’t panic if you breathe deeply. You try hard, to breathe, one in, and one out. Slowly. You feel a bit better.
You are hanging there, and start to look around, not far from where you are, you spot a drainage pipe. Sturdy enough to hold your weight. You try to reach it but you can’t. Your mind throws at you an insane amount of thoughts, most of them end up with you falling to the ground. You start to feel it again, and breathing is not really helping right now that your arms are not responding.
You are hugging the window frame with uncanny strength. You fight your thoughts, the fight feels like an eternity but just a couple of minutes have passed.
You start searching your mind for an answer. You know you must get down fast. Suddenly you remember one of those shows where a “survival expert” shows you how to survive in the wild. You feel a bit better when you remember that as long as you have 3 points of contact, you can climb anything.
You have never tried this, but you have no choice. You force one of your legs to move towards the drain pipe, and make sure you are secure, you release your left hand from the frame and try to reach the pipe. Success!
You are in a weird position, but you feel ok. You start talking to yourself, one leg, then one arm, then the other one, then the last leg. Slowly but surely you move to a hollow space in the wall, it’s narrow, maybe 8 inches wide, but you can stand here.
You look at your options, you feel a bit more secure here, but you are still high up. You notice an extension ladder below, it’s not extended, but it may hold your weight. You start kneeling on the small ledge, you are still shaking, and there is no place to hang from.
You try your best holding from the ledge, and seeking the ladder with one leg. After a few moments you touch it and feel like you own the world. You lover your other leg while hanging from the ledge, and now both of your feet can touch the ladder, you try a bit and it holds your weight!
You climb down the last part easily.
You let a sight of relief when you finally touch the ground. You look up for a bit and you know you just conquered a huge challenge, but there is no time to waste. You open the back door and head into the workshop!
You try to open the front door but you notice that won’t work, you need the key to unlock the sturdy metal door.
You grab the goodies and call the cleaning lady, opening that window was a good idea after all and you give her the package. Now it’s time to climb back up.
You rush outside and are thinking about your route when a sudden voice screams inside your head: Use the ladder!
You extend the ladder which now reaches the upper window. That’s easier now, you start climbing up and feel nervous again, but this time you laugh it off. You climb the ladder swiftly, and get into the office in a very funny way. You are safe now.
You meet with the office lady, which gives you the package. You still have 10 minutes to reach your destination. You thank the lady as you run outside. Being polite is no longer a concern. Once you get back you can thank her properly.
You grab the first cab you see, and almost shout your destination to the driver. He understands you are in a hurry and makes no attempt to drive slowly.
You still have 5 minutes on the clock when you get off the cab. You rush into the University to deliver the package.
You are running now. Going as fast as you can, you feel each muscle working as if you were an athlete. People gets out of you way as if you were possessed to accomplish your mission.
Once you reach the place a lady greets you. She is looking oddly at you, but you manage to give her the package and you are thanked for your efforts. You smile back and start heading outside.
While you are walking back to your place, you start coming back to reality. The looks of the people let you know that you look horrible, your clothes are dirty from all that climbing, and you are sweating as if you ran a marathon. Instead of feeling bad, you feel like a champion, you just conquered your fear of heights!
You smile, knowing that your day is just starting and you got an amazing victory under your belt.
Did you get the formula to face your fears?
Let me ask you a couple of questions (which you can answer in the comments below).
- How do you feel?
- What did you learn?
- Are you ready to apply what you learned?
I will come clean with you, this happened to me just last week. Yes, as you may have guessed, I’m truly afraid of heights, or at least I was.
If you check our Enso Journey’s Warrior Manual, one essay is devoted to overcoming your fears. I like working with them slowly, following a long process to discover the root of the fear. But that day I had no time to sit with my thoughts and reframe them!
As I promised, here are the rundown of the lessons you can use to overcome paralysis when you are facing your fears.
- Breathe deeply: Honest, you can’t panic if you breathe slowly and deeply. It sounds weird, and it’s hard to do it, but if you try hard you will not panic and your mind will be able to think a little bit clearer.
- Search in your mind: The key solution for me was found in one of those TV shows. It was not as easy as the show stated, but it was useful and it gave me a little control over what I was doing.
- Use facts beat your own thoughts: Facts are powerful, I talked about them in the post about beliefs. But here I used them to another great extent, they kept me rooted to what i had to do, and I was able to keep moving forward.
I know it sounds simple, and it is! But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. So use this only if there is no other choice.
Facing your fears is something that takes a lot of courage, and I understand if you don’t want to do it right away. Just remember those steps, and keep them for that moment when you will not be able to do anything else but face your fears.
Over to you
- Have you ever faced a dangerous situation where you had to overcome your fears?
- How did you feel afterwards?
- What changed from that point on?
Feel free to share your story in the comments and inspire us!