Repetition can cure fear
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where the feeling of fear completely took over your thought process?
Perhaps you were just buckling up your seat belt on an aircraft. Maybe it was the last time you sat down to write an exam. It is possible that even the process of starting a new job can be intimidating enough to terrify us.
If that is you, then I want to share the next few columns with you, talking about how I overcame those type of fears.
There are many techniques which can assist when it comes to curing a fear of an activity or a situation, but I believe one of the most effective is to simply keep going back to the same situation and learn to understand the fear!
Many years ago as a young 12-year-old, I was led by a teacher, Howie Trillo, on a small rock climb. It was quite simple, nothing challenging but I remember being a little nervous. Curiously enough, once I was at the top of the climb, myself and my other school friends could not stop talking about how exciting it was. All the way home to our parents, we talked endlessly about how good we all were! Then, we bombarded our parents with tales of derring do.
Several years after that first adventure, I was a confident rock climber leading routes and dragging my girlfriend at the time, now my wife Jackie, reluctantly up quarry walls and classic Welsh routes.
The process of going back, time and again, to the rock, despite my fears led to a familiarization which allowed me to overcome fear. I became accustomed to seeing lots of air beneath my feet, while I was perched a few hundred feet up a rock face. I relished the views were a privilege few people could enjoy. I desired the freedom rock climbing gave me as a young boy.
Today, the lesson stays with me. Despite the initial fear of doing something for the first time, I make sure I go back a few more times to develop a habit of understanding the feeling.
As you study fear it can be very irrational. The feeling is real enough but the reactions caused by the fear are completely nonsensical. Take for instance someone who is being lowered down a rock face for the first time. The person is tied into the rope onto a harness around their waist. Yet in a state of panic they often have a grip of death on the rope twelve inches above their waist! As someone is climbing second on a rope, out of fear they may hold onto a piece of protection the lead climber placed in the rock. With both hand they will let go of the secure rock face and hold onto the man made and possibly insecure protection, the piece that may fail in the system!
I remember as a rafting guide in Alberta, I had a raft of clients on the Red Deer River. It was spring and the water was flowing very strong. On one ledge, a recirculating wave trapped us, tipped the raft and out went my clients. Now, to give you a picture, as a guide on a paddle raft, I would sit at the back and look at the backs of my clients as they also faced forward and I could control their paddle strokes.
In this instance as I picked the clients out of the water, one by one, they all sat and faced me! It was completely wrong. Yet, they had no clue. In their panic, they simply followed the first person who sat down facing the wrong direction. It took a very loud command from me to turn around and face the right direction before they even realized their mistake. Fear had taken control of their actions.
Nowadays, with my adventures and expeditions, I make sure to think about what I may encounter which I could be fearful of. I study it, practice it if necessary and keep revisiting it until fear fades and control of my fear takes over.
Repetitive visits to the edge of my comfort zone will tame the feeling of fear. A sense of competency will start to replace the question in my mind of whether I am good enough to get the job done.
Along the way, I have had some pretty spectacular accidents, which I will share in my next book which will be published in the fall, Bruised Angels.
So next time you try something new and feel fearful, remember to go back to the place and revisit the feeling. Go back a few more times and study the activity a little more. When you have to make a sales phone call and you are afraid of what may happen, think of the worst possible outcome. It is usually someone saying “no”. Yet we can be paralyzed by the thought.
If you want to improve your performance in a specific area of your life, learning to control fear is likely going to be a huge advantage you can gain in the next few months. It is simply a process.
Mark is a Keynote Speaker, Trainer and Adventurer. To enquire about a speaking engagement or to sign up for one of his free courses, visit www.markjenningsbates.com
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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.
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