I remember when I was a kid, I was afraid to ride roller coasters. I went on a church trip to Carowinds when I was 12. On the bus, I made the decision to ride everything. In a single day I went from fear of roller coasters to relishing the experience. In fact, I was kind of upset at myself for missing out on riding them for so many years. This trip was a life changing experience for me. It was this trip that helped me beat fear and I have not allowed it to creep back in. I understand that roller coasters are not all that risky and I had the ignorance of youth on my side, but it doesn't change the fact that I was scared and made the conscious decision to push through that fear.
With so many experiences available to us in life, it is sad to allow an emotion like fear to prevent you from living fully and pushing your comfort zone. The feeling of accomplishment and the exhilaration of pushing your comfort zone is something that is hard to explain.
I have put together a few things to help you learn to push through fear and conquer the things you have always wanted to do.
Simply put, knowledge is power. When you are looking at biting off a new experience there is nothing better than education to help you understand the risks and learn to manage them. When you manage your risks you can limit your fears. A great example is scuba diving. At first glance you would think scuba would be very dangerous, but after taking the certification class you find out that it is actually very safe. The class teaches you what to look out for and how to handle these situations.
Some activities will require more preparation than others, but preparing with the right gear can mean the difference between enjoying your experience or hurting yourself. Most activities have tons of gear choices and you usually don't need everything to have a good time, but make sure you have what you need, in order to manage the risk and increase your safety. For example, proper riding gear for motorcycles, having your scuba gear serviced, or something as simple as sunscreen for a hike.
If you are unsure what the necessary gear is, just ask. There is plenty of free information on the internet and you can usually find a local business that caters to what you are wanting to do.
Rationalization is all a mind game. So many people are overcome with fear from what they think could happen. Find out what the risks are and understand the likely hood of a problem. For example, scuba diving does have some risks such as decompression sickness or equipment malfunction, but statistically it is safer than bowling. Fear is simply an emotion. If you can keep your emotions in check and apply logical thought you can beat your fear with facts, or at least build up some courage.
How many times have you been scared of something at first, and after you do it a few times the fear dwindles? Exposure will allow you to work through fear at your own pace. If you can learn to embrace the rush a little at a time you can work yourself up to amazing things! Maybe you have always wanted to scuba dive, but you are afraid of water. You could start with swimming lessons, then swim in a lake, try snorkeling, and work up to scuba diving. Its OK to make it a process, but at least try to conquer your fear and live with no regrets.
This one may seem strange to some readers, but it is probably the most important to me. Every time I take a risk or participate in a potentially dangerous activity it is an exercise of my faith. I can honestly say that I have learned not to worry about myself. As a Christian I believe that God will call me home when he is ready and there is nothing I can do to change that. If he is not ready for me to come home, I will see you tomorrow. I know this reason may not be meaningful to everyone, but I could not write this article without including it.
A personal example, to bring it all together, is a goal I set to ride the big terrain parks on a snowboard. A few years ago I decided to start learning to snowboard. I tried to educate myself through videos and blogs before I ever hit the slopes. The first season I rented gear, but rented gear is typically not allowed in the terrain parks. Even though I was not ready to ride the parks yet I decided to purchase the proper gear to accomplish my goal.
In the southeast US the ski season is very short and I live about 4 hours from the slopes so it took some time to get the necessary experience. For several years I practiced as often as I could. The third season I went through a terrain park for the first time with my brother-in-law. I have to admit it was very intimidating the first time. I bet we sat at the top for 10 minutes before we attempted some of the beginner features. I had been watching people ride the park all day and no one was getting hauled off in an ambulance, so I put the fear of injury out of my head. I had successfully rationalized it away. I did learn that I was missing an important piece of gear, the helmet. I highly recommend a helmet if you are going to ride terrain parks.
The fourth season I started riding parks as much as possible. I continually exposed myself to bigger features and slowly pushing myself into going bigger and honing the skills needed to ride the big features.
After five years and steady progress I had finally worked myself up to the big park. The first time I went into the park I almost didn't ride it. Staring down at a jump that throws you 15 feet into the air is very intimidating. I sat at the top watching others have a blast and I almost didn't force myself to go.
Finally, I mustered up enough courage and rode that jump. It felt like I was flying! It wasn't graceful, but I did land it. I nearly gave into my fear, but in the end I used all of these techniques in this article to beat my fear and truly live! This goal was five years in the making and I was sailing through the air and loving every second of it.
I immediately got back on the lift and did it again, only this time I wasn't quite as scared. This time, I was more prepared from my first exposure to it. This time, I knew I could do it. This time, fear had no place in my mind!
Many people have asked me why I take risks or participate in dangerous activities. They will say "Are you crazy? Do you want to die?" The answer is no, but I do want to truly live.