What's your style, to hang on or to let go. And why am I posing this question to you in the first place?
I love checking the definition of the words to better understand how language impacts our actions. Today I'm writing about confronting fear and the concept of hanging or vs. letting go.
I've heard myself say 'I'm hanging in there' on a situation and thinking it through, it's been cloaked with the hope things will turn the corner, to be on the up and up. Could that be when really I what I was doing was being stuck and procrastinating? Hanging on sounds like at any moment I'll loose grip while I'm grappling for control, indeed counter productive.
Then the flipside 'to let go' is to relax, to stop holding on, to abandon without restraint. This seems straightforward and yet challenging as we want to have it both ways, to control and yet to open to see what transpires. Will we be able to handle the unexpected or prefer to stay in what we've come to know as 'the safe zone' even though is equally as uncomfortable.
I had the opportunity recently to face fear through an activity that involves breaking an arrow placed in the soft part of the neck. Yeah that's right, I chose to participate by walking into the arrow with consistent forward motion. The arrow bends and breaks and I live to share the experience with you ~ yeay!!
If you're like me, generally we're fearful of doing things that on face value appear to be dangerous.It's not the first time I'd had the opportunity to do this however it was the first time I did it without putting myself through the mental gymnastics as to whether I could or couldn't do this. And what a freeing feeling that is - letting go of the mind chatter and doing it anyway ~ another yeay!!
A part of this ritual was to write on the arrow, the fear I'm wanting to rid myself of. I took this one step further and on the flipside I wrote the outcome I will gain by doing this. The arrow is in 2 pieces on my desk to remind me of this experience as well as the memory of the room full of people who confronted their fears too ~ 'So Liberating'.
A great metaphor to live a fulfilling life.
After a restful sleep and an early morning walk, a few things came up for me. I started thinking about things I had done in my life that brought about the 'waves through to an avalanche' of fear.
For starters jumping out of a perfectly good aircraft, walking on hot coals, climbing a power pole to stand to launch myself off to catch the trapeze, water sports when I'm not a swimmer and navigating a high ropes course to name a few.
These challenges all physical, came about through the choice by me to take part. Let me state I've never seen myself as an adventurer and have been raised by conservative parents.
Becoming a better person for these experiences.
One would think that partaking in these experiences could eliminate fear for good, however what it has done is help me remain in a state of calm and raise my determination to act. I ached to be a part of each of these activities, through watching others get on with it, have fun and having that sense of achievement. Me ~ I was hanging out until the last minute to get moving and involved.
What I learnt about myself in the process is a tendency to hang on, delaying the opportunity to get started and at times, almost missing the opportunity.There was no physical reason to hold me back, only that I was caught up in my head wondering if I could or couldn't do it.
The reality is I didn't know because I'd never done any of these before and I had enough evidence to support that I would do just fine.
Let's go skydiving.
I hung around the drop zone for years before lining up to take the plunge! It was only when the locals decided it was time to jump I realised that it was time for me to step up ~'if they can do it I can do it' styled motivation.
I had an amazing instructor, the pilot was a good friend, and my partner at the time came up too, to jump out after me. When it came time to climb out, I did that really well. Hanging out on the strut of the aircraft, I was happy. The idea isn't to hang on, purely to stabilise then to let go once instructed. Not me, I hung on scared to let go, and a bit late for that.
Eventually I did let go and went through the next stages of the drill, counting from one thousand and one, one thousand and two through to one thousand and six. Meanwhile I'm falling away from the aircraft and the static line, attached to the plane, will pull my chute open.
Not this day, my chute didn't come out, which is known as a malfunction. I had been trained to perform and perform I did, calmly and with certainty. I went through the emergency drill and my emergency chute opened as I floated down to earth. Talk about the ultimate test for a reluctant first jumper, I was put to the test.
The universe conspires to show us what we can do
That experience was about 25 years ago and it's as fresh in my memory as if it was yesterday. When the memory is triggered I love tapping into the experience as it reminds me yet again, I can do anything I set my mind to, pushing aside the fear. I don't have kids to be able to tell the grandkids, so instead I share it with you, not to impress you, instead demonstrate how paralysing fear can be if we let it take hold. It's not until we're under pressure to perform, we know whether we can rise up when the dice rolls our way.
Feel the fear and do it anyway is so liberating.
You may be curious, was the first jump the last jump? No I endured another thirty or so, got my A license, with every jump pushing through the limiting beliefs and the emotional rollercoaster.
I did find the fun and sense of achievement in what I was doing. And these experiences serve me whenever I find myself hanging or holding back when my heart aches to move forward.
The acronym for FEAR ~ False Evidence Appearing Real wrapped up in emotions creates a weight that's not tangible, how fascinating!
Make it a great week.