Sometimes life is a bumpy roller coaster ride. It happens to us all...the highs and lows, twists and turns, thrills and belly dropping plunges. Even for those who, like myself, enjoy the occasional unexpected thrill, it can be scary to suddenly find yourself heading for a deep descent or a whiplashing sharp turn. In those kinds of moments, it's important to remember that you are not alone in your experience. No matter how brave, strong, resilient, seasoned, or levelheaded we are, we all get scared.
At times fear may center around physical safety and well-being, particularly if you are feeling unwell, vulnerable, under a crush of difficult circumstances, or are exposed to dangerous conditions. Maybe you're experiencing financial challenges that cause fear around making ends meet or saving for the future. The fear of losing a dear loved one who is sick or elderly or the fear of never finding a special partner to share life... can be overwhelming. It's scary to start a different job, to relocate to a new place, and meet new friends. Whatever your fears may be, know that they're perfectly valid, and there's no need to feel ashamed or embarrassed. We all get scared and at times life can be daunting. We can all find comfort and console in that shared experience.
Sometimes simply acknowledging your fear is enough to feel better. Other times it takes more to ease the mind and calm your nerves. Giving yourself permission to be scared allows you to move through the gripping fear so you can soften it, let it go, and then get beyond it.
It's alright to share your fears too. Sharing your apprehensions will make it all less overwhelming and when you are not letting fear grow inside becoming pent-up emotions; that can lighten the burden. You don't have to carry your worries all by yourself. Fear is a shared emotion that is part of our humanity.
Every time you face a fear and acknowledge it, accept it as a normal human experience, and give it a voice, you have the opportunity to stretch out of your comfort zone, learn something new and bolster your confidence and resiliency.
I try to practice dealing with fear in the small opportunities that come my way. On a recent adventure to Belize, I took a snorkeling excursion to the Belize Barrier Reef. The first part of the trip was idyllic; I saw beautiful, colorful coral formations and amazing sea creatures that delighted me. On the second leg of the tour, we went to a place called shark alley. The guide moored our little boat and began throwing bits of fish into the ocean. In seconds we had a frenzy of hungry nurse sharks with gaping mouths scarfing their free treats. I saw sharks of all sizes, some bigger than me and all with rows of tiny razor-sharp teeth. Our friendly guide next asked if I'd like to swim with those sharks. I was immediately daunted...."You want me to jump in that pack of hungry sharks?!....no way!" That was my immediate reaction. He laughed then assured me they'd stop throwing fish at them to have them dissipate, and assured me: "These are nurse sharks are known to be friendly with humans. You can even touch their tails...but don't touch around their face." Hmmm....the part of me that loves a challenge and enjoys a new adventure quickly reconsidered. "You go first." He jumped in a swam away as I sat on the edge of the boat donning pink flippers and a snorkel. With my friend and the deckhand encouraging me I took a deep breath and plunged in, my heart in my throat. All around me the nurse sharks gracefully swam, barely taking notice of my presence. I felt a wave of relaxation through my body and curiosity took place of my fear. I only swam with them for 20 short minutes and was awed by the way they danced around me. It was spectacular.
Recognizing and then using fear as a helpful tool can be life-changing and exhilarating. I highly recommend it!
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