I used to be afraid of heights.
Now I get to say that going up the cables as part of hiking Half dome this year was my favorite part of the hike, that and the beautiful 8 mile high view from the top.
How did I get past my fear of heights?
I realized that my fear of heights didn’t align with the person I wanted to be.
The first time I tried rock-climbing I realized that as much as I enjoyed it, I couldn’t bring myself to look down and when I did, it froze me mid-climb. So I stopped looking down. I kept climbing and focused solely on the task at hand. I put all my faith in the equipment and trusted it would hold me up. From time to time looking up, but never looking down.
I kept at it after that first climb.
Not because I got over my fear but because the desire to climb was stronger than the fear. Climbing was meditative almost. I could get lost in it. And to my surprise, I was good at it too. It felt natural – outside of the fear of heights.
I kept at it, because suddenly I knew that whole fear didn’t fit into my life anymore.
It didn’t match up with what I enjoyed doing, what I wanted out of life and the active person I wished to be.
The fear resembled someone who played small, who wouldn’t dare step outside their comfort zone. Someone who missed out on amazing things, things certain to bring me joy but that would have to be abandoned, and for what? Fear?
In my mind, I wanted to be someone adventurous, who lived fully, and who wouldn’t let a silly thing like a fear of heights get in the way of something she enjoyed.
So how did I get over my fear?
I questioned that fear. I didn’t buy into it, I dug into it. I examined it.
I lined up all those fearful thoughts from my past against the person I am now and my present day desires to see if they still fit.
Does this belief allow me to pursue my goal?
Would the person I want to be hold this belief?
If the answer is no, I keep digging to see if the belief is based on a past experience. If it is, then I examine them further.
Does this thing that happened to me X years ago apply to me now?
If it happened today would I still arrive at the same conclusion?
More often that not the answer is No.
Actually, it’s always a No because I’ve grown and matured and have a different perspective.
Those thoughts, which over time turned into beliefs about myself and the world around me, are very likely outdated and worthy of reexamining before I continue playing them out.
Does this belief support what you want or who you want to be?
What goal or desire are you going to miss out on by nurturing this fear?
Is holding on to this fear belief worth more than what you want?
See, that’s the beauty of consciousness for me: We have the option to keep reinventing ourselves and shedding those parts of us that no longer fit our goals. We can always choose differently. Choose to surprise yourself.