Becoming fearless isn’t the point. That’s impossible. It’s learning how to control your fear,
and how to be free from it. ― Veronica Roth
I’m a trail runner.
Running in the mountains is my oxygen. My nirvana. It’s part of what makes me tick.
So, it’s no surprise that I get out on the trails often. Sometimes daily.
Most weekends I try to do a longer run. Either Saturday or Sunday – whichever has the most promising weather forecast.
It was on one of these weekends – a Saturday to be precise – that I headed to the mountains for what promised to be a fabulous outing. I’d planned the route in my mind. Precisely. It would take around 3 hours to complete. Perfect!
I had my hydration pack (filled, of course), some home-made granola bars, and heaps of enthusiasm in check.
I grabbed my gear, locked my car and strode purposefully through the car park. I was on my way!
Until I wasn’t…
Two fellow trail-runners (blokes I hadn’t seen for years) suddenly strolled out from behind a car.
We embraced. We enthused. We swapped pleasantries.
And then they invited me to join them on THEIR run/hike. Just like old times.
Now, spontaneity has never come easily to me. I’m inherently a planner. That said, I have been (actively) forcing myself out of my comfort zone in the last few years. Trying new things. That’s where the fun lies. Isn’t it?You never #change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your #comfortzone. Click To Tweet
So, I took a deep breath and said a resounding “Sure…!”
A little voice at the back of my mind reminded me that these guys were adventurous. Risk takers. They thrived on a challenge – especially the vertical kind. With this in mind, I cautiously asked what their planned route was. They were vague but quickly assured me there was nothing “challenging” involved. (did I mention I have a SEVERE aversion to hanging off the edge of cliffs?😅)
“Easy, peasy…!” they exclaimed. And off we went.
Yup, you can guess what came next…
Running? Very little.
Climbing? A lot. And mostly up cliff faces…! (refer to above statement re hanging off cliff edges)
In fact, it took us nearly 5 hours to cover just over 6 miles. Because most of it was VERTICAL..!
And yet, I DID IT!
Yes, at times I was terrified. The only reason I pushed on was because going back down seemed even more terrifying. The path of least resistance (or terror) was up. Simple.
But still, I DID IT!
And, boy! Was I SUPER proud of myself! I was exhilarated! I felt expanded in my being. Larger than life. Invincible…!
As I look back now, this experience is the perfect metaphor.
I broke out of my COMFORT ZONE.
Instead of following my “plan”, I acted spontaneously and agreed to step into the unknown.
I let go of CONTROL.
This is a BIG one for me.
I embarked on a journey without knowing “how” or “where”.
I faced my FEAR.
As our hike became more of a scramble up cliffs, I simply took one step at a time. I stayed fixed firmly in the moment.
One step forward, NO steps back. Repeat.
In reality, when you’re in that moment, nose-to-nose with your fear, it’s not always that simple. At least it certainly doesn’t FEEL simple.
It feels BIG. And OVERWHELMING. And very uncomfortable.
But here’s something I want to share with you:
In those moments when I was holding on for dear life, desperately looking for the next foot-hold, when I was most terrified, most vulnerable, questioning my sanity, there was ONE SPECIFIC TOOL I turned to. Repeatedly.
Instead of telling myself “I HAVE to climb this cliff” I rephrased it to “I GET to climb this cliff”.
Can you see the difference? Can you FEEL the difference?
It’s a complete shift of ENERGY.
From VICTIM to VICTOR.
From UNWANTED to YES PLEASE!
Instead of feeling dread, I moved towards APPRECIATION. For being physically able. And being out in nature.
Not surprisingly, my emotional cork began to float upwards. Which means my perspective changed too.
I had CHOSEN to do this. Climbing this cliff-face was a PRIVILEDGE…! Instead of a punishment.
Yup, by changing one little word, I changed my entire EXPERIENCE.
It’s an easy tool. And can be applied to any challenging situation. Big or small.
“I hate being alone” becomes “I GET to be in my own company. And do whatever I choose…”
“I don’t feel like going to the gym” becomes “I GET to work out today! My body gonna LOVE this!”
If I’m honest, had I known what I was in for BEFORE I set out on the hike, I would probably have declined the offer. Very loudly.
Yes, I would have initially felt excited. Inspired to be spontaneous. But before long, the voice of reason (aka fear) would have barged in and spoiled the party.
Yup, I know myself THAT well…
However, the Universe conspired perfectly.
And it all unfolded perfectly.
It always does, if we allow it.