The fear associated with any trauma means that we tend to avoid having to ever face it again. However, by doing this we are in fact only becoming more anxious & fearful. Resisting facing our fears is so tempting, but exposing ourselves to similar feared situations, definitely helps reduce our level of anxiety.
For me, ‘facing my fears’ and exposing myself to difficult situations definitely ensures that I don’t let the lingering ‘fear’ dictate my path. My twin sister taught me that, early on in my childhood, embracing the unknown and not letting the associated fear stop her. I write about this in my book,
“…Bec was always more daring than me in tackling the unknown. She’d jump off diving boards and climb high trees while I hung back. “Face your fears,” she would say to me. (Reinventing Emma, p.6)
So, after stacking yesterday, my twin sister’s motto of ‘face your fears’ was tested. I needed to expose myself to it again, to lessen the associated fear plaguing my every move. The anticipation was stifling me, so I opted to tackle it early to get it over & done with.
So, picture me…
My mum drives me to the identical stacking spot. I sit in the passenger seat while my fears inwardly breed. Excuses and negative thoughts collide in my mind – What if I fall? It’s too windy, I’m too sore! I’m extra stiff – but also know that this rigidity is only heightened by these smashing thoughts.
I force myself to swallow the surfacing fear. I take a deep sigh and focus on the present moment. I get in tune with five senses – what I can see, hear, smell, feel & taste. Soft grass, birds chirping, warm gloves, the smell of gum leaves & fresh air. Feeling more grounded.
“The sun’s coming out now Em!” Mum enthusiastically exclaims
“Glad we did this early, the wind’s picking up and I think it’s going to rain soon!” she adds
I just keep walking.
Despite not responding to her comments, I’m so grateful for her positivity. I hope it’s infectious! I definitely don’t feel so positive. In fact, the sun’s shining in my eyes and the wind’s throwing my balance! The fear is zapping my little energy & seems to only fuel this negative mindset I’m lugging round.
The constant influence of my mum’s positivity & support throughout my recovery is captured in my book.
“…I was secretly grateful that Mum tried to wrap me in cotton wool. Her motherly ways frustrated me, but the fact that she flagged issues out loud that I already feared, meant that I felt less alone. I could let another do the worrying for a bit. Knowing that the safety net was there, I was more willing to step beyond my comfort zone…” (Reinventing Emma, p173)
Although I had “faced my fear” and attempted it again, it definitely wasn’t easy. In fact, throughout the entire session I felt an immense cloud of self-doubt hover over me. Subsequently, my performance was definitely adversely affected. I really struggled moving past the fear. I let it shape my every move. I wobbled, seemed to move in slow motion, felt more rigid & I even fell again.
I naively felt that getting back out there would mean that the fear associated with my stack yesterday would dissipate. But, although I’m grateful I gave it a go, the emotional toll of that fall still lingers. Another big reminder that facing your fears doesn’t necessarily make them go away. But it’s apparent that by continually exposing ourselves to them & enlisting positive support networks, the huge emotional toll lessens. Subsequently, these feelings won’t adversely dictate our trajectory.
There are things in life that are certainly out of our control. We all experience fear. Feeling terrified about being in an uncomfy or difficult spot again or frightened about facing unknown obstacles in our future is inevitable. However, remember that “It’s not what happens to us that matters, it’s how you choose to deal with it”.
We all have fears but try exposing yourself to them more often. Resisting or avoiding their presence will likely only fuel them.
How do you respond to fear?