When I was a little girl, I got on roller coasters, rode scooter bikes, dove into pools, and such. At some point growing up, I became scared of these things. I spent my teenage years doing 'safer' things. Don't get me wrong, I did some scary stuff like public speaking--something many fear almost as much as death. But when it came to 'adventurous' things, I chose to skip them. I would tell people I was afraid of heights and such. I am not even sure when or how this started.
Anyway, fast forward a few years, I am in college and took yet another personality test. I can share more about the results of this test later but one thing I noticed is that when I was a little girl, I had more of the 'fun' personality. I was bold. I was very outspoken and extroverted. I definitely wasn't scared to shine or have all eyes on me.
You can read my post about this test to find out my results, but back to this post. I decided I wanted to be daring again and to fear LESS! There is a difference between being fearless and fearing less! To be 'fearless' sounds radical to someone just starting out. It's like saying you are going cold turkey on sugar or whatever you are addicted to. It sounds less attainable.
On the other hand, I started using 'fear less' because it sounded more gradual. It doesn't mean you won't fear anything, just that gradually, you'll fear less and less things. Also, if you want to get grammatical--which can be powerful for the brain but that's another topic for word choice--"FEAR LESS" is a command and 'fear' is a verb here. So, to 'fear less' requires an action. In contrast, being 'fearless' is grammatically passive and it's a state of being which the brain can use against you. You may have the impression that you just aren't 'fearless' just like you aren't tall or hungry. You may say, "I admire fearless people," or "I wish I were fearless like so and so."
When you decide to fear less, it requires an action--or many. The beauty of it is that the more you overcome your fears, the more that YOU'LL OVERCOME YOUR FEARS. It's truly an upward spiral. So back to my test. According to the test, you can pick up from other personalities strengths and also drop your weaknesses. It was then I decided to pick up some Yellow Personality traits like being more fun and daring. That year I went camping for the first time since I was a kid. This reminded me how much I loved nature and adventure. Over the years, I hike the Grand Canyon rim to rim, went in caves, backpacked Havasu Falls, and got on roller coasters. The more I did these things, the more empowered I felt.
THE ULTIMATE FEAR
But despite overcoming many fears and escaping death a few times during my pursuit of fearing less, I still had one 'adventurous' thing I had not overcome. When I was at Havasu Falls, my friends went cliff jumping and as much as I wanted to do it, I just couldn't get myself to. I was that ONE person on the edge of the cliff doing a million count-downs and stopping herself right before the jump. I was that person who wasted 45 minutes TRYING to jump but never doing it. These falls are amazing! If I wasn't going to jump, I could have been swiming, taking photos, something else. But nope, I kept 'trying' but never jumped. I knew I'd regret it. What better place to try it than this oasis?
Once I got back home, I told myself next time I had a chance, I'd jump! I had done scarier things at this point, I'm not sure why jumping into a body of water seemed so scary to me! The rational part of my brain knew that the chances of something going wrong were almost nonexistent. I can swim, the water was clear, many people jumped before me and didn't have any issues, etc. But there was this flood of hormones and chemicals keeping me from jumping.
TAKING THE LEAP
Like I told you before, the more I overcame fear, the easier it became the next time. But cliff jumping was still on my list of things to check off my fear-less list. Well, this year I went to Mexico, more specifically the Quintana Roo and the Yucatan Peninsula. These areas are full of cenotes (sinkholes) and many of them are perfect for cliff jumping. Most even have platforms to jump off of. This was my chance and I was determined to do it. I wasn't going home with regret again!
So I didn't even count. I remember saying "hakuna matata" and just jumping in! The first jump seemed to defeat gravity because the fall process felt extremely slow. It's as if I could feel every second I was falling. During the first few seconds, I was like "why did I jump? Take me back." But that was followed but "well too late..." and before I could have another thought, BOOM! I hit the refreshing water. I think half of it went up my brain. That's right. I opened my mouth and forgot to hold air. Can you blame me? I had other concerns.
On a serious note though, the feeling was exhilarating. The adrenaline from the jump, the pride of emerging out alive--shocker!, and jump the physical reward of the cool water saving you from the heat...it was all amazing! And I wondered why I didn't do this before! Don't get me wrong, I jumped about 20 more time off of many cenotes, and I still got butterflies and thoughts; but, it was easier. And if not easier, at least I knew I wasn't going to regret doing it.
MORALE OF THE STORY
You see, regret is way worse than whatever you are scared of. I always say that the cost of staying in your fear is way higher than that of taking the risk, of leaping in, or overcoming your limiting beliefs.
Fear is one of the most paralyzing BELIEFS in our life. Yes, fear is just a belief. It's not a thing. It's not like actually being cold or overweight or whatever else. It's a construct. Fear isn't real. We create fear in our brains and we define what it is that scares us.
Our brain's most primal instinct is to protect us, to keep us safe. In other words, the brain's highest priority is survival. This function has kept us humankind alive and thriving for thousands of years. So when we are encountering something we perceive as a threat to our survival, our body receives warning signals from our brain. But the interesting thing is that this is all about perception. There are people that never perceived cliff jumping as scary, so guess what, that's not something their brain is going to fight with them about.
So the trick is in changing our perception and sometimes that doesn't happen until you defy the fear and just take the leap...or even after many times of doing just that. So today, I dare you to make a "FEAR LESS" list. You'll learn that the more you check off that list, the more confident you'll feel in your ability to overcome adversity, to defy odds, to control your thoughts, and have confidence that you can do anything!