You know that old saying that there are only two things that are certain in life, death and taxes? Well, I think we could probably add onto that by saying that fear and anxiety are probably also things we’ll almost certainly deal with. If any of you follow me on Facebook, you probably have seen that I’ve slowly but surely been working my way toward mastering a handstand. My goal is to also be able to do a handstand pushup as well (#whynot?), but I think that’s going to take a little more time. Haha! I know we all have our own fears from little things like spiders (AAAACK!) to flying in an airplane (white-knuckle-fliers, I know you’re out there!) to big life fears like the great unknown of death. In my pursuit of personal growth and fitness, I’ve come to realize that you can employ the same approach to overcoming your fears as you do to getting physically fit. Now, I’m no psychologist or psychiatrist, so these are clearly my own humble thoughts about this, but I’d love to know if you’ve taken a similar approach or have found your own way of overcoming your own fears.
Knowledge is Power (if you put it into action)
For me, if something scares me, the first thing I try to do (once I can think clearly) is to put my finger on what it is, exactly, that scares me. With handstands, for example, it could be a fear of smashing your face (been there — survived — wasn’t so bad. Haha!) or not trusting your upper body strength to keep you upright while upside down. Once you can identify precisely what it is that scares you, you can then take steps to understand the source of the fear and to therefore begin to come to terms with it or just overcome it in general. When I was younger, turbulence would scare the living snot out of me whenever I flew. But there came a day when I was talking to my dad, who is a pilot, and he explained to me that it’s kind of like boats on the water. Big boats going fast leave behind big, choppy wakes; smaller boats speeding along leave behind smaller, but still choppy wakes. Airplanes do the same thing: The bigger the jumbo jet, but bigger the “air wake” they leave behind them. There are also things like updrafts from mountains and changing air pressure due to weather to consider, but as soon as I understood WHY the airplane felt like it suddenly hit a huge pothole on the “road” or was driving along a particularly rocky “road,” my fear around turbulence subsided tremendously. (I still am extra cautious when it comes to hot drinks on planes because is it just me, or do you ALWAYS hit a bit of turbulence the moment your coffee or tea has been served? Haha!)
Let’s take the humble handstand for example. If you’re afraid of being upside down with your noodle arms supporting you, the first thing to do is NOT to try to shoot right into a handstand, but to slowly work up to it. First, break it down! What’s involved in a handstand, when it comes to muscle groups? I think it’s safe to say that it’s a lot of upper body and core strength. If those are literally not your strongest areas, work on them! Pushups, pullups, yoga, strength training and more will all help with that kind of strength. While you’re working on strength overall, start practicing kicking up into a handstand. Don’t force yourself to go right into it: Just firmly plant your hands shoulder-width apart on the ground, keep your focus on the area between your hands or just below them, and take turns kicking up to 90 degrees on both of your legs. Once you’ve done that for a while (say, a few days or weeks), move yourself close to a wall or door (plant your hands about 8 inches out from the wall) where you have room around you, and keep increasing the height of your kicks. Before you know it, you’ll have your heels resting against the wall or door, and you’ll be in a handstand! It’s all about teensy, tiny baby steps.
The Three P’s
In my humble opinion, if you are working to understand the source of your fears, and taking baby steps toward overcoming them (or just flat out doing something crazy like going skydiving to overcome a fear of heights), the key to keeping all of that good work up is what I call “The Three P’s”: Staying Positive, Persistent and Patient. I like to think that I’m a good mom, and that I bring a great deal of the Three P’s to their lives, I sometimes forget to be as kind with myself, particularly when I’ve been working toward a goal for a while or am trying something new without seeing results yet. It takes time! Like so many things in life, so much of what we do comes down to our mental state and outlook. When you stay positive about something, it does wonders for helping to tamp down the demons. When you’re feeling down, tell yourself you’re going to make it — over and over and over again as needed. If you believe you can, you’re right. If you believe you can’t, you’re also right. Persistence and Patience tend to go hand in hand: How else can you stick with something over time unless you’re patient with yourself and keep up the positive self-reinforcement along the way? Keep at it! Surround yourself with people who love and support you. Ask for help when you need it! KNOW you CAN (and will!) do it! And keep at it! No matter what anyone else says or thinks about you, ALWAYS believe in yourself! That dream you have, make it happen. That goal you set for yourself, get there. No matter what. There will be naysayers around every corner. They’ll pop up when you least expect it. Don’t let their doubt become your reality! Show yourself ( yourself, being the keyword ) that you’re STRONG and have FORTITUDE!
What tools do you use in your own life to face or overcome your fears? Have you found a trick that never fails when you’re feeling particularly fragile or afraid? Have any favorite quotes you want to share? You know I’d love to hear from you!