When I was two years old, I climbed to the top of a ladder that was leaning up against my Dad’s shop behind our house. I certainly don’t remember this. In fact, ever since I remember I have been terrified of heights. According to my mom, this wasn’t always the case. She claims that I had no fears when I was young and that finding me in similar predicaments was not uncommon. I’m not sure why or when I developed a fear of standing anywhere above solid ground, but as of now, I can’t stand in a chair without my legs trembling.
So why did I plan a family trip to hike in the north Georgia mountains knowing that we would be standing on the edges of cliffs and walking across a suspension bridge? I knew beforehand that I would be terrified. Maybe it was because I know that valuable experiences aren’t always easy. Or because I sometimes crave the comfort of my husband walking me through an uncomfortable situation. Perhaps that’s when I feel his love the most. It could also be because I have faced fears in the past and subsequently felt a sense of freedom, even if only temporary.
The Purpose of Fear
Our fears exist for a reason if only to keep us from doing dumb shit. My fear of heights kept me from climbing over the side of a suspension bridge and swinging from the metal braces. My arm strength is not what it could be, so this is a good thing.
Our fears can also be crippling or even devastating if we allow them to be. At the very least, fear keeps us from living our best life. For instance, I once was afraid to live life without the numbing effects of busyness. I stayed constantly busy with one thing or another to avoid processing events that had occurred in my life. I had a huge fear of coping because I lacked the necessary tools needed to do so. This path had a lot of really shitty consequences.
Back On Solid Ground
After our trip, I didn’t miraculously become unafraid and revert to climbing ladders for fun like in my toddler days. However, I had given myself an opportunity to practice courage and grow. Kinda like when I clean out my kid’s pants pockets before putting them in the wash. My fellow boy moms will understand that fear. I also received the inevitable slice of freedom that comes when we conquer something that scares us. Sort of like a ‘screw you’ to that voice that tells us we aren’t capable or brave enough.
There was the added bonus of turning back after crossing the bridge and seeing my son, who shares my dread of all things high above the ground, kicking fear’s ass as he slowly made his way to us. All on his own. I was so proud of him. I sometimes tell my kids ‘Do hard things’, so it’s nice to know that setting a good example may encourage them to hear me.
Have you committed an act of bravery lately and felt a sense of freedom afterward?
Or, do you encourage your kids to face their fears in order to feel accomplishment?
I’d love to see your thoughts below!