This past week I hiked Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park. It’s well known as one of the most dangerous hiking trails in the country and it’s also pretty strenuous. I’m relatively athletic and have an extreme affection for adventure, but I have to be honest in saying I was pretty scared to climb it. Fear was permeating my body the entire drive to get there.
What if I fall?
What if I get altitude sickness?
What if I get overheated?
What if a snake or spider bites me?
What if it’s too hard and I can’t do it?
My palms were sweating and the scenarios of every angle of worry I could possibly think of were stacking up in my brain like a killer game of Jenga. The anxiety of it was actually beginning to make me feel like I might panic. And this was not because I was afraid of heights.
I was afraid of the unknown.
So many times we stop ourselves from doing things because we are afraid of learning what we don’t know. We let the fear override the possibility of something specular and beautiful on the other side of it. We get comfortable in our ways and when we have to push ourselves beyond that zone, sweaty palm syndrome and much of what I just described happens.
We let our minds play tricks of worry, doubt and anxiousness on us by assuming the worst case scenarios. I could have easily not done the climb and backed out of it when I got there. And trust me it crossed my mind, but instead I said a little prayer that the angels of Angel’s Landing would watch over me and I went after it.
It was challenging. It was dangerous. It required strength, endurance and a strong mindset to breathe through the hard parts. Such is life though, right?
What if instead we assumed that on the other side of our fears the only thing waiting is something beautiful? Because that is what is there. A sight we have never seen before.
No matter what you are afraid of, if you push through the fear of it, your perception changes as you stare your fear in the face. Let’s be real – it is never as scary as we make it out to be in our heads. If you have ever faced a fear, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
And the neat thing is, once we face a fear and push through to the other side of it, this sets us up with a solid foundation for duplicating that effort the next time fear sneaks into our heads. Because once we have done one thing, our confidence in ourselves and our abilities strengthens as we are given the next opportunity to overcome fear.
I’ve found this to be true with just about anything. When you set a goal and you stick to it, barreling through any fear associated with it, once you reach it, you realize you just established a new level of you. You actually did something you weren’t sure you could do.
So, when I got to the mountain top, after a rather radical two hours of straight uphill hiking and climbing, the sight before my eyes was absolutely breathtaking. Suddenly, that fear melted away and the only thing left was a feeling of accomplishment, amazement and ultimate gratitude. Had I chickened out or let my head get the best of me, I would have missed out on this absolutely beautiful view and experience.
Today on my Yogi green tea it said: “Life is a gift. Experience is the beauty.”
How appropriate. We’ve got to experience a little fear to realize its just beauty in disguise. Miracles always happen on the other side of fear.
What beauties are you missing out on in your life because fear is getting the best of them? Pick something and go for it! I dare you.