People who deal with anxiety understand how difficult it is to face our fears. We don’t always have a valid excuse. Sometimes we just don’t want to deal with the stress of trying to do something we’re afraid of. It feels like it would be much simpler to stay home.
When Anxiety Leads to Irrational Fears
The problem is that before we know it, anxiety can take over our lives. It can control what, when, and how we do things on a daily basis.
The anxiety I sometimes feel in large crowds is tough to avoid living in Los Angeles. But it can prevent me from going to the mall or the grocery store at certain times of the day, especially on the weekend.
I’m also afraid of heights and the ocean. But it does depend on the situation. I love rollercoasters. But the thought of climbing a tall ladder makes my palms sweat. And I love the beach. But swimming in the ocean or being on a small boat not knowing what’s under the water, dangerous or not, creeps me out.
Some of that is normal. Large crowds bring long wait times. Who wants to wait in line at the grocery store for 20 minutes just to buy a lime? And many people would decide not to be a high-rise window washer or swim with sharks. But it’s important to recognize when normal reactions become irrational fears.
Planning An Adventure
I realized I was becoming irrational when planning a trip to Catalina Island. I was excited about all the activities to choose from and couldn’t wait to splurge a bit. But when seriously considering my options, I realized I counted out most of them just because I thought they would be too scary. That’s when I decided it was time to face some of my fears. I knew I shouldn’t go too overboard right away. But if I could pick one or two things that seemed scary but not too outrageous, I thought it might be a good start.
I had never been parasailing or kayaking before. Parasailing seemed crazy because it would be 800 feet above the open ocean. I couldn’t stop thinking about the possibility of something bad happening and free-falling into the open water when I had no idea what was underneath the surface. I never thought I would kayak in the ocean where I would be on a tiny, flimsy boat where a whale or shark or seal or whatever could just come by and knock me in with them!
As I watched all the people at Catalina going on all these adventures, though, I knew I wanted to join in. I didn’t want to let anxiety hold me back from doing fairly normal activities that so many people do all the time. I knew I had to start facing my fears to experience new things in life.
Discovering Inner Strength
I’m so glad I did! I can’t lie and say that I wasn’t scared and didn’t think about worse-case scenarios most of the time. But the fact was, I had fun!
Parasailing was freeing, even if I only allowed myself to relax a bit for a few seconds. Kayaking allowed me to explore a side of Catalina that you can’t get to on foot. I even got to see a seal about 20 feet away from me. That was pretty nerve-wrecking for me. But no, the seal did not push over the kayak!
Even if I decide never to do these things again, at least I can say that I had tried them. I had faced my fears, made new memories, and experienced things for the first time. And that’s definitely something to be proud of.
So don’t let your anxiety control your life! We can’t expect to change overnight. And we have fears for a reason. They’re meant to keep us safe. But that shouldn’t keep us from living! We all deserve to experience new and exciting things. When we let that guard down, we might even discover a new hobby!
How have you faced your fears? Did you end up hating it or loving it? Share your experiences in the comments below!
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