The Medusa of Fear
Fear...It's not something we typically like to talk about or even admit to ourselves. But it is a very real, and even useful emotion, when we can learn to recognize and deal with it appropriately.
Those who know me well, know that I have a "thing" about heights. Contrary to the stoic expression in the image below, internally, I was on the verge of freaking out at this moment.
Being the first to rappel is always unnerving for me
In fact, I was pretty close to loosing my nerve and calling it for the day.
Because somewhere inside of me, the self-preservation part of my brain told me that I didn't actually HAVE to do this...I could've just walked back down the way we came to set up this top rope in the first place.
But I made a commitment to my friend and business partner (Matt) that I'd join him for a day of ice climbing (his passion, not mine, lol).
And furthermore, I trusted his assessment of the situation and confidence in our equipment (though I'm still skeptical of whatever witchcraft allows a tiny ice screw to support that much weight).
In this scenario, it was easy to recognize and address my fear. And I knew that facing it would be far more beneficial than succumbing.
Looking up at the challenge ahead...
Pushing past our larger fears is a prerequisite for personal growth. Many people (like me) confront these challenges intentionally because we know it is good for us.
But what about the smaller, less apparent fears that we seldom recognize or acknowledge?
How often do we deprive ourselves from overcoming a "micro-challenge" that we may fear the outcome of?
It's easy to simply avoid a certain situation because we fear whatever discomfort may result.
Maybe we skip the gym because we aren't feeling great and are afraid of not meeting our expectations.
Or perhaps we avoid a conversation in fear of how it could negatively affect our relationship.
We tend to overlook these situations as minor inconveniences that we just have to "deal" with or just avoid. But if we aren't facing them, we are building a habit of giving in to our fear.
Which may not matter much most of the time, until it really does...
"Ice climbing" sans ice was far more terrifying than I anticipated
A friend mentioned something he referred to as "The Medusa of Fear", the notion that enough small fears, like the many snakes of the famed Gorgon's head, can eventually freeze us in place.
And if we don't learn to cut off the heads before it's too late, we can find ourselves unable to act or respond when a more serious challenge arises.
This recent adventure reminded me the value of pushing through my fear.
While I don't often get the opportunity to confront it in such a grandiose way, I realized that I can still practice this skill in my everyday challenges.
And through this practice, I can learn to confront life's difficulties headlong, instead of being paralyzed by fear and dying the slow death of indecision and avoidance.
Because after we walk over enough hills, the idea of finally climbing a mountain becomes far more conceivable.