Embrace the Unknown and Delight in Uncertainty: Getting Past That Heart Stopping Fear
There have been so many times in my life that just a simple thought would literally arouse so much fear in me, that my heart literally stops or starts to flutter, and not it a good way. It usually has something to do with an issue or event that I have no immediate control over like making money, getting a project awarded to me, a looming bill, a tough conversation I have to have with someone or something someone else did that affected me. I am not saying I have no control, because I am huge “own your shit” kinda person, but I am talking in that moment, there is nothing I can do to resolve what is scaring the hell out of me.
I have learned a few tips and tricks over time to help me cope, such as deep breathing, saying a mantra, positive affirmations or simply taking some action, anything that represents forward movement. However, I would say this is a constant evolution and I definitely do not have this mastered. I have spent a lot of effort and time trying to master this. I have listened to podcasts, read books, magazines and blogs and taken up meditation. All great practices. But still, it seems like there are moments that catch me off guard and just take me to my knees, at least mentally and emotionally. This is hard to accept when you are suppose to be the one that has their shit together and doesn’t let life get the best of you. It has been a nagging annoyance and shame for quite a long time that I will get these “fear attacks” over something as simple as a train of thought. When you think about it, I have no reason to freak out over a bill or meeting or what someone said about me. I am safe, I have shelter, I have love in my life, I have water to drink, I have an abundance of high quality food at my disposal, so really, these “little fears” don’t stack up. But, guess what, the mundane and trivial still come and haunt me.
It was on a trip to Vail with Brad (my husband) that I finally came to accept and appreciate the unknown and embrace the fear that surfaces. I literally felt like I was slapped in the face and finally all the work I have done to master my fears came rushing to the surface to simply reinforce I am enough and I can do this. Whatever “this is” that comes knocking on my door asking for courage and faith.
On our second day in town we decided to rent mountain bikes and take the Gondola up to the top of the mountain and bike down. Back story, I have never mountain biked in my life. I am athletic, but not a daredevil. I asked Brad to start me out on a beginner trail. All was well until we got half way down the trail and realized it was actually an intermediate trail. I knew this immediately by the stupid blue square symbol on the trail marker and the fact that trail was now about 16” wide (vs. about 4 feet) and filled with deep ruts, tree roots sticking out and rocks jutting up in the trailway. Ok, so what can you do, I was not even remotely going back up (heaving breathing in this altitude was getting me), so I had to make it down. Brad was great, as he cajoled me along, “take is slow, get off when you get to a point you can’t manage and walk the bike, use those breaks”. So, I literally just sucked it up, squeezed the hell out of the breaks and went for it. It was switchback after switchback and rock after rock, but we kept going. Slow mind you, but going. Half the time just trying to figure out whether to stand up and absorb some of the shock with my legs or just sit back on the bike and balance. And holy cow, you have to totally pay attention, there is no daydreaming. You are “in” physically, emotionally and mentally.
I had no idea what was coming next around each corner or switchback. I just had to trust my skill, and have faith in my abilities, and embrace the unknown right in front of me. Of course, it helped knowing Brad was behind me to pick me up if I fell or went over the cliff. About halfway down, my hands were numb from holding the brakes so tightly, I was sweating like crazy and out of breath. What seemed like an hour, was about 15 minutes and we were down. I was exhausted, exhilarated and ready for more! Off we went for another run and this time we purposely choice an intermediate trail. Halfway through, the trail totally morphed into an advanced-intermediate trail. Ok, this time I was scared shitless. But I just remembered to trust in myself, hold tight and have faith. By the time we got to the end of “Hank's Hideaway” I was done. I had pushed and given all I had. But I also felt so good. It was in that very moment we hopped off the bikes, that I knew I had lived through an amazing life lesson experience.
It was through this extremely challenging physical, emotional and mental experience that I realized that I do have deep faith in my abilities. I have the confidence that I can navigate what comes my way. I have no control over what comes in the next moment or tomorrow. Somehow, through my faith in my abilities, I can delight in the uncertainty of tomorrow, embrace my fears and trust I can maneuver what comes my way. This recognition combined with utter belief I must trust those near me and have enough humbleness to ask for help, has helped me recognize the inner-strength I have. And guess what? I’m willing to bet you do too, if you look deep enough.
So now when those thoughts come I think of the trail and I know I can handle what is running through my head. I am trying hard to enjoy the thrill and joy in the unknown and yet still knowing and believing the universe is in control and I get to delight in what is coming next. I haven’t quite mastered this, but I am having much more fun with the unknown now.