Fear: Face it or forget it

Photo of Ferris Wheel with Neon Lights at NightMy husband would love to take me in a teeny-tiny plane or helicopter for a flight-seeing tour.

Ain’t gonna happen. You see, I don’t do heights. My fear of falling has only swelled to a crescendo over the years.

Picture it. I was a little girl in blue over-alls in the upstairs bedroom of my two-story suburbanville home. The window was large and the sill, low. My face was pressed against the screen of the open window. I was teasing and making faces at my brothers, who were on the trampoline, in the yard below.

Then the unthinkable happened. The screen popped out, I lost my balance, fell forward and plummeted two stories to the ground, while my older brothers and a neighbor lady looked on in horror.

Miraculously, I narrowly missed being impaled by the spikes for the tomato plants, located ever-so-close to my grassy landing pad, and equally as miraculously landed on my rump roast.

The most painful part of it was the embarrassment I felt as the concerned neighbor checked me over to be sure I hadn’t broken anything.

So THAT happened. Not one broken bone. Kids are made of rubber.

Though my mind knows it was an accident, I haven’t been fond of falling ever since.

Sometime later, I began having this recurring dream. In the dream, I was on the second floor of that same house. There was an open floor plan where the upstairs hallway was also a balcony to the lower level. I fell, but woke up before landing in every single dream.

I’ve never been able to get a real handle on the fear of falling –even over time. So I began avoiding it.

I avoided taking my small children down escalators. I hated the feeling of being high up in a stadium, with the short barrier railings that wouldn’t keep you from falling if you lost your balance. I didn’t do the high dive at the swimming pool. I started refusing to go on certain amusement park rides. Just say no to ferris wheels, I say!

The inconveniences and brief moments of discomfort have been few and of low impact.

The following life moment however, struck an embarrassing chord.

In my thirties, I went rafting during a family reunion. Our guide helped us pull over to a popular spot for cliff-jumping.

We all got off the boat. I climbed to the top. Several people jumped with no problem. I stood there and tried to talk myself into jumping.

Several countdowns later, I did the climb of shame back down to the boat, to the loud BOOING of a boatful of passing strangers! Needless to say, it was absolutely humiliating.

On that same trip, I watched my father climb a pole I thought would reach heaven, and stand on an itty-bitty square before bursting out across a zip line several stories high. All of his children and grandchildren looked on with total admiration. How could anyone be that brave? I did not get the bravery genes.

I’ve considered the possibility of facing these fears, but have realized over time, that some fears aren’t worth trying to overcome. I mean, what (other than risking my life) am I going to get out of facing my fears through unnecessary thrill-seeking adventures? My nerves don’t need the excitement.

Some fears DO need to be faced. So for now, I’ll stay grounded and start working on my fear of getting head lice. I’m a teacher.  Now that is a fear worth facing!

What are your fears? Which are not worth facing? Which should you try to tackle?

Unplugging Anxiety

ball shaped circle close up dark
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I am a bona fide bundle of nerves some days, consumed with excessive anxiety. Sometimes I just wake up with it.  It feels like I have been plugged into an electric socket and all of my nerve endings are “live-wires” without their sheathing.  Other days it just creeps in when I least expect it.

The causes of my anxiety are endless. Here is just a snack-size sampling. If you struggle with anxiety, your list may look very different.

  • Unnecessary worry about what other’s think of me or my choices.
  • Over-thinking prior interactions.
  • Anticipated, potentially uncomfortable future conversations.
  • Old, unresolved hurts.
  • Embarrassment about procrastination of important tasks.
  • Feelings of perceived inadequacy.

There are SO many ways to address anxiety — diet, medication, meditation, therapy, exercise, etc.  The list goes on and on.   I have tried all sorts of things, but here are a few tricks that really help me to keep my anxiety in check, and slow down the anxiety hamster wheel that causes my productivity and peace of mind to plummet.

1.  Get to work.   I sit down and write out my to-do list.  The anxiety is then transferred out of my head and onto the paper.  That helps.  If I then complete an anxiety-producing task on the list, that helps even more.

2.  Put it on the shelve and find a distraction.  For example, I tell myself, “I will deal with this on Friday.”  My emotional space is now free, at least for a time and I focus on something else.  Often when “Friday” arrives, the problem seems smaller.

3.  Focus on daily self-care.  I wear my favorite comfy clothes, go for a long walk, call a friend, or read a book.

4.  Avoid caffeine.  For me, this is a BIG one and by far the hardest to do.

5.  Get some sleep.  My brain needs time to recover and reset.

6.  Talk about it.  Sharing ideas is powerful and keeps me from feeling isolated.  Anxiety should not be a taboo topic.

What types of things do you worry about?  How do you help calm your brain when you are feeling out of control?  Message me your stories and suggestions and I’ll share them.  Let’s help each other!