Writing the following lines, I am still affected by the adrenalin rush experience I went through last Saturday – canyoning.
For those of who don’t know about canyoning, typically it can involve climbing, abseiling, jumping into pools from heights and navigating your way through rivers, gorges and waterfalls in remote and rugged locations.
Everything happened so unexpectedly. On Thursday evening I visited an old school friend to give her some advice on healthy eating and personal development, when her husband, who is running an outdoor activity centre called Outdoor Slovenia, challenged me to join them for canyoning on Saturday.
To be completely honest, I never considered canyoning as an experience to put on my ‘to do’ list as it seemed just a bit too scary for me, but as I was invited, I thought to myself, you only live once and you need to face your fears.
Talking about fears, I have two primal fears that I have managed to shrink over the years; however, I haven’t completely got rid of them. The first one is the fear of heights and the second one is the fear of jumping into water from heights.
Combining them both together, as you can imagine, is the perfect scenario for me to avoid. Anyway, before I take you deep into my experience, I want to put down a few words down about fear.
What is fear?
When my clients tell me they are fearful or scared, I always ask them one question – how do you know you are fearful or scared? In each case up until now, I have had the same answer; they all say ‘I feel it’.
So, you feel the fear. Can you recall a moment when you felt fearful or scared? Please don’t use situations that triggered panic attacks or anxiety for the purpose of this exercise. Just use a moderately fearful situation.
See what you saw, hear what you heard, taste what you tasted and smell what you smelled in that moment in time and you will soon feel what you felt then. You will experience what it means to feel fear. Whilst experiencing it, pay attention to what is happening in your body – is it relaxed or tensed? If you feel it, please locate the tension, then describe it using colours or objects, you can even give it a name. Pay attention to what happens to your body posture, is it straight or does it shrink? If you are standing in front of the mirror, observe your facial muscles, how they respond and what happens with your pupils. Is your breathing deep and slow or shallow and fast? Does your skin colour change?
Should you observe all the listed signals above, you will be able to describe how it feels like to feel fear next time using sensory based language.
Now you know exactly how I looked and felt every time I stood on the edge of a rock, looking a few metres down into a deep pool. Did I wish that I had never said yes to the challenge? You can bet I did. But at the same time I also knew that fear is just the basic response to the unknown and that it is possible to condition your body to feel pleasure with each experience that you choose to.
So I used the power of my mind whilst standing on the edge of the rock. I did not picture myself going against gravity in the air or, see myself injured or never being able to swim out of the pool underneath. Instead, I visualised myself swimming happily in the pool and proudly thinking to myself, “My God, if I can do this, what else can I achieve in my life?”
Like I already mentioned, fear is triggered by events and situations that we have never experienced before and so we are not quite sure what the final result will be. Fear appears automatically, there is not a lot you can do about it. But once it appears, you have two options when it comes to the things you really want to do but don’t dare to.
The first option is to imagine an unpleasant scenario; what could go wrong and so build up fear in your body and then convince yourself to pull back by saying you can’t do it or that it is not for you.
The second option is to take control over your mind and directing it to experience the end result that you want and letting your body experience all the pleasant feelings associated with it and then just do it, without too much contemplation.
I am definitely in favour of the second option as I believe that life is too short to have regrets. The more things you try and the more you step outside of your comfort zone, the more juice and excitement you bring into your life as well as prove to yourself you can do much more than you think you can.
Remember, fear is just a feeling and it is completely up to you what you do with it. You can be scared or you can decide to break through it. You are never left without choices in life, therefore as I say often, make wise ones.
My choice to conquer my fears that day definitely made me stronger and more assured that the best thing to do in life is to replace fear of the unknown with curiosity and action.
P.S. Sooo, in case you want to conquer your fears too and try canyoning or any other outdoor activity in Slovenia, I would really recommend you to book it with Saso Subelj an his team – you can check their offer here. They have been doing it for the last sixteen years. They are highly experienced, very professional and most of all, each guide is very reliable and makes you feel very safe, which is the most important feeling you need whilst getting ready for a big challenge. Oh, did I mention lots of laughter and fun and incredible body surfing experience at the end of the trip??? I wouldn’t miss it this summer if I were you 😉