Did you know that October 14th is National Face Your Fears Day? We have often said that if you push yourself out of your comfort zone just a little each day, life will be more fulfilling, exciting, and you’ll gain more confidence. Clearly many people feel the same way. With a day devoted to facing your fears, it’s the perfect time to do something you’ve always wanted to do, but were too afraid to try!
Travel can inspire people to conquer their fears and face new challenges. I know that I never dreamed of jumping off a cliff or swimming in deep water before we traveled. But it was being away from home and all the obstacles that stopped me in life that helped me overcome many of my phobias and anxieties. There was a time when I was afraid to swim in open water. But because of our travels around the world, I’ve now swam with whale sharks, played with dolphins and sea lions and snorkeled in some of the most beautiful and deepest waters on earth. I never would have tried any of this if I stayed safely at home, tucked away in my apartment.
There’s something about being on vacation that gives you the freedom to try something new. In our case, we’ll soon be going on a Carnival cruise. Now we’re not saying to instantly go and jump out of a plane if you are afraid of heights, but maybe you could try a canopy tour in Honduras or climb to the top of a volcano in St. Kitts. Maybe you’ve always been shy and afraid to talk to new people. On a cruise you can introduce yourself to strangers and be whatever you want to be. Maybe you can go to the market and talk to some locals in their shops. You’re on vacation! It’s your time to do whatever you’ve always been afraid to try.
Fear is different for everyone. Sometimes fear can be stepping on a plane for the first time or walking through crowded streets in an exotic location. Dave and I have very different fears. He has a major phobia of ants and yet we are constantly traveling in tropical countries where fire ants, army ants and leaf cutter ants are everywhere. Heck, Dave was embarrassed about going to a spa when we first started traveling. He was uncomfortable and worried how he should act. Now the first thing he looks at when we check into a hotel is the spa menu! Fear comes in all shapes and sizes.
Going on vacation or taking a cruise with the one you love can help you find the compromise or balance in your relationship. I can’t jump off a bungy platform, but I can rappel or zipline through the forest. Dave won’t try deep fried crickets or baked grasshoppers, but if we head out to town, he’ll give the local seafood a go. Our fears are different, and we have a grand old time helping each other get over them, one step at a time.
How do we get over our fears? Here are some of our tips.
Baby steps – Don’t go beyond what you can handle. If you have a fear of small places, scuba diving in a cenote in Mexico may be too much. Instead, take a mellow walking cave tour where you’ll be less likely to feel claustrophobic. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try scuba diving, but it’s scary going 30 feet underwater, try snorkeling first to get your feet wet. Rock climbing or bunjy jumping might be too much for you, but what about rappelling or ziplining over the jungle? It’s still a thrill, but not quite so extreme.
Have a cheering section – When I did the polar plunge in Antarctica I was terrified of the freezing water. Having friends as a support group, made me feel so much better. With their positive energy surrounding me, it made me feel safe and gave me the confidence to jump off the platform into sub-zero water. If I were to try it alone, I probably would have chickened out.
Positive thinking – Whenever we’re afraid, we focus on positive thoughts. “People do this all the time, I’m going to be ok.” This has helped me jump off cliffs into icy waters when I really didn’t want to do it. This has helped Dave lead the way through a jungle path filled with spider webs on an early morning hike. We both tell ourselves that people do this every day and have lived to tell the tale. It’s not like we’re riding a wing suit through a narrow canyon, we’re regular people that may be stepping out of our comfort zone, but we’re going to be ok. The mind is powerful and if you think positive, you can overcome some fears.
Do something that scares you on a regular basis – People think Dave and I are superhuman and not afraid of anything. The truth is, we’re afraid of everything. We’re afraid of failing, of not making it through an epic hike, or the fear of the unknown. When we trekked the Missinaibi Headwaters in the dead of winter, we were terrified of walking on frozen lakes, sleeping outside in -30˚ weather and having the stamina to make it through the 100km trek. If we hadn’t done so many other things that scared us in the past, we wouldn’t have been able to face this challenge. It would have looked impossible. But because we’ve done so many things that scare us each day, we knew that if we stayed focused and pushed through, we would probably be ok.
Admit when you’re afraid – Many times we think we are the only ones that are afraid in a situation but often, once I announce that I’m nervous or afraid, everyone else agrees. Whether it’s been sitting on a boat waiting to get in a cage to dive with great white sharks, or having to face whitewater in a kayak, when we say we’re afraid out loud, it feels better. A lot of people will say to us, “I thought you weren’t afraid of anything.” Because they thought this, they were too nervous to mention their fears. Well, it turns out we’re just as afraid, if not more than they are! There’s strength in numbers, and when you don’t feel that you are alone, you suddenly are a lot less afraid.
Hire a professional – Dave and I do many things that seem actually insane. I flew a stunt plane in New Zealand, Dave jumped out of a plane in New Zealand. We both had a professional with us the entire time. When we take on an epic hike or decide that we want to face a raging river by kayak, we don’t go into it blindly. We take a course or hire a guide. Having an experienced professional there to teach you, take care of you and make sure that you are safe, will alleviate many of the fears that you may have. You’ll find that by having a professional watch your back, you’ll discover a lot of courage within that you never thought you’d ever have.
So with National Face Your Fears Day here to motivate everyone to face their fears, make some plans to do something that scares you. Do something that scares you today! Maybe you’ve been afraid to approach someone you’ve had a crush on or maybe you’ve been afraid to apply for that new job. If you have a fear of heights, maybe it is time to take an elevator up to the tallest building in your city and look out from the highest floor. It may be big, it may be small. But whatever it is, today is your day to get it done.
This post was created as part of my collaboration with Carnival. As always, all of the opinions, thoughts, and ideas in this post are our own.