Let’s have fun with our fears

I grew up celebrating Ramadan Eid. It is celebrated at the end of fasting month of Ramadan and is equivalent to celebrating Xmas. It’s about family; it’s about gifts; it’s about having fun, eating food and be merry. Over the years though, there have been so many gifts that were unused; so many expectations that weren’t met and so many times, where a family didn’t feel like a cohesive unit.

In Australia, I have experienced similar things. Sometimes, the burden of it all takes the fun away. Recently, one of my friends commented: “I hate this time of the year”; not the first time I have heard these sentiments.

These are the times I wonder, why do we keep doing things that don’t make us happy? Is it too hard to be honest and authentic about how we truly feel? What would make this festive occasion festive in our hearts?

Then I also realise that we are not taught how to honour our own feelings and how to communicate them with respect and empathy. It’s so much easier to judge, expect and demand from other people. It’s so much easier to make them feel guilty than to truly acknowledge our own feelings, fears and needs.

But when we do take the easy path things get worse, don’t they? People get defensive and then we get defensive and then they get more defensive. The cycle just keeps repeating itself.

Overcoming fears then becomes quite an important goal. If we can somehow practice “feeling the fear” and then “overcoming the fear” and then “acknowledging our success”, then the intensity and hold of the fear starts to diminish.

When we do, we give our brain more and more evidence that we can overcome our fears. The brain doesn’t distinguish between emotional, psychological & physical fear. The body treats all fears the same way so overcoming one type of fear allows you to do it in all other areas of your life.

So what I am about to describe is a “fun with fear” process and this is how the process works:

  1. Pick an activity that makes you afraid, but not too much
  2. Acknowledge that you will be afraid (and note down which exact fears you are feeling)
  3. Do it
  4. Celebrate your success and acknowledge to yourself “I overcame my fear – Yayyyyyy!”

This acknowledgement is quite an important part of the process because our brain needs to “notice” that we have overcome our fears so that it can start to calm down when we are faced with a fearful situation next.

The more you do it, the more you can “normalise” the fear and do what you want to do despite the fear.

For me, personally physical adventures are a way for me to experience fear and overcome it. More often than not, I will say yes first and then freak out later. In my mind, once I have said Yes, I am IN and there is no way OUT. And once I have done it then, I know I can overcome my fears. I use these experiences to boost my morale when I need to overcome my emotional fears. Sometimes, it can get quite silly like when I went exploring Yengo National Park (Read this story here) but I think it all works out at the end.

So here is a video of when I did Bungy Jumping in New Zealand. I did it at one of the oldest commercial bungees at Kawarau Bridge Bungy. In this video, I have used my own voice to describe my feelings, my fears and what it took to overcome it. I hope that you can use it as an inspiration to overcome your fears and be able to take that first step that you have been thinking about but too afraid to do it.


** Image courtesy: http://www.bungy.co.nz/