Snakes and Heights. Yep, that would do it for me.
Funny, isn’t it?
I worked in the animal industry for 17 years and in all that time, I never got over my fear.
I’ve even held one or two in my life.
How could I resist? I had the chance to hold Alice Cooper’s snake when it was at the store I worked at. I buckled down, grabbed it, and put on the most badass face I could muster up.
It was the first step in the right direction.
What about you, what are you afraid of?
Arachnophobia – Spiders?
Ophidiophobia – Snakes (completely understand)?
Ornithophobia – Birds?
Cynophobia – Dogs?
Agoraphobia – Open or Crowded Spaces?
Acrophobia – Heights (totally get it)?
Agliophobia – Pain?
Aerophobia – Flying?
Monophobia – Being Alone?
(If you can’t find it on this list, check out my Top 100 Greatest Fears List at the bottom of the page.)
This past weekend my wife was out of town. I was able to do the thing I enjoy the most; spend time with the little man (my name for my son, but not actually his name). As I watched him, I noticed how fearless he was as he climbed up the stairs.
Anyone who has kids knows exactly how fearless they are.
It got interesting when he attempted to climb back down. He couldn’t. He was crippled with fear. So much so that he began to cry (don’t worry, I helped him down).
The question is why?
In the 1960’s two researchers conducted what is now known as the “Visual Cliff” experiment. It sounds way cooler than it is.
Basically, they placed a sheet of plexiglass on a high contrast, checkerboard table, with the same high contrast, checkboard for a floor. The glass was larger than the table. They then placed a child on the glass. The idea was to see whether or not the child would crawl off the glass or remain on the table. The researchers found that the child would crawl to the edge of the table but no further, even though they could crawl onto the glass without harm.
What stopped the child from crawling past the edge of the table?
When the researchers duplicated the experiment, this time with kittens, the same thing happened. What stopped the kitten from crawling past the edge of the table?
They then tried it with ducklings. This time, they walked right past the edge of the table and to the edge of the glass. Why did the duck walk to the edge of the glass?
Simple. They could fly and thus, had no preconditioned fear of heights.
Children don’t naturally have a fear of heights because they have fallen. No, they don’t fall because they have a fear of heights.
Fear limits who you are
Fear suppresses personal growth and development. When fear drives your mind, and body you become a slave to it. Being its slave takes away your power and reduces your willingness to pursue your desires. Before you think to yourself, “no it doesn’t”, think about the last time you found yourself staring down a spider that was one foot away from the cookie you want.
Taking away your desires is pretty shitty, isn’t it?
Fear exists in one place and one place only
Fear is an irrational danger that is perceived by your mind.
Deep, I know.
It looks at potential threats and formulates a perception that the threat is dangerous. This happens regardless of whether it is, or isn’t.
Agoraphobia is the fear of crowded spaces and it is one of the most common fears on the planet. Ask yourself, “Are crowded spaces really that scary?” To you, probably not. However, the mind of the person that is afraid has created a reality to warn them to stay away.
How do you overcome your fears?
Now that’s the million dollar question, isn’ it?
There is no one right way to overcome your fears and unsurprisingly it isn’t easy.
Here are some things that have helped me get over my other fears (not snakes, but almost).
Acknowledge it exists.
Easy enough right?
It isn’t just saying that your fears exist. No, it is more about realizing they exist and understanding why they exist. Think about a particular situation in which they arose or when you first realized that you had them. Try to figure out how and why they occurred.
Write it down
Simple acknowledgment isn’t enough.
If you have ever made any goals, you know that they are more likely to come true if you write them down.
Writing down your fears works on the same premise. When you write them down, you have externally acknowledged them. In essence, you have let the world know they exist.
Prepare to face it
Woah Joel, slow down.
I know, you probably aren’t ready for this. That’s ok. Take as much time as you need (but not your lifetime) to get mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually ready.
- Tell yourself that you are going to do it.
- Visualize yourself doing it.
- Imagine the feeling that will overcome you as you succeed.
It sucks to have to do things alone, doesn’t it?
Find someone who has either:
- overcome their own fears
- shares the same fear as you
- is ready and willing to confront their fears
Lean on them. Use their energy and benefit from their advice. Watch them face theirs and let their success fuel you.
Remember, you don’t have to do it alone.
Just do it
Man, does Nike have the perfect slogan. “Just do it”.
Aside from Nike’s slogan, I live my life by many quotes.
One of my favorites is one of my own. (Yeah, I know. It’s a cheap plug for myself).
The person who starts today will benefit the person that they will become tomorrow. If you choose not to tackle your fears right now, what will you, think of you?
Celebrate each success
Make a big deal of it.
Why wouldn’t you? It hasn’t happened before.
Vegas, some drinks, dinner, a date, or video games. Whatever makes you happy, do it.
Lather, rinse, repeat until it is gone.
Cheers to your success,