Recently I did something that was something I thought I would never do, even though I have a height phobia, I decided to drive to Aberfoyle and go on the UK’s longest zip wire – almost 1400 feet long and above the treetops at 120 feet!
You may ask yourself why would I do this? Partly because my daughters, who love this sort of thing wanted to do it and they couldn’t do it without an adult, but also because I was really curious about whether you could you master your own mind by observing the ‘stories’ that you tell yourself and there would be nothing that would test it more than facing my greatest fear – heights.
I have to admit to feeling rather sick at watching my small looking ten year old flying through the air at a great rate of knots, knowing that a) I couldn’t catch her should she fall and b) that I was next!
As I stood there knowing my turn was next and there was no way I could get out of it without letting my girls down, fear felt to me like I wanted to run a hundred miles in the other direction, but I knew fear’s secret, I knew that that feeling could only tell me what I was thinking, and that thinking was telling me that I wasn’t safe, that I would fall, that I would let go, the rope would snap. But I knew that none of that was true, the reality was the equipment was safe, not only was I clipped once, but twice onto the rope so even if I let go and one of the clips failed I was still attached! So what was stopping me from going? Well that would be the scary, and untrue, story that I was telling myself, just a bunch of scary thoughts that didn’t know anything about reality.
And it was then that I became curious, what would happen if I didn’t follow the advice of fear but followed the thoughts that told me I would be ok and with that I pushed off and sped down over tree tops, far below, and it felt amazing! But that wasn’t the end, because at the end of the zip wire was three hours of tree top climbing! My phobia, whilst understood, was still there ready to party given half the chance!
As I stood at the bottom of that first tree I could have sworn that my legs had been transformed into strawberry jelly! It was almost instantaneous, I didn’t have to think about how scared I was because my body had done that for me! However, this fascinated me some more and I started to become suspicious as to what this feeling was telling me – and of course it was telling me all about my thinking, it was like a knee jerk reaction of ‘I’ll fall, my arms aren’t strong enough, I’ll slip, I’ll forget to clip things in the right order etc etc’ and as soon as I recognised this it was as if I’d shone a light in a dark corner only to find that there was no monster lurking there at all just a pile of clothes and shoes! Because of course my thinking couldn’t tell me anything about any of those things, it was scary thinking, just like a child scared of the dark, there was no chance of me falling because I was double clipped, of course I was strong enough (it didn’t require that much strength!), the clipping wasn’t rocket science – I would be absolutely fine, all I had to do was relax and enjoy the experience! Which is what I did and by the end of the session I had conquered several zip wires, climbed many trees and even jumped into nets – all done high up in the trees – the jelly legs had disappeared.
What I learnt through this experience, is that you can be the master of your own mind when you are able to recognise fear for what it is, not the trusted adviser that it claims to be but a bunch of scary thinking that simply gets in the way; this then allows you to listen to your own intuition to guide you as to what is reality, which in turn allows you to do those things you never thought you’d be able to do.
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