Fear of the long haul
About two weeks ago we went on a Zip Line adventure with the office. I organised this team building activity with huge enthusiasm. It was only when we were at the top of the trees, clipping our harnesses to a steel line about a zillion miles above the ground that I remembered I am terrified of heights.
But I had to deal with the first wave of numbing panic because I had organised this event. The entire office was there, jovially passing judgement in the spirit of forming bonds and building our team spirit. Bailing was not an option.
So I shakily hooked myself up to the zip lines and did the test course. I shook, I wobbled, I did not cry or vomit. And I Survived! but that was only the test course. The real stuff hadn’t even started yet.
Long story short: I was scared shitless for most of it. I had an alarming number of moments when I felt paralyzed by fear. But I had an epiphany up there in the tree tops.
Trying to problem solve too far in advance will destroy your peace
Looking down a long steel line, or a long row of suspended wooden steps and obstacles and anticipating having to get through all of it was enough to make me freeze up. When I looked at how far I still had to go I couldn’t move. I was too scared. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I would fall. I couldn’t do it. BUT, when I asked myself “Can you unclip this harness clip from where you are now and re-clip it on the next line?” I found that I could.
When I looked at the next three steps ahead of me, instead of the whole line, I could make those three steps. and then the next three, and then the next three.
I realized up in those tree tops that life is exactly the same thing. Especially if you have a depressive or anxious nature. Trying to look too far into the future and solve all of it’s problems before you get to them, will cripple you, and you will end up staying still, stationary, not growing or moving or having anything new.
I knew what my end goal was (to get through the three hour course and back onto solid ground) and I knew what I needed to do next at each step along the way. It was just trying to figure out how to do it all, survive it all, that was debilitating.
So stop trying to figure out how you are going to do it all.
Don’t try to figure out how you are going to live the rest of your life without someone. Don’t try to figure out every aspect of how you are going to get through difficult times, or good ones. Don’t try to plan every last detail of your success or try to figure out how you will ever achieve your goals. Because you will find yourself stuck.
Instead just try to know where you want to get to, even if it’s only where you want to get to next week, or tomorrow, or later today, or where you want to be living next year.
Then figure out what you can do right now to help you in that direction. Not how you are going to get there, or get through, just the next few steps. Panic LESS.
Stop trying to figure out how you are going to do it – and do it.