You know the feeling. You want to go out and play but you have that nagging feeling of nervousness. What if you’re bungee jumping and the line breaks? Skydiving and your parachute doesn’t open? White water rafting and you get sucked under a rapid? While the first time you do something is pretty much always anxiety-inducing, there are ways to conquer your fears and give yourself over to adventure.
Remember, You’re Not Inventing The Wheel Here
Sitting in the small airplane only big enough to fit seven people including the pilot, you begin regretting your decision to signup for skydiving. Your instructor straddles you and, while still sitting on the floor of the plane, begins attaching you together. There is not enough room to stand up and test out the straps to make sure they are secure, which doesn’t seem safe. How do they know the two of you are definitely attached? What if one of the straps comes loose during the free-fall and you plummet to the ground, your body driven into the hard Earth? The altitude meter says the plane has reached 10,000 feet, another 5,000 to go. Looking down, your stomach does a belly flop as you notice the town below that looks like a Monopoly board. Maybe the pilot could just stop the plane at 10,000 feet. Your instructor chuckles and asks what you do for work. How could they possibly be thinking about anything other than falling to their death from 15,000 feet in the air?
Hold up right there. While jumping from a plane is in no way equivalent to a stroll in the park, anxiety should not get in the way of your excitement. Ask your instructor how many times they have lead a skydive. If they say something like 1,000, ask them how many of those 1,000 divers died or had faulty parachutes. If they say more than zero, than you should probably leave. Always remember that you are not the first person to have done this extreme adventure and you will not be the last. Many have lived to tell their exciting tale, and so will you.
Standing on the ledge of a platform overlooking a gorge in a jagged mountain face, you begin to have second thoughts about bungee jumping. The rocks look extremely sharp, pointy enough to impale someone. The rope appears too long, what if you swing too far and smash into the cliff? The rapids below crash angrily against jagged rocks at Olympic speeds, and you begin to wonder if you should be wearing a life-preserver and body armor.
It goes without saying that extreme adventures can make people nervous, especially before the event takes place. Negative thoughts can envelope your mind like a blanket and you may even think of backing out of the adventure. What you need at this moment isn’t an exorcism, but a support group. Surround yourself with people who were born without a fear gene. Hangout with people who find bungee jumping exciting and who aren’t thinking of injury or death 24/7. Listen to your friends talk excitedly and positively about the activity, and pretty soon their way of thinking will rub off on you. Your apprehension about jumping off a steep mountain cliff or a swaying bridge might actually turn into actually excitement.
Putting the scuba equipment on, you let yourself fall backwards into the ocean. The water is cold, and you cannot tell if you are shivering from the chill of the ocean or the tremble-inducing fear coursing through your body. There is no time to figure it out as your group is beginning their descent underwater. The mask on your face feels uncomfortable and you begin to realize how much you miss being able to breath out of your nose. Salt water seeps into your eye, and as you try to blow it out, some trickles into your right nostril. How are you supposed to enjoy looking at marine life when your so scared you might pass out underwater?
This is when you need to get in touch with your inner Buddha and concentrate. Sometimes, the signals that our body gives us are misleading. Maybe we think we are hungry when we are actually thirsty. Or maybe we think we are upset about something when we are just overtired. Locate in your body exactly where you are feeling a sensation, maybe butterflies in your stomach or a tightness in your chest, and picture this feeling not as anxiety, but as excitement. Push negative thought away by telling yourself you are reading your body’s signals wrong, and that that tingling feeling or bit of pressure stems from the fact you can’t wait to get your extreme adventure started. When it all comes down to it, it really is mind over matter.
Remember, You Only Live Once
You always hear people say things like “live life to the fullest” and “live without regrets”. Well, did you ever notice how upbeat and content the people who utter these phrases seem to be? Apply these mantras to your extreme experience. Tackle intense rapids at extreme speeds by white water rafting down rocky rivers, climb up jagged cliff faces and see the world from a new perspective, experience what it’s like to be inside of a slippery, soaped-up beach ball as you are rolled down a steep hill at top speed. By trying something new, especially something extreme, you are adding another layer of experience to your life. You are making yourself a more worldly and interesting person. Once you start doing these types of extreme activities, you will be shocked at how many times people will ask you questions about your experiences hiking the Swiss Alps, white water rafting in Australia, or scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef. You might even start to feel like a local celebrity. And what is the one thing all of these inquiring people who want to know all about you have in common? They all wish they had done what you have.
Think Of The Stories You Will Be Able To Tell For The Rest Of Your Life
Your experiences stay with you and make you who you are. Remember that by taking part in an extreme adventure you are making yourself into a more multifaceted person. And, when you are 80 years old, you will be able to reminisce to your grandchildren about what a daring person you were growing up and share your inspiring stories.