Daring adj willing to do things that may be dangerous
It’s in my blog’s name, and it’s something I’m working on – becoming more fearless. I think I’ve mostly conquered my fear of speaking up and getting judged (at least on the internet) but there’s one other fear of mine that keeps getting in the way.
This makes sense for evolution – if we don’t fall, we don’t injure ourselves and we’re more likely to survive to pass on our genes. However, we don’t have to worry about that now and for me, my fear of falling affects my ability to learn something new.
Here, I’m going to talk about my fear of physically falling and my fear of failure whilst learning.
Fear Gets In The Way
I remember the first time I took off the stabilisers when I learnt to ride a bike. I refused to ride without my mum holding my bike upright, so she eventually agreed and I did a (very wobbly) lap with her by my side.
At the end, she said that she hadn’t actually held the bike at all – I rode that lap by myself. My fear isn’t actually based on reality, just insecurity.
When I was 9, I was invited to my first ice skating party and I was very excited. All wrapped up warm, I stepped carefully onto the ice and immediately my foot started slipping and I grabbed the wall. I eventually managed to get both feet onto the ice and, clutching the wall, I shuffled around the ice rink.
My friends were slipping and sliding about, falling, laughing and getting back up; but I was terrified. They grabbed my arm and told me to come join them, but as soon as I let go of the wall, I fell – and I fell hard. I landed on my tailbone and the shock meant I couldn’t get up. For the rest of the session, I sat on the stand, watching my friends skate.
In athletics, I always preferred the track to the field events. I hated the high jump – not only because I sucked since I’m so short – but because I didn’t like falling on my back or even worse, falling on the pole.
I had the same problem with hurdles: after watching my best friend trip over a hurdle and roll over several times before coming to a grazed and bruised stop, I just couldn’t bring myself to jump over anything taller than my knees.
In karate, we learn a little bit of judo. The movement was easy to grasp, but I hated (and still hate) being thrown. We were taught how to break fall and although that has helped a bit, it’s easier to fall when you can choose when and how you will fall.
This fear of falling can sometimes stretch to the non-physical – I am sometimes afraid of pursuing projects that I think might flop, or I might not persevere when I have already seen people fail.
The problem is that you can’t reach success without failing once or twice (or more) – the old clichés (if you’ve never failed, you’ve never tried anything new; real failure is when you stop trying; failure is success in progress; etc., etc.) are telling the truth. Successful people are those who are best at failing.
Overcoming the Fear of Falling
The fear of falling, although rational, can wedge shut a door of opportunity.
There is only one way to overcome this fear: it is to practice falling. Learn how to break fall, both physically and mentally. It’s easier to practice when you’re in control, and when you do fall unexpectedly, you will have the technique to cushion the impact.
You will probably never feel like you have properly defeated the fear of falling. Accept it, and next time you come across a situation where you might fall, embrace it.
If you fall, that will be another chance to practice your break fall; if you don’t fall, you will have done something you would have been too scared to do before.
Take baby steps. That way, you won’t break, and it will get easier as you go along. One day, you will look back and see how far you have come.
Are you scared of falling? Have you ever been in a situation where you were too scared to fall? Have you ever overcome a fear? Let me know in the comments!