FEAR is the second strongest emotion in humans. Everything we do in life is either out of love or fear. We can either be paralyzed by fear or we can be propelled by it. Fear can enslave you to a limited life confined in safety, staying in the realm of the known, or it can fuel you to grow and evolve. The choice rests solely on how one chooses to use this intriguing emotion.
I was reminded recently about the power we allocate to fear and the impact it can have on our lives. I was in Cancun, Mexico this past December with my daughters. I am amazed at how two girls who came from the same bloodline can be so different. My younger one is fearless when it comes to adventures and new experiences, while my eldest daughter is fearful.
As a tradition on our trips, I try to do something adventurous, something memorable that we can look back at, as a highlight of the trip. A hot air balloon ride, zip-lining, riding ATVs, snorkeling, horseback riding, swimming through dark caves with hundreds of bats, to name a few. As a consequence of this tradition, my eldest daughter and I have had many encounters with fear (like the bats) as sudden changes affect us.
Being the type of mom that I am, I pride myself in teaching my girls not to feel shame or stigma when confronted by fear. If you attach shame to this emotion then you are bound to live with it because fear cannot be avoided. Fear is part of your DNA and designed to keep you safe. So rather than shaming it, be grateful for its presence. Fear is alerting you to become aware of possible danger. So I invite you to think of fear as your ally.
It is perfectly alright and normal to feel fear. What is not alright is to have it prevent you from taking risks. Fear should not be your door stopper to new and exciting experiences. It should not be used to box and confine you into a life of knowns, because the only way you grow is by constantly embracing the unknown and by stepping out of your comfort zone.
Feeling the fear — but doing it anyway
We arrived in Cancun and immediately made our way to the beach. Ahhhh the beautiful warm, bright sunshine was a surreal contrast to the very cold -8C and grey-gloomy sky at home. The beach was packed by all those, who like us, were escaping their cold homes. On the horizon, the beautiful blue sky looked as though it was painted and adorned by massive colorful parasails.
My attention was interrupted by a voice, “Would you like to go parasailing? We have room at 4 pm,” said the voice of a Mexican salesman in his broken English. Emma looked at me with eyes of excitement “yes, yes, yes” — Victoria looked at me with a ‘deer in the headlights’ “no, no, no way.” Before I could even think, I found myself shaking hands with the Mexican as I negotiated a super deal, once I spoke to him like a proud local.
From the moment Victoria witnessed the transaction, her fear grew. She gave me every conceivable excuse as to why it was not a good idea to do this. I told her we were doing it and not to worry because she would be connected by cables to the boat at all times and wearing a life jacket. In addition, she wouldn’t be going up alone. I would be next to her to hold her hand through the entire journey.
It did not matter how much I reassured her. All Victoria could do was play her story in her mind. The more time passed, the more fearful Victoria became. I held my ground and told my eldest daughter that it was a done deal and she had to do it because it was a good opportunity to face her fear. My poor baby’s nervous system went into overdrive. Rather than enjoying the beautiful moment on the beach, all she could do was replay what was to her a very scary experience.
Fear can rob you of your joy
Victoria went into a fight-or-flight mode anticipating the event that was to take place in a few hours. The event playing in her mind caused so much anxiety that she experienced high levels of stress because the body responds to the thought with the same chemical reaction as if the event was real.
Finally, the feared moment arrived. We were taken in sea-doos to the boat. Ironically, the waves were rough and the sea-doo ride ended up being the scariest part of the entire adventure for all of us.
We made it to the boat and the two Mexicans on board explained what would take place. The more they explained, the more I could see Vitoria tensing. She kept whispering, “Mommy, I don’t want to do this.” I kept explaining to her why it was important for her to step out of her comfort zone, “Life is going to have many ‘parasailing moments’ when you will be confronted to undertake an experience that will scare you and you cannot possibly go dodging your way through life. Better you train yourself now to face your fears while I am here with you.”
Even the Mexican guy pleaded with her as he explained all the safety mechanisms of the adventure and even offered to go up with her. Nada! Nothing worked. Victoria was adamant about not going. I began to feel defeated, which is not easy for me as I am pretty relentless and very persuasive when I want something. Yet I was seeing that my efforts were futile. Her fear was proving to be stronger than all my pleas and my heart began to sink.
I really believed in my daughter’s ability to overcome her fears and experience a life that goes outside of the confines of her home-school-barn (she loves her horse) routine. I also know her better than she knows herself. I know her soul and as I often joke with her, she would still be in diapers if I had not pushed her.
She texted all her friends who were also on vacation in other parts of the world and told them, “My mom is forcing me to go parasailing.” Thank God her friends know me well, otherwise, I could see how this could have gone the other way in light of the ‘forcing’ allegations. Her friends chuckled in the text and a few of them who had done it reassured her it was a great experience.
I went up with my youngest daughter first and she loved it. She wanted to go higher and higher and wished for all the wind in the world to fly in the sky. Victoria was observing from the boat every move from being clipped to the parasails to the moment we returned to the boat and decided at the last second to take a chance and use her fear to propel her to a new adventure.
I was so happy. I was preparing to go back up again with Victoria when her sister Emma asked to let her be the one to go up with her. Victoria agreed. I stood there to witness how the two loves of my life went up in the sky and my heart filled with so much pride. Victoria did not disappoint. She found her inner strength.
The best things in life are found on the other side of fear
My daughters arrived back on the boat safely and loved their adventure. To Victoria’s surprise, the choppiness of the boat ride, due to the rough current and the harsh winds significantly contrasted with her ride high in the air. Victoria reported feeling immense peace. All she could experience was stillness, calm and true bliss. Victoria looked below and could see all the wonderful shades of the ocean water beneath and suddenly she was connected to the enormity of this miracle planet we have the privilege to be a part of.
Victoria so graciously thanked me for not giving up on her and for pushing her out of her comfort zone.
It was never about the parasailing. It is about teaching your body to recognize fear, to critically assess it and use it as fuel to push and propel you forward rather than limiting your life’s experiences. Fear is a real emotion. Sadly, we are programmed to think of it as bad when in reality, fear can be a great promoter and ally — if you let it!
FEAR is conquered in very small moments. The next time you find yourself debilitated by fear, don’t feel shame because of it. Know that is a normal, evolutionary reactor built-in to your system. Fear always appears to highlight the areas of your life that need confronting, healing and overcoming.
Learn from your small moments as my daughter did and feel the fear and still LEAP!
Excellent story. Your girls are very lucky to have such a determined teacher and their mother. All the power to you. Keep sharing
Waleuska, thank you for sharing this relevent story regarding fear. In my upcoming book;, Reinvent Yourself, I devote an entire chapter to addressing fears. Much as you described, key steps to overcoming fear of include; 1. Acknowledge the fear 2. Debunk the fear and break it down 3. Chose a course of action 4. Act on this action against your fear.
Let’s keep talking about issues that may prevent us from living our very best lives!
I have lot of fear too need work on. Thank you
Very realistic perspective
Go girl(s) Go
Thank you dear sista at heart. Still fighting to deal with other issues that has to do with being brave and facing my fear. So how do i go over my fear without thinking of negative stuff e.g what might go wrong incase i force things.
Thank you for sharing your story
What the difference between the two girls
I listened to a radio station and your story
Happy for you you were able to write a book
What a life story!
My life story has similarities in 1980in Romania,
We have no food, the communist-controlled the country special I born Hungarian in Romania
When we come to Canada no English two children start from scratch,
and alcoholic husband
You said Jewish people all over the world
The Hungarian is all over wold every corner you can find
Lot things happen to me
Second things happen always wanted to live a Jewish
Now this a second Jewish man in my life
First left in this world ❤️and I’m still with the second
Just my life is in general
So do many things in common
Can’t wait meet you
Love to you ❤️
Thanks, excellent stuff.
I understand this concept. I have a lot of trust and fear issues or triggers that I am working through. Its always helpful for me to remember that fear is good as long as it doesn’t stop you.
Estoy feliz de ver a mis nietas sin miedo haciendo cosas que no todas tienen oportunidad de hacerlo yo tengo miedo a la altura desde niña y ahora que estoy en los 68 sigo con temor a la altura. Te felicito por esta bella lección para las niñas bendiciones.
So glad Victoria decided to parasail . Our fears sometimes prevent us from having new experiences.
Recently at the ripe age of 71, I was in Israel and had the opportunity to ride a camel, something I had refused to do many years ago. It was exhilarating!! Later on, during that trip, I learned to shoot a rifle, rode in an open ATV in a rainstorm, and on another day rode in a jeep over rough terrain into a crater.
I would have missed so much if I had given in to fear.
So glad Victoria put her fears aside and went parasailing. Sometimes we let fear stand in our way and miss out on wonderful opportunities.
At the ripe age of 71, I recently was in Israel – I rode on a camel, something I had refused to do many years ago. I learned how to shoot an M16 at a shooting range, rode in an ATV in torrential rain and got to ride in a jeep over rough terrain into a crater. Fear did not dominate me and I learned that we CAN overcome just about anything.
This is a wonderful story and reminder. Thank you for sharing!!
Hi! I do love your story and it inspires me to do the same!
I wish you more happiness and success in life with your lovely
Thank you for sharing such an inspiring story!! 💖
Thank you so much for resending this. I have been looking for this everywhere, not realizing it was an email. Ohhhhh, I am so grateful! ❣️
Wonderful heart felt story.
I admire Victoria for walking with fear and trying this out. It is something to remember every time fear comes knocking on the door again
What a great story! Thank you for sharing this! Sounds like fun, too!! :).
Waleuska this is something that’s held me back my whole life and it has stop me from doing so much in life. I have tried getting out of my comfort zone and succeeded. I’m like your eldest daughter and I think if I had been given positive feedback growing up instead of constantly being put down when I was growing up, I wouldn’t be fighting with myself about this. I haven’t given up but the fear has won a lot in my life.
I read the whole thing for once. Your youngest is a free soul. I hope she can continue this for as long as she can and not be confined by the expectations of others.
Your eldest will find comfort and trust with your youngest. Such a beautiful bond
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story. For me personally, very thought provoking. I have allowed fear to determine much of my life and next time I am faced with a situation which is fear provoking I will be giving your story much thought and hopefully it will help to push me forward as opposed to allowing it to take me over and prevent me truly living.
So thanks again. I really appreciate it!! xxx
interesting and inspiring!
I love this. You did assert to make her face a fear but you also recognized when her personal fear was to great and she stayed in the boat until SHE decided to face her fear after seeing probably the joy you and your other daughter had that she never would have seen had you not insisted she go. While reading I thought about my three grown sons and experienced a heartfelt tug at the notion of parenting this way. Your story is so inspiring and I hope other parents with young children see the value of it for them, and perhaps even for themselves. Thanks for sharing. 🙏❤️
I may be alone in seeing it this way, but I do not resonate with the ‘it is a done deal and she had to do it’ approach.
I like the story, glad it all worked out fine, and everyone ended up having a good time, but to me, facing your fears is more of a personal journey rather than a ‘I want this for you, because I love you and I know it will be good for you’
I would not have liked to have that pressure put on me. And yes, in life there are and will be many ‘parasailing moments’, as you call them… this just seems to me like you could have still enjoyed it, without needing her to participate.
I’d like to know how she feels about the whole experience and how she sees it.
But glad to see you are adventurous and inspiring your children and the people around you. This was just my feeling when reading this
t’s a delicate balance the fear response can cause or be PTSD. I think it’s ok to be fearful that’s my opinion.
I love this. Thank you.
Amazing story. I have a fear cantering. The horse l ride is a gentle giant that would never buck me off, but heish, I lost the courage after my last fall…. With a different horse… This story is inspiring, I miss that feeling of riding in the the wind in a canter….. I’m trying this again…. This Sunday
Thank you for the lending me your daughter ‘s courage….
WOW! Your daughters are so blessed to have you. I don’t know if I would have had the courage to do the same. So it is in my own life…into my 60’s. your sharing this story is insanely inspirational. I feel honored to know you and be a part of your gratitude family. Blessings all around.