Facing Fear Is More About Finding Clarity Than Being Brave

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South Lykken Trail, Palm Springs CA

I hiked the South Lykken Trail for the first time a few weeks ago. I felt a great sense of accomplishment given my lifelong fear of heights and various physical restrictions due to Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis. When I began the trek up the steep canyon side, the thoughts of “You’re going to trip and fall”, “You’re going to be alone up here”, “You’ll never make it to the top” all began trickling in. This has happened to me so many times that I have lost count. But, this time it was different because I consciously chose to override the control my fear can have on me. 

That morning I got up and, instead of walking Lucy in the neighbourhood, I decided to get in the car and explore Palm Springs for a new route. Before I knew it, I found myself parked at the base of the canyon trail. Without a second thought, I strapped Lucy’s leash on her and said, “let’s do this!” I wasn’t sure what I was in for, but I found some security in Lucy as she, confidently, took the lead and pulled me up the first hill. It was steep and the terrain was rugged. There were a lot of obstacles to manoeuvre around; gravel, large rocks, sand and narrow paths. My heart rate increased within moments from the physical exertion and the adrenaline of a mix of my fear and excitement. My inner critic was screaming at me to turn around and go back to the safety of my car.

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But, I didn’t. This time, I didn’t let my demons control me. I decided to allow them to wander in, and I let them say what they wanted to share with me. And then, I chose to let their stories dissipate and leave as quickly as I invited them in. Instead of focusing on those incessantly disempowering phrases and allowing them to control how I felt, I kept my eyes on the path, and chose to feel my feet plant firmly on the ground, one step at a time, in a rhythmic pattern. I felt empowered as I listened to the sound of my shoes crushing the gravel, and I watched Lucy’s body waddle back and forth as she moved up each switchback with the sole purpose of getting to the top. Her energy told me to ignore the voices in my head, to look up, and to trust her and my instincts and the path ahead of us.

I made it up to the top of this 1.4 mile hike with all the grace and strength that I chose to tap into, and when I stood overlooking the city, I discovered how much control I really had over what I chose to agree with and what I didn’t. I realized that it is essential, in any given moment, to find clarity about which thoughts are real and which ones are just stories that I have created over time and through past experiences. I have the ability to let go of those that don’t serve me well, and hang on the those that do.

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What I know for sure is that whenever fear surfaces, I am most likely feeding into some demon from my past. There is usually a story behind the fear that creeps in and, chaotically, swirls around my mind in an attempt to steer me in the direction of self-sabotage. But, not this time. I walked back down to the foot of the canyon, which was remarkably more physically difficult and emotionally daunting as I was now facing the declines and could see how high I had climbed. Lucy was tired and wanted to get to the bottom as fast as she could. Again, I chose to trust her, and she, intuitively, slowed down for me when the hills became steeper. When we got to the bottom, I breathed a sigh of relief and stood still for a few minutes in awe that I had been brave enough to do something I was so fearful of. I knew that this was just the beginning of tapping into more courage as I commit to delving deeper into conquering all that stops me from growing and being the best that I can be.

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When we got in the car, Lucy fell fast asleep knowing that she had done her job guiding me on our mission to hike up and down the South Lykken Trail.   I drove home with a smile on my face feeling a sense of accomplishment, once again digging deep and getting From There To Here

#hiking #courage #innercritic #authenticity #southlykkentrail

 

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