Addressing a Challenge One Step at a Time

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”

High Falls in Cedar Mountain, North Carolina
Photo by Katie Rea

Repelling down a mountain was not originally on my bucket list. I wanted to try, but I’m terrified of heights. Yet, somehow, I found myself glancing down a mountain cliff.

Luckily, I was with people who had done it several times. They took care of the rope, rappelling device, and the harness. They got me properly situated.

They went over the instructions several times. The idea is to lean back and allow gravity to take you down in a controlled descent or fall.

Yeah, right. A controlled fall? Common sense would suggest it was better to keep close to the mountain.

They assured me leaning back was key unless I wanted to hit the mountain.

I certainly didn’t want to hit the mountain. I also didn’t want to get stuck on the mountain either.

So, I took a deep breath, said a quick prayer, leaned back and followed the instructions. Next thing I knew I was leaning far back and occasionally touching my toes gently with the mountain cliff. It was a dance until I reached the bottom.

I started shaking and hyperventilating at the bottom, but I had done it, and according to them, I had done it beautifully. It was also exhilarating.

It’s interesting how life can be paradoxical that way.

Leaning back seems counterintuitive and scary.  But, in this context, it was the correct thing to do.  I had to get out of my own way to travel to safety. My mind took in the instructions and my body followed.

I got out of my comfort zone and tried something new.

Am I telling you to go jump off a mountain? No, not necessarily. What I am saying is to feel free to take baby steps and get out of your comfort zone. If there is something you have been desiring to do, but fear has been holding you back, find a way to make a step toward the goal.

We cannot grow in body, mind or spirit if we are stuck on the mountain. We need the right gear and advice from people who have had the experience. We need faith in ourselves and in our abilities.

Also, we have to overcome the fear. Fear tells us we are not enough. Fear tells us we are failures or a goal cannot be reached. Fear is paralyzing.

As the Zach Williams song reminds us: “Fear is a liar.

Don’t get me wrong, fear is a survival mechanism. We have fear to steer us away from danger. Healthy fear can keep us out of harm’s way. It depends on what the fear is telling you. Run away from the dangerous lion. Stay off the railway tracks. Afraid of failure? Fear of success? Those are different types of fear, though it often feels the same as facing the lion.

The following are some steps to help you be comfortable in going outside of your comfort zone:

  1. Find something you’ve always desired to do.
  2. Analyze the fear behind it. Is the danger emotionally holding you back or physically keeping you safe?
  3. If it is truly what you want to do, create a step-by-step plan to make it happen.
  4. Take action. Go for it. Take each subsequent step.
  5. Feel free to revisit the plan if you get stuck. Reassess the plan.
  6. Have someone with you who can hold you accountable and/or help you.

It takes time to get out of your constant safety net. And that’s okay. Take the time you need and show yourself compassion. Life can be messy and chaotic.  But remember, sometimes, you have to overcome your fear. You have to take action. Even if it is just a step at a time.  Do something to reach your fullest potential, even if it scares you. This is how you can live your life to the fullest. Lean back. Trust. Don’t be stuck on the mountain.

The way you become brave, is one terrifying step at a time.

Bryant McGill

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