I was a dizzying 90-feet above the dense Amazon jungle. The narrow canopy bridge beneath me sagged and bounced with each anxious step. White-knuckled, I clutched the straining steel guide wires that heaved and creaked as I inched my way across the wobbly expanse.
I spotted a shiny new piece of wood replacing one of the weathered, mossy planks that comprised the hanging bridge’s timber flooring and tried not to obsess about the unthinkable – a floorboard suddenly crumbling and plunging my foot, and me, into the dense tangle below. With laser focus, I concentrated my gaze at a distant point and edged my way to the awaiting platform.
If only there weren’t five more bridges to cross. If only my legs would stop threatening to collapse. If only I’d read the brochure more carefully… I wanted to be fearless. I really did.
Most of us don’t set off on vacation to face our fears. But the angst of traveling beyond your comfort zone, no matter how unnerving, can serve to teach, inspire and challenge us to push through and return home bolder and braver.
The next time fear threatens to ruin your adventure here are 5 strategies to help transform terror into courage.
1. Question your thoughts
Look closely at the thoughts fueling the fear. Are they realistic? Is a different, less terrifying, scenario just as possible?
2. Allow for discomfort
It’s easy to opt out. But if you're willing to be uncomfortable, to allow yourself to notice the roiling emotions but not buy into them, you reduce fear’s power, and that's when boldness begins.
3. Push through
Courage doesn’t come to those who avoid fear; it comes to those who act in spite of it. When you choose not to defy fear, you choose not to honor your capabilities. Choose otherwise.
4. Evaluate the consequences
Ask yourself, "What is it costing me to be afraid?" If the answer is your joy, your sense of peace, or your relationships, the cost is too high.
5. Have faith
Bravery is not instantaneous. It is a habit of thought cultivated with effort and humility and faith. The greatest act of courage is to identify your fear, accept it and move forward: The feeling may still be unpleasant, but it’s tinged with hope and nurtured with love rather than pain.