How do we move forward in the face of fear?
If we meet fear from a Victim Orientation, we are going to react to that fear as a Persecutor from the perspective of a Victim. The primary forms of reacting are fight, flight or freeze. We can fight it by asserting our will to “defeat” it; we can flee by either moving away from it or denying its reality; or we may become immobilized.
I recently witnessed another, more resourceful, way to choose how to respond to fear.
In the Power of TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)™ way of meeting life experience, we know that the way we create outcomes is by taking one Baby Step at a time. What I learned from this incident is that sometimes forward progress involves consciously taking just one breath at a time.
My dear wife, Donna, and I recently spent 2 weeks in China (for pleasure as well as work). This being our first time to experience this ancient and intriguing culture, we naturally included in our itinerary visiting the Great Wall of China.
Our envisioned outcome was to walk a portion of the Great Wall (and, just for the fun of it, to take a picture of me holding The Power of TED* as a TED*-visits-the-Great-Wall moment). As we arrived at the Mutiyanu portion of the Wall, our tour guide helped us buy our entrance tickets. She also recommended that we buy tickets for the chair lift as our way of getting up to the Wall.
“What?” we asked, “Don’t we just walk up to it?” She informed us that, while we could walk up, the walkway involved over 1100 steps and would take 60-90 minutes to traverse, while the lift would get us there in about 15. In addition, her experience was that those who walked had little energy left for the up-and-down walk along the Great Wall itself.
A problem had presented itself. Donna has a fairly pronounced fear of heights. After a few minutes of working the Dynamic Tension between focusing on the envisioned outcome of walking the Wall and the current reality of choosing between walking up and taking the lift (I told her it was her choice), she gulped and said “We’ll take the lift.”
When it comes to heights, I am usually not overly anxious. However, during our ride, there were times where we were at least 100 feet above the forest floor and I found myself holding on pretty tightly and wondering about the safety standards in China! (Take a look at the picture below and you will see the Great Wall way in the distance.)
Although she claims that she was not conscious of speaking out loud, at least a half-dozen times I heard Donna say softly to herself, “Just take the next breath.”
Obviously we made it safe and sound to the top of the Great Wall. Donna faced her fear as a Creator meeting a Challenger and choosing her response. Her choice to move forward in the face of that fear by focusing on “one breath at a time” was truly inspirational.
And how did we come down from the Great Wall? We took the alpine slide. So much for “an ancient experience!”