She believed she could, so she did. If you were to see me on the ride there, you would’ve thought I was headed to my own funeral. My body was wrought with fear and my veins were pulsing with adrenaline. Getting out of the car was one step closer to facing my deepest fear — the biggest challenge I’d ever constructed for myself.
You see, to some, what came next would’ve been no big deal. But for me, today was the day that I would truly embody being fully who I had worked so hard to become — the kind of person who doesn’t believe in: “I can’t” or “I could never.” Never? No. I am not that person anymore!
So, months before when I heard the words “I can’t. I could never do that” tumble out of my mouth, they felt sharp, acidic. The words made me wince. Simple words, but chock-full of limitations and self-doubt.
For a whole day after those 7 words spilled out from my fearful heart,
I wanted to curl inside myself and never come out.
It goes against all of who I had become to say “I can’t.” I couldn’t ignore the words and there was only one way to take them back. The very next day, I bought a ticket to jump out of plane (with a parachute, of course, but still…for me this was HUGE). This was my original “I can’t. I could never…” but I couldn’t live with myself if I just let that dangle out there.
I had to face my fear head on. I had to do it.
The day before my jump, I had passed my mental health counseling licensing exam, which is no small feat — but to me, that was nothing compared to jumping from a plane. I had never been so frightened in my entire life by something I had chosen to do. I kept reminding myself that this jump (or dive to my death, as I feared it might be) was a jump to live powerfully from my most courageous self. This jump wasn’t about skydiving.
This was about taking a stand to live fully and risk
and be limitless in my body, mind and heart.
As the plane lifted off, my tandem hooked us together. Each clip he attached made me jolt a little inside. Higher and higher we went. There was no turning back. The videographer asked me some silly questions and all could say was, “I’m scared, but I’m conquering my fear today.” I was conquering my life with courage and authenticity. All the internal work I had done on myself led to this moment.
As we stepped up to the ledge of the plane’s open door, I felt the trepidation rise, my heart pounding, hands shaking, legs weak…and then…I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and joy throughout my whole body. The moment had arrived and I was facing it like a champion. A smile came to my face as he counted: 1, 2, 3. And we flew off into the vast blue sky together like a graceful bird.
Here’s a picture of me just at that moment of sheer and utter joy…one second before we dove…
And while in flight…
When we landed, my first words were: “I want to do it again!” I was ready to go up again and again. I didn’t that day…but life has presented many opportunities to face my fears since then. Each time, I am grateful (albeit still fearful) for the opportunity to feel that fear and to feel the joy that derives from overcoming it. Each time, I am reminded that I am alive. I am reminded that I CAN.
Here are some valuable lessons I learned about leaning into and flying with my fear:
If I believe I can, I’m more willing to risk and live a more fulfilling life. For me, this is what it’s all about. The life I want to live is about feeling the fear and doing it anyway (even when it’s a fail, it’s a win, if I went for it).
The regret I feel (body, heart and mind) when I don’t lean into my fear is much worse than what I feel when I’m facing it. I want to look back and have as few regrets as possible. Living from fear would yield me a very regretful end.
There’s a voice of fear inside us all that’s trying to keep us safe, but there’s also a voice of “yes, you can” that’s trying to help us to truly live. I have to be willing to listen to the “yes” voice. I can acknowledge and welcome the reality of fear being present without trying to banish it. Then, I can choose to access the voice “yes” and let it be my primary guide. I can foster this by letting the “yes” voice be fully experienced in all my senses, my whole body, my breath and my heart.
It feels really amazing to face fear head on. Giving in to my fear feels like shrinking, small and shriveled. Leaning into my fear feels like I can soar like a bird. I don’t have to jump out of an airplane to feel like I’m flying.
Telling myself “I can” feels so much better than telling myself I can’t. Check out this video…this is what happens when you tell yourself you can, no matter what your circumstances!
The anticipation is almost always worse than the fear during and after. Once I was at the countdown, on the ledge of the plane, I felt such deep peace and joy. The days and hours leading up to the jump were not joyful, but they could’ve been if I knew this tip!
Facing my fear helps me build a pool of resilience for future fears (even if they are unrelated to the fear I faced in the past). Each time I flex my courage muscle, it gets stronger. I just have to keep on flexing. No doubt, life will keep presenting me with opportunities to flex. In case I forget about my ability to face my fears, I wear the lovely bracelet in the main picture that says “She believed she could and so she did” from mantraband.* It helps me tap back into my courage and resilience.
The next time you hear yourself saying “I can’t” — ask yourself if that’s who you want to be.
We get such limited time to spread our wings and fly.
Make your life meaningful. Lean into it.
She said she could, so she did.
P.S. There are so many cool things happening…don’t miss out…
- Listen to my latest interview on S-E-L-F Discovery Radio, where we discuss mental health, mind-body strategies, boundaries, self care and more.
- This Mindfulness & Movement event is going to be a good one at a beautiful venue. I hope to see you there.
- Only one week left until the MindBodyWise stress-busting online program is being released. It’s deep. It’s unique. It works.
- If you haven’t yet, learn more about your mind-body connection by taking the free quiz. Feel free to share it with someone you know.
*While I never recommend anything that I don’t use and love myself, I am an affiliate for some products and services and may be compensated if you purchase them. Your trust means everything to me, and I’ll never compromise that.