“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this. I can take the next thing that comes along.’  You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”           Eleanor Roosevelt

While sailing around Catalina Island last month on a glorious tall ship, I was invited to climb one of the 100+ foot masts to get a broader view.

I gulped, my fear of heights screaming “Don’t do it! You’re sure to freak out and won’t be able to get down! You’ll look stupid!” Yet, in the next breath, I knew I had to do it- to prove to myself that I can.

After telling myself “You can do this!” and linking into a harness,  I began to climb up the netting on either side of the mast.  10 feet up, with palms sweaty and thinking I was going to A) throw-up or B) cry or C) both, I continued climbing- humming a cheerful song, carefully focusing on each step ahead of me. I didn’t think about what it would be like to actually reach the top, I just focused on the step in front of me.  I did okay, until I reached the highest point and had to turn around and go back down. Thankfully a guide was there to guide my footsteps and assured me that I could do it.  I looked around, enjoyed the awesome view and then again focused on each small step.  Soon I reached the deck at the bottom and then almost cried from relief and the overwhelming sense of accomplishment.

I started thinking – “why, this is the same as life- this is how to conquer fear !”:

Focus on what you want to happen, not the negative – in this case, I focused on get up and down safely.

Have fun along the way– it makes the journey lighter!

Take it one step at a time– Each small step eventually leads to the completion.

Find support when the going gets tough-   support helps when paralyzed or close to losing it!

I’ve come to realize that facing our fears is one of the ways we come alive.   It works on building self-confidence too, letting us know WE CAN face anything that life doles out.

What are you willing to try, that makes you nervous or frightful? And if you feel moved, drop me a line and share what you’ve done to overcome your fears.