exit shot of woman tandem skydiving near Fayetteville

Why You Should Do Things That Scare You

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Why You Should Do Things That Scare You

Want to rock your dreams and live an absolutely extraordinary life?

Of course you do. And you can. The thing is: It’s going to involve things that scare you.

With an extraordinary life come extraordinary challenges. In order to surmount them, it’ll be necessary to get comfortable with fear. And the only way to get truly comfortable with fear is to practice facing it…on the regular. By coming face to face with fear in ways that really challenge your boundaries, you push out the edges of your comfort zone and–indeed–become that much better at living.

Your ability to be awesome, after all, is a muscle. It needs to be worked out. When you lift heavy weights, your muscles get stronger; when you act on the things that scare you, your character gets stronger. Your comfort zone widens. With it, your personal power expands. And it’s all about accepting discomfort.

The Real Deal With Comfort

Comfort feels good. No? Hanging out in your comfort zone is easy.

Feelings of comfort, however, mean exactly one thing: You’re not going anywhere. You’re in what’s called “homeostasis”–the mental and physical equivalent of lying in the fetal position. Here in homeostasis, your body, mind and heart stop noticing what’s going on; they stop engaging, because they don’t have to; they start to atrophy.

Human homeostasis didn’t start life as a bad phenomenon. In fact, when the world was legitimately feral and terrifying, it provided a physiological place for the beleaguered to recover and heal. Indeed, it still plays that role in lives that have been upended by some dread circumstance such as illness, war or any of the other unignorable tragedies that may befall us.

However, over-reliance on homeostasis–outside its important role as a healing space–will do you about as much good as wolfing down cake when you’ve been getting enough calories otherwise. In other words: For your own good, don’t make a habit of it.

What Lives Outside of Comfort

Here’s an exercise: Think about the things you want most right now. Make a quick list.

Okay, you say. I want to to quit this job I hate, ask that cute barista for a date and buy that plane ticket to Hawaii to learn how to surf. But those are individual things, right? It’s not like they’re related. And why are we talking about this, anyway? Isn’t this blog about skydiving?!

If you think about it, though–they’re all related–and they have everything to do with skydiving.

Here are the two things your list items have in common:

  1. Any of the things on your list has the potential to be the best thing you’ve ever done.
  2. You need more chutzpah to do it or you would have done it already.

The elemental difference between extraordinary people and their ordinary counterparts is that the extraordinary people have worked to build the chutzpah muscles that vault them way beyond the ordinary. And the only way to do that is to work those chutzpah muscles, work them often, and work them hard.

How to Use Skydiving to Grow Those Muscles

If you’re unsure of how powerful working your chutzpah muscles will make you feel, we have a great tool to show you: A tandem skydive.

Skydiving is such a fantastic tool for personal development that we meet therapists all the time who long to prescribe it. Tandem skydiving, after all, has two elements that almost nothing else on the planet can boast: it’s super-duper scary for a first-timer to do, but it’s also–statistically speakingvery safe. That means that you can reap all the rewards of pushing practically every fear button in your body without the inherent danger of, say, diving off a 60-foot cliff or running with the bulls. Tandem skydiving is also super-repeatable–so you can keep going back for that boost on your own schedule. (Some of us haven’t ever stopped!) Check out this hilarious video of Will Smith talking about confronting his fears through skydiving:

And here’s the truly magical part: Once you’ve enjoyed the oh-my-golly-I-can-do-anything feeling of a skydive, it’ll inspire you to keep moving. You’ll start doing things every day that leave you vulnerable; that make you unsure of the outcome. The more you do this, the bigger your comfort zone will become. Before long, you’ll be doing things on the regular that you never thought yourself capable of. Folks who do this often find that they enjoy doing what they used to be terrified of. Folks always find that something great happens when they overcome their fear. 

Think about it this way: You don’t yet know what you were born to do. You probably haven’t done it yet. And it’s almost certainly outside your comfort zone.

Maybe–just maybe–you belong in the sky. Come and find out!

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student in freefall with psp instructor

As a member of the Canadian National 8-way skydiving team, we have trained at many DZs over the years. By far, we have never been treated as well at any other drop zone in the world. This is our new go to DZ. Cannot say enough good things about this operation!!!

Heather Porteous