This year, I have been doing a lot of inner work on myself. Perhaps it is because I am about to undertake a big life changing event, which is bringing up all sorts of emotions.
Many people who know me (or meet me for the first time) generally assume I am full of confidence and am up for risk taking, which is a half-truth. It is a case of having to force myself out of my comfort zone, I’ve been doing that most of my adult life.
As a parent, one of the strongest emotions is to protect your child, against absolutely anything and everything that may hurt them. This is a human instinct and will help to keep that child safe. The problems begin when a parent’s fear is irrational and there is a blurred line between what an actual real-life risk looks like, and what may be the parents own fear catastrophising a situation.
If you grow up with a parent who catastrophises and leans more to a negative way of thinking, you will be conditioned to have anxiety. This is not the parents fault, as they will be acting through love and doing the best they can in that situation. It can also have its advantages as it will make you super vigilent with a sensible head that keeps you out of danger with the clear understanding of consequences due to certain actions.
The key, like most things in life, is to find the balance and take “healthy’ risks and to not avoid situations by overthinking the risk.
If you have been overly protected as a child you may find it difficult to trust your own judgement in a given sitation.
I am sure there are a lot of people who are reading this that may relate to what I am saying. It does not mean that you were not loved properly, it just means that the fear cycle was not broken with you. So, it is your job to break it with the next generation.
In the past, I have had talking therapy for my anxiety. I had no idea how my anxiety had filtered into so many aspects of my everyday life. I have had to retrain my brain to turn every situation that takes me outside of my normal routine or comfort zone into something that isn’t about to hurt me or put me in danger (or atleast to have negative outcomes).
I’ve had to work very hard to do this with my daughter as the last thing I want is for her to have the burden of anxiety on her shoulders and for her to stop living life to its fullest.
Last week, at the grand age of forty-one, I rode on the back of a motorbike for the very first time. My daughter had even beaten me too it, at age eight my husband had her kitted out with safety gear and took her on some little trips.
The internal pain and worry of her doing that was agonising for me, I won’t lie, but I had to fight that fear to allow her this, she WANTED to do it, and that is massive, as sometimes she is fearful like me and it stops her in her tracks. So, I had to support that, and logically look at the risks and make an informed assessment of it.
Everything in life is a risk, EVERYTHING. A hot cup of coffee being given to you is a risk of it burning you, but we do not deem it a risk because it’s something pleasurable and we like it.
Getting on the back of a motorbike carries a lot more risk than having a cup of coffee. Yes, that risk can still be measured to a degree, taking into consideration the external road and weather conditions, skill and experience of the rider, protective gear worn and how sensible the rider is with speed and judgement. Certainly, you cannot account for other road drivers’ actions, but as my husband always says “If I have an accident on my bike, I can assure you it won’t be my fault” – this is because he is constantly accessing the risk with every turn, junction and decision he needs to make on that bike, assuming always that he cannot be seen by other drivers.
I used to believe that getting on the back of a motorbike would lead to certain death, until I broke it down just like I described in the paragraph above. Instead of saying an outright “no” – I dissected it rationally, like I have been doing with a lot of stuff in my life recently. This appears to be anxieties worst enemy, because the more you do it, the more you realise that most of your worries are in your head.
When I sat on the back of the bike for the first time, and he pushed off with the engine roaring in my ears, I felt immensely exposed. The feeling that I could slip off the back of it as he accelerated made me feel so vulnerable. Like it would be very easy to die.
I wanted to cry as he navigated along the streets towards the first main road. But I did not want to cry because I was terrified. I wanted to cry because I was finally letting go and trusting.
As we turned the corner onto the busy main road and as I leaned in, I understood that I wasn’t going to slip off that bike, i decided to trust in myself to hold on and I decided to release the fear altogether. This is a man I have known for twenty-two years, he has a racing licence and has a lot of experience with riding and driving many different types of vehicles. He always makes the right decision because he thinks it through. I had trusted him so many times with other mundane stuff in my life, now that I really needed too, I decided to totally do just that. To trust.
To relinquish all control and just “be” in the moment is one of the most liberating feelings I have ever had.
The simple fact is, we do not know when our final time here will come. But if we spend our whole life trying to avoid it, it will stop us living. And I am done with expecting the worst.
As we sped through the open countryside on that bike, I have never felt so alive. It was one of the best days of my life, and I will certainly do it again.
I feel my moto now is to take the risk after you have logically done the assessment, then go for it. Trust my gut always “the knowing” that is helping me make decisions has never let me down so far. But I won’t let the fear win, I’m choosing life now, and it feels bloody amazing!
Until next time,
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