I’m a bit of a daredevil. At least, I don’t think I am, but other people seem to think I am. We had the opportunity on a cruise recently to do “adrenaline” activities on the ship such as flying fox, rock climbing, standing right in the bow of the ship like Kate Winslett in Titanic, and walking the plank (!). To be honest, it was one of the things I was looking forward to the most about the cruise and the absolute first thing I booked us onto.
I say “us”; John wasn’t at all impressed that I’d booked him in for all these sessions, too. He just wanted to chill and relax and not do much.
There was so much that I got out of doing these activities that I probably have a dozen articles that I can write about it!
I’m not physically brave. I am at a distance, it looks like good fun, but when it comes down to the actual moment where I’m required to do it, I stand there, shaking in my boots. Quite literally if it involves heights.
And pretty much every one of these activities involved heights. What was I thinking when I booked myself on for this stuff?
Take Walking The Plank, for example. It starts on deck 15 – the top deck, a good 50m above sea level, and it's as windy as all hell up there. Despite the howling gale whipping around you, threatening to pluck your body from the relative safety of a solid deck under your feet, you then have the opportunity to climb up another couple of metres on to a platform, making your way over two pokey-out bits whilst hanging on for dear life by one arm. Following that little adrenaline rush, you then go for the actual event: you screw up your courage (and maybe your eyes) and you walk away from the dubious security of the tower that you've just climbed, away from the security and safety of deck 15, and out along a plank that’s maybe 20cms (8 inches) wide, out over deck 14, 3 or 4 metres below, possibly waving to the people below, who are watching you and cheering you on, quite obviously ecstatic because it's not them doing it, and then carry on walking along this narrow metal board till you’re out, out, out, beyond the side of the ship. And then, because just walking along the narrow metal plank isn't enough, you get to turn around and lean back, throwing your arms wide, pretending you're not about to poop your pants and trying to look cool for the photos and the audience below.
If you really are cool, and not living in desperate terror of heights, you can look down to the ocean, heaven knows how many metres below.
I didn’t manage to look down. I don’t think I even looked at Deck 14 on the way past; I just kept my eyes on that plank. Then, when the plank ran out, I fixed my sights firmly at the rope that was my only link to life
In these days of regulation, insurance and massive emphasis on safety, there was literally ZERO danger involved. I was held on by two separate ropes and a howling gale accompanied by 10 metre swells couldn’t have shifted me off that plank, which is exactly what it felt like.
But that’s not what the mind thinks. What my mind was telling me in no uncertain terms was that I was in APPALLING danger, I should get the **** down right now and what kind of idiot was I to do this in the first place. I was terrified, and no amount of logical reasoning could do anything about that. I shook my way up that tower and along the plank and carried on shaking for a fair while afterwards. I could have quite happily lay down and kissed the deck when I got down from the tower but I wanted to look at least a little bit cool.
The REALITY was that I was completely safe.
MY reality told me that I was in extreme danger.
Everything that was going through my mind screamed the fact that I was about to die, EVEN THOUGH THERE WAS NO WAY THAT I COULD… unless I had a heart attack or something. But that would have been caused by my own fear not an actual danger. There was no danger. My perception told me that there was, the reality is that there wasn’t.
But what about the height? The wind? The rocking of the ship?
They’re all there, they all exist, but did they put me in any danger? No, not in reality. In my mind, oh my god, yes, they did put me in massive danger,
But just because my mind says something is true, doesn’t mean it IS true.
The point I wanted to get across to myself was that just because my mind is SCREAMING something is true, doesn’t mean it actually IS true.
It’s a matter of trust. Did I trust the instructor who’d just shown how easily it could be done? Did I trust the ropes? Did I trust the fact that, let’s be honest, no insurance company would let anyone do anything that would put them in real danger, right?
So, I did it. I walked the plank.
In my life, in all our lives, our minds will try to keep us out of danger, try to keep us safe and secure. Most of the time we listen to that advice and a lot of the time, it’s good advice. But what happens is that the more we listen to our mind, the more power it has over us. When we listen once, the next time it tries to advise us it reminds us about how it kept us safe last time. Until eventually, we listen to only our minds.
Eventually, we believe that what our mind tells us is the absolute and only truth.
And we live our lives according to what our minds tell us. No matter how much proof there is that we’re safe, like with walking that plank, how many people wouldn’t even CONTEMPLATE doing it? I can totally understand why they wouldn’t, by the way; I hate heights. But if we want something different to what we’ve got now, we’re going to have to do something that the mind is really uncomfortable with. And our mind is going to let us know that we’re in mortal danger in no uncertain terms. It’s highly likely that we’re going to have a physical reaction to it, too.
Our minds are designed to keep us safe; they DO keep us safe. But they also keep us locked in one place, somewhere familiar and predictable.
And you know how the saying goes… “If you want something different, you’re going to have to do something different”
If we want our life to be different, we’re not going to be able to do what we’ve done so far, we’re going to have to do & be something different.
And it’s going to be scary.
It’s probably going to be terrifying.
Our mind will scream about how much danger we’re in.
But just remember, we can find the support (groups, programs, books, seminars, etc), we can find the knowledge, we CAN move beyond our fears, we want something different.
And if we want something different, we have to DO something different.
What’s the plank that you’re going to have to walk?
I’ve always felt that I’m much more physically brave than I am mentally; I’ll do this kind of walking-the-plank thing, but I find it much more difficult to be brave in other areas of my life. I’ve helped so many other people create wealth in their lives, including my husband, but I’ve never done it myself FOR myself; I always put someone else in front of me and hide behind them.
This blog thing is just me, I can’t hide. And it’s terrifying. I can tell you right now that I’m walking a plank, 15 decks or more up.
I have support. I have a great mentor, I have great coaches, I have the knowledge, I have the skills to do this. I’m in no real danger.
But all that doesn’t mean that I will do it, though. My mind is screaming that I’m in TERRIBLE danger and that I ought to stop right now and just carry on letting John be the front man while I hide in the background and direct things from there. That’s familiar, it’s comfortable and safe. Where I am right now and what I’m doing is most definitely NOT safe, not to my mind.
But the more I do it, the more familiar it will become and the safer I’ll feel.
The more wealth I create in my own right, the more familiar it will feel and the safer I’ll feel, until I feel comfortable doing it.
But I have to go through the whole terror stage first. It’s a bummer.
So, what’s YOUR plank? What is it that you really want to do but are terrified of doing because you’ve never done it before? Or you’ve done it before and it didn’t go well?
That’s the worst bit for me: trying and “failing”. Especially “failing” publicly. I don’t make mistakes, I FAIL. At least, that’s what my mind tells me, lol. And if I FAIL, that means all sorts of dreadful things, as you can probably imagine.
What about you?
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Hi! I’m Karen O’Connor, hormonally-challenged, peri-menopausal writer, blogger, self-confessed sarcasm enthusiast, mother of 4, wife of 30 years, destroyer of souls... no, wait, that's just in the mornings...
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