Tag Archive | living courageously

Acquired Fear… And Getting Rid Of It

They don’t think about falling… they don’t care about their edges… they have no interest in making turns… and they have no taste for making pizza out of their french fries.

I’m talking about the young kids I see every day at the Rocky Mountain ski resort where I work.

These kids tuck and go, ski tips pointed straight down the hill… falling doesn’t concern them. The only aspect of gravity that they care about is their acceleration down the hill. “How fast can gravity pull me down this slick slope?”

It’s incredible to watch these kids fly, to glide past other mountain guests, with no effort and no concern.

Even more incredible is seeing how kids just a few years older perform.

They too heavily on their edges and fall. They make slow, awkward turns. And their skis seems to constantly be in the pizza conformation, the v-shape used to slow and stop a skier.

Why is there such a difference?

My theory is this: the older kids have taken more falls.

They know how falling feels (generally not good). And they know that they have taken more falls when moving faster.

This is an acquired fear.

Never mind that as these kids get older, they have developed physically. This means more strength and more control. And as they have accumulated more hours of practice, they have further developed their skills. It makes sense that they could expect fewer falls, doesn’t it?

But they can’t get past that acquired fear. They have learned to associate a conditioned stimulus—going fast—with a fearsome, unconditioned stimulus—the pain (physical and mental) of falling.

It’s understandable to be fearsome of pain. But does it make sense to associate pain with speed when you are capable of avoiding falls at speed?

For the past few weeks I’ve been standing outside my lift shack and thinking, “It’s a shame these kids can’t dissociate speed from pain… that they can’t inhibit their acquired fear.”

But one day I accidentally turned the lens on myself…

It turns out I have some acquired fears of my own. In fact, it’s probably a safe assumption that we all have acquired fears… fears that aren’t logical.

So what is the best course of action when we recognize these fears? Well, there has actually been some research done on this… and the conclusion isn’t the easiest to hear.

The best way to overcome these acquired fears is to experience the conditioned stimulus (going fast in the case of the young skiers) without experiencing the fearsome, unconditioned stimulus (the pain of falling).

We must present ourselves with the conditioned stimulus without experiencing the unconditioned stimulus until we dissociate the two.

For the older kids, this means skiing fast—without falling—until they realize that going fast doesn’t necessarily mean they will fall.

Simple enough, right?

Sure… apart from that one hitch: facing the fear for the first time.

This is definitely the hardest part… I know… I’ve been working on it. But just remember that every time you encounter the conditioned stimulus, it becomes easier to confront… and science says, eventually, there won’t be a confrontation, just a new, fearless, association.

“Do Something”

So life has been crazy the last few weeks. With Christmas and New Year’s, I have been working 80 hour weeks and have been having problems finding the time to write.

Sorry for the excuses, but I do have something for you … a poem. It’s short and simple, but full of meaning. You can find the original here and be sure to check out the other writings of Jackson Dean Chase.

“Do Something”

Do something.
It doesn’t have to be the right thing,
the perfect thing-
it just has to be some thing.
Something you mean to be good,
to matter to yourself, to others.
Doing that one thing
transcends thoughts,
transcends words.
It moves you forward
into the Light.

—Jackson Dean Chase

Quotes — On hate and courage

People may hate you for being different and not living by society’s standards, but deep down, they with wish they had the courage to do the same. — Unknown

By unknown, I mean I don’t know who to credit. According to a quick search, both Kevin Hart and Ashley Purdy “said” this. Regardless of who did say this originally, it’s meaning is still profound … Happy New Year!

Quotes — Eleanor Roosevelt

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. — Eleanor Roosevelt

Don’t “search” for yourself … do this instead.

Almost a week ago, I posted this picture to my social networking profile.

From the top of the run where I strapped into my snowboard.

It’s caption read: “Post-work commute anyone?”

Barely more than a week before I took this photo, I relocated to Colorado to work at a mountain resort for the winter – not something I would’ve guessed was in the cards just a few months ago. But why not?

After riding the GDMBR and then taking part in the Mototaxi Junket, this move seems tame by comparison. But I still consider it to be an adventure. This was the first time I had moved to a different state, and to a place where I knew no one. Why not? That’s the spirit of adventure.

One of the people who commented on the photo said they loved that I was out there “looking for adventure while looking for [my]self … “

Yes, I am looking for adventure … that has become something of my modus operandi. However, this adventuring has nothing to do with “finding myself.” That was something I got out of my system some time ago.

See, finding yourself implies that you’re searching for something within yourself. Searching feels like an eliminatory process … a limiting process. And the word itself — “search” — has such a passivity to it, a desperation — like a failed attempt.

If the search was successful, people would speak in the past tense and say “found” or “discovered.” To search is just to continue the failure. This is why I’m not searching, but creating …

For me, adventuring has become the means by which I create myself. Intentionally doing something I’m not comfortable with is how I ensure I’m taking an an active role in my own personal development – thereby creating myself (and — I’d like to think — a pretty interesting life at the same time).

So … my recommendation: forget looking, searching, discovering (etc.) yourself. Just envision what you want to be and start creating yourself. You are an artist and your life has the potential to be your greatest work of art.

So yes, this winter is my current adventure … but instead of it being a way to find myself, it is instead the way in which I am creating myself.

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