A couple of weeks ago, I found myself swinging (literally!) above the canyon floor in Arizona. My husband and I were staying at a resort with an incredible variety of activities. Most of them were the pampering kind. Pedicures, facials, massages, insightful culinary classes... Really the options were amazing.
Then there were the challenges.
In comparison to all of the options in the activity guide, our Swing and a Prayer choice was the mildest. We could have chosen to walk across a swinging log suspended 35 feet off the ground, or climb to the top of an equally high pole and stand together on a plank the size of a skateboard before jumping off.
But this swing was enough for me. In the debriefing with our guide, we discussed our fears before and our feelings of accomplishment after. As I talked through my thoughts about letting go of the rope that would send me swinging, I worried over the fear of letting go, of losing control and the thought that my specific individual shortcomings would create the unique one in a million case which would cause me to crash to the ground and break the experience for everyone.
Through analyzing this irrational fear of being the uniquely incompetent soul that would fall to my death, we discussed how this translates to my approach to life. Rehearsing my shortcomings creates piles of fears that block me from taking steps towards goals I desire to reach. The negative self-perception also prevents me from taking risks: socially, professionally, and absolutely physically.
In the days leading up to our scheduled swing time, I talked more and more obsessively to my husband about how nervous I felt. He assured me I didn't have to do it. There was no penalty for canceling, I could use the time for other important activities (reading by the pool!?).
It was in this very truth that I had the option to back down that I took not showing up off the table. I was all in for swinging across the canyon!
Now I'm home, back in my safe world with familiarity and routine and things "how they always are," and here is where the swinging experience translates best. Will I take courage to pick the risky choice over the comfortable?
The stakes aren't as high as a broken rope plunging me to the desert floor, but the rewards could be even sweeter, and longer lasting, than the feeling of swinging free through the air.
What risks are you avoiding today? Are you willing to let go of whatever you're holding onto and see what the rewards might be?