Alastair Macartney leaps from the Liberty Memorial World War One Museum in Kansas City.
Are you scared? Is it a rational fear? Often our fears aren’t rational at all. Those that fear air travel will quite happily drive in cars and on roads that have a far higher statistical risk of serious injury or death.
Fear is all in your head. You choose to be scared, to be fearful. Of course, that’s not strictly true. If your mind were free enough to choose then you probably wouldn’t choose to be scared. But on a deeper level, one that may at first seem out of your control, it is you and it is your mind that is choosing to be scared and to feel fear. It is your own personal perception of the situation and how you choose to deal with it.
This means that as well as choosing to be scared, you can choose the opposite; you can choose not to be scared. You can decide to confront that fear head-on, to say no to it. It’s up to you, it’s your body, it’s your mind, it’s your choice.
It all starts in the brain, your brain. The hypothalamus portion of the brain controls the ancient survival reaction known as the fight-or-flight response. As your stress increases about 30 different hormones are released into the body, including adrenaline.
Confronting your fears and standing up to them can be one of the hardest things to do. In fact, just thinking about doing that probably invokes fear. The secret is not to reduce the response from the hypothalamus or the secretion of hormones – we might one day need these very real survival responses. The secret is to prevent the hypothalamus from being triggered in the first place.
Trying to prevent this trigger might seem a little impossible at first, but it works in stages. It starts by reducing the secretion of hormones and dealing with them before you can get close to full prevention.
Alastair Macartney flies his wingsuit down a valley in Switzerland. — by Alastair Macartney
Now for the hardest part - you need to choose to confront your fears. Pick just a tiny fear first. Step outside of your comfort zone and push your own boundaries. Don’t think too much, just delve in and go for it. Force yourself to be scared.
Perhaps you’re scared of your next landing in front of your friends or your first wingsuit jump. Face it head on – line your friends up at the landing area and sign up for your wingsuit course. Commit.
Once you’ve done it, look back. How did it go? Maybe you flailed. Maybe you did fine. But you did it. Did you die or suffer serious injury? No? OK, go and do it again. Tick the next thing off your list. Right now. Commit again. Then go conquer a fear tomorrow and the next day.
How scared were you after a week compared to the first time you took action and confronted your fears? The fear will have reduced. The more you do this the more your irrational fears will reduce. And the best bit, this added confidence translates to your other fears. Your ability to manage other irrational fears and to cope under pressure will improve as you deal with these smaller fears.
Book cover for Perfect Madness
Article adapted from Alastair Macartney’s new book, 'Perfect Madness: Escaping the confines of conformity, making the impossible possible and redefining the road to success in your life!' His book is on special offer at Amazon this week for Thanksgiving, until the end of November 2014 – only $0.99/£0.77. Snap it up while you can, help a skydiver out, and get an easy to read book that makes a great stocking filler. Please leave Al a review on Amazon too!
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Perfect Madness on Amazon US