The latest articles to help you maintain mental, physical and spiritual wellness.

Overcome These Excuses and Go an an Adventure

Overcome These Excuses and Go an an Adventure

In February 2011, my friend Kristen and I went to Costa Rica for a week. We were excited about the vacation — which included jet skiing, swimming and snorkeling — but as we got closer to the already-scheduled ziplining portion of the trip, I began to get nervous. I hate heights, and I didn’t want to be suspended far above the jungle canopy. But there was no getting out of it: We had already decided to do everything together, and the ziplining part took up a full day.

As we waited in the treetops, my nervousness grew. “I won’t be able to do it,” I told myself. “Is there any way I can back out?” There wasn’t. I listened as our guides explained the tour (and the safety measures, which helped me relax). Then they whisked us away, splitting us into different groups. There were men and women much older than me flinging themselves through the treetops. There were also much younger kids.

That’s when I decided that even if I had to scream the entire way, I was going to complete the first zipline. Kristin disappeared before me; a brave new Canadian friend waited behind. And off I went.

The first line was terrifying. The second was better. By the eighth, I was a pro — and I loved every minute of it.

Have you been avoiding an adventure? See if any of these excuses sound familiar:

But… I have kids. Take them with you. “For most people, having kids seems to suck the adventure right out of them,” says Charles Scott, who recently authored Rising Son, a book about a cycling trip across Japan he took with his then-8-year-old son. “Parents are rightly concerned about keeping their children safe. I felt that way for a while after my two children were born, but I still yearned to do adventurous things. Then I had an epiphany: See what happens if I bring them along.”

But… I’m afraid. It’s entirely normal to be nervous when trying new things, especially those experiences that are physically challenging or a little dangerous. “Acknowledge your fear,” says Janice Holly Booth, author of the adventure-travel book Only Pack What You Can Carry. “Tell your fear that you’re aware that it’s trying to hold you back, but you’re still going to jump out of the plane and it can come with you or not. Talking to your fear takes away some of its power.”

But… I’ve never done anything like this before. New experiences will make you nervous — you’ve been hardwired that way. “We all have an ancient part of our brain that is responsible for keeping us safe that generates these feelings in order to prepare us to run or fight in situations that are truly dangerous,” says Simon Rego, PsyD, director of the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Training Program at Montefiore Medical Center and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. “You can override it, however, by challenging the negative thoughts and predictions that tend to come up when you’re feeling anxious or fearful, accepting the feelings of fear and anxiety as normal or even reframing these feelings as excitement rather than fear.”

But… I don’t know what I’m doing. Tag along with someone who has the know-how. “If you’re starting a new adventure as a beginner, go out on an organized trip with an experienced guide,” says Discover Outdoorsowner and adventure guide Kirk Reynolds. “You’ll not only get a great education, you’ll have an inspiring experience with a group of people who are pushing themselves past their limits, too.”

But… I don’t know how to begin. Try taking a step-by-step approach, including identifying all of the different reasons that you’re nervous about the new adventure. Then, address each of those fears individually. “Divide the fears into those that are rational and irrational,” says clinical psychologist Carla Marie Greco, Ph.D. “Once the fears are quantified, it’s easier to go through them one by one and look at the connections and ramifications of each fear.”

The experts agree that fear can hold you back if you don’t resolve your issues. So face your fear head-on, and start planning your next adventure today!

Frances Masters

Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist with over 30,000 client hours of experience. Follow her @fusioncoachuk, or visit The Integrated Coaching Academy for details about up coming training.