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Facing Down A Fear

Have you ever NOT done something because of fear? Most of us, at one time or another, have been afraid to try something new, especially when it comes to physical moves or fitness. Mine? I’m afraid of heights. Rope climbing, box jumping and in the beginning even pull ups with bands all made my stomach queasy as they involve my feet being off the ground!

If you have a fear that is holding you back with your fitness goals, here are five steps from Shine that may make kicking them to the curb a little bit easier. When I read these steps, it served as a good reminder that there are multiples of ways to conquer them (not everything works for everybody!) and that failure is also a way to learn (my overhead squat came out of falling over numerous times!).

1. Allow yourself to be a beginner
It always looks so effortless when you watch an expert in motion, right? It’s worth remembering that nobody starts out amazing. “When we compare ourselves to those who’ve already perfected a skill, and then are not able to perform at an advanced level right out the gate, we give up,” says Serena Rain, National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Elite Trainer. “Recognize you are a beginner and start slow.” After all, everyone was first-timer once.

2. Ask for help
Before doing something that scares you, confide to your coach about that fear or nervousness (what ever it is – heights, injury, weights or movements) as they can help with the occasional encouraging word as well as direction. They will be glad to oblige. “It is always good practice to have a strong support staff to help you through the difficult times,” notes NASM Elite Trainer Aaron Lawson. “Be sure to express to them your goals and fears. They can really help to keep you motivated and on track.”

3. Acknowledge the fear
Yes, it’s there–but that’s not a deal-breaker. “Fear is a force everyone has to deal with from time to time,” Lawson says. The key is how you deal with it. Admit that yeah, it might be frightening the first time you hop on that bike or walk into that new class or head down that mountain. Allow yourself to feel afraid for a few moments. Then move on.

4. Talk to yourself
I’m not usually a big talker–until I’m facing a big challenge. Then the words come tumbling out: “You can do it. You’ve got this. Stay strong.” Tell yourself how great you are (even if you don’t quite believe it) and you’ll feel better equipped to handle the tough stuff. Here’s how Sharecare mental health counselor Brooke Randolph puts it: “Create your own script, rather than repeating those things that others tell you that you should believe.” Amen, sister.

5. Allow yourself to fail
It’s going to happen sometimes–and that’s okay. You can always try again. “People who do allow themselves to fail usually learn about themselves and learn a lot about what they need to do differently to move forward,” explains Sharecare fitness expert Michelle Cleere, PhD. “If you allow it to, failing can give you some good information about how to not fail the next time,” says Cleere.

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So why bother going through all this? Because the moment you step off that box, or finish that WOD, or shimmy down that rope, you’ll feel so powerful and exhilarated that you’ll wonder why you were ever afraid in the first place.

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