What’s More Important Than Your Fear?

Kim McKinney

Photo by Grant Czerwinski on Unsplash

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear.” Ambrose Redmoon

Years ago my office was on the 12th floor of a downtown building. It was a beautiful view, with a window that took up almost a whole wall looking out onto a magnificent vista. On a clear day I could see for miles in several directions.

I loved it. Well, unless I stood by that window and looked straight down at the sidewalk below. Or if the window washing guys were out there hanging on a small board hung by cables and washing my window. Then I got a bit queasy and had to leave the office. It creeped me out. Those were the times I had little appreciation of the window or the view. I only noticed how high it was up there on the 12th floor and how only a piece of glass stood between me and a big fall.

The truth is, I don’t like heights very much.

“I don’t like heights very much.” I always thought that was an unchangeable declarative sentence (a sentence that ends with a period, for those who have been away from school for a while, or were dozing when we learned it.)

That sentence usually continued with the words “so I can’t…” , followed by a laundry list of all of the things that require you expose yourself to heights.

I’ve found, however, that the sentence doesn’t have to end that way. In particular, replacing ”so I can’t” with ”but I can” can make some major changes in our lives.

For me it began with a desire to see the world. I tried a plane flight, and not only wasn’t scared by it but loved every second of it. I don't like heights much, but I do love to see the world.

I went on a roller coaster at an amusement park. I had watched kids ride and they seemed to enjoy it.

I then took my first hot air balloon ride. It not only wasn’t scary, but it was all I wanted to do. I don't like heights much, but I do love floating through the sky.

And thus the adventures continued.

In changing that sentence from “so I can’t” to “but I can” or "but I do love," we change who we thought we were.

I don’t like heights very much, but I can….

  • Enjoy being at the top of a hill on a roller coaster, anticipating that drop in my stomach as we go down
  • Ride in big planes, and small planes, and helicopters and anything else someone gives me the opportunity to fly in
  • Fly in a hot air balloon, peer over the sides, and feel no fear
  • Parasail and look for miles at the views around me
  • Glide through the air on a zipline.
  • Walked off a 46-ft tower on command, maybe with a slight hesitation and no desire to do it again
  • Sit in the doorway of an airplane in flight.
  • Hang from the wing of an airplane and drop, trusting the parachute and the young guy that packed it, and my instructors who said I was ready to do it

My love of flying seems to supersede my fear of heights.

Fears are natural. We all have them, whether we are willing to admit it or not. We all deal with them differently. Still there is something we all have in common. To conquer that fear we have to want something more. Something has to be bigger and more meaningful than the fear.

  • Sometimes it is pride. We don’t want people to know we are afraid, or we don’t want them to ridicule us for being so.
  • Sometimes it is what we gain if we overcome it, versus what we lose if we don’t. We ask someone out because a chance of a relationship with them is worth the possibility of rejection.
  • Sometimes all it takes is us not wanting to be scared of it anymore, not to let it paralyze us. We go to that doctor’s visit we have been putting off because the truth of finding out what is wrong with us is easier to deal with than the constant terror of the possibilities of what actually is.
  • Sometimes it is just because we want to prove to ourselves that our own expectations of who we are are not necessarily valid. We don’t like being the person sitting on the sidelines because we are scared.

For some reason one day it became very important to me to face my fears. When I started to mentally make a list of what they were, it was a long one that kept getting longer. It was keeping me from living life to the full.

While some of my fears were very valid, there are others that are simply phobias or just things I wasn’t keeping in perspective. I knew there was no rational reason for them, yet I let them control some area of my life. They had no power in themselves. I gave them power and kept restocking it.

In some ways these fears become little gods. We worship them. Nothing can come before them. They are dynamos and we are the generator.

But there is great freedom in facing fears, in rejecting them, dismantling them, and denying them power in our life. When we make the decision to no longer nurture our fears or worship them, we can lose the bindings and make our escape to freedom.

There are fears that are valid and should be respected. There are others that are bad medicine that will incapacitate us and paralyze us and sometimes kill the essence of who we can be. Those are the fears we need to conquer.

Letting my fear of heights go sometimes has changed how I approach life. The fear has not gone away, but it is not the massive roadblock in my life that it used to be. My life became so much better when I suspended that fear and entertained the possibility that there were things that trump it.

Take me into a high office view now, and the picture is clear and the scenery my focus. I won’t look down. I will look ahead. Add a few positive “buts’ and "cans" and "dos" to the things that scare you. Give it a try. Learn the joy of conquering fears.

I don’t like heights very much, but you know something? I really do love to fly.

“She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom.” Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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I love stories of people and places and enjoy telling these stories. I live in my hometown of Statesville, NC, in the Charlotte area, and love to show how lovely life is here. More is going on than may meet the eye. I also enjoy expanding throughout North Carolina to show the places and activities and people that make me believe life is fascinating and travel as much as I can, so write about that, too. I also have a passion for justice and a special interest in accessible healthcare, including treatment for drug and alcohol dependency. I am a woman of faith, joy, laughter, adventure, and live life to the full. Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/kimmckinney719 or my blog KimberleyMcKinney.com or https://kimmckinney719.medium.com.

Statesville, NC

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