Fear Management Lessons From Children

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“Athletes climb rock wall and use ropes and grip rocks” by Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash

Each kid faced the same obstacle. They reached a certain height on the rock wall. They looked down and froze, mustering just enough energy to speak a few words.

“I can’t go any higher.”

Each parent took the same approach to get their kid to go a little higher.

“Just go one peg higher and then you can come down.”

Each child went one peg higher and stopped.

“I want to come down now.”

“Okay. Now go one peg higher.”

With a little more encouragement, each one climbed a peg higher. By now, most of the kids climbed to the top without any additional hesitation.

One Peg At A Time

You can guess what happened. Each child had a predetermined belief about how high they could go. Going beyond that height caused them fear.

The fear results from a predetermined belief. They believe they are capable of reaching a certain height. If they try to go higher they’ll fall.

When we encouraged them to go just one peg higher, it forced them to question that belief. After going two pegs higher, they now had enough confidence they could climb to the top.

What would have happened if we, as parents, told them to come down at their first protest? It would have confirmed their belief that they could only reach a certain height.

The Magic Of Encouragement

The added encouragement made them question their limiting belief. They soon realized they were wrong. They could make it up to the top. Maybe, just maybe it’ll spark something in them the next time they take on a challenge beyond what they believe they are capable of achieving.

As adults, we struggle with the same limiting beliefs as children. I myself fall victim to this. The only difference between now and then are the challenges. Thirty years ago I feared climbing up a wall. Today it might be taking on a job beyond my comfort zone or leading a team of more experienced people.

In some ways fear accumulates with age. Thirty years ago I ate food that fell on the floor. Today I wouldn’t dare do that. I tried dangerous feats on jungle gyms. I cringe when my kids do that today.

As we shed naivety we accumulate more fears.

The One Peg Rule For Adults

These young kids proved it to themselves. It’s a good reminder to us too.

We’re capable of far more than we believe.

Maybe you’ve hesitated to hit publish on that blog post. Maybe you avoid asking that friend out on a date out of fear of rejection. Do you keep a book of poetry hidden from the world, worried about what people might think?

You don’t have to throw all caution to the wind but maybe you can go one peg higher. You might find there’s nothing to fear. Or you might find what you feared really isn’t so bad. If that’s the case, why not go another peg higher?

Written by

Experimenter in life, productivity, and creativity. Work in Forge | Elemental | Business Insider | GMP | Contact: barry@barry-davret dot com.

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