The Confession of (not shopaholic) adventurous traveler: “dealing with phobias and my red shirt”

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Ever since, I have fear of heights. I’ve been struggling to overcome it and since high school, I thought joy rides in amusement parks could at least lessen it. Though I was able to control my emotion I realized that it was only psychologically manipulated by myself.

Let’s talk about phobias. I did research about it and I learn that it is a persistent irrational fear of a specific object, activity or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it. The term phobia is encompassing and usually discussed in terms of specific phobias and social phobias. Specific phobias like arachnophobia or acrophobia and social phobias are phobias within social situations such as public speaking and crowded areas. Phobias vary in severity among individuals. Some individuals can simply avoid the subject of their fear and suffer relatively mild anxiety over fear. Others suffer full-pledged panic attacks with all the associated disabling symptoms. Most individuals understand that they are suffering from an irrational fear, but are powerless to override their panic reaction. (source:Wikipedia)

In our Psychology class in college as I remembered, the professor explained that we can be able to overcome our fear by directly facing it and this could not just be practiced once. You need to do it over and over again. The more, the better until the stimulus could shrink in itself by the response. You could even intensify the stimulus so as to immunize the respondent. At the end of the day, respondent may enjoy the course of exercise and even forgot that he/she once had that fear. Again to overcome the fear is not just a matter of controlling or manipulating your emotion but by directly facing it through courses of practice until you get used to it. Yet there are two possible outcomes: either you’ll enjoy and sees it as no longer fear and wonder why you ever felt and think of it that way, or when you developed it as a habit, you’ll get used to it. However, sometimes a habit could be boring. See the difference? If this thing happened you may get back on the first step or start all over again. Who says it’s wrong to stumble again and again? “Happy are those who learn from their own mistakes but happier are those who learn from other’s mistakes.” But haven’t you realized that less pain is less gain? So it means the level or intensity from anything learned (theory without application) is less compared to the level of happiness from the theory being applied in the real situation. But worry not because you don’t need to experience all the pain (to the full extent) to achieve the higher level of happiness because if that’s so, you are in wrong motive, wrong light. And since God don’t give loads heavier than we can carry. He exactly knows our limitations as He also knows our strengths and weaknesses. And He is not tired of your call for help. He’s never tired of us. All we need to do is to lean on Him.

As the song goes, “Savoir He can move a mountain, my God is mighty to save, He is mighty to save. Forever, author of salvation, He rose and conquer the grave…Jesus conquer the grave…”

The red shirt at the cliff…

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Yesterday turned out to be one of my happiest days. I overcome my fear of heights or technically called Acrophobia. I learned based on experience aside from the research that in Acrophobia, you’ll feel a sense of panic when at height. You may instinctively begin to search for something to cling to. You may find out that you’re unable to trust your own sense of balance. Common reactions include descending immediately, crawling on floors and kneeling or otherwise lowering the body. Emotionally and physically, the response to acrophobia may begin with a shake, sweat, heart palpitations and even cry or yell out. You may feel tired or paralyzed. You might have difficulty to think. Well I am guilty of all these response. Thanks to my favorite loose red shirt printed with Educators–brave… noble…excellent…for jumping into the roof gutter. Actually that shirt was hanged outside the window when a strong wind blown it about five meters away towards the roof gutter. My room is located on the third floor but we have the chance to walk (if we want to) on the roof of the second floor through our window. The problem is the roof gutter is at the edge and below looked so terrifying knowing that the terrace couldn’t catch me if ever I’ll fall. The song “Catch me I’m falling…” sounded in my ear asking “Who’d catch you if you’ll fall?”

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So I was in mixed emotion: disappointment, confusion, fear and hope. Good thing I was able to develop the so-called “hope” despite the situation. As I was looking at my favorite red shirt, the feeling of not giving up was raging inside me like “It’s my favorite shirt, it has sentimental value, I’ve been keeping and using it for more than six years, it’s so comfy…so I can’t give it up. I must get it.” It seemed there were angel and devil arguing over me on my head. The other one motivates whilst the other discourages. “No, it’s just a shirt. Are you going to risk your life for a single thing of less value? Leave it, you’ll find another greater than that. You’re afraid of heights, right? You can’t do it.”

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I’m about to give up. I thought about death. My mind ran crazier over thinking that it must be my last day so I must pray and repent before I die (I was laughing by this thought afterwards.) when the voice inside me yelled, “But what if you can make it? You must try, there’s no harm in trying. You might regret it if you won’t.” So I gave myself a chance. Next scene was me on the steep roof crawling down towards the gutter with knees trembling and heart pounding. Then I could hear my neighbor below shouting at me, “Look out! You might fall!” But I pretended to be deaf. My eyes were glued on my goal—the red shirt, to rescue it whatever way is while praying “Lord, lord, help me…”

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“Come on…one last step and you can make it.” I kept motivating myself while I reached my hand towards the shirt and I succeeded. Finally, I inclined myself against the down slope roof. I even managed to stand since I found that it’s much easier to incline than to decline. It’s like a wall climbing experience without a harness! I enjoyed the adventure. Aside from it was free, I had save time and energy since it was just on our roof! A house climbing or shall I say a roof-climbing adventure! <chuckle>

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Lesson learned: To maintain your focus or keep the fire burning (passion), you must grasp your goal, not letting it slipped for even a second or else it might escape and not able to return. It’s like our relationship with Jesus. If we thought, He’s getting far; we must draw nearer to Him. If we are crippled and wounded from our walk by faith with the Lord we must lean on Him. Just imagine how Jesus carries you on the shore when you’re too tired to continue the long walk.

Why do we need to overcome our fear?

The biggest danger that most phobias present is the risk of limiting one’s life and activities to avoid the feared situation. Research shows that a certain amount of reluctance around heights is normal, not only for humans but for all visual animals. Nonetheless, it represents an extreme variation on a normal caution, and can become quite life-limiting for sufferers.

 

A prayer of thanksgiving

I praise you lord because you have saved me and kept my enemies from gloating over me. I cried to you for help, O lord my God and you healed me; you kept me from the grave. I was on my way to the depths below, but you restored my life.” (Psalms 30: 1-3)

A prayer of praise

The Lord is my light and my salvation; I will fear no one. The Lord protects me from all danger; I will never be afraid. When evil people attack me and try to kill me, they stumble and fall. Even if the whole army surrounds me, I will not be afraid; even if enemies attack me, I will trust God. Don’t abandon me to my enemies who attack me with lies and threats. I know that I will live to see the Lord’s goodness in this present life. Trust in the Lord. Have faith, do not despair. Trust in the Lord.” (Psalms 27)

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One thought on “The Confession of (not shopaholic) adventurous traveler: “dealing with phobias and my red shirt”

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