Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Facing Fear

A few days ago on a popular hiking forum someone asked what we thought the biggest mental or emotional challenge involved with hiking was and then asked how we handled it. Immediately it brought to mind the time Michael came to visit me while I was thruhiking the Appalachian Trail. It was awesome to see him but when he dropped me off at the trail and drove away it really messed me up. I questioned why I was hiking and had no motivation to continue. And so I responded with a short little recap of how I spent the next few days zeroing out in the woods trying to get my mind back into a thruhike. Over the next few days other people shared their stories and I guess the topic kind of got stuck in my head because I kept thinking of other times when my thoughts hampered my hike. I am a very happy, positive person and because of that I really didn’t get bothered or bogged down by the incessant rain or the extreme heat but there were a few real mental challenges out there for me. One day it was the overwhelming snow, another time it was worrying about finances and yet another time was how slow it felt like I was going. 
The common denominator in these situations was worry. I worried about not making it or not having the gear to get through the snow or running out of money and losing my job because it took me so long to hike. I worried about being away from everyone for so long. If only I didn’t worry! 
I do tend to look at the positives in life and I’m sure that helped me set aside the negatives (worries) and just hike it out but I’m wondering if there is a better way? How do you cope with your worries?   
In many ways worry is just another form of fear. When I think of it that way, it’s easier for me to face. I don’t see myself as a person who is afraid and I will actively challenge fears as they come up. In the future I will do the same with worry. Any worry I have, I will face head on and challenge. They say face your fears, I’m going to step into mine! I will:

1. Challenge every worry.

2. Assess the validity of each worrying thought. 
Is this something I should be worrying about? Is it a real problem that needs fixed or just a fear.

3. Accept the things I can't change and move forward.

4. Embrace Uncertainty.
On the trail it's called "embrace the suck" (thank you Zack Davis) but really I think its just the ability to embrace change and be flexible to whatever happens.

I hope this helps someone. I think it's a good thing to think how you will deal with thoughts, worries and fears and have a mental plan in place for those moments. Hike On!

1 comment: