The Energy Boost From Fear

Feeling stuck?   In need of a change?   Craving an adventure or a new experience?

Yet you feel something’s holding you back, and you’re afraid to press forward.   You’re scared.

We’re all in that place at one time or another.   Fear is something I can relate to.   Take earlier this week, for example.   I was craving a new experience.

It was the December meeting of the Adventure Club I started last year with my friends, Allison F. and Mary B.

While driving to our adventure, my jaw began to hurt.   I sensed the pain seemed connected to my fear.

What fear?

The big one — my fear of heights.

My friends and I were on our way to the IT Adventure Indoor Ropes Course at Jordan’s Furniture in New Haven, CT.  You can check it out by clicking Here.

Over the years, I proclaimed that I would never ever go zip-lining.   On the way to New Haven I was wrestling with this decision that I’d made long ago.   But then I remember something my father once told me.

At the time, I was living in Boston.   When I came home for the holidays, my father suggested that I try living in New York City for a while.

He loved the city and raved about it until I said to him, “I will never ever move to NYC.”

And he replied:  “Never say never.”

Years later, there I was, living in my studio apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

And as my friends and I drove to our IT Adventure, I thought about his sage advice.

My jaw continued to hurt and frankly, I was terrified.   However, once inside, I gamely climbed the ladder (no sides!) up 20 feet and onto a small platform.   Allison and Mary took off on the ropes and paths, while I clung to the pole in the center of the platform.

In my mind, there was only one thing for me to do and that was go back down.

But along came Richard.

He was one of the staff members, and he offered to guide me through the maze of ropes, paths, bridges and so forth.   Richard went ahead of me every slow, excruciating step of the way.

He’d hold out his hand for me every time I approached one of the platforms.   He walked backwards (can you imagine!), keeping an eye on me and offering encouraging words.

There was music (would you believe they played Climb Every Mountain!) and the lighting continually changed colors, which is disorienting when you’re focusing with everything you’ve got on your next step.

And I can’t leave out mention of the fountain display – water spraying high into the air – high enough so that you could zip-line through the spray.

Slowly, Richard and I made our way up to 30 feet and eventually to the top, some 48-50 feet above ground.   And yes, I zip-lined – twice!   And both times I wound up spinning in my harness so that I was moving backwards toward the landing platform.

Crash!   Oh yes, I collided into the platform.

At the end, I was bursting with pride inside and thinking I’d do it again … someday.  Because despite the fact that I did it, the whole time I was afraid.

There wasn’t one moment that I didn’t feel the fear.

And as I looked around at all the elements of the rope course that I’d engaged with, I felt both fear and courage.

It took a lot of inner strength on my part to keep pushing forward.

No cameras or cell phones were allowed once you were in your harness.  I guess I have to do a repeat performance at some point in order to have a visual keepsake.

Afterwards, we had dinner at a relatively new and different restaurant in New Haven called Au Chalet.   The restaurant was decked out in rustic charm complete with Tyrolean chairs that featured a heart cutout on their backs.

We dined on the restaurant’s signature dish Raclette (the name of the cheese as well as the technique used in serving it), which was brought to the table warm and then scraped onto a plate filled with pickles, potatoes, onions, bread and if you wanted it, Bratwurst.

One would think we were dining in the Swiss Alps, which was appropriate considering we’d just come from being quite a lot of feet off the ground!

Again, something new.

But here’s what I want to impart to you, based on what I learned with this adventure.

  1. Never say never.   You just never know in life.
  2. When I finally got up some 20 feet, and then 30+ feet and finally to 48-50 feet and looked down often, it wasn’t the fear of heights that got to me but the lack of walls and stability.   Had I slipped, the harness (in theory) would have prevented me from falling to the ground.   A lot of our fears are mental.   We create them in our head.  Anticipation is sometimes worse than the actual doing.
  3. Working one’s way through a fear is a lot easier with support from friends (and in this case, also from Richard, the staff member, who offered encouragement and patience for the duration of my visit).
  4. Stepping out of our comfort zone is one way to achieve new heights (pun intended) in life.   We shouldn’t let fear and/or failure hold us back.   Meeting a challenge head on helps us grow and try new things; it helps to prepare us for more challenges and changes ahead.
  5. After you’ve stared down a fear, you may come away on a real high – a boost in energy – that feeling that you can do this, you can do anything.   And that emotional high and a notch in your belt will help you to assume more challenges in the future.
  6. We all feel incapable at times.   But when you push forward and work your way through your fear, just how capable you truly are will shine through.

The high-fives I got from my friends and Richard contributed to my feeling great, and the pain in my jaw was gone by the time we got to the restaurant – most likely due to clenching my teeth.

But it’s not necessary to climb Mt. Everest to push your boundaries.   For example, a trip to a restaurant you’ve never been to before to taste something new will do, too.

When you pursue a life you really desire, go after a big dream or follow your passion, at some point you’ll bump up against fear.

Even a mega dose of courage may not make you feel comfortable.

So the big one – the big takeaway that is, is that we have to get comfy with feeling un-comfy.

I know.

Have you faced down a big fear, maybe even the big one?   How did it make you feel?   Are you comfortable with being afraid?   Please leave your comments below.   We’d love to hear from you.

Categories: Blog, Confidence, Habits, Happiness, Inspiration, Lifestyle, and Self-care.


  1. Allyson Sorge

    Rio (Barb). I loved and totally related to this week’s subject. Many times in my adult life I have stepped (or jumped) out of my comfort zone–I zip-lined through the rain forest, ocean kayaked and rode horses on the beach in Costa Rica, all of which were a bit intimidating, but so exhilarating and fun! I have parasailed, white water rafted, and dog sledded, but the mother load of pushing my envelope was skydiving (which my baby brother David coerced me into!), which totally terrified me, for weeks prior to and until the moment I hit the air. From then on it was totally amazing, and, second only to delivering my son in childbirth, the single-most unforgettable experience of my life and something I am so glad I mustered up the courage to do. The lesson in it all is that life is short, and there is a lot of living to do! On to the next adventure!!

    • Barb Wickland

      Hi Al,
      Wow! I’m in awe of your bravery! You make a good point that life is short, and there’s a lot of living to do. There are so many fun and exciting opportunities in our world. What we sometimes don’t realize is that stepping out of our comfort zone can be as simple as taking a new route home from work. The energy boost we get from fear or even from breaking our regular routine can give us that extra kick we need, stimulate our motivation and increase our confidence. And I’m with you, onto the next adventure!! Thanks for sharing, my courageous friend!

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