Facing fear to enjoy the thrill of life

Dr. Elaine Aron recently wrote about her experience white water rafting in the Grand Canyon. In a beautiful post, she tells the world about how this experience was both incredible, and incredibly scary. She shares with us the fears she had to face on this trip, and not just the fear of the risks that come with white water rafting, but also the social fear of spending 13 days with a bunch of people who are nothing like you, who might make you feel like you don’t belong there, and who wear t-shirts that say things like “The best things in life are dangerous”. While reading about her experience facing her fear to enjoy the thrill of life, I got to thinking about my own fears.

I have always loved the water. I have also always been afraid of the water, and I don’t think anyone close to me knows that about me.

When I was 3 years old, I was thrown into a pool by a kindergarten teacher, and I remember that moment like it was yesterday. It surprises me I managed to get back in the pool and learn how to swim at a young age. I always felt whole in the water. I always felt most like myself in the water. As a little girl, I was convinced I was a fish (or rather a mermaid) in a past life or in another universe. The ocean always brought me comfort; the sight of it, the sounds of its waves, the smell of its salt water, and the feel of its mist on my face. That has always been therapeutic to me.

And yet, whenever I was in it and as much as I loved being in it, I could hear my heart pound in my ears I was so scared; scared of what might be in the water, scared of what I couldn’t see. I was terrified something my bite me, or pull me down, or even eat me up (that would be none other than Jaws, of course). That fear was always there, and yet it wasn’t enough to keep me out of the water.

Jaws

This is what I imagined every time I was in the water even though I’d never seen the movie.

I can’t explain this phenomenon at all. But I can say that this was the case with everything I loved that was somewhat risky. Travel is something else I’ve always loved, and yet after having extensively planned for and committed to a trip, I would have a near panic attack a few hours before we left, and then be completely ecstatic once we got to the airport.

When we had kids, my worry got exponentially worse. There were times it completely paralyzed me and left me depressed for months until I managed to pull myself out. We recently went to Italy with the children, and months before the trip, I had to deal with an intense fear of the potential risks we were taking with them My head was filled with doubt and worry and questions like: What if the plane fell out of the sky (as we are hearing much too often on the news lately)? What if they got sick on the trip? What if they fell and we had to rush them to an ER? Do they have ER’s in Florence? What if we turned away for a second and lost them in a crowded piazza? All those things kept me up at night for months. I told my husband about them only because I wanted us both to be as careful as possible on the trip.

“Let’s smile at our fear, and, yes, take those risks we think are worth it.” -Elaine Aron

We ended up having a fantastic time… the time of our lives! And that, the thrill of life, is the reason I go back for more, regardless of the fears that drive me insane. That’s why I’ve been on 10-day sailing trips, where living conditions are far from what I need to be comfortable, and dream of going again with the kids (just the thought of the kids on a boat… oh boy); that’s why I’ve always loved hiking and camping in the wilderness; that’s why I have been dreaming of white water rafting in the Grand Canyon since I was 16 years old, and have started to look up family-friendly packages.

In her post, Elaine Aron says: “Get over it – not the fear, but the fear of fear.” And that’s what it comes down to in the end, I suppose. It’s alright to be scared, so as long as it doesn’t stop you from truly living.

I watch my son, cautious since he was an infant, afraid of so many things that mean nothing to most children. And I see him now, doing things in spite of his fear. He will do them slowly; he will test the waters before jumping in; he might try when no one’s looking, but he’ll do them. And I see the fear on his face when he’s doing something scary for the first time. But fear is then replaced with pride, and with pride comes excitement.

And then he goes back for more.

Get over it - not fear, but fear of fear

After having bribed our son into getting on the luge for the first time, we had to bribe him to get him to stop.

“The best things in life are dangerous”: I’m not so sure about that one. But I do know that it’s those adventures that come with some risk that make me feel most alive. And that is where I get the strength and will to face those fears.

And it fills my heart with joy to watch my little one face his fears to enjoy the thrill of life.

Facing fear to enjoy the thrill of life

What about you? What are the fears that you have faced?

 

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Even before Google, my mother knew

Being Highly Sensitive isn’t easy. Being Highly Sensitive and not knowing it is even less easy.

I didn’t always know what I was, or why I was the way I was. But there was a time when I wished I wasn’t.

I only discovered Dr. Elaine Aron and her work about a year ago. That was when it became clear to me why my son behaved the way he did. And through my discovery and my new understanding of my son, I realized that I was also a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), which explained why I felt the way I did growing up.
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Why we travel with a sensitive child, by guest blogger Bronwyn Joy

For those of you who missed this incredible post by my lovely guest, Bronwyn Joy from Journeys of the Fabulist.

Enjoy!


No one ever said traveling with young children was easy. And anyone with a Highly Sensitive Child can tell you that doing anything that requires leaving the house, be it flying to Italy or going to the supermarket for eggs, can be a challenge. We try to do everything in our power to make our trips, short and long, as easy and comfortable as can be. My bottomless “Mary Poppins” diaper bag (which only contains two diapers) will be filled with anything we might need: sweet snacks have to come in the chocolate, strawberry and vanilla variety and salty snacks in cheddar and original to satisfy any craving that might come our way; an extra change of clothes in case ours get dirty or worse, wet; a specific water bottle with water at a specific temperature; some favorite toys; some favorite books; and a fully charged phone in case of a public meltdown nothing in the diaper bag will stop but an episode of Tayo the Little Bus.
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If we were having coffee – A blog linkup

Last week, I read a wonderful post titled If We Were Having Coffee. It was written by Suzie81 Speaks, a fantastic blogger. It was nice to feel like I was actually sitting with someone for coffee, and to hear about all the things they had to say. It felt so natural, so friendly. I loved it so much that Suzie, being as lovely as she is, told me about the let’s-have-coffee-together weekend blog linkup, of which Gene’O is the founder and host.

I thought I’d take this wonderful opportunity to pour my heart out, meet some amazing new bloggers, and have some coffee.

So here goes.

If we were having coffee…
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Packing for a trip with a Highly Sensitive Child, and other "unnecessarily complicated" things first-time-parents do

Packing for a trip with a Highly Sensitive Child, and other “unnecessarily complicated” things first-time-parents do

I remember a day, not long ago, when packing up for a trip was something we absolutely dreaded. It was something that could potentially bring on a full blown panic attack on my part. Something that required endless lists to be put together during an entire workweek. Something so physically and mentally exhausting that I needed a week to recover, only to have to repeat the whole process again.

The “trip” I am talking about isn’t some month-long journey halfway around the globe, although it really did seem that way the way we packed. There were no ships or planes or trains or hiking or even hitchhiking involved to get to our destination. It was the short weekend trip we made to go see my parents who lived an hour and half away by car. Continue reading

Why we travel with a sensitive child, by guest blogger Bronwyn Joy

No one ever said traveling with young children was easy. And anyone with a Highly Sensitive Child can tell you that doing anything that requires leaving the house, be it flying to Italy or going to the supermarket for eggs, can be a challenge. We try to do everything in our power to make our trips, short and long, as easy and comfortable as can be. My bottomless “Mary Poppins” diaper bag (which only contains two diapers) will be filled with anything we might need: sweet snacks have to come in the chocolate, strawberry and vanilla variety and salty snacks in cheddar and original to satisfy any craving that might come our way; an extra change of clothes in case ours get dirty or worse, wet; a specific water bottle with water at a specific temperature; some favorite toys; some favorite books; and a fully charged phone in case of a public meltdown nothing in the diaper bag will stop but an episode of Tayo the Little Bus. Continue reading

Being Mean Mommy was never part of my plan

Mealtimes in our house are excruciatingly long. We could be at the table for hours at a time, try out several meals before my kids will accept one each, followed by me repeating the words “eat your food” over seven hundred times before they’ve eaten about a third of it while managing to get the other two thirds anywhere but into their mouths. My baby will magically get food in his diaper while fully dressed.

Proof that a dirty baby is a happy baby mean mommy mealtime long painful meal cleaning up

Proof that a dirty baby is a happy baby

It’s a painful process most of the time, and more than just physically. Before every meal I aim to get them to eat healthy foods, finish up in under an hour, and get them cleaned up and ready to go out and do something fun. And when one fails to reach set objectives at least three times a day, every single day, it can become an emotionally draining exercise. Continue reading

Just last year…

It’s hard to believe that just last year I had no idea what a Highly Sensitive Child was. Sure, I knew my son was sensitive about some things; I assumed he might be shy, an introvert maybe. Sometimes I just thought he was being difficult, defiant, purposefully trying to test me and push me to my limits. I was told time and time again that he was a “difficult” child, and although it drove me crazy, I eventually started to believe it. Continue reading

Pushing a Highly Sensitive Child

The last two weeks have been quite eventful, to say the least, jam-packed with incredible and surprising achievements by both our kids: milestones reached, habits changed, risks taken, fears overcome. What’s funny is that it seems that the last two weeks have been eventful for many mothers of Highly Sensitive Children. I have read a great number of stories from moms whose kids have done amazing things; things that point in the direction of positive change; things that have left these moms relieved, happy, and proud.

I don’t know what it is that resulted in so many people witnessing such great stuff in the short span of two weeks. Was it the stars? Was it the moon? Was it something we all read that resulted in some drastic change in the way we do things that led to this? I honestly can’t say. But I can point out one event that took place two weeks ago that, I believe, started this snowball rolling. Continue reading

Lessons From a Highly Sensitive Mother: Empty Your Bucket, by guest blogger Amanda van Mulligen

It is my pleasure to introduce to you a fellow blogger and very active member of the HSC community. Amanda van Mulligen is a freelance writer. British born, she was whisked off to the Netherlands on a promise of a windmill wedding and now raises three sons with her Dutch husband. She writes about expat life, about living life in a second language and an alien culture, about all things parenting and on the topic of highly sensitive children over on her blog Expat Life with a Double Buggy. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter (@AmandavMulligen).

When I first read Amanda’s post, I felt like I could have written it myself. Nothing can prepare a new mother for what comes after her baby is born. The drastic lifestyle changes; the non stop feeding/cleaning/changing cycle; the pain; the blues; the crying (by both baby and mom); the questions; the doubt; the sleep deprivation. Ah, the sleep deprivation. And yet, it’s a whole other ball game when the mother is a Highly Sensitive Person with an extremely demanding child. I only wish I had found communities put together by people like Amanda to get the support I so desperately needed.

Enjoy this beautiful post! Continue reading