I took my family to an amusement park to celebrate my stepdaughter's birthday. I hadn't ridden a roller-coaster in probably the last 20 years or so, and they've only gotten bigger and faster since I've last ridden one.
My normal stress relief is the gym but I haven't been to the gym in the past few days. For some reason yesterday the only way I could think to release stress was to ride the absolute scariest rides I could find.
Nothing was crazy enough, nothing was fast enough, and every time I would ride something more extreme I wanted the next thing to be more extreme than the previous ride.
At this point I'm convinced that skydiving is my only cure, so that will be next on my agenda of things to accomplish.
My son is almost 8 years old now, and he's finally tall enough to ride some of the larger rides at the park. He rode a couple of the smaller roller-coasters that he had ridden in the past, but then he became curious about some of the larger rides. As curious as he was he was still quite nervous.
I had to talk him into getting on a few of the roller-coasters before he would do it. I talked him into it in the same way I talk myself into a lot of things.
I said, “You're not going to die, you just go through it and live for the moment. You'll never know what it's like if you don't at least go through with it.”
I think sometimes as we grow older in life we become more frightened of everything. We start looking at every obstacle in life as that scary roller-coaster that we don't have the balls to get on.
We try talking ourselves into it, we constantly look at it going through the drops, loops, and climbs, but when we hear the people screaming we snap back to reality and tell ourselves, “That must be scary.”
We start telling people that when we were younger we would do all of those things, but now we wouldn't dare do them. Yesterday I decided to live completely the opposite way of that and look for the most insane things I could find. Nothing felt extreme enough to me and I started focusing on every part of the ride besides the fear.
On the climbs I admired the incredible views and how peaceful things seemed up so high in the air. On the descents I enjoyed the weightless feelings I had and the incredible speed. On the turns I enjoyed the force of feeling stuck to the tracks.
When you start focusing more on each part of the experience rather than the overall fear that some people get from psyching themselves out, things that are scary to some people like roller-coasters become enjoyable.
All fear leaves the body when you shift your mind. Fear is nothing more than a weak mind.
I tried in the best way I could to explain this to my 8 year old son. I said to him, “This ride is like anything else in life, it looks scary. But you've never done it before so maybe it'll be fun if you would just try it.
Maybe, just maybe… you'll be proud of yourself for having the guts to go through it no matter how scary it is and no matter what happens.”
I'd like to think that that talk with him will stick with him throughout his life. A lot of what we remember in life is based on an emotion we had during the time we heard it. It's important to look for these opportunities to teach kids whenever you see them.
How could my point have made any sense to him if I didn't do it all myself? When someone tells you something, they need to be able to show you what they're talking about in order to validate their point. Without this validation their talk means nothing.
I went to get on the biggest roller-coaster there and I sat in the very first cart to make my point clear to him.
My point was pretty simple; piss on fear, just go through things and see what happens. Once he saw this he started going for bigger and bigger rides himself. He started riding things I honestly never would have had the guts to get on at that age!!
There are a lot of people walking around right now who know something is wrong with their lives but they can't figure out what it is. I've been this guy many of times.
It's like this feeling you have deep down that something isn't right but you cannot put your finger on what it is. So you start going through all likely scenarios that you can think of.
Do you want to know what's wrong most of the time? I'm going to give you the answer right here in simple terms; you never had the guts to get on the roller-coasters of life, and deep down you know it!!
People tend to focus so much on the fears they have in life rather than experiencing the moments, that they stop taking chances. They turn into the “mature” adults who won't get on the roller-coasters but would have done anything in the park when they were younger.
I was talking to a friend one evening on the phone and he began talking about how he felt like he was holding himself back in the gym. He told me that sometimes when he would get under the bar he would be afraid. He was asking me how to get over this fear of not being able to lift the weights.
I took a moment to think about this question. I think that there is more fear of failing than there is with just trying things.
I like to live by the saying, “Even when I lose I win.”
This means that every loss brought on an experience that you wouldn't have had otherwise. The only way to get better at life is to play in enough games.
A team that never goes to practice will never make it to a championship game. So every time you want to approach a girl and back down, that is one practice you failed to show up at. You may walk up to a female and look completely stupid and that's perfectly fine, because at least you had the courage to try one of life's roller-coasters!!
You're going to fail again and again and again when you try enough in life. People fail at businesses all the time. Failing is not uncommon. If you're not failing then you're not going big enough.
Eventually things are going to work out for you and you're going to start opening more doors in life. I've seen some of the most muscular guys lack the guts to try even the smallest rides in life!!
“Wait a minute John, so you're telling me that muscles don't mean shit?” That's EXACTLY what I'm telling you!!
Some of the largest guys I've met in life are also the biggest weenies!! They continue to build their bodies larger and larger to protect themselves from something they lack on the inside. Everything from poor eye contact to lack of communication skills, you can just see right through people like this sometimes.
These guys are like those adults giving the roller-coaster speech to their children, but then not having the balls to get on the ride and show them what they're talking about!! Gaining muscles isn't going to solve all of your problems. Yes, it can help with confidence and feelings of accomplishment, but it damn sure won't give you a strong backbone in life.
A strong backbone can only be built based on taking chances. Everyone is afraid of something, it's how they handle that fear that defines them.
I can remember being afraid to be a father. I had to section off a formal dining room with sheet rock and convert it into a third bedroom, and I had never done sheet rock work before. Time was running out as my wife was getting closer to giving birth, so I just took the plunge putting up sheet rock, mud, and then sanding the walls down and painting the new bedroom. It turned out great!!
I was afraid of not being able to afford things to provide for my family with a new son on the way and a wife who wasn't going to be working. But I still got on the roller-coaster of life and went through it all. I worked overtime and picked up part time jobs when I could to make sure my family always had what they needed.
I continued on with bodybuilding as I went through other fears in life because bodybuilding helped me at least feel grounded. Being afraid to lift a certain weight eventually becomes a thing of the past after you try it enough, the same way that being afraid of being a father becomes a thing of the past after you try to be a good father over and over again.
The key word here is “TRY”. Nothing worth having in life comes easy, but if you don't at least try then you'll never know. A lot of men are afraid to take chances anymore.
If small things in life are making you afraid then maybe you need to look at them like that roller-coaster ride. No matter what happens, if you get on the ride enough and just go through with it then eventually that fear will begin to go away. Pretty soon you may just be having fun with the roller-coaster ride of life!!
If you never get on then you'll never know. You'll just keep watching the other people ride past you as you continue to stand there looking on. That's life.
Train hard, live hard!!- JD