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Monday mom challenge: Do something that scares you

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Facing fears

On the Internet the other day, I read about the retractable glass-bottomed observation decks that have been installed on the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) in Chicago. Just the idea of it made my heart race. No way, no how, I thought, never would I step out onto a glass-bottomed ledge like that one, or the platform that extends out over the edge of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Nuh-uh. No way.

Scared Woman

But then I got to thinking about why. Am I really afraid of heights? Or is there something else going on? And I got to thinking about the fears that my kids have had over the years and the ways we have addressed them - and often overcome them. It seems that as we become adults we do less and less overcoming of fears and more and more just accepting of them (which is a good thing, don't get me wrong), but maybe we need to overcome some fears, too.

To get all business-y, it's kind of a risk versus benefit analysis. Fears can be real and founded (even somewhat healthy!) and prevent us from doing dangerous things - but they can also hold us back from some amazing experiences and achievements. And wouldn't it be great for ourselves and as an example to our kids not to be held back in any way?

What are you afraid of?

Illness. Snakes. Failure. Those are some of the things that scare me. I know what I can do to mitigate these fears to a certain extent, but I can never fully avoid them. As attentive as I am to my children's health, my son became suddenly and critically ill. I was forced to face my fears in the most awful, heart-wrenching and life-changing way. My son is okay (thankfully) and I would never wish the facing of that kind of fear in that way on anyone, but I now know I can handle that fear - even though it is still a fear. Aside from moving to Ireland or New Zealand, I know I can't totally avoid snakes. There's a (benign) snake living under our front steps right now which leads me to never go outside in flip-flops and generally avoid the front door. To address that rather irrational fear, there's a class I could take at a local science center just for people like me.

Failure is a constant fear and a constant risk in all our lives. I know it has held me back from trying some new things. I can talk a good game about changing professions, but the reality of it scares me. I'm trying to break that fear by doing small things that (could) add up to a bigger things, but it's still scary, it's still stepping into the unknown.

Confronting fears and staying safe

What it means for you to do something that scares you could be just about anything. Maybe it's large dogs that scare you. Could you ask a friend with a larger dog to help you understand the specific dog's temperament and personality as a way to better understand dogs in general? Is it roller coasters? Could you spend some time learning about the physics of rollercoasters and the safety procedures put in place on such rides?

If it's something less tangible that scares you, can you put in place a plan that can at least mitigate the fear? Whether it's more financial planning, or research into certain health treatments, you may not be able to fully escape some fears, but you can at least know what you're dealing with in the most complete possible way. Having a plan and a backup plan can put some fears at ease as much as winning the lottery.

I'm not (necessarily) advocating doing something overly dangerous - physically, financially, or emotionally - unless your own cost-benefit analysis warrants it. But doing something that scares you can have some real rewards, especially when you remember that no activity is 100% safe - including just living.

So what am I doing that scares me? I'm going to be coy here and not tell you exactly what it is, but I am risking tremendous failure. I could fail big time and embarrass my family while I am at it. But I could also open up a whole new world. I'll never know unless I try, unless I do this thing that scares me. So here I go....

Tell us! What fears have you overcome? Comment below!

{headline]Read more Monday Mom Challenges:

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