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Trying to overcome fear of heights

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time. ” ~Mark Twain

These 2 months have been quite eventful for me as I am given oppurtunity to travel, mostly thanks to my boss who is kind enough to grant me leave and my team members who cover for me while I was away (we always have tonnes of work to be done and work never seems to stop).
During my travels, I have to learned to face my fear of heights. Of course, I am still not successful but the situation had definitely improved from the overwhelming fear that I faced the first time I came down from the stairs in Batu Caves. When I was in Sri Lanka, climbing the Sigiriya was really an experience. The stairs gets steeper the higher you go. Until when you reach the paw of the lion (see photo), as you go further up the peak, you have to climb a series of steel staircase- those with the gaping holes that you can look can see below. And the winds, seeming laughing at me, we blowing especially hard, so much so that I felt I would be torn away from the walls that I was clinging to with my dear life and flung downwards. Anyway, I did not venture up the steel staircase but making it through the lion’s paws, to me is an accomplishment.

Then, in less than 2 weeks after I came back from Sri Lanka, I flew to Siem Reap, Cambodia, this time with a long time pal. Some temples in the Angkor Wat areas are challenging for people like me who have phobia of heights. Still, the strong urge to climb overcome me and I decide to put myself to the challenge.
Angkor Wat is a placed filled with tourist. If you visit there, do remember that most temple fortress which you have to climb would have 4 different stairs in the 4 main directions. Generally, people will be focusing to climb the first one they see, and come down the same way so it can be quite crowded. Walk to the sides or the back where the stairs will be virtually unoccupied. Then you can climb without much disturbance. But do select by surveying the steps- make sure that they are not steep or broken and not covered in green moss (which can make the staircase very slippery).

Anyway, some of the stairs consists of small steep stairs. The step size is so small that you cannot even rest the whole of your foot on it. Determined, I told myself to just climb them and worry about how to get down later. I must say a few times I was really stuck at about 3/4 of the way, too scared to go down or climb up. To finish the steps, I prayed for protection and don’t look down.

After getting up, getting down is even a bigger challenge. If you stand at the edge of the stairs, you could hardly see the staircase because it is so steep. Still, I know I had to get down somehow or another as my friend is waiting for me (Dekey injured her leg and could not climb the stairs). I have to get down with my butt and legs, one step at a time.

It is hard for anyone who does not have the fear to understand the predicament people like me have to go through. Most people who learned to overcome their own fears would advise that we need to face our fears slowly, little by little. You start with an easy task and gradually increase the level of difficulty until you overpass it. For me, each time I tried, it get easier. One bit of advise though, don’t drink coffee or taken in any forms of caffeine if you are visiting temples that require some climbing because your heartrate will accelerate and your fear will be magnified even many more times.

There is a very useful lesson that I have learned from this. Always learn to overcome our fears, whatever it may be. Most fears that we have about various aspects of our lives are unfounded. When you learn to overcome or lessen one irrational fear, you will see transformation in other aspects of your life. You are less afraid to take risks, and develop more confidence and faith in your own self. When you meet with people who try to run you down, you do not get affected by their words and are more calm in a lot of situations- after all, you have learned to face situations that have given you intense fear and got out of it alive, didn’t you? If they are right and you agreed with them, you embrace it and begin yet another journey of inner change 🙂

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