Getting over my Fear of Falling

Had an exhausting Spring Bank Holiday tidying and cleaning. The momentous undertaking that is sorting through all my possessions is definitely worthy for a post in itself. I found myself mainly dusting my art books, and then deciding to give half of them away. Gone are the days when I keep things ‘just in case’. ‘Just in case’ they come in handy, ‘just in case’ they inspire my art in some way, ‘just in case’ I suddenly decide to completely change my style of painting and my personality… etc. The other category is ‘ought to’, as in I really ought to read that art book on symbolism or self-portraits because… why? Enough!

I still have energy enough to post though, my topic today is about my fear of falling (as you might have guessed). I’ve had a low grade fear of falling all my life. I will never jump off walls, or steps, or into swimming pools, or over a skipping rope and I never have done. I have always been terrified of having to do an emergency exit from a plane: how do you jump and land on your bum?? I cannot imagine overriding my senses to do that. Also, most strangely of all, I will never run down stairs because I am scared I’ll trip. I’ll run up stairs but never ever down.

This is not something that rules my life but it is something I am constantly aware of. It slows me down at the very least, walking down stairs all the time! Personally I would call this an exaggerated rational fear rather than an irrational fear. After all, falling over is horrible! I hate it. It is so disorientating and makes me feel so fragile and vulnerable. Even tripping over my feet is enough to bring me into a cold sweat sometimes.

I was the least sporty child imaginable growing up. I was the one who would watch when the other kids would do handstands or forward rolls, or cartwheels or, as the more gymnastic kids did (or as I liked to think of them: the show-offs), headstands. I was too scared, and not very able. Besides, I liked watching, all that going upside down and hurting yourself was too dangerous. I was safer where I was, bored, but safer.

Which is why it is strange that right now I find myself wanting to do headstands, handstands and all the rest of it. I was nervous starting out. Unbelievably 2 years ago I’d never even done a shoulderstand. I was doing a yoga therapy session and the teacher (my first teacher) taught me the shouderstand along with the gold nugget of wisdom that if I woke up sad I could go into shoulderstand for 5 minutes and that would cure me for the day. Alas it is not true. The first few shoulderstands I was terrified! I wobbled all over the place and I feared for my neck. The teacher told me she’d teach me headstand. I told her I was scared of falling and to this she told me that I had to conquer my fear of falling because that was my problem. This was why I was depressed, because I was scared. Hm. I took this with a cynical pinch of salt. I have always been scared of falling, I had only been depressed at that point for about 3 years.

In yoga you fall a lot, especially while learning arm balances. This doesn’t put me off anymore. I suppose part of it is just familiarity and the knowledge I’m not going to hurt myself badly. Also I think it’s the novelty of learning something new about myself, of changing life-long thought patterns. I’m not that scared little girl anymore watching everyone else having fun: I’m having the fun! And arm balances are so much fun (I’ll come back to you about the headstands and handstands, still learning to love these) I’m on the way to becoming fearless.

And you know how I know this? Last week after coming out of my yoga class I RAN down the 2 flights of stairs when I was leaving. I didn’t think of tripping once. That’s progress!


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