Courage Is NOT Fainting Anymore When Confronting A Fear
| Gaby Robles
I can still remember the first time it happened to me. I was about 7 years old. I had never experienced an earthquake before. We were inside my home and all I knew I had to do was run to the safest part of our house, the washing machine room. We get there, I sit on a chair and BAM, I passed out from the fear. I woke up on the floor on some cushions, not thinking it was a big deal and forgot about it.
Years later, as I am making memories and creating my own personality, this problem kept occurring. At the dentist, at the mall, in class; the trigger was not the important part, the fear was the initiator and would make the decision for me to faint. And that’s why I grew up to be this very scared, nervous person who would always pick safety over risk.
Years went by and I became more of an “expert” of my own problem. I was able to recognize my symptoms in very early stages and avoid all situations that would cause me to pass out. All of them! But what I didn't know was that avoiding fears at all costs would create a comfort zone that would be smaller and smaller and harder to get out from.
In 2012 I met my fiancé for the first time. He is from the United States, also Italian, smart, handsome, passionate and crazy adventurous. He came to Costa Rica to visit a friend and soon after we started dating. Even though I was excited, I was nervous to try new food, new activities and new experiences, because, with all of this, more fainting would likely occur.
I loved how much he believed in me, and would encourage me to try, but after being together for 5 years, we both got used to me being this way. Throughout our time together I had very serious ups and downs, and I kept thinking that I was just not meant to be strong. I was a fainting goat. It was in me and was never going away.
And I know, you are expecting this crazy moment where I hit rock bottom and get better. But no, the reality was that I had several rock bottoms and would just keep “being myself” - going around life waiting for the next one.
I was so surprised by it because I never saw anything like this before. The idea that someone would choose to face 100 fears instead of just avoiding them blew my mind. I remember showing it to my parents, my sister and my friends, but nobody really knew how deep of an impact this was for me. I started following her on Instagram to get a better idea of what her goals and inspirations were, and couldn't identify more with them. It was as if every picture, fear or phrase was about me, but this is the one that did it: “What if instead of being fearless, we were brave”.
What a thought!
Having fears is not the problem, it’s what we let them be for us. An opportunity to grow or not. Nobody is fearless, but everybody can be brave. And this helped me accept that it was ok, and all I had to do was to try to be courageous.
So I made my first decision.
One day I was feeling a little funny in the stomach. Maybe I thought I was too full or something similar, and my “normal” way to act would be to lay down to lessen the probability of passing out. Rather than choosing fear, I decided to get up and slowly work on the next thing I was planning to do. Another day I did it again, and the next and so on. Taking baby steps, some days were still very bad, but I would keep pushing myself. I tried not to overthink it. Even though in the big picture it still didn't look like I was making progress, I was starting to give myself the control.
Months later I started seeing a psychologist, Sindy, because of a back injury that also caused me stress, which irritated my back injury, which caused more stress, etc. She became a coach to me. A person who helps you go through life and knows how to get the best out of you. One day after many sessions, many problems discussed and many talks, she asked me:
-“When was the last time you fainted?.” And to that I replied.
-“I don't remember.”
Wow! What a moment that was for me. It was amazing how watching that video would changed my entire life. The support of the people around me, my fiancé getting so excited with me and celebrating every little win, making me feel backed up and strong. My family who couldn't be more thrilled about seeing how happy I was feeling and how proud I was of myself. I took the first step. I was brave. It was in me; I just couldn't see it before. And with Sindy I was able to open up to so many more good things in me and let them be.
One time Sindy explained to me that there are three things that fear can make us do: paralyze us, make us run away or fight. And the first one fit perfectly with me. The fear was paralyzing me, stopping me from doing anything and disconnecting me from the world. It didn't matter how little it could have been for somebody else, it was big for me.
This is still a work in progress, but now, after a little more than a year, I feel great, strong and brave. I’ve accepted that new fears will challenge me, but I know that I have the potential to convert them into victories. And that’s why today I feel there are so many reasons to celebrate.
Whether it’s because people are taking action or because they started to believe in themselves, or maybe because they asked for help or are supporting each other. You should always be proud of every fear you face and enjoy the love. As Sindy said to me one day: fear is the opposite of love.
Atte: a former fainting goat.