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It's Scary Because It's New

courage Sep 26, 2017

There are 2 reasons why something is scary:

  1. Scary because it will kill or hurt you (physically, emotionally, spiritually)
  2. Scary because it's new


When faced with something scary, we often forget about the 2nd reason and immediately run (or freeze, or hide) as soon as we feel the fear. But how much growth do we miss out on when we don't stop to think about the other possibility?


This summer, we moved to a new state. I took the kids to the park for a break from the moving boxes, and my daughters found a fire pole on the playground to slide down.


They climbed the platform, reached for the pole, and froze. Despite coaching and encouragement from their brother and me, my daughters were terrified of sliding down the fire pole. Nothing we said could convince them to try it.

Then the phrase popped into my head:

"It's scary because it's new."

Because they hadn't done it before, they didn't know how fast they would be going, whether or not their hands could hold on, whether the pole was too high, etc. Their brains were telling them that they could possibly die from this.

I brought my daughters to the bottom of the fire pole and had them hold onto it. We talked through the plan, I gave them some tips on how to slide down slowly, and then we practiced from a lower height.

Not scary.

Once they were comfortable, we tried from a slightly higher point on the pole, and repeated until they were starting from almost the height they had been so scared of before.

The fear was gone, and suddenly it became fun.

Without any convincing on my part, they decided they were ready. They climbed to the platform where they had stood before, knees knocking at the idea of taking the "leap" and sliding down the pole.

One at a time, I coached them through the steps we had practiced at the lower heights, and even though they were still nervous the first few times, I saw their confidence grow each time they slid down.

Now just a couple of months later, they are fire pole experts, sliding down as if they had never questioned their abilities -- and even coaching other kids from time to time. Had they given up because it was scary, they would've never experienced the thrill of the fire pole (and the confidence that comes along with trying, failing, practicing, and succeeding).

What are the fire poles in your life right now? If so, what will it take to get the practice you need and let fear sit this one out?