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Skydiving with grandad - twelve tips for a courage toolbox


“Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”  C. S. Lewis

“Fear is the mind-killer … I will face my fear.  I will permit it to pass over me and through me.  And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.  Where fear has gone there will be nothing.  Only I will remain.”  Bene Gesserit ‘Litany against Fear’ from Dune by Frank Herbert

[Sadly this potential skydiving adventure was cancelled ... for the second time ... because of poor weather conditions.  I'll book again ... hopefully third time lucky.  I'll then aim to complete this blog post!]

I'm booked to go skydiving with two of my grandchildren tomorrow.  I'm due to catch a train down to Cambridge at lunchtime today and, all going well - especially with the weather - we should be jumping out of an aircraft at about 10,000 feet tomorrow.  Jumping out of an aeroplane can be quite anxiety provoking (less so when you have a parachute) - and it's a potential learning opportunity.  I work as a medical psychotherapist and have done for decades.  Helping people manage anxiety and tackle challenges that frighten them is bread and butter for me ... I do it all the time.  It's interesting to consider what coping techniques I've learned as a therapist that I can practise tomorrow ... and how my experience tomorrow could help me be more useful as a therapist.  Here are a dozen initial ideas that can make it a bit easier to face anxiety ... and can also be useful with difficult experiences as well (for example with conflict or illness or fatigue and so on):

1.)  Take ownership & pre-decide:  There's a lot of work on motivation showing that 'autonomous' forms of motivation are more powerful than 'controlled' forms.  So if I want to have strong determination to tackle something, it's likely to help considerably if I 'take ownership' by making sure that this is something that I'm choosing to do, for example because it really interests me, maybe it's something I love to do ... or possibly, I may not feel very enthusiastic about the task, but I do very much feel it's the right thing for me to do and want to go ahead with it.  In contrast, 'controlled' forms of motivation involve doing something because I'm being forced to by someone else or I am doing it because I want to impress others or would feel ashamed or guilty if I didn't do it.  Here's a sheet 

2.)  Make it bigger than just for oneself:

3.)  Sources of inspiration (including oneself):

4.)  Amplify motivation:

5.)  Plan for likely obstacles:

6.)  Bus driver metaphor:

7.)  Practising (balanced) courage:

8.)  Mindfulness & naming:

9.)  Reappraisal:

10.)  Self-compassion:

11.)  States/traits & this is what I'm nourishing:

12.)  What went well, what less so, what to do now:

Using personal strengths ...


More to follow ...


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