Manage episode 187844291 series 1556353
Kristen Ulmer spent 15 years as a professional extreme skier, holding the title as the world’s best female extreme skier for 12 of those years. Little did she know at the time she was “locking Fear in the basement.”
Now, as the only known fear specialist in the world, Ulmer helps us learn how to “stop being afraid of being afraid.” To do that, she’s launched a whole movement around how to have an honest relationship with Fear. Using “Shift” (her Art of Fear method), she personifies Fear, teaching us how to face and embrace this universal emotion. With a healthy dose of curiosity and some learned skills, we can access Fear and all our emotions without pushing them away.
According to Ulmer, we tend to blame our problems on anger, stress, depression, and anxiety. Yet, from her experience both as an athlete and as a fear expert, she’s come to see all these emotions rooted in Fear. Rather than repressing Fear, we should treat it as we would a child, giving it proper care and attention. Otherwise, we are almost sure to have physical breakdowns and emotional traumas. Left undealt with, Fear can rob all of us--even the best of athletes--of good health, excitement, energy, and an overall sense of joy. So, the answer lies in learning to meet Fear on neutral ground, not assigning it good or bad labels. Then, rather than exhausting ourselves trying to control the emotion, we must channel our efforts toward controlling our responses to Fear.
In practical terms, Ulmer tells us Fear is a state of discomfort in our bodies. So, as we practice doing simple body scans, we’ll learn where Fear tends to reside in our bodies. Then, when we find it, Ulmer tells us to turn towards Fear, giving it our full attention. In other words, we must give ourselves permission to feel Fear.
In our society, rather than using Fear for fight or flight, we’ve learned to fight or flee the Fear itself. In a bold claim, Ulmer says treating symptoms such as PTSD, looping anxieties, insomnia, and depression only exacerbates the problems. Instead, she proposes using the following three-pronged approach:
- Get to know your patterns around Fear. Look for what Fear motivates you to do. Rather than resist it, learn to merge with your Fear.
- Recognize Fear is completely natural. “The more you allow Fear to speak, the less it will have to say, the less of a hold it will have on you. It’s that simple.”
- Learn how to feel Fear. Deal with emotions emotionally. Ulmer proposes we “have a love affair with Fear.” Like falling in love, this highly emotional experience begins with showing commitment. This process will bring Fear into sharp focus, allowing it to heighten our awareness.
Ulmer assures us, “The best way to feel alive is to go out and do something that scares you. What will follow is pleasure from learning and growing.”
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