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Old 21-09-2011, 04:50   #1
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Challenge: How Do You Manage Fear ?

I spent two years sailing the Pacific with a fear of deep water (7,000 nautical miles, including the Puddle Jump). I'm wondering if any other sailors suffer from fear, or if anyone has let fear stop them?

I run a blog called Fearful Adventurer and I'm putting together a post on coping techniques for fear. I'd love to receive any tips on how to manage fear. Do you get scared on the ocean? Do you have a partner who suffers from fear or anxiety at sea? How to you manage fear when it creeps in? I think it'll make an interesting article and it may be helpful to other adventurers who suffer from fear. If you have a tip to include, I'd love to feature it in the post.

Thanks!
Torre
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Old 21-09-2011, 11:12   #2
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The technique is to HTFU.
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Old 21-09-2011, 11:35   #3
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Re: How do you manage fear?

Hey Torre...welcome to the forum.
Although I suffer from seasickness on occasion, touch wood I have no fear of the deep blue, however my wife does.
The only way I've convinced her to participate (aside from her confidence in my abilities ) is by have Life raft, dingy on davits, eperb, flairs.......all the safety gear and a solid well founded/maintained boat.
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Old 21-09-2011, 11:44   #4
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Re: How do you manage fear?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimbo485 View Post
The technique is to HTFU.
I get that "Oh chit!" feeling
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Old 21-09-2011, 11:48   #5
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Re: How do you manage fear?

Fear is a normal, natural, and healthy response to dangerous circumstances; a perception of a real threat to oneself (or others), to be contrasted with anxiety. Anxiety feels the same as fear, but is an imagined rather than an actual threat to the self.
Fear is only a problem when it causes inaction; when it paralyses.
Take action to prevent the perceived danger from causing harm.
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Old 21-09-2011, 14:33   #6
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Re: How Do You Manage Fear ?

I heard the following sentence quite a few times: "I wouldn't be able to go sailing in (insert whatever body of water) because I can't swim". This I call the "stupid fear", for obvious reasons.

Then there is what I call the "lack of experience but on purpose fear", which occurs when you put yourself willingly in a situation that you are not comfortable with. I got my driver's licence at age 33 (it really does not matter why) and it took me 10 years before my palms stopped sweating before merging onto a highway. This kind of fear I reckon goes away when you have accumulated enough experience.

Then there is the "phobia-type fear" which occurs as a result of a bad experience. When I was a little kid my dad used to take me to the roof of the building where he worked so I can see the city. All went well until we moved into a 10 storey apartment building. Of course I insisted that he takes me up on the roof, which he did. What he did not know was that the safety walls were not finished and a few yards were missing; I ran towards the edge to look down and I froze on the spot. My dad pulled me back. After that, I could not even go out on a second floor balcony.

Thirty years later along comes our sailboat. Not only did I have to climb on it while on hard, but I also had to go up the mast. I found a solution to the climbing aboard while on hard problem. I went up the ladder say 5 feet and I stopped, then went back down, then up 6 feet, then down, then up 7 feet, then down and so on. Going all the way was not accomplished in one day or in one week for that matter, but was accomplished nonetheless. Eventually, I got to the point where I go up with a bucket in each hand.

I applied the same technique to the mast problem. I strapped myself into the bosun's chair and had my husband hoist me up to the first set of spreaders (that was my first comfort point) and asked that he leaves me dangling there for a while. Then I went back down. I repeated this a few times until I no longer felt dizzy at the first spreader. Then I went a bit further up and when I felt like I was about to faint I stopped and dangled there for a while until I felt OK. And so on. Now I can go all the way to the top and change the bulb.

So this type of fear can be conquered by fighting it slowly, within your limits.

Then there is the "oh, crap" fear. Gord is absolutelly right, it is a normal, healthy response to a dangerous situation which hopefully can be overcome and one can then leap to action to remove oneself from the said dangerous situation.

And by the way, I remember reading somewhere that they surveyed people that survived dangerous situations and asked what was they said when they first realized the danger. God came third after the F word and the S word.

The "doomed if you do, doomed if you don't fear" I have no experience with, but Napoleon used to give booze to his soldiers before each battle as it made them fearless.

So, if all else fails, there is always Johnny Walker.
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Old 21-09-2011, 16:15   #7
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Re: How Do You Manage Fear ?

Well, some people fear others do not.

Nothing wrong with fear unless you freeze.

1. breathe,
2. act.

Pre-visualise the situations and imagine the right things to do when they happen. You can train your brain to manage fear as much as you can train a dog to fetch a stick.

b.
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Old 21-09-2011, 16:32   #8
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Re: How Do You Manage Fear ?

heck I think I have fear everytime I step on the boat, and I feel it is in my best interest to not really lose the fear

so I just try to always remember to be thinking about I'm doing so to be in a position to best manage whatever comes up
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Old 21-09-2011, 16:40   #9
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Re: How Do You Manage Fear ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingmonica View Post
I heard the following sentence quite a few times: "I wouldn't be able to go sailing in (insert whatever body of water) because I can't swim". This I call the "stupid fear", for obvious reasons.

Then there is what I call the "lack of experience but on purpose fear", which occurs when you put yourself willingly in a situation that you are not comfortable with. I got my driver's licence at age 33 (it really does not matter why) and it took me 10 years before my palms stopped sweating before merging onto a highway. This kind of fear I reckon goes away when you have accumulated enough experience.

Then there is the "phobia-type fear" which occurs as a result of a bad experience. When I was a little kid my dad used to take me to the roof of the building where he worked so I can see the city. All went well until we moved into a 10 storey apartment building. Of course I insisted that he takes me up on the roof, which he did. What he did not know was that the safety walls were not finished and a few yards were missing; I ran towards the edge to look down and I froze on the spot. My dad pulled me back. After that, I could not even go out on a second floor balcony.

Thirty years later along comes our sailboat. Not only did I have to climb on it while on hard, but I also had to go up the mast. I found a solution to the climbing aboard while on hard problem. I went up the ladder say 5 feet and I stopped, then went back down, then up 6 feet, then down, then up 7 feet, then down and so on. Going all the way was not accomplished in one day or in one week for that matter, but was accomplished nonetheless. Eventually, I got to the point where I go up with a bucket in each hand.

I applied the same technique to the mast problem. I strapped myself into the bosun's chair and had my husband hoist me up to the first set of spreaders (that was my first comfort point) and asked that he leaves me dangling there for a while. Then I went back down. I repeated this a few times until I no longer felt dizzy at the first spreader. Then I went a bit further up and when I felt like I was about to faint I stopped and dangled there for a while until I felt OK. And so on. Now I can go all the way to the top and change the bulb.

So this type of fear can be conquered by fighting it slowly, within your limits.

Then there is the "oh, crap" fear. Gord is absolutelly right, it is a normal, healthy response to a dangerous situation which hopefully can be overcome and one can then leap to action to remove oneself from the said dangerous situation.

And by the way, I remember reading somewhere that they surveyed people that survived dangerous situations and asked what was they said when they first realized the danger. God came third after the F word and the S word.

The "doomed if you do, doomed if you don't fear" I have no experience with, but Napoleon used to give booze to his soldiers before each battle as it made them fearless.

So, if all else fails, there is always Johnny Walker.
I am a prof.Pilot and I am scared to death of high places,like ladders I wont climb them,roof tops, cant stand them.. I cant ( wont)climb my mast..I have taken down more than 30 antique log cabins and I have to get the hired help to take the roofing off..simply can not do it..Took Diasapam and was dancing on a roof top ..took all my fear away.. 3 days later could not do it...
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Old 21-09-2011, 16:51   #10
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Re: How Do You Manage Fear ?

Boy, is this timely to some discussions in our house.

My saying is......

Being scared is not a reason to not do something, it is a reason to think about and consider what you are about to do.

Not very detailed but I find it works for me.
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Old 21-09-2011, 17:12   #11
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Re: How Do You Manage Fear ?

First night watch on my own and it was dark, blowing, raining and heavy seas. I could not see the bow of the boat. The anxiety swept over me. I realized that there was absolutely nothing I could do to change the situation. Things were what they were and that was that. I thought about the safety gear we had on board and my ability to use it and the ability of the skipper. I then knew that we could handle 99.9% of the situations that might arise. The other .1%, well, they are always there, even sitting in your living room. I still felt some apprehension when I heard a breaking wave come hissing up behind us but soon realized that the boat was up to it and we would, more likely than not, be around the next morning. I relaxed and started to enjoy the night. I never felt that particular fear again. Now, the thought of going up the mast sends shivers up my spine. I'm not sure how I will handle it if the opportunity arises as I have a deep fear of heights. Oh, and I too am a pilot...go figure.
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Old 21-09-2011, 17:52   #12
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Re: How Do You Manage Fear ?

I had a experience similar to sailingmonica when I was much younger and got a summer job as a painter. At the beginning of the summer I was white knuckled just being up six feet and by the end I would easily climb up 40 ft with minimal discomfort.

Before I started boating I visited a marina and saw the wind racing through and I thought I would never be able to handle a boat in that. But like the experience as a painter I found the more experience I have, the better it gets. Although, it ebbs and flows like the tide.

What I have observed is what some people find fearful, others find invigorating. I guess we all have a different sense of danger.

The interesting question is what is it that motivates people to take that first step when others won't go any further?
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Old 21-09-2011, 17:55   #13
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Re: How Do You Manage Fear ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeepFrz View Post
First night watch on my own and it was dark, blowing, raining and heavy seas. I could not see the bow of the boat. The anxiety swept over me. I realized that there was absolutely nothing I could do to change the situation. Things were what they were and that was that. I thought about the safety gear we had on board and my ability to use it and the ability of the skipper. I then knew that we could handle 99.9% of the situations that might arise. The other .1%, well, they are always there, even sitting in your living room. I still felt some apprehension when I heard a breaking wave come hissing up behind us but soon realized that the boat was up to it and we would, more likely than not, be around the next morning. I relaxed and started to enjoy the night. I never felt that particular fear again. Now, the thought of going up the mast sends shivers up my spine. I'm not sure how I will handle it if the opportunity arises as I have a deep fear of heights. Oh, and I too am a pilot...go figure.
Wow—a pilot scared of heights! I think that knowing how to use your safety gear is a good idea. I was enormously paranoid that our EPIRB wouldn't go off. Our liferaft was tied to the deck with rope spaghetti, which would've taken 5+ minutes to saw through with a rusted knife. I think I could've alleviated a lot of my fretting if we'd run through our emergency plan.
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Old 21-09-2011, 18:01   #14
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Re: How Do You Manage Fear ?

i am scared of lightning and heights. lightning because i was almost hit at 3 yrs of age, and heights because i cannot feel my feet most of the time. age 7 was when i could no t=climb trees anymore because of that loss of feeling. i just dont go up masts. at all.
i managed to sail thru an electrical storm without problem-- but i wore crocs, as they dont attract anything, had my cat--no recorded history of a feline being hit by lightning, and wore a rubber suit and some gloves and a rubber hat. worked.
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Old 21-09-2011, 18:01   #15
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Re: How Do You Manage Fear ?

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The interesting question is what is it that motivates people to take that first step when others won't go any further?
I would guess it's ambition? There are some people who like to challenge themselves, and others who are happy to keep their life safe and easy. In my case, I face my fears to (a) come away with an incredible sense of accomplishment and (b) because I'm not happy with myself unless I give everything a shot.
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