As humans we put our faith in others every single day. Getting on a train, plane or bus, driving on the motorway and stepping out on to a pedestrian crossing are just a few examples of how we put our lives into the hands of others though trust. Most of us probably wouldn’t give it another thought but trusting others is a topic that has interested me for some time now.
I noticed years ago that I felt more comfortable trusting in other people than I did trusting myself. I started to notice this around the time I began pushing myself to face my fears. Whilst travelling around South America in 2009, I couldn’t fail to notice that I felt almost entirely fearless as I embarked on a tandem paraglide in Peru but was almost floored by fear when I mountain biked down the world’s most dangerous road in Bolivia.
So why did I feel more at ease jumping off the edge of a cliff strapped to a stranger than I did in complete control of my bike as I cycled down the North Yungas Road? (also known as the ‘Road of Death’) Well for me the answer is simple, in the past, given the choice, I’d much rather trust a ‘professional’ to keep me safe than to trust myself. Now some of you might be nodding as you read this but I know for sure that many of you won’t.
Learning to trust myself
It’s only when I started talking to people about how I felt more comfortable trusting others than relying on my own skill in this sort of situation, that I realised how many people feel quite the opposite. Many people have told me that in a challenging situation they would much rather be in control than at the mercy of others. This got me thinking.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve become quite focused on pushing myself to achieve personal challenges. As well as the two I mentioned earlier and amongst others, I’ve also climbed a volcano, ran a marathon, learnt to snowboard and climbed the highest peak in North Africa and with the successful achievement of each of these challenges I think I’ve learnt to trust myself and my abilities little bit more.
Self-trust is the first secret of success ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
The problem with trust
The more I trust myself, the more I push myself to do bigger and bolder things. For years I’ve promised myself that one day I would do a skydive. Whilst pondering what to do next for one of my monthly fear-facing challenges I remembered this promise.
I already knew that I wanted to raise funds for Bowel Cancer UK, because both my Grandma and Great Grandma died of the disease, before I was lucky enough to meet either of them. So I promptly headed to the Bowel Cancer UK website to check whether or not they did sponsored skydives.
I wasn’t really prepared for what happened next. I was delighted to discover that yes they do sponsored skydives but what I didn’t expect to find was a choice. This choice:
- A tandem jump from 10,000 feet – jump harnessed to an experienced parachute instructor at all times.
- A Static Line Jump from 3,000 feet – jump solo closely supervised by professional parachute instructors, securely attached to a ‘static line’, which is designed to automatically open your parachute for you.
- Accelerated Free Fall jump from 12,000 feet – jump solo exiting the aircraft by yourself and after completing some in-air manoeuvres pull your own parachute to float gently to the ground.
There was a time when I wouldn’t have seen this list as a choice but rather a no-brainer. Before the words “Absolutely no way could I jump solo” had left my mouth, I’d have already had option A. booked up.
I think you know what’s coming next…
On Saturday 1st October I will be jumping out of a plane at 12,000 feet, strapped to absolutely nobody. Two instructors will jump at the same time as me and stay by my side till I pull the cord at 5,000 feet. Note ‘I’ pull the cord and then I land myself, guided by ground control over the radio.
I feel literally dizzy with fear every single time I think about this challenge but trying to live without limits for me definitely means trusting myself more than I used to. My personal challenges these days have a new requirement to include a healthy dose of personal responsibility. So when I looked at that list of options I knew straight away that it had to be the one that required the most from me.
One reaction I had to the news that I was going to do this was ‘What are you trying to prove to people?’. Without hesitating I replied: ‘I’m not trying to prove anything to anybody…well accept perhaps to myself’. This fear-facing challenge, like others I’ve talked about lately (quitting my job to set up my own business) have one thing in common. They require complete and utter trust in myself.
A warning to others
Do you trust yourself? If you don’t already I urge you to start but it comes with a warning: Trusting yourself can result in believing that you are capable of anything. When you do that anything just might happen.
Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement. ~ Golda Meir
What have you trusted yourself to do lately? If you don’t normally, what do you think trusting yourself might lead to? Please let me know in the comments and please sponsor me at www.justgiving.com so that Bowel Cancer UK can benefit from my madness.