For years, I wanted to take my kids to see the Grand Canyon. After my husband died, I just didn’t have it in me to do it alone. Twice, I planned the trip and twice, I found excuses to cancel it. Deep down, I felt it was too big and too far to take on by myself. This year, still dreaming of the Grand Canyon, I planned the trip again. I nearly caved and canceled. But if I was going to learn how to get over fear, I had to do it afraid.
I rented a car, packed up my kids, and drove 2,064 miles across the country to the Grand Canyon. That smile in our picture isn’t because we checked something off a bucket list. I’m smiling straight down to my bones because of the big victory over real fear that had been holding me back—because I found these 3 keys that help me do it afraid as a single mom.
1. One brave step inspires more brave steps.
Getting to the Grand Canyon wasn’t just a victory over that particular fear but a catalyst that helped me tackle other new things. I found parts of me I didn’t know existed. I learned that I can handle all the driving and that I enjoy discovering with my kids. I reawakened parts of me that had been buried with my husband, like making new memories and traveling to new places. And I gave myself permission to go after life proactively, after years of simply responding to it.
2. Know when to ask an expert.
Not all tasks are as fun as going to the Grand Canyon. Financial decisions, home repairs, and other overwhelming responsibilities can paralyze us. This is when we need to ask an expert.
I’ve consulted lots of experts over the years—our neighbor who understands broken lawnmowers, an Internet video that helped me repair a washing machine, family members who helped me make financial decisions, and a Realtor who helped me sell an old rental house in disrepair that had been my husband’s project. When fear of tackling a new task paralyzes us, asking an expert can help us move forward.
3. Calculate, but don’t expect to eliminate risk.
We fear things we can’t control. When the unthinkable happens, like the loss of a spouse and marriage we assumed always would be there, we can circle the wagons around life to try and get control. I did this with my two high schoolers when they were invited to a ski trip with a friend’s youth group. While the group had a good reputation, I only knew one group leader and a couple of students.
I felt nervous about letting my kids go with a group I didn’t fully know and my thoughts began filling with what-ifs and what-mights. After some vetting and lots of prayer, I let them go and it turned out to be a great experience. I couldn’t eliminate all the risk—we never really can—but I could move forward after making a reasonable calculation.
What one thing is paralyzing you right now and how will you do it afraid?