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Lean Into The Fear

My heart races.

My thighs burn. And then I find myself leaning back, giving into the fear. If I lean back, I feel like I might be safer. It slows me down. But it also throws me off balance. If I lean into the fear, bend my knees, and allow myself to barrel down the mountain, I know I am safer. And so I do. I lean. And as I do, I take Gabrielle Bernstein’s –ING advice and repeat the mantra “It doesn’t have to be hard. Life can be easy.”

Then I’m swishing and zooming and I feel more alive than I have in a long time. The wind is whipping through my hair and my body remembers how to make this swaying motion. I’m filled with a zesty feeling.

Then the fear comes back.

And as I’m noticing the fear, I see a child — maybe 7 or 8 years old — and he is skiing twice as fast as me, cruising down the hill, all the while singing “WHEEE!!!! WOO HOO! YEEHAW!!”

The other skiers — myself included — stop to watch him. He is compelling and adorable. He is so fully present in this moment and unabashedly expressing his pure glee.

I decide to do the same thing. So I spend the rest of the run yipping and yahooing and squeeing, and by the time I get to the bottom of the hill, the fear is gone. Banished. Sent to time out.

I leaned into the fear. And I am still safe. Hallelujah!

A while later, my daughter has graduated to the bunny slope, and as we scoop her off the lift, she starts trembling as she looks down the much bigger hill. She says, “I’m scared,” and I say, “I feel you, sister.”

And then I tell her what I just learned. That if you lean into the fear and refuse to let it control your life, you get to WHEEE!!!! WOO HOO! YEEHAW!! your way through life, just like that little boy.

I teach her what I call “Mommy Mojo Tips,” and the one I taught her right there on that ski slope was, “You can’t let fear control your life. You have to lean into the fear, and when you do, it eases up and you can do anything you want to do.”

So we did it. Siena and I squealed and threw our hands in the air and decided to just go for it. And even when we both fell down, we brushed ourselves off, wiped away tears, and got back on the lift.

Am I a bad Mommy for putting myself at risk and teaching my child to choose glee over caution? Have you ever tried leaning into the fear? What helps you when fear starts holding you back?

Do you need help getting out of your own way and sending your Gremlin of fear to time out? Sign up for the free Get Out Of Your Own Way e-course.

Let’s do it, babe.


*    *    *   *

Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of, Pink Medicine Woman coach, motivational speaker, and author of What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.

Learn more about Lissa Rankin here.

Read more: Exercises, Guidance, Inspiration, Mental Wellness, Self-Help, Spirit, , , , , , , , , , ,

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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.  She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.  Lissa blogs at and also created two online communities - and She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.


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6:15AM PDT on Jul 13, 2011

Thanks for sharing.

6:30AM PDT on Jun 8, 2011

This actually brought a few tears to my eyes. I've been "Leaning into the Fear" lately, by trying out and actually making it on my local Roller Derby team. I know that my fear is holding me back at times, but it's getting easier. I've been telling my friends who think I'm "crazy" that I can break a leg walking to the bus stop on a snowy day, or slip on water that I didn't know was on the floor as I have seen happen many times to friends and coworkers... but if I get hurt in Derby, at least it's a more interesting story.

1:09PM PDT on Jun 1, 2011

Fear is the opposite of love. There is no fear in perfect love. Fear is paralizing and crippling. It robs you of all joy. Yes, we have to be cautious and wise in our decisions. But, when you allow fear to take control and front row seat in making decisons, your decisions are not based on accurate facts.

3:32AM PDT on May 7, 2011

Face directly and fear shall vanish!!

4:03PM PDT on May 4, 2011

Thanks for sharing this fun story :) I think its great you give your daughter "moma mojo tips" and I wouldn't stop if I were you (and btw i'm a mom too).

2:09PM PDT on May 4, 2011

Thanks for this article, just what I need. I have been on an anxiety course before, which taught me to calm the mind if I start to feel anxious about anything. Now and again, I need reminders of these little things. It's hard to change a habit of a life, I am slowly starting to get out there and live my life :)

10:28AM PDT on May 4, 2011

As a ski instructor, I deal with easing fear all the time. I've also noticed the parallels between that kind of fear and fear in the rest of our lives. There is a difference between recklessness and heeding caution, but when you know you can do something and fear is holding you back, that's a problem. You must develop trust in yourself and your own abilities and find a way to squelch the voices of doubt that interfere with effective action. Dare to act when you know you can. Otherwise, your world will just get smaller and more stifling. Confidence comes from managing fear. Acknowledge the feeling and do it anyway.

6:04AM PDT on Apr 30, 2011

thank you.

5:43AM PDT on Apr 30, 2011

Thanks. Sometimes we fear the silliest things, I can't go on cable cars.

9:49PM PDT on Apr 29, 2011

thanks for sharing.

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