Discharging Fear

There’s something you’re afraid to do, but you’re going to do it anyway. How will you keep that overwhelming feeling of fear from stopping you?

With the right kind of support, fear can be discharged as you’re feeling it. You can let yourself feel it and express it so that it moves through you, leaving you more capable of doing things that scare you.

This video, filmed on a mountain climbing trip, is an authentic demonstration of discharging fear while rock climbing 13,000 feet up on a mountain ridge . . .

This video is part 2 in an ongoing series on Overcoming Fear


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Thanks for enjoying some fear with us!

If you have questions about counseling, psychology, or human nature you’d like me to answer in this blog, please send me questions at questions@interchangecounseling.com.

View Video Transcript
Discharging Fear
Steve Bearman
October 11, 2011

Steve: Here I am in the Sierra Nevada Mountains high up on the slopes of Mount Haeckel climbing rock, which is a great place to practice ‘Discharging Fear.” So in order to demonstrate how to do this Ash, our videographer who is normally behind the camera is for this one session allowing me to hold the camera so I can film her climbing some rocks that she is scared to climb. So here we go. That’s Ash and here is what she is about to climb. All right go for it. Ash: All right, okay. So normally I can do this, I can see where my hands should be placed and where my feet should go, but I’m having a lot of fear with the idea of falling and falling and tumbling down this slope that we just came up. Steve: Which is this far down, are you ready? There are the mountains in the distance and the lake and that’s—you can almost sort of tell what we came up to get up to this rock here. Okay, go. Ash: Okay, well - Steve: I know you know this but when you get stuck, here is the instruction, so for everybody else’s sake, I am going to tell you, what you do is, as soon as you start to feel like you are stuck, you go - Ash: My leg is shaking. Steve: Perfect, then you go, “ahhhhhhhh, ohhhhhhh.” you just let yourself shake and just like, as if you are like, totally terrified just, just stretch it, go. Ash: Uh, hmm, okay. So I am just going to exaggerate this leg. Okay, that’s a really far way down; let's see where my handhold is supposed to be. Steve: Okay, scared? Ash: A little bit, I am not sure what my next move is going to be. Steve: Perfect, I think you’ve hit the wall of fear. Laughter is encouraged when you hit the wall of fear. Try it, try it, I know it's embarrassing. Ash: Ahhhhhhhh. It's like any wrong move I make I tumble and I have to be really aware of my body, where my feet are, where my hands are, where my back is, where my stomach is. Okay. I made it! Steve: Hurray! Now you have to celebrate. Ash: Wooooooooo! Steve: Okay, so that was beautiful, that’s a perfect example of how when you get to that point, you have to like talk it out, like you have to like say a whole bunch of stuff out loud about of how scary it is and exactly why and make a lot of noise and then suddenly you can see what the next thing is to do. And now look where you get to go next. Ash: Oh, God. Steve: Okay, we are going to try a second round of this, the whole concept is that you get to the point where you feel like you are too scared to keep going, you discharge some fear and then you can keep going. And then you keep going you get to the next point where you are as scared as you were before, so here we are getting ready to try a second round, and that means I need to grab the camera again from you. And let me just show you that’s the way down on this side and that is where we just came from and now here is what Ash is about to climb, which is right in between those two, doing a beautiful job making sounds already. Ash: I don’t like space like this which are so exposed. Steve: The good thing about having somebody with you when you are scared is that you are even more encouraged to just talk it all out loud, just like say everything that you are scared of and make a lot of sound and fury about it, keep going. Ash: I’ve never done this before, this is all new, I don’t know what I am doing. Steve: I am totally confident that you can do this or I wouldn’t be filming you. Ash: Encouragement is good. Steve: You are doing beautifully, you are so good at this, I totally believe in you. Ash: You guys can’t see what I can see. Steve: Here, let me just show you, this is what she’s looking at. Ash: Are these rocks stable? Steve: Let's find out. Grab ‘em, see. Ash: Oh my God I am really scared. Steve: And you are doing an amazing job given how scared you are. This is such a beautiful example of courage and how courage works, how you don’t have to not be scared to do the thing, like what’s courageous about it is that you are doing it while you are scared. All right. Isn’t it beautiful how like, she just talks about it for a while, she discharges for a while and then suddenly she looks up and she is like, oh that looks like an interesting foothold, oh, I bet I can go up this next part, and then look down and see what you just did. Nice. Ash: How am I going to get down? Steve: I promise I will help. Okay, we’re going to stop this, is there anything you want to say to our viewers before we stop. Ash: I made it this far, I didn’t think I could do it. Steve: Woohoo! We celebrate yet again, congratulations. Ash: Oh, my God I wish you guys could see this view, it's so spectacular. Steve: I am just going to let them see it a little bit before we stop here. Ash: Like they need to see it from where I am at. Steve: Yeah, that’s going to be a little tricky. Ash: There’s loose rock up here. Steve: Okay, I am coming. Congratulations, beautiful work, we love you Ash. So here I am now at the top of this climate, Ash, she’s got the camera again. And I just want to say you may not ever in your life have any remote interest in rock climbing or mountain climbing, this isn’t about that, this is about whatever you happen to be scared off. If you are afraid of starting up conversations with strangers or telling somebody that you love them, or speaking in front of groups, whatever it is, you can do exactly the same thing: you get somebody in the role like I have been here with Ash, who before you go out and do the thing you go, “oh my God I am so scared ahhhhhh”, and you discharge for a while and then you go and do it and it will really scare you do it. And you do it even though you are scared and you come back to the person who is your support person and maybe you discharge some more about it or maybe you brag about how proud you are of yourself and you celebrate. So you can discharge fear about anything and if you want to come mountain climbing with me, let me know.

About the Author

Steve Bearman, Ph.D., earned his doctorate in Psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He founded Interchange Counseling Institute in 2002 and is the lead teacher of Interchange's San Francisco-based year-long counseling and coaching training. When he's not counseling people, leading workshops, and advocating for social justice, Steve climbs mountains, adventures in the urban wilderness, explores the edges and limits of what's possible, deconstructs everything, and finds new ways to put it all back together.