Rising Up After Falling
You can fall
but you can rise also.
- Angelique Kidjo
Often many of us don't take risks as we may fear looking foolish or falling flat on our faces. This fear of falling, whether literally ( ice skating, riding a bike, climbing) or metaphorically ( public speaking, studying something new, communicating differently) may hold us back from growth, connection, expansion, mastery and enjoyment!
This brings to mind what it's like for babies who are learning to stand and walk. If they gave up the first time they tried to stand up and fell down, they would never master walking! Luckily, human development is biologically programmed so babies don't and can't give up. On the other hand, it's also more than biological programming. Watch a baby mastering something new like walking. They are curious, they are determined, they are not afraid of failure or of looking foolish, they have fun! Although they fall repeatedly, they also rise again repeatedly, with determination and delight.
How does this translate to us as adults? It is not always as easy to have this same determination, as over the years we have learned to feel shame or inadequacy, we may compare ourselves to others, we may have been laughed at, made fun of or bullied. So trying new things and the fear of falling or looking foolish is more loaded. Yet as Angelique Kidjo's lyric says, though you may fall, you can always rise up again.
What is to prevent you from rising up again if and when you fall? How has the fear of falling become greater than the determination to rise up again? The next time you get trapped in this cycle of fear and inhibition, make a point of watching a baby learning to walk! They fall repeatedly but they determinedly get up again and again, until they have mastered the skill. They may wobble around for a while, but then they walk, then run and skip. Can you apply this idea to anything in your life?
If you would like assistance in breaking this cycle of fear,
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Peggy Handler, MFT, is a psychotherapist in San Francisco's Noe Valley