How to make Fear into your Friend…
I’ve seen so many posts and comments from new jumpers trying to get a handle on fear. To be honest I almost find it funny that new jumpers often feel bad for feeling scared. You should be scared, you’re jumping out of an airplane!!
Your first jump is an experience like nothing you’ve ever done before. You have no idea what it’s going to be like. Your adrenalin and sensory overload are through the roof. Your first jump is the epitome of a leap of faith. If you’re not scared the first time you jump out of an airplane you’re an idiot!
But with each jump skydiving becomes more familiar and we begin to build our skills. Logically we should be less scared. But often we’re not! Why???
It doesn’t make sense. Here are two thoughts:
1) The Spock effect
Don’t let emotions overrule logic. For example, let’s say you’ve made between 5 and 10 jumps. The facts are you know how to get stable, keep track of your altitude, deploy your parachute and land safely. You haven’t had a malfunction yet but you practice your EPs in your sleep and you know you’ve got them. If you don’t think you’ve got them then practice more until you do. These are the facts. You have much less to be scared of than when you had from 0 to 3 jumps. Logic would dictate that you shouldn’t be as scared anymore. Just because you “feel scared” doesn’t necessarily mean you should be scared. Think about it. What are you scared of? Do the facts show that you should be more confident? Think. Don’t let your emotions run away with you.
If you’re not scared the first time you jump out of an airplane, you’re an idiot!
2) It’s a few minutes before exit
You’re breathing heavy, heart pounding, brow sweating, and fingers buzzing. You’re terrified! Or are you? The physiological sensations we interpret as fear are also signs of an intensified state of readiness. This high arousal level increases our potential for strength, speed and mental sharpness. Don’t interpret it as fear. Breathe slowly, calm yourself down and trust that you’re ready. Because you are. The logic and facts back it up!
I got my Tandem Instructor rating when they were first invented in 1984. One of the first people I took on a tandem was Chet Poland. Chet was a Barnstormer in the 1920s. He used to jump from 1000′ with one parachute. He wasn’t scared to do this tandem at all. I was.
To sum it up, don’t be scared of feeling scared. Fear is your friend. Be logical, don’t let your emotions get the better of you. Breathe deeply and use these feelings of fear to become the calmest, sharpest, strongest you you’ve ever seen. You’re going to love how it feels and how you perform.
“You’re going to love how it feels and how you perform”
Image: Author Dan BC landing at Skydive Perris, by Dennis Sattler