Suzanne Oshima - Repelling Canyon - Utah

The Thing I Feared the Most…

Dreaming of Adventure

During the pandemic, Instagram became my escape. I spent countless hours scrolling and dreaming about road trips to breathtaking places like Zion National Park, the Grand Canyon, and Yellowstone. I felt like I had all the time in the world to visit these incredible destinations.

But after my cancer diagnosis, my head spun with regrets about unfulfilled dreams—especially traveling to my bucket list destinations.

One morning, as I watched the Today Show, a segment caught my eye that featured women embarking on a transformative life changing trip to Zion National Park. It was filled with hiking, horseback riding, canyoneering, and deep meaningful connections with other women.

Immediately, I knew this adventure was calling my name. I had to do it NOW while I still could, so I jumped at the chance to go solo with a small intimate group of like-minded women.

Zion National Park

Battling Negative Thoughts

As I reviewed the itinerary for the week, I was excited about all the activities—hiking up high elevations to Scouts Landing, hiking through The Narrows in the river, and horseback riding.

However, there was one activity that made me take a BIG pause: canyoneering.

If you’re not familiar with canyoneering, you’re not alone, neither was I. When I Googled it, I saw brave people rappelling down steep vertical declines into stunning red-orange waves of slot canyons.

For some people, this might sound exhilarating. But for me, it was completely terrifying because I had a paralyzing fear of heights since I was 14 years old, when I was climbing a pyramid in Mexico. Right in the middle of the steep narrow climb I froze with fear unable to move, the blood drained out of my face and I turned white as a ghost (that’s a story for another time).

About a month before the trip to Zion, the fear of canyoneering started to overwhelm me. My emotions were all over the map. My head was filled with negative thoughts, and I began to doubt myself.

What if my fear paralyzes me while I’m rappelling down and I get stuck?
What if I can’t do it?
What if I fall?
What if I fail?

My mind was all over the place, but then a few weeks before the trip something significant shifted inside of me.

As a Life Coach I realized I was allowing my fear to control me, so in that moment I chose to take my power back. I began to embrace canyoneering as an exciting new adventurous challenge for me. I stopped resisting it with my fears and began to lean in fully with my mind, heart and body.

I let go of the need to control and know every little detail. I began to trust the process, myself, the equipment and more importantly that my expert guides would safely see me through to the finish line. 

The Big Day: Conquering My Fear!

The morning of canyoneering, even with my new positive attitude…not going to lie, I was still a bundle of nerves. As we hiked up to the steep and sandy ascent of the canyon. I was all in and fully committed. As it became uncomfortably steeper, I refused to look down and just focused on one step at a time to get to the top.

I kept telling myself, “You didn’t come this far, to only come this far. You’re committed and 100% in!”

Suzanne - Triple Checking

When we finally reached the top, we geared up and I triple-checked my equipment’s safety straps (that’s me in the GRIT tank checking to make sure everything was tight enough!). 

One woman, Linda*, who was 70 and more terrified than I was, all the sudden volunteered to go first. I was completely taken aback by her bravery in that moment. She said, “If I don’t go now, I’ll never go”. 

That’s when I realized if I waited too long and watched everyone else descend down, it would only increase my fear even more. Before I knew it, I blurted out, “I’ll go next!”.

My heart was pounding, I started getting dizzy and weak in my knees, my mouth became dry as a desert, and my stomach started churning with anxiety. In that moment, I felt like I wanted to take back my words, but it was too late, there was no turning back now…I was all in!

Suzanne Oshima - Repelling Canyon - Utah

Standing on the edge, the guide attached me to the rope that descended into the slot canyon. I couldn’t see the bottom, nor did I want to. I felt like I was going to pass out.

As I took my first step backward, my heart raced even faster and my legs shook.  Instead of focusing on how high up I was, I focused on my breathing – deep breaths in, slow exhales out. I couldn’t and wouldn’t look down. I just had to trust the process and my guide’s calm voice as I descended telling me, “You’ve got this!”.

Another step down and then another. With each step, I was surprised to discover my fear began to dissipate and transform into confidence and strength. And when my feet finally touched solid ground, a huge wave of triumph washed over me.  I couldn’t believe I had actually done it and conquered my biggest fear. I felt like Wonder Woman!

As I looked around at the red-orange slot canyons surrounding me with the natural waves of beauty, it was well worth it.  It was even more breathtaking than the pictures on Instagram. I was truly living my dream.

The exhilaration didn’t end there. Two more steep rappels later, I felt completely invincible. The entire group of women radiated strength, empowerment and inspiration. We had faced our fears and we all came out victorious on the other side.

My Biggest Revelation

The trip to Zion revealed an unexpected truth: what I FEARED the most, turned out to be what I LOVED the most on this adventure!

I now have a renewed sense of my capabilities, and I’m confident that if I could conquer canyoneering, I can conquer anything! 

(Keep reading to find out key takeaways you can apply in your own life when facing your fears…)

End of Canyoneering

Key Takeaways to Help You Conquer Your Own Fears:

Upon reflection and journaling when I got back from my trip, I realized there are some key takeaways that can help you conquer your own fears in life. 

Don’t think too much…just do it!

If you wait too long to jump in and do something…you will think too much about it and your negative mind chatter will get the best of you. You’ll start to talk yourself out of it because you’ll feel like you can’t do it.

You Don’t Need to Know Everything

You don’t need to know every step to get to the end. Sometimes knowing too much can make the path look scarier than it is.

For example, after we finished canyoneering, I found out the three rappels we did were 90 feet, 40 feet, and 25 feet. Had I known that beforehand, I would have told myself I couldn’t do it. Thank goodness, I went in completely blind.

Have the Right “Guide”

If you’re trying something new and you feel uncomfortable or uncertain, don’t try to do it on your own. Find the right “guides” (Life Coach, Business Coach, or Love Coach) to help guide you through every step of the way to the finish line.

Just Breathe

Breathing exercises can help calm the vagus nerve and induce calm in the body. If you get anxious, just breathe deep. One deep breath in. One deep breath out. Repeat.

You May Fall

You may fall along your journey…and that’s OK!  Brush yourself off, get back up and more importantly, keep going!

Don’t Do It Alone!

Alone you are strong, but we are stronger together. Find a tribe of like-minded women who are on the same path to support you every step of the way along your journey.

You Didn’t Come This Far…To Only Come This Far!

It’s not about how fast you go; it’s just taking one step at a time. The important thing is to not get stuck and don’t give up. Just make it to the finish line…You’ve got this!

So, I invite you to start leaning into your fears and taking the first steps, because you never know what’s on the other side of them and you may be surprised at what you can achieve in life!

Here’s a full video of my exciting trip to Zion & Bryce Canyon:

*name has been changed to protect her privacy

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