Facing sudden fear


“I get by with a little help from my friends.”–The Beatles

Nothing prepared me for feeling total terror upon crossing a wooden bridge 30 feet in the air as part of a hiking adventure.

I had not experienced fear of heights before in earlier years when, as a skier, I sat in chairlifts several feet in the air.

This bridge looming before me felt even scarier because it also rocked side to side as 12 of us crossed to the other side. I kept telling myself, “If I fall over, it’s only water, what’s the big deal?” Still, my nerves were so rattled I thought for sure I was going to faint.

Knowing my fellow hikers and I had to cross that bridge again on the return trip back to our cars, I told the group of my angst instead of feigning courage like I may have in the past.

One kind gentleman suggested I walk across the bridge by myself, which would help make it less wobbly than having the whole group of us on it at the same time.

Even though facing one’s fear is always an internally solo journey, the thought of being alone on that swaying bridge felt even more terrifying. Intuiting my concerns, the same man then offered to walk a few feet behind me as we crossed. “There is safety in numbers, just not too many of them for this adventure,” I thought to myself.

At the beginning, very slowly pacing himself a couple steps behind me as we crossed, he said, “You can do this.” A few gentle steps later, he added, “You’re doing great. Hold onto the rails and keep looking forward.”

When we reached the other side, in a few short minutes that felt like hours, he put his arm around me, and congratulated me for moving through my fear.

Looking back a few days later at the kindness of this stranger, I knew expressing my vulnerability, and learning to accept help, forever changed me.

The stoicism I publicly showed before during other courageous times in my life—from moving cross-country to confronting cancer head-on in a revolutionary way—kept me feeling more isolated in my growth.

Fear is a normal part of life, particularly if we choose to honor our soul’s promptings to expand, whether it is in trying a new activity or embracing an elevated way of being in the world.

To lean in, hear and accept the generous offer of support from another instead of push it away, has opened my heart in new ways and further helped discern the types of people I want in my circle.

There is a new balance for me now between moving forward and pausing to be comforted, nurtured or championed as I take the next steps.

Onward and upward,



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  • Larry Strait says:

    I like the use of the lyrics of the Beatles song. But “Bridge Over Troubled Water” would also fit:).

  • Diane S says:

    This is a great story Gail, thank you for sharing.! It’s a beautiful thing when we can conquer our fears!

  • Philip Glenn says:

    Can really relate. Sometimes just taking one step at a time and facing our fears is the best way to grow and help others down the road. Very encouraged by this post to continue to face my fears daily. Thanks Gail for sharing your story.

  • Lisa langakEr says:

    What a perfect picture of support/encouragement and faith. Yes we need each other for sure! Thank you for sharing your heart and your experiences because I know so many people can identify – especially me!! Love you Gail!

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Geez, Lisa, appreciate the ways you value my writing and coaching! So many of us in “the helping professions” (as well as other givers) often need to learn to be better receivers. Love flows best in a circle, not one way. Like walking that bridge, it’s all about balance, isn’t it? Love you too, dear friend. You are a model for supporting and championing others!

  • Bev Wax says:

    Hi Gail,

    Thanks a lot for sharing this wonderful story. I too have learned to ask for help after an injury that left me house bound for many months. Sometimes the most fearful moments in our lives teach us to persevere with the help of others. Life is always an adventure!

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Bev: Appreciate your sharing…and yes, asking for help and then allowing yourself to RECEIVE it, is a big deal. It is both empowering and humbling:)

  • Jess says:

    Not an easy thing to do, ask for help. It takes courage to ask. And humility to receive. Great thoughts and thanks for sharing your journey. It helps me feel less isolated. Much love friend.

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Thanks, Jess. I continue to learn that it is in sharing our vulnerabilities that we connect in richer ways and help one another grow. Glad my story helped you. With love and gratitude for your friendship.

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