Yesterday my wife Rocky and I were having an adventure day in Queenstown, New Zealand, which happens to be the adventure capital of the world. There are so many options, we couldn’t possibly squeeze them into our short, few days in town. Rocky wanted to break through her fear and decided to do the tallest bungy jump in New Zealand. Nevis has both a 440-foot bungy and a 900-foot arc swing. To say she was scared would be an understatement. Prior to Nevis, we decided to do a zip line off of a different bridge. We were awaiting the shuttle at the bungy sales office looking at the souvenirs and Rocky was a wreck. She was pacing and very nervous — to the point of shaking and nearly crying. She turned to me and said, “I’m scared, but I have to do this.”
I told her that she should be scared. After all, if you were going to fall off a platform into a canyon over a river, why wouldn’t you be scared? But then I asked her, “Beyond breaking through fear, what if there was more?”
Then I told her that I have a secret that most people don’t know. I have jumped about 50 times off of different bungy towers, but it was a friend of mine who ran a bungy site in Vegas who taught me I could fly. After more than a dozen jumps — trying different ways to freak myself out successfully, flipping off, diving off, stepping off backward looking up, swan diving, eyes open, eyes closed — he had shown me that the real magic happened after the jump.
I decided to share this magic with my wife. I told her that falling off or jumping off didn’t matter. Those were just style points for her in the execution, and the execution is all that matters when she leapt off the platform. But the decision to jump and following through on that decision was just the beginning. At the end of the bungy cord stretch, when the downward momentum stops, there is a reverse in negative energy. Everything stops and positive energy is created. And there is an opportunity in the moment to use that positive energy to your advantage and not just let it dissipate and be wasted.
I told Rocky to enjoy the way down that creates that positive energy, but to prepare by coiling into a crouching position so when the bungy recoils and shoots back up, she too can uncoil and burst with energy, complimenting that power. She then will be able to fly unrestricted through the air like superwoman, completely safe. And I showed her exactly how to accomplish this.
This is an example reframing, also known as cognitive restructuring. It’s a tool you can use in any challenging situation and it is amazing. I had reframed the jump as no longer falling off a ledge, but about creating positive energy and then using that energy to do what most people only dream of. For most bungy jumpers, that positive energy is lost because they are just thinking they have conquered their fear. Imagine looking deeper at the challenges that face you in life, going past the fear and then moving forward with purpose and a plan to reach even greater heights.
Rocky and I stood together and practiced what it was going to be like, and what she would need to do to experience the magic beyond the fall. Over and over we jumped together — practicing, visualizing, practicing the perfect execution. Over and over she was victorious and flawless in action. By the time she was standing on that ledge looking over the river and canyon below, she was ready and had purpose. Without hesitation she flew like a bird and at the end of the stretch, she exploded into flight. Free and unrestricted, she flew… and there was no fear, only excitement.
In moments like a bungy jump, your body will tell you to play it safe. It is guided by a “save the organism” response that resides in all living things. Fear is the signal to tell you to stop, that you may fail and die. Breaking through that fear is what is known as bravery. Be brave, take the leap — and know there is magic on the other side.