Several years ago, I took a trip to Texas with some college friends, and we decided to go on a guided trip into a cave.
That hole you see on the left edge of this picture, next to the sign; THAT IS THE CAVE.
Yeah, we went down into a cave that was no bigger than a manhole cover.
As we crawled down into the cave, and again when we were crawling out, my head was pressed up against the boots of the guy above me. And the guy below me was pressing his helmet into my boots.
It was tight.
When we reached the bottom, we could spread out into a cave with about 8 of us lying down. You see, the cave was about 20’ X 10,’ but it was only about 24” tall!
I was lying there “enjoying” the cave experience; I was thinking, “I’m laying here under 100’ of limestone, and the only way out is back up that tight chute!”
As I write this, dread creeps up my spine the same way it did in the cave that day.
I started to panic and felt like I couldn’t breathe, like the stone was weighing down on my chest.
But I want you to notice something.
I was fine. 100% healthy and in no danger at all.
We had a guide with us who had been in the cave hundreds of times with all kinds of people. Once I relaxed, I actually enjoyed exploring the rest of the cave (until we tried to get back up, but that’s a story for another day).
The fear that I was feeling didn’t actually represent the situation I was in.
I was telling myself a story about my situation that made me afraid. I was uncomfortable and worried about getting out of this uncomfortable place, and my reaction to those thoughts was fear.
How many times do you experience fear that’s not based on the reality of the situation? How often does fear come from thoughts we’re having about the situation?