Exceeding Your Limits

overcome your fear of heights

Sylvain Beauregard was faced with having to exceed one of his limits, one that put him on top of the world!

Here is his story:

“To know your limits, you need to exceed them now and then.” I’ve encountered this quote a few years ago. Since then, it keeps ringing in my mind.

One of my hardest limit is my love/hate relationship with heights. I love to be on top of buildings and other observation vantage points, it yields a special angle for photography. At the same time, I am also afraid of heights when I’m more than 6 inches from the ground on something that is not bolted to the ground.

A few years ago while visiting Australia, I took a tour to visit an animal reserve and tropical forest in the mountains. To get back to the ocean shore, we could either ride the bus back or take an aerial cable car. I left the bus with the intention to just take a peak at the cabins and the view, then get back aboard the bus for a safe trip down. I got entangled in the crowd entering the building and before I knew it, I was past the turnovers. I waited a moment to look at the people board the 6-seating little cabins and watch them take flight. I waited for the crowd to grow thinner to get in a cabin with less people. I boarded with a young couple. I was sitting pretty tight, watching closely above the attachment to the cable, etc. The trip went well this far.

The first leg we just had completed was rather horizontal, not more than 50 ft above tree tops. The second leg was another story. It took us over the mountain, with a clear view over the ocean. I was scared, what if the cable would break, how would we get out of the cabin once we hit the ocean. Could this thing really support the weight? There was nowhere to go from here. It was too late to return to the starting point, the bus had already gone, this was my only way down! After a moment, I opened my eyes, we had cleared the mountain and were just hanging over thin air. I suddenly realized I had an amazing view over the ocean, it was breathtaking! I slowly reached for my camera and took a picture. It was spectacular! I couldn’t stop, I took more pictures from different angles, I no longer thought about the cables, as soon as I connected with the beauty of nature around, it was all I could focus on. From a distance, I noticed something special in the sky and after zooming in, I realized it was a plane in final approach for the local airport next to the ocean. I followed the Qantas plane with my camera and took a few shots then I realized I’m higher than that plane! I was probably around 1500 feet high. A mix of fear and exhilaration filled me and I was in awe. I was facing my fear of heights using a new transportation method, in a grandiose stage and I was higher than a flying plane nearby. How many people can say that?

Once I landed, I reached for a bench in the reception building and rested a bit to let all those emotions sink in. In memory of this amazing experience, I bought myself a baseball cap from the souvenir shop to commemorate the event.

Earlier this year, I visited London. Standing at the bottom of the London Eye, I was tangled between my fear of heights and my intense desire to try this unique attraction. I looked up wondering if I would step in. I was considering forfeiting my ticket bought in advance. Then I remembered my cable cabin trip in Australia and I deemed, if I not only survived, but, at the end enjoyed the experience, I would enjoy this one too. I stepped in the line, waiting for the next egg. Once aboard, I was a bit uncomfy at first but after a minute or so I was standing right against the glass wall filling my eyes with everything that London had to offer.

It’s true that if you never went over one of your limits, how can you know it’s there? Yes, you know you can’t walk for 100 km straight but can you do 10 km, 20 km, 50 km? Unless you do not try to test your limits, you will never know.  Same goes for mental challenges. If you don’t test it, a personal limit is just a theory. It’s often something we place arbitrary to help us feel safe within a known environment. It’s like saying to our inner kid “Don’t go beyond the park at the end of the street”. You set this limit to make sure you stay in a known and safe environment. Your body would certainly be able to go way beyond that distance and back, without a problem.

Can you identify a limit you thought you had, but, after putting it to the test, realized your limit was much farther than you initially thought?

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This entry was posted in Curiosity For Knowledge, Do What You Love, Power to Let Go and tagged , , , .

One Response to Exceeding Your Limits

  1. Hedidi says:

    What a great story Sylvain. This picture is worth a thousand words 🙂

    Everyday life throws us curves and our limits are always up for a test if you ask me, it is just up to us to take on the challenge or remain a bystander. I find your story to be so very inspiring and interesting. It is not easy to push our limits but boy does it ever feel wonderful when we prevail on the other side!!
    While reading your story I could not help but remember my fear of the water and not knowing if I could ever swim. Nature and water are among the top gifts this life has to offer that I love passionately . One would never guess today that learning to swim was one of the hardest things I ever had to do because it scared the hell out of me. The thought of swimming made me shake like a leaf. I remember my sister, cousins and friends had all learned how to swim and I was the only one who couldn’t. I would stand on the edge of the crystal blue pool with my toes curled and tucked under just staring down at my shadow over the water. Wondering can I do this? I love the water, it must be an incredible feeling, perhaps the most incredible I have ever felt…but can I make it? What if I drown, what if I can’t float?
    One day I finally had enough of “what- ifs ’’ and as I was staring at the water I decided I will jump and that I was ready to sink or swim! I looked up at the diving platform and I knew I had to jump from a the highest point to make it count for myself. Crazy I know but to this day I don’t do anything half way it seems. I remember trembling while climbing the stairs and I could hear the kids laughing, screaming in the background. My hands were shaking but my feet kept climbing the endless steps. When I made it to the top standing on the concrete looking down I just wanted to climb back down. At first I thought I was going to die, I mean what the hell was I thinking? Then I concentrated on how incredible it must be to feel what it was like to be completely submerged, weightless, just experience the sensation of bubbles on my skin and feeling completely free. Everything I really wanted was within reach, I did not want to think about swimming anymore I just had to take a leap of faith and believe that I could. I wanted to free fall over the beautiful blue water, I wanted to touch the ground and push myself back up and then swim to the edge…That was my goal that is the feeling I was chasing and the price was facing my biggest fear.
    Before I knew it I jumped and was headed towards the water, it was the scariest feeling ever but I was enjoying it a lot more than I had imagined. Then I hit the water and was now headed straight towards bottom of the pool and fast. This was it, sink or swim… I remembered I must hold my breath long enough to push my feet against the ground and slowly exhale just when I see the surface of the water… concentrate and remember not to freak out!! Once that was done I would have to swim to the edge of the pool which I had never done.
    But guess what? I was so excited and consumed by the incredible sensation of the water that I don’t even remember how I made it to the edge of the pool. My sister told me that I had the biggest smile on my face when I came out of the water and I spent the entire day climbing those stairs and jumping in the water over and over again! My fear and anxiety was holding me back all that time. I wanted to learn how to swim so bad not for the sake of swimming but so that I can get to my real goal, diving! That was the beginning of many amazing diving experiences and I realized was missing the forest for the trees as they say.
    I did it, I was able to do what I never thought was possible. To this day I love jumping over waterfalls, diving boards, highest jump spots imaginable. I simply love it and cannot get enough!

    Thank you for sharing your amazing story and reminding me of that incredibly exhilarating feeling when we push our limits.

    It made my heart smile.