Why gibbering in terror can help you take action

How do you cope with unexpected scary situations? Do you just get on with it? Or do you gibber in terror and wait for someone to fix it for you?

Walrus Flop

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Of course, doing a bit of both is an option… 

Like me, the other day.

At the top of a 25 metre climb.

I’d just led my way up there and reached the anchor at the top, only to find… there was no snap-gate carabiner! Imagine one of those old movies where the camera moves in and out at the same time as the music goes: dun dun DUN!


And there’s a blood-curdling scream that fades away.

That was in my head.

You see, normally at the top of a climb you have two bolts, a chain, and a ring attached to two sturdy carabiners. You clip your rope through the carabiners, and your partner lowers you off. No problem.


But sometimes you get two bolts, a chain, and a ring. And that’s it. So what do you do?

Well, you can either sacrifice a screw-gate carabiner of your own (or a quick-draw if you’re despearate) but you don’t want to do that because this stuff is expensive. And you get mocked.

So, what you do is, you make yourself safe by clipping a sling and screw-gate from your harness to the anchor. You’re hanging off that and it’s safe. Then you tie the rope to your harness so you don’t drop it – that would be bad – and then you untie the rope from yourself.

And that’s where the gibbering starts. Because even though you’re fastened securely to the anchor by your sling, you’re still untying your safety rope from your harness and it’s WRONG. So terribly wrong.

So you’ve untied your rope, then you simply pass it through the ring and tie yourself back in. You tie your rope back onto your harness in your safety knot. Then you unhitch your ‘I don’t want to drop the rope’ knot. All is back to normal. Except you need to test it and check it and make sure you really have tied everything into the right place.

So your partner takes up the slack and pulls until you’re resting on the rope and not your sling… then you can unclip your sling and you’re back on the rope again.

All very safe… but all very terrifying. Because you have to untie a perfectly good rope, and unclip a perfectly good safety sling, and although you know you’ve checked everything and it’s fine, your brain is still screaming at you that it’s wrong, you’re going to fall, and you’re going to die.

But what’s the alternative?

Waiting for someone to come rescue you?

Stuff that.

So even if you are caught unawares and you have a little cry at the top of the climb, you still get on with it. You take action to make yourself safe and get yourself down again. Because in the end, you’re the only person you can rely on. You’re the one in charge of your life.


Damn right.

Are you in charge of your life and business? Do you want your business to change? Then you have to make it change. But you don’t have to do it all by yourself. You could buy a book that gives you a roadmap, pointers, practical ways to make the changes you need – and the encouragement you need to actually get this stuff done.

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Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.

PS I’m perfectly fine with threading ropes at the top of climbs, by the way. But that one was a surprise, because they were low grades.  Hence the whimpering. Joe talked me through it, because you need that sometimes. I used to whimper while struggling along in my business, too… So I wrote my own book, to help other business owners and freelancers. You should read it, grab your copy here.

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