Philippe Petit certainly has no fear of heights. This is the French man who came into the spotlight for virtually dancing his way across a wire between the twin towers in New York on one August morning in 1974. Petit’s feat has more recently become the subject of the film “man on wire” and has refreshed our minds (those who can remember back to then) as to how amazing this actually was.
Petit had a history of taking what appeared to the observer a casual stroll along high wires strung between famous buildings or structures – the Notre Dame, Louisiana Superdome, The Eiffel Tower and The Sydney Harbor Bridge to name a few. What looks to be casual took a great deal of planning. His walk at the World Trade Centre took six years to plan. Although clearly not afraid of heights, he had to be aware of every aspect which might have an effect upon his walk – primarily how the buildings moved in the wind. The logistics of how to get a strong enough wire across that famous gap and to gain access without getting caught were also major issues to be overcome.
Petit displays all of the attributes of a man on a mission. He clearly has a burning desire to succeed and does not let any obstacles get in his way. He also likes to achieve things which others would think impossible. He loves the challenge. And this is a major key to being successful – if you love what you do, you will keep doing it and therefore achieve success. If you do not love what you do it becomes very easy to give up.
Petit’s background as a tight-rope walker, unicyclist, magician and pantomime artist, paved the way to choosing the type of challenges he faced. You can even see how his abilities as a magician were applied in how he managed to gain access to the towers time and again during his six years of preparation. He chose a challenge which suited his strengths. Once out on that wire, he wasn’t satisfied with one crossing between buildings, he made EIGHT crossings, and only stopped when he was literally made to do so. He had a ball out there!
But to those who suffer with a fear of heights it was a terrifying spectacle to watch. The mere thought of it has the ability to completely turn your stomach (if you are afraid of heights, that is). Even for those who are generally comfortable about more run of the mill circumstances which involve heights, this spectacle has the ability to make ones heart jump and leap into your mouth, to say the very least. Here we see how naturally empathetic we are. Even babies show a natural tendency to empathy, displaying distress upon hearing the sound of another baby crying. We learn emotional responses to individual circumstances by picking up such vibes, as well as by mimicking and copying.
On can see how easy it is to “pick up” a fear of heights simply by being aware of another’s fear. Clearly Petit was not exposed to such fear. He has a logical awareness of potential danger and finds away to make his chance of success as high as possible.
Just for a moment, imagine a different scenario. If as a child your mum was a little bit over-protective, and perhaps a tiny bit anxious (or very anxious) when you decided, as children do, that you wanted to walk along the top of a wall or climb a tree, do you think you might have picked up (due to a natural inclination to empathize and due to the fact that your mom is the person whom you look to for guidance – she is the person who is always “right”) a little bit of her fear of falling? And then if the same sensations of anxiety were transmitted the next time you decided to go on a climbing expedition, and then the next, is it possible that this little bit of anxiety might build and build until you have learned, through empathy and experience, to be afraid of heights?
When people consult me, as a hypnotherapist, with a fear of heights, they tend to think that they must have fallen or had a bad experience in the past. They think that their fear of heights must be based in a really nasty experience, even if they cannot remember such a situation. They are quite frequently surprised that this is not always the case. We learn a fear of heights either through experience or through empathy. You can even develop or deepen a fear through empathizing with something you see on the television or read in a book.
The good news is that a fear of heights is learned and not something you are born with. What is learned can be un-learned and a new pattern of thought and behavior can be learned instead. Hypnosis is the perfect vehicle to use to enable such change. Hypnosis is a state of relaxation, and allows access to your subconscious mind. This is the area of your mind where instinctive, automatic and deep-rooted patterns of behavior (including a fear of heights) are stored. Access to your subconscious, through hypnosis, is a vital element in the process of such change.
You can, with the help of hypnosis, retrain your brain to think differently and install an entirely new pattern of behavior with regards to heights deep within your psyche. You can even do this in the comfort of your own home, with the help of a hypnosis download. Please don’t be afraid that you will be made to follow in Petit’s footsteps and attempt to traverse the high-wire! He is in a different league altogether.
Roseanna Leaton, specialist in hypnosis downloads to help overcome your fears.