Fear Standing in the Way of Good Health?
Lessons from the goat on the bridge

It’s easy to get overwhelmed this time of year with all of the good habits we’re told we must begin at the start of a new year: exercise more, eat healthier, cut down on alcohol, improve social connections, improve sleep quality. These are just a few but the list is a long one for sure. Equally as long is our list of excuses: not enough time, too old, won’t make a real difference, too stressed right now, (insert your excuse here).

What about fear? Could fear be preventing you from moving ahead with your health goals?

Perhaps you’ve hesitated to start going to the gym because you’re afraid of hurting yourself or afraid of what others might think of you. Perhaps you’re afraid to stop eating and drinking certain things because you’re not sure how you will cope without them. You’re in pain but are afraid to consult with a chiropractor because you’ve never been to one before and have heard conflicting information. You’ve hit a certain age and your medical doctor is recommending a test but you are afraid you might hear bad news.

Well, it’s time to address the goat in the room. Yes, that’s right….goat.

Years ago in a land far away
Before having kids, Derek and I took a trip to New Zealand. We’d been dreaming of seeing this island paradise for years and with further inspiration from The Lord of the Rings, the lure of beautiful rivers for fly fishing, the desire to visit some wonderful friends, and a healthy amount of airline points saved up, we booked our flights. To say we were excited was an understatement!

We flew to Auckland in the North Island and spent time with amazing friends. After a few days, we then headed to the South Island for the rest of our adventure. After picking up our rental car and a few groceries, we headed towards our homestay in Nelson. It felt very strange to be driving on the “wrong” side of the road, and sitting in opposite seats. As we drove along, we were in awe of the beautiful sights, smells, and sounds. Then as the sun began to set, it slowly got darker and darker…..and darker.

We were in the middle of nowhere.

There were no city lights, no street lamps, no lights from homes in the distance. The only thing we could see was what appeared immediately in the headlights of our car. As we rounded one particular bend in the road, we came to an abrupt stop and witnessed a bizarre scene unfolding before our citified eyes.

Cue the irrational thoughts….

There, in the middle of the road blocking the one-lane bridge that we needed to cross, stood a goat with an untethered rope dangling from his neck. And was that a defiant look in his eyes? Obviously, due to his ungoatly superpowers, he had masterminded a sinister plan, violently wrenched loose, and claimed dominion over the bridge not allowing anyone to pass. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing. What should we do!? In our heightened sense of excitement and feeling entirely out of our element, we immediately catastrophized that the goat was going to charge the car and ram out the headlights, leaving us stranded, lost, and at the mercy of whatever was lurking in the darkness. We may never be seen again.

Challenge your fears
We want to encourage you to challenge your thoughts and beliefs about the healthy habits you want to embrace this year. Fear can hijack reason and prevent you from stepping forward and resuming a healthy habit from your past or trying something you’ve never tried before.

So what happened with the goat?

After a few moments of marriage-straining, panicky discussion, reason began to return and we were able to make a decision. Derek slowly moved the car forward, inching towards the goat. We slowly got closer and closer…..and closer……

Never underestimate the power of a small step

And that’s how you overcome your fear….one small step at a time. Take a tour of a gym you are interested in trying out. Add in one healthy snack. Schedule a consultation with a chiropractor to discuss your concerns. Call a friend you had a falling out with and go for coffee. All of these small steps are low to no commitment but will start you on your journey.

So what happened with the goat!?

As our car slowly inched toward that ol’ goat, the one you’d think by our reaction stood 10 feet tall, had fangs and blood-red eyes, while fiercely guarding the fiery entrance to a spiked bridge that precariously swayed over a bottomless chasm, he casually strutted to the side. He even looked a little bored by our presence. We drove on past and had a good laugh.

Beyond our fears and anxieties represented by that mischievous goat and picturesque bridge, lay the adventure of our lives.

Small steps. You’ve got this.

Dr. Derek and Marisol Haughton

Drawing by Dr. Haughton (didn’t have the presence of mind to take an actual picture at the time!)