Do you sometimes blow things out of proportion? Do you make mountains out of molehills?

I’ll briefly explain a relevant situation I had and then give you a few quick ways to deflate an overblown problem.

Recently, I decided to go for a hike near the town where I’m currently visiting here in Spain. My plan was to just do an exploratory hike for the first part of a trail that my guidebook described as “an extremely narrow path on a precipitous, exposed rock ledge with constant downward views of the valley lying 1,300 feet (400 metres) below. Not for hikers lacking in nerve!”

My palms would get sweaty even just reading that description. I was intrigued by this trail even though it sounded dangerous and terrifying.

Mountain path on La Gomera.
The impossible is possible. Mountain path along a rockface.

A few weeks ago, I met a hiker who hiked this trail. He had been on some challenging and steep trails in this area before. He said that he wouldn’t dare to hike that path again. Once was enough.

I imagined that if I went on that trail, I would be so afraid that I might freeze up and have to crawl on my hands and knees. I was worried that I’d have to phone emergency services to send the rescue helicopter to come get me.

So, my plan was to just check out the first part of the trail and then once it became too difficult or too steep/dangerous, I would turn around and go back down the same path I came up.

I kept climbing and I kept wondering when the trail would get difficult. Sure, it was steep but I felt safe and there was not much risk of falling.

I arrived to the uppermost rock ledge and began to cautiously explore it, walking parallel to the mountain ridge above me. I thought, ‘When is the trail going to become so dangerous that I have to turn around?”

But it never happened. Sure, the path was narrow (sometimes less than 3 feet wide or 90 cm.) but it was only exposed on one side. Yes, there was a huge dropoff and it would be an unsurvivable fall, but there was not much risk of falling off the cliffside. The path was mostly flat and it was good terrain.

The trail was exciting and it felt like an accomplishment to complete the whole route. It was a trail that I had been afraid of walking on and that I had built up in my mind as being a dangerously impossible trail that only people with absolutely no fear of heights could even dare to attempt.

I had built it up to be something much worse than it was really was.

How often do you build up certain situations to be much more problematic than they really are?

3 Ways to Deflate an Overblown Problem

If you sometimes feel stopped in your tracks and are afraid to take action on something because you’ve built it up in your mind to be a massive impossible problem or situation, here are a few ideas you can experiment with:

1. Explore the situation and get a feel for it

Get acclimatised gradually to the situation that’s causing you fear or anxiety. Each repeated small experience creates more confidence for the next attempt. Each attempt, you’ll be able to go a little farther. This process will desensitize you to the situation so that you can manage it better.

2. Test your limits but respect your current limit

Pushing too hard in a situation that’s uncomfortable for you might result in additional stress and an even more negative experience. Push where you can, at the right level that will encourage growth in the situation that is currently challenging you. Recognize that you might have a real limit right now. Respect your current limit and remember that it is temporary. Your limit can be expanded on.

3. Stay in action-mode, not analyzing-mode

Spending too much time thinking about a situation without taking action on it can distort your perception of the situation. If you have little or no experience with something, you might over-analyze it and talk yourself out of it. Take action and get real experience before judging.

I hope these quick ideas help you to avoid blowing any situations out of proportion. Continue enjoying your path to becoming a more solution-oriented action-taker!

Got a question or comment? Just reply in the comments section below.

Keep going for your goals,


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  1. Great story to demonstrate these principles Nigel. Those are great tools and your plan for the mountain can be used in area of ones life that seems challenging or even terrifying.

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