My time in the jungle (literally): Facing my fears

February 10, 2022

As men, we love to portray the persona that we aren’t afraid of anything. If you’re like me, however, the biggest fear I have is admitting how much control fear has over my life. 

The past couple years, I’ve been blessed to be part of a men’s group where we lean into these fears, and other areas that make me, and many other men, uncomfortable.  

It was one of those fears that led me into the Mayan jungle.

A group of fifteen men and I went to Cancun on a “blind” retreat – everything was prepared for us by The Powerful Man group. We had no knowledge of what lie ahead for us. 

No itinerary.

No destination. 

To say there was fair amount of unease would be an understatement. I had many Zoom meetings with most of these men, but some I had never met before. Regardless, this was my first-time meeting all of them in person, and while they all seemed friendly, the only thing I knew for certain, was that I didn’t know these men at all. 

I mean, not really.

Things really got interesting (and a little frightening) when my thoughts of a pampered stay at an all-inclusive beach resort were replaced by a three-hour drive deep into the Mayan jungle, where we were sternly warned of scorpions, jaguars and poisonous bugs, snakes, trees (didn’t know poisonous trees existed) and plants. 

My luxury hotel was replaced by a mostly open palapa.  

At first, I had mixed emotions over the sudden change in venue. There was fear and anger, but that quickly changed to nervous excitement and anticipation. As the experience unfolded, I chose to lean into my fear, breath deep, and maintain positive energy and attitude. 

Once everyone was settled, we built a large fire and set about discussing our fears. Each man described different fears that we peeled back and dissected, like the layers of an onion. I was surprised to learn that my worries were not that different from my peers. Fears of acceptance, worth, and meaningful connections rose to the top. It turns out that we’re afraid of these things because the lack of them makes us feel that our lives are missing purpose. 

And not one of us wishes to live a life without purpose. 

There are so many things that drive us and give us purpose, so once we feel we have it, we protect and defend it. And in that protection, we lose sight of what got us there in the first place. We stop playing offense, taking the initiative, accepting risk, and leaning into uncomfortable situations. The fear of losing purpose causes us to play small, particularly in areas of our lives where bold and powerful action is needed to bring fulfillment.

Over the next five days, we continued to lean into how fear controls us, but instead of giving in, we discussed ways to identify and align this fear, and then overcome it.  

My Mayan adventure was more than introspection and self-exploration. It was about the need for decisive action. We swam in the cenotes, dove off cliffs, rode zip lines, and canoed through the dense jungle. 

What started out as a journey to understand and confront our fears turned into a team of people navigating our realities to make sure we connect and protect the people that need us most. While some of the defense mechanisms created during our early ages hang onto us, most serve no purpose other than to inhibit energy and progress.  

Letting these fears go allow us to operate from a place of peace, power, and flow. 

What an experience. I gained much-needed clarity of how I operate in power and flow. I also learned to harness my energy by focusing most on areas that are fulfilling: creativity, inspiration, innovation, and challenge.  

I came home knowing exactly my purpose and focus but knowing how to be flexible as well.  

Tell me, how would you describe your last vacation?

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