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Person 2 Person: Kristen Ulmer

Kristen Ulmer Headshot.jpg
Person 2 Person: Kristen Ulmer (Photo provided by Kristen Ulmer)

(KUTV) Kristen Ulmer may be best known as a professional extreme athlete who jumped off cliffs and did other dangerous sports.

She was considered the best female big mountain extreme skier in the world at one point.

But now, she is a fear specialist who has written a new book, called "The Art of Fear."

"I was doing what everybody does around fear," Ulmer said of her skiing career. "Controlling it, repressing it, in order to ski the way I wanted to."

But after years of doing that, she ended up with PTSD, more injuries, adrenal fatigue, and general burn-out.

"I actually started to hate skiing and dreaded winter because of my repressive attitude towards fear," she said.

Reflecting back on her career, Ulmer realized she wasn't "fearless" like everyone thought. She was motivated by fear--like the fear of being invisible or fear of not being loved.

"I'll tell you what--you jump off a 70-foot cliff and throw a flip, people really love you and you are no longer invisible," she said. "Even though I came across as fearless, my whole life was about fear."

Ulmer quit skiing and started studying with a zen master.

"It very quickly dawned on me, 'Oh, this is because I wasn't dealing with my fear in an honest way,'" Ulmer said.

Ulmer started working with athletes to help them with their relationship with fear and performance problems.

Then she got clients who were struggling with anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and more.

"Finally I'm like 'Ok, that's it. I need to be a fear specialist,'" she said.

Ulmer was eventually given a book contract after just a 10-minute conversation at a Halloween party. She recognizes that is very rare.

"What I'm teaching about fear is so new and so fresh that I think that they saw the opportunity in what I had to offer," Ulmer said.

What is so "fresh" about Ulmer's ideas is that she believes that what is commonly taught to treat anxiety, fear and depression actually exacerbates the underlying cause.

"It gives you temporary relief from the fear or anxiety, but it actually causes the problem that you're trying to fix," she said.

She gives the following steps to deal with fear: 1) acknowledge that it's a natural to feel it 2) notice your relationship with fear and discomfort and how you deal with it and 3) just feel the discomfort--live in it for a matter of time.

Not only do we deal with our own personal fears, but maybe fear and other emotions after the tragedies we see in the world.

Ulmer suggests that people allow themselves to feel their emotions and not try to rush through them.

"All of a sudden our anger will bring us to a place where we right a wrong. Our sadness will break open our hearts--sadness is the birthplace of compassion. And our fear will also make us more sharp, aware, focused," she said.

"It's like, how can these emotions help us come alive?"

For more about Kristen Ulmer, "The Art of Fear," and her views on fear, you can visit her website.

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