I've lost count of the number of times I've asked a child, "What are you afraid of?", when they tell me that they're feeling nervous, or scared of the zip wire/climbing wall/abseil tower etc. The answer though is always the same: "Heights".
My response has become equally repetitive. "No, you're afraid of something else." I then get them to figure out what it is that makes them scared, to which the answer is: falling.
I have come to the opinion, and I believe it is the truth, that no one in the world is afraid of heights. We are all, however (and this is proven fact) afraid of falling. It is one of just two fears that we are born with. It's a good thing to be afraid of, because we don't want to fall, falling is bad and our body reacts against that. Sadly, we have come to refer to that fear as being afraid of heights, which is nonsense. Just because you're in a high place does not mean you will fall. Helping kids to understand this is a big part of getting them to give the challenging, high-up, activities, a go.
Thinking about this led me to consider what other fears we have that are misplaced.
Fear of the dark is in fact a fear of what may come out of the dark.
Fear of flying, relates back to the fear of falling/crashing.
Fear of dentists or doctors or needles, is presumably a fear of pain (to the body or the wallet, or both).
Fear of death. I guess this is really a fear of the unknown, of what, or what doesn't lie beyond.
If we could come to see our fears for what they really are, maybe we would be better at overcoming them, or changing our attitude towards them.
(By the way, the other fear we are born with is Loud Noises. Not a fear we easily recognise. But you blink every time someone is hammering a nail!)