How to be Fearless in Everything

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Fear. It’s the number one barrier to living confidently.

You experience it everyday in small and large doses. You don’t do something you want to do because you are afraid. You do something you don’t want to do because you are afraid. Fear is the little demon that sits on our shoulders, holding us back from growth, success, fulfillment and happiness.

In our modern world, most fear is unfounded. Sure, it’s normal to be afraid if you are being mugged or in some other situation that causes real or potential physical or psychological harm. But we are generally safe from that kind of danger.

Our most common fears come from amorphous things.

They arise from events or situations that haven’t happened or may never happen. They arise from thinking patterns we’ve created and become adjusted to. They derive from false beliefs and reinforced mediocrity. And they live inside of our ego — the part of us that is the frightened, demanding child who only wants safety and comfort.

Sometimes our fear is about overcoming fear. We don’t want to succeed because it requires so much, and, of course, we might fail. The poet Frederick Seidel says it all with these lines:

“Don’t cure me. Sickness is my me.

My terror was you’d set me free.”

We are like prisoners who have been jailed for years. When we are finally released, the new world around us is too overwhelming, too intimidating. We want the comfort and safety of our metal cot and confined spaces.
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If you are fearful in small or big ways, think about this idea: embrace fear, because fear is a necessary component of huge growth and positive change.

Fear is a goldmine for growth.

If you are fearful of something — starting a new job, learning something, public speaking, having an uncomfortable conversation — then you know you have found a goldmine! Yes, this is the place to start digging for the gemstones that will buy your freedom from fear, and send you soaring to the next level.

In his book, Shift Your Mind: Shift the World, my friend and fellow coach Steve Chandler writes about a newspaper ad that one of his friends showed him. It’s an ad for Harley Davidson, and the headline reads: “WE DON’T DO FEAR”.

The ad also says this . . .

“Over the last 105 years in the saddle, we’ve seen wars, conflicts, depression, recession, resistance, and revolutions. We’ve watched a thousand hand-wringing pundits disappear in our rear view mirror. But every time this country has come out stronger than before….If 105 years have proved one thing, it’s that fear sucks and it doesn’t last long.”

Lower on the page, next to the Harley Davidson logo, it says:

“So screw it. Let’s ride.”

Let’s ride indeed! Don’t you want to hop on that fast moving, engine roaring cycle, and let the wind whip your hair and face? Don’t you want to experience the pure bliss and joy of life, and knock that demon fear off your shoulder for good?

As I’ve gotten older, I know one thing for sure. I have this one life right now, and it will come to an end on some real day in the future. What’s the point of living it in fear? There are things to do. There are great things to do! So I intend to do them. Fear be damned.

If you want to live fearlessly, you absolutely must let go of some beliefs and actions. Here are some of them:

  • What other people think of you. You will never please everyone, and it is rarely worth sacrificing yourself to accommodate some other person’s beliefs about who you should be or what you should do.
  • Fear of failing. You will fail. Again and again and again. Failure is the pathway to success. It is an inevitable part of success. Accept that, and failure won’t be so intimidating.
  • Your status. This is pure ego and part of what other people think of you. Your status isn’t based on anything real. Just perception. Is it worth giving up real happiness for status?
  • The discomfort of fear. Fear is uncomfortable. No one likes to be sitting in fear. We’ll do just about anything to avoid it. But you must know from experience, it is temporary. And it doesn’t kill you.
  • Embarrassment. Sometimes we may look stupid, silly, out-of-touch, inexperienced, fumbling, weak, or vulnerable. It will happen, but you must not let it hold you back. People forget your foolishness long before you do. They are far more interested in themselves!

If you can let go of these manacles of fear, then you are well on your way to living a fearless life. But just letting go is only part of the process. You must take action.

Here are some very specific actions to show you how to be fearless.

1. Stay open to all possibilities. Let go of outcomes. You may think you want to go right, but life takes you left. So go with what life presents. Left might be more fun anyway.

2. Embrace change. Even change that appears negative. Change is constant and is part of the evolution of life and the human experience. Don’t fight it. It will happen anyway, so follow it where it leads you.

3. Make plans, but make them loosely. Set goals for yourself and work toward them. But remember, you are staying open to possibilities and embracing change. Work toward your goal, but watch for signs to recalibrate.

4. Write a mission statement. When you apply your values and vision to every decision of your life, you have a road map that keeps you from veering off in directions that don’t support who you really are or want to be. Here’s an article on writing a mission statement.

5. Find mentors. Look for people whose lives or work you want to emulate. Watch what they do and how they do it. Ask for their help and guidance. Recently, a mentor for me in creating my blog and writing is Mary Jaksch of Goodlife Zen and Write to Done. She started a blog just a couple of years ago and has now built an amazing business — with integrity.

6. Challenge yourself. Find those areas in your life where you feel fear. For me, it’s public speaking. I still haven’t done anything about it, but I know it will greatly enhance my life once I face that little demon. What is it for you? Look those fears in the eye, and accept a little discomfort so you can reap the great rewards of stepping out of your comfort zone.

7. Think big. Why not? Why not make the biggest plans, the boldest actions, the most challenging decisions? You don’t know unless you try. You can stay small and safe. Blah, blah, blah. Or you can live an extraordinary life. Read about Chris Guillebeau at The Art of Non-Conformity. This guy has done more in his thirty years than most people have done in a lifetime.

8. Create partnerships. My friend Laura talks about people in her “cluster” — people who share a similar vision and world view. Find people in your cluster and make great partnerships. Find someone you trust to work with you on your bold adventures. Broaden your circle of partners so you have a tribe of people working together for mutual benefit. This is broader than networking. It’s working together to create a net of influence, inspiration and action.

9. Seek support. If there is something you really want, but fear is holding you back, don’t go it alone. There are some fears that need deeper unraveling. I can’t imagine not being to fly in an airplane or socialize with people, but these are very real fears for some people. Whatever it is, don’t give up. Find a counselor or coach to help you. You are in control, not your fears.

10. Action, action, action. That is the greatest cure for fear. Decide what you want to achieve, then start doing the work. Focus on the task at hand. Then the next task, then the next. Action is more powerful than great books, great blogs, great motivational speakers, or great plans. Even when you are in a slump or feel afraid, just do something.

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Comments

  1. Linda Gabriel says:

    I like the last suggestion best. Taking action is the best way through needless fear, in fact it’s the ONLY way through! Someone once told me that comfortable = no growth.

    I wonder if you would like to comment on the difference between the kind of fear that holds us back and the healthy fear that’s telling us our next action isn’t right for us. As a coach, I’m curious how you help people distinguish the difference.

    Thanks for another great post Barrie!

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Linda,
      That’s a great question. I think the fear that holds us back is ego-motivated. The fear (and maybe that’s not the best word for it) that tells us our next action isn’t right is intuition-based. I ask my clients to probe and examine every fear. Ask yourself why you are afraid until you find the core issue or reason. If you don’t want to do something because it feels “off” — trust your instincts and step back for a while. If you are afraid because it’s hard or intimidating, then plunge in anyway!
      Thank you for your ever-wise comments, Linda.
      Barrie

  2. Hi Barrie,

    Great article with tons of action items to overcoming fear. One of the best ways that I’ve learned is to tell myself that no matter what happens in life, that I will handle it. If I fail or succeed, I’ll handle it. If I get embarrassed or make a fool of myself, I’ll handle it. If I crash and burn, well then I’ll handle that, too.

    We should also think of the worst case scenario for each of our fears and determine if we can live with and handle it no matter what. If you can, then you have no excuse not to push through your fear to the other side.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Karen
    .-= Karen´s last blog ..The First Step In Finding Meaning For Your Life =-.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Karen,
      That is a fantastic way to deal with fear. Yes, absolutely ask yourself if you could handle the worst. Nothing seems as bad if you are prepared for it. Most things, we can handle.
      Thank you for your thoughtful comment.
      Barrie

  3. Inspirational, Barrie. I love that you take fear and then break it down into its basics so it just doesn’t seem like there’s any option but to act and let go of fear. You’re right about thinking big. Why not? It feels great to think big and it gets the juices flowing. A new e-book, now that’s wonderful. You’re thinking big!
    .-= katie´s last blog ..7-Week Life Cleanse: Creating Time & Space in Week 1 =-.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Katie,
      Thinking big is so invigorating. Mary has inspired that in me recently. Now I am thinking big on so many things, I don’t know where to start first!
      As always, thank you for commenting.
      Warmly,
      Barrie

  4. Hi Barrie. Nice post on fears. One of the ways to personally help get over fears is to genuinely be curious. When I’m with people and I get a sort of anxiety, I just try to be as curious as I am about them and usually I forget my anxiety while focusing on enjoying the conversation with them.

    But honestly though, it does come down to action, which you mention during your last tip. Going through whatever fears we may have and having that exposed makes us less scared of what we fear. Thanks for these reminders!
    .-= Hulbert Lee´s last blog ..J. K. Rowling – Author and Creator of the Harry Potter Fantasy Series =-.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Hulbert,
      I do that too! When I’m with someone who intimidates me, I try to humanize the person by asking questions about them and being curious. It almost always works. Sometimes there are people who just can’t be humanized. But then they get less scary when you realize that!
      Thanks for commenting.
      Best,
      Barrie

  5. Richard says:

    I also like the last one the most. Its all very well plannin and thinking but taking physcial ACTION is going to get you closer to the outcome you would like. Great post Thank you for sharing :D

    Richard

  6. Barrie,
    I must say I started to read your guest post on Write to Done but I came here and started reading this article and JUST could not stop; I read every word. You have an amazing writing voice. It’s as addictive as you suggest we should be, funny enough, in your “How writing can be like great sex” article….so I see that you follow your own advice – and what a brilliant articulation of fear….”Fear be damned.” Indeed….Oh and I think you should look into Toastmasters to master that fear – they do a fabulous job of helping you overcome fear of public speaking. I can talk to you more about that if it interests you – and I am a happy new subscriber. Love that writing voice!

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Dear, dear Farnoosh,
      You have made my day! How exciting to receive such a lovely comment. Thank you so very much. I am delighted you are a subscriber. You are right about Toastmasters — it keeps calling my name. I will conquer that one, I promise. I have to practice what I preach.
      My best to you.
      Warmly,
      Barrie

  7. these words are going up on my wall, “Fear is a goldmine for growth” what a beautiful perception of fear.
    I really like how you took fear and hung it up an hanger, to be looked objectively. It helps to see it more clearly.
    .-= Aileen´s last blog ..Quote for today…the law of flotation =-.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Aileen,
      You are spot on — when you look at fear objectively, it really takes the sting out. I am so glad you liked it!

  8. Barrie, This is an excellent post about something we all experience from time to time. It’s interesting that you mention fear of public speaking and Toastmasters. It is a terrific organization which provides vital support and mentors. The program works, in part, because a member takes “baby steps.” The first speech, for example, is a very short speech about yourself.

    One thing I’ve learned in my years in TM is that the adrenaline which makes a person feel afraid and nervous can be chanelled from “performance anxiety” into “performance energy.” This takes some time, but it’s a big confidence builder.
    .-= Madeleine Kolb´s last blog ..A Vulture’s Got to Make a Living (Like Everyone Else) =-.

  9. Barrie Davenport says:

    OK, two recommendations (challenges) for me to join Toastmasters. Looks like I’m going to have to do it! Thank you Madeleine.

    Barrie

  10. I just have to remember to breathe…
    .-= LPC´s last blog ..The Green Hills Of Wiltshire, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:24am =-.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Yes, breathing helps. I guess that’s the only time when fear can kill you — when you stop breathing! Welcome home. Hope you had a great trip.

  11. Fantastic! This post was incredibly motivating for me and it speaks directly to an unnecessary fear I felt last night.

    “Don’t cure me. Sickness is my me.
    My terror was you’d set me free.”

    Frederick Seidel says so much with those two lines. It’s so easy for us to get comfortable with our fear because discomfort isn’t usually pleasant. However by truly recognizing that discomfort and fear are vital to growth, we can take the necessary steps in the right direction and face those challenges head on.
    .-= Raam Dev´s last blog ..Discovering the Beauty and Energy of Udaipur =-.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Raam,
      I am so glad you liked the post. Discomfort is vital to growth. It seems like a bad thing when we are in it, but I think that discomfort should be a signal for upcoming excitement. It’s like childbirth. The pain is terrible, but you know something wonderful is at the end of that pain.
      Thank you for commenting.
      Barrie

  12. Hi Barrie,

    Thanks for the great post!

    I especially liked the Frank Seidel quote, so much of our self identity can be bound up in our fears. To the point where actually releasing our fears can feel like losing a part of ourselves.

    Also, liked your tip “Make plans, but make them loosely”. I love the openness, and acceptance of the fluidity of life there. Two qualities that seem the opposite of fear, to me.

    Cheers,
    .-= Dave´s last blog ..The Rarest Angels =-.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Dave,
      The fluidity of life — such a beautiful expression. That’s exactly what I mean. Life is fluid. We are in our boats paddling, but sometimes we just have to follow the wind.

      Barrie

  13. Amit Sodha - The Power Of Choice says:

    Hey Barrie,

    Superb post. Nowadays, anything that give me fear I try and tackle it head on. There is an amazing amount of liberation that comes with confronting your fears head on. When you can start the ball rolling with one you can then tackle the others much more easily by applying those same principles.

    Awesome post!
    .-= Amit Sodha – The Power Of Choice´s last blog ..Spirituality IS NOT A Separate Area Of Life =-.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Thanks Amit. Yes, you must tackle them head-on or you will never overcome them. Once you tackle enough of them, you soon lose some of the fear about other things in life. So far, nothing has killed us, right?
      Thank you for commenting.
      Barrie

  14. a comfortable life is boring and facing your fears is obeying god. Do it with joy!

    • I try to but i am to afraid to face my fears im ohnly 8 years old and i want to be fearless!!

      • Barrie Davenport says:

        Hi Chantal,
        How brave you are to want to be fearless at just 8 years old. It is normal for someone your age to feel fearful at times. I hope you can talk to your parents about your fears, and they can help you feel better about them. As you grow older, many of the things you fear now will no longer make you afraid. Thank you so much for writing on my blog.

  15. Such a motivation!Good job!

  16. Hey Barrie,
    Here’s my situation. I’m honestly afraid if being afraid or panicing, because I’ve had panic attacks and now I’m afraid of getting one again, for example today my class was talking about the end of the world and all that stuff but when i started thinking about it i wasnt afraid of what was gonna happen, i was more afraid of how i was going to react the day before it. Before i was just claustrophobic but now i’m praticaly afraid of anything that has to do with people suffering, scared, dying and things like that. I’m sick of being scared. All i want to be is happy, active and most of all FEARLESS! I dont want any worries in my life but i havent figured out the way to control all those fears that i have. Help me please

  17. Connie @ The Power To Live says:

    Hi, Barrie,

    What a wonderful post, packed with such helpful information.

    I love living by facing my fears, by feeling the fear but pushing past it. It’s energizing and it fuels me.

    It took me awhile to get to this point, as I lived a small, fear-based life before. I wrote about pushing past fear in this post on my blog: http://thepowertolive.com/1535/how-to-overpower-fear-and-disappointment-in-1-easy-step/

    I hope you enjoy it. And, thanks again, for all you’ve offered here.

    Connie

  18. thanks i am now called the man without fear i am happy as i ever was fear was holding me back but i have gotten that demon of my shoulders because of you thank you
    -L

  19. Parul Kore says:

    thank u very much now i m fearless and happy.

  20. nofears says:

    Thanks. i liked the article.
    i want to add something more.

    Fears are there to make you more stronger in life.So try to find the solution for fear and act on it.Once you will fail try diff techniq,twice you will fail try diff techniq , third time you will succeed and fear will vanish forever.

    So analyse the fear and solution for it.

  21. I am afraid of lots of thing since five years when i got anxiety, i was carry to the hospital, i have been very stressed out, if i am working i feel like i am going to fall and down and died. I have been very fearful since than, i was thinking about continuing university studies. Everyday i worry until that happen to me.
    Presently I am still afraid of dog before and even now when it bit me about five months ago. I have been praying to God for his close guidance to ward me. I have had lots of bad dreams that make me more fearful a friend of mine told me dreams are just what u are afraid of to happen to you. those are things that appear in the dream from then i have been having confident anytime i worry. please send more advices to me to comfort me

  22. I really try my hardest to loose this fear but i cant help

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