Stop Being Afraid

You need to do something for yourself today: Make the decision to stop letting fear rule your life.

Scared little girl
Photo Credit: VinothChandar via Compfight cc

Stop hesitating.

Stop wavering.

Stop questioning.

Tell the voices of opposition to shut up. Refuse to be ruled by Fear. And then, get on with what you were born to do.

What is Fear?

  • Fear is avoiding a tough conversation you need to have.
  • Fear is asking for advice when you already know what to do.
  • Fear is waiting for more information before acting on what you already know.

Instead of being afraid, we must be courageous. But, as you probably know by now, courage isn’t the absence of Fear; it’s the willingness to face it in spite of how you feel.

Of course, fear is natural, a biological reaction against things that could harm you. In that respect, fear can be good. But that’s not the kind of Fear we’re talking about here.

The Fear you and I experience when we say we want to write a book or go into business for ourselves is personal and vindictive. It knows our secrets and gladly holds them against us.

When it comes to this type of Fear, we are afraid of too many things. Things that are actually good for us. Things like falling in love or chasing a dream.

The risk feels too great, so our survival instincts kick in. Our “fight or flight” response is triggered, and often we decide to run.

But if you are going to do important work in this world, you cannot run away. You must stay and face the fear, disciplining yourself in the art of making courage decisions.

How to become unafraid

What does this look like? How do you finally face Fear? Not by waiting for it to go away. You become unafraid by standing up for what really matters to you.

Courage, then, is not the absence of Fear; it’s the byproduct of action.

Want to be brave? Do the right thing, anyway. Start now, not later. Take chances, climb mountains, dream big. And slowly, courage will begin to replace the knee-jerk reaction to run. Bravery becomes second nature.

It may never be easy, but you can train yourself to not be paralyzed by Fear.

What we’re talking about here — your decision to quit that job, become a better spouse, or make a difference in the world — this is epic stuff. The stuff of heroes. So we need you to get over your insecurity and move forward.

The stakes are too high to linger in the land of indecision.

The only fear worth having

Over time, as you do this, you may find yourself becoming less afraid of what used to petrify you. As Franklin D. Roosevelt once famously said:

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance…

That arch nemesis that once would’ve destroyed you, will now seem more like an inconvenience than a debilitating force. You’re in control now, too scared to go back to the old you that was paralyzed by risk.

The cost of being un-heroic is just too great — you’re done with that. You have nothing to gain by not facing your fears today and everything, including your dream, to lose.

You must decide. You must commit. Face your fears.

(Note: One way I’m facing my fear this year is by going on this crazy trip.)

What’re you afraid of? Share in the comments.

128 thoughts on “Stop Being Afraid

  1. I am doing the #100lgu (100 Life Goals University) with @ShaunKing, and this week our subject is all about fears. Your article really came in time for us! Great work Jeff!

    1. Even if they did, who cares? <—- Mindset is easier said than done! You rule, and nobody can quantify your value. You matter!

  2. Great stuff, Jeff! “But if you are going to do important work in this world, you cannot run away.” I’ve often had to find that out the hard way in my life. Avoiding the hard often just leads to more pain. Journey through it and live.

  3. I’m afraid of quite a lot of things. Rejection, loneliness… Lately it’s failure. I’m not even disappointing anyone else, just myself! Somehow I can’t give myself a second chance because I’m scared I’ll fail again.

      1. I think that’s your strength! I’m sick of all these carbon copies I meet and see everyday. Everybody is different, but everybody wants to be the same.

      2. Really? I’d actually say that’s your strength. I’m sick of living in a word full of carbon copies. Everyone is different, but everyone still wants to be the same. I wish that would change!

  4. Truth be told, I’m pretty scared to finalize and release my book. I’m on a second draft and it still needs a lot of work. But uploading it to Amazon is going to be about as scary as it gets for me, particularly given the topic and vulnerability inherent in confessing to all the stupid little things I’ve been guilty of for a long time.

    I’m also scared to ask for endorsements and other opportunities to spread the word about it. I know I need to be sure to do it in a way that I wouldn’t mind if the shoes were on the other foot. I just have this whole “their time is valuable” thing I’m struggling to get over. I’m a little ways away from that. But it’s going to take all my courage to do so. Then again, I could always ask now and say it’s for when the book is done… so maybe I’m delaying asking because of an excuse that is really just a cop out… Great…

    Thanks for the reminder! You’re totally right.

  5. Jeff,
    I am afraid of being rejected. Often I reject myself before I let anyone else see what I do. Thank you for this today. It is time to be me and have fun doing it.

  6. I’m afraid of not suceeding, of not being able to achieve my dream to earn my living as an author… But, in the same time, I feel very attracted by that, as if it was my calling… More I resist to it and more it becomes stronger… Your post gave me the courage to overcome my fear and to try. Thanks, Jeff !

  7. These words are timely, Jeff. Lately I’m afraid to admit I am overwhelmed by life and still feel behind in the new year…I need to let go of my own expectations and take one step at a time. I’m also afraid of sharing my heart and being misunderstood. Time to work on fighting these fears!

  8. I fear running out of creativity. Often right after I have done something creative. It keeps me believing not just that I am only as good as my last creative effort, I am only as good as my current one. Not exactly true. But there it is.

  9. I I used to fear the opinions of others about my work decisions. I decided to pursue my own path and I don’t regret that. I quit my job and started writing. Been doing it for 6 years now.

  10. Strange fear, but i am afraid of shifting my blog from blogger to wordpress. Will i loose some SEO from not being part of Google.
    love your Blog theme Jeff. What is it?

  11. This is great– like a kick-butt devotional. Rather than resolutions, I set a theme for this year. As it happens, my theme is: FEAR NOT! I love the statement that courage is they byproduct of action. I feel like shouting out an “Amen, brother!” Thanks.

  12. Definitely needed this today! I fear wasting household money investing in publishing my e-book if it’s not worth it. “Not worth it” meaning that the book is too simplistic to really help anyone and no one buys it so it doesn’t earn any money. There. That’s it in a nutshell!

  13. Jeff, this is a fantastic article. Those “little conversations” we all have in our head are the starting and ending point of all success. Fear is a choice. I love how you put it “Tell The voices of opposition to shut up.” The starting line of all greatness Jeff.

  14. Great post! I am afraid that I have no talent, that I am wasting time (not fair to my kids) and that I will never create anything of value. I actually feel quite ill when I think about it!

  15. I am glad to read about this topic – if you don’t break through fear you cannot bring your gifts to the world. I have studied fear and physical movement and the connection I have found is amazing.

  16. I am afraid of giving up what I have now (a steady paycheck) in order to get what I think I want (travel), but then find out later on that I never should have let go of what I already had. I am afraid that I will regret it, and end up broke.

    1. I understand this fear, after I quit my full-time job of several years (with a salary and benefits!). It was safe and familiar-but I knew this was the step I needed to take. It is a leap of faith! This post encouraged me to not give in to fear (and at times it is great), but to keep trusting that The Lord is guiding my path. It’s an adventure worth taking!

  17. I love this post. I just moved to a new city/county, don’t know a soul and have been lonely and pulling out of depression. Your words hit home, I think it’s all about my fear of facing change and believing in myself. I moved to South Orange County and I need to get out and find work as a singer/guiitarist, something I’ve done professionally my entire life. But I’m older now and I’m afraid of being judged and turned down. Like you said Eric Clark, ‘Mindset is easier said than done! You rule, and nobody can quantify your value. You matter!” Amen to that.

  18. I’ve been afraid of a lot of things in my life. Recently, it seems it all boils down to this: I am afraid of success. Crazy, right? Fear of Failure makes more sense – but in reality it is fear of succeeding. Success means change and risk and putting yourself out there and while I say I want all of that – the fear of having to follow through with it all can stop me in my tracks. Great post!

  19. Fear of rejection and losing control. Never letting anyone close has been the optimal way to succumb to the Fear. It’s also a fear of falling in love and becoming vulnerable. But if listening to this Fear – I’d also have to accept a life alone. And I don’t want to.

    Last year, I decided to face my Fear and get in touch with an old crush who’d shown interest after 10 years. It didn’t work out for reasons that were out of our control and 100% due to his circumstances with work. Nevertheless, my Fear was adamantly whispering in my ear that I was the reason: “See what happens when you make a step in that direction and ignore me? You will only get hurt. Told you so. Now listen to me, put your head back down.” After listening to the Fear for a while, I’ve just decided that the step is worth so much more even though it didn’t work out. It showed me that I COULD face the Fear – and if I can do it once.. I can do again.

    Your blog timing was perfection. Thank you 🙂

  20. Great article! I feel like I’m in Sunday morning service. Preach! Yes sir! Pass the offering plate please…lol!

  21. I’m afraid of failing but now I know that that’s just one thing blocking me and I’ll never succeed if I never try AND fail.

  22. I think I’m most afraid of pushing hard to do what I most want to do out of fear of being selfish. Would it be selfish to quit my safe tech. writer job in order to self-publish and be a professional blogger? I fear it would be selfish to take professional dancing lessons purely because I love the gift of dance. And on, and on, and on…

  23. Great post Jeff. Here’s the reality though – I write quite a bit, but publish very little. For folks like me, and there are tons of us, most don’t understand the reality. I work 65 hours a week, so part of my fear is – what little I do publish is inconsistent, and by the time it’s up to a decent standard – it’s been a long time coming.
    However, here’s the reality — Gurus (not including Jeff here) love it that most people are scared. Look at the blog titles – 5 Reasons no one is reading your Blog. People don’t read that and say “wow, thanks so much, I won’t do that anymore”. No, the reality is they say “Thank goodness I’m not blogging just yet or I would have made those 5 mistakes”!
    Guru grows a huge audience of worshippers with fear-based writing, and no one publishes a darn thing out of fear. Win-lose every time.

  24. Jeff, Thank you for this post! I love your definition of fear and I can admit I have struggled with them all. I have allowed fear to stop me being pursing my goals and dreams. Oddly, as I look in the past I have done so many things where fear could have held me back. Also great insight that you gave when you spoke at Shaun Kings event, I can definitely relate to you on so many levels. I look forward to working with you as soon as your tribe writers course opens back up. 🙂
    Micah B.

  25. Great post Jeff, I’m afraid of so many times but use that fear to make sure I’m proceeding forward carefully. My biggest fear is not die empty, I want to truly live and not hold anything back!

  26. Wonderful post Jeff! I think Marianne Williamson said it for me: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” I know how to live small and achieve incremental successes. I know how to be strong and work long, hard hours just to make ends meet. But to work those same long, hard hours (or even shorter, less challenging ones), and find success, an audience and an income to lift my family up? That’s fear. And happily, I just took a giant step into the face of this fear by signing up for Danny Iny’s course. Fear? You’d better believe it. Success? Bring it on!

  27. Well this was impeccable timing! I thought I would distract myself from the fear of moving forward with my business project…so I decided to read your blog lol Are you listening in on my thoughts Jeff? 🙂 Thanks for the amazing post!

  28. Part of fear is ‘resistance’ as Steven Pressfield so elequenty illustrates in his book, the War of Art. He defines it as, “a
    destructive force inside human nature that arises whenever we consider a tough,
    long-term course of action that might do for us or others something that is
    actually good.’ I don’t always agree w/Pressfield’s thoughts, but he’s right on target here.

  29. Ouch. “Fear is asking for advice when you already know what to do.”
    This one has hit me hard in the last few months. It’s pushed me to take action and stop hesitating. Great post.

  30. Thanks Jeff! This is just what I needed to hear today. I have been procrastinating starting my website and writing. I am asking The Lord to help me push forward.

  31. An excellent post – very motivation and uplifting. I can recommend Susan Jeffers’ book Feel the Fear – and Do It Anyway, she expresses similar sentiments.. I’m about to confront one of my lifelong fears – public speaking – by giving an author talk at my local library in a few days. I’m actually looking forward to the challenge and proving to myself that I can do it.

    1. I am also terrified of public speaking. That’s amazing that you’re facing your fear! Best wishes. I needed this post to remind me that I may always be afraid to speak up in class — but I can courageously choose to do it anyway.

  32. I love this post so much! I always remind myself that “on the other side of fear is greatness. On the other side of fear are my dreams. On the other side of fear is everything awesome that I’ll never experience if I continue to live in fear.” I appreciate this post so much because it compliments my word for the year “fearless.” Thanks so much for this encouraging post! I am going to share it with others on my blog tomorrow. I know it will inspire & encourage them to PUNCH FEAR IN THE FACE!

  33. I need to hear this on a regular basis. I think I’m going to print this out and read it often.. Thanks Jeff!

  34. The fear I’ve had has caused me to be guilty of the following:

    ●Fear is asking for advice when you already know what to do.
    ●Fear is waiting for more information before acting on what you already know.

    This post truly had a monumental impact on me. I sincerely appreciate the time you took to write this, and the care and generosity you demonstrated in sharing this. This is a call-to-action that was tough to hear, but necessary to read. I think this was the hard push I really needed.


  35. Hey Jeff. Thx for the post. I think sometimes fear is silence. When we don’t get the response we hope for in our writing we could get paralyzed and afraid to move forward. But we have to overcome and instead of the fear silencing us we need to silence the fear. Does that make sense? Thx Jeff. I needed this tonight. Blessings to you. Brenda

  36. Spot on Jeff. I fear everything. As I’m posting this comment I fear that the people across the bar are thinking I’m a loser for being on my phone. Sometimes I’m too afraid to publish a post because I fear that the wrong people will read it.

    This is the first time I’ve heard the idea of getting past fear by training yourself out of it. Slowly but surely, it just may work.

    I think it was you that presented an idea a while back; we owe it to the world to create, to be the best possible person that we can be. Our ideas and our thoughts aren’t ours, but burrowed from something greater than us. We need to bring these thoughts and ideas to the rest of the world. As writers and influencers we can not give in to fear. We can not let the creativity killer win this battle.

  37. Great post! A catch phrase concerning fears that I’ve used with clients for years, for so long that I don’t even remember who to attribute it to, is: “Face it, Embrace it, Erase it.” Sounds basically like what you are saying here!

  38. Hit the nail right on the head Jeff! What an encouragement to a reluctant writer and leader like me. Thanks for pushing me to face my fear and do what God wants me to do! Grateful to you 🙂

  39. I fear being neglected .. I want to be a high profile character in the socielty. This is inspiring. Thank you very much 🙂

  40. “Fear is asking for advice when you already know what to do”, wow Jeff, Thank you for continually writing words that help people, you’re making such a difference, more than you could ever know

  41. Crazy thing is that many times I don’t even know what I’m afraid of. It is irrational most of the time.

  42. Thank you for your encouragement, Jeff! One thing that always makes me afraid is my ability to write a story in English. English is my 4th language and I know that have been making thousands of grammatical mistakes and mispellings on my blog posts. But I still wanna learn.

    1. Helen, just by reading your comment here I would have never guessed that English is your 4th language! I think you are probably doing much better than you think!

  43. Jeff I had a fear of telling my family and friends about wanting to write stories and create picture books……THEN I took your course, even my beautiful 79 year old mother who I read my blog posts too……. said “Ever since you took that course you are doing the work and acting like a real writer. You have learned so much in one year.” The fear has gone. Like you say I now no longer think what if? I just know I have to work hard and one day this year I will have something amazing to share. Thank you.

  44. Thanks, Jeff, great post. I absolutely agree with you. Fear is one of the greatest obstacles when pursuing our dreams and aspirations, but the more often we manage to overcome it, the easier it gets in time. Unfortunately, we tend to give up too easily on our goals when the going gets tough and fear kicks in. Sometimes the perfect moment to pull through is when you feel the most resistance.

  45. In addition to ACTION to combat fear, I think it also helps to have a COMMUNITY. As you say, a “tribe.” I have a weekly writing group that helps me believe in myself, even when I forget to…

  46. I like what my pastor says, “when fear shows up, faith goes out the door”. There’s a reason why Jesus on numerous occasions commanded us not to fear. He wouldn’t have told us not to fear if it wasn’t possible to obey

  47. Whenever I see the word fear, I think of an acronym for it: False Evidence Appearing Real. Love your thoughts here. Fear to me is the Resistance, and the only way to defeat both is by doing the work, showing up, taking action. Thanks, Jeff!

  48. Thanks for the great post, Jeff. I found a scrap of paper at the back of a cupboard yesterday with this poem from Nicola Slee on it. Feels like it echoes your message. Be prepared to leap.

    “Dare to declare who you are.
    It isn’t far from the shores of silence to the boundaries of speech.
    The road is not long but the way is deep.
    And you must not only walk there,
    you must be prepared to leap.”

  49. I feel like this post was written for me. I’m a wuss a lot of times and in the end I justify it by saying it probably wasn’t meant to be or something like that. Ever since I started following your work the one word that keeps comming to me is ‘Commitment’. I’ve gotta take a stand, commit to something and face my fears.

  50. I think fear comes from the 1 thing that went wrong irrespective of the 100 things that went right.. None of us want to go thru that “one thing”. Your post speaks volumes and is like a wake up call..

  51. This was very helpful!! Its so odd to fear something I love so much. This post gave me the determination and ” butt glue” to pump out 900 words towards my book. I wind up focusing on reading about writing and blogging and avoiding my manuscript. Thanks for getting me back in the game, Jeff!
    Cara from raleigh, NC

  52. This is exactly what our whole family (me, my husband, 22year old son, 21 year old soon to be son-in-law, 18 year old almost married daughter, and 16 year old daughter.) Are walking out of: fear. We have just recently left a church that we had faithfully served in for over 30 years. God has called us to be pastors outside of the four walls and to help connect churches together with the one goal of healing the broken and lost. To set up a spiritual “red cross” ministry to service our community with more of a hands on approach. This has caused ALL of us to face our fears while listening to the still small voice inside, opposed to the traditions of familiarity. Last night I was just encouraging my future son-in-law that courage is when your out of your comfort zone, you don’t know what the future holds, you feel at your weakest, and still you walk through your fears to follow your heart. Thanks for encouraging so many on your blog to live and not just survive!

  53. I am afraid of the personal contact necessary to move forward. I love public speaking but I have to communicate with people who will let me do that. Thanks for the push, Jeff!

  54. I’ve jumped in headfirst before – many times in fact. I’ve embraced the uncertainty and the struggle. And inevitably I wonder how or why I got myself into this ‘mess’ in the first place and fantasize about ‘getting out’ when times get tough. This is the fear that for me is the most paralyzing… and tiring.

  55. Lots of times I’m afraid of saying what I feel, I’m afraid of rejection or may be that the answer is not what I want to hear, I0m going to think about your column and try it out, take a risk and then see what happens next.


  56. Are you educated in anything but BS and mambo jumble. you might want to earn a degree in psychology before you impose your biases and gross generalizations on others.
    just because you think so does not make it a reality for others.
    I see your rant as being a disservice to people who are experiencing trauma, depression or just going thou hard times..
    Not everyone can pull themselves up by just their boot straps

      1. Even through trauma and depression and hard times, you still have a choice. A choice to do it anyway. This article is not “mumbo jumbo.” Granted it’s always easier to write about and think about something than to do it. (Speaking from personal experience and living in fear for more than 17 years with severe seasonal depression and a number of challenging personal situations.) That choice for me has been is to decide the ONE THING I can do right now in this moment that will help me move forward. Some days that one thing is very small and seems insignificant. Other days it’s pretty damn productive. But without choosing to do that ONE THING every day, fear would have conquered my life and reigned with a suffocating iron fist.

        I do not see this article as a disservice whatsoever.

  57. Hi Jeff; yes, facing fear is just like developing any other skill. the more you do it the better you will get at it. In the past couple of years i have had gastric surgery and lost over 250 pounds, i started a blog, i did my first interview post, I even started recording videos. I plan to travel the world in the future doing my youtube shows about the amusement industry and as a blind person being an inspiration to others. I’m actively seeking that person to go on the journey with me. I need a traveling companion and partner in crime if you will. but if i don’t find such a person, I’m committed to going anyway and recruiting help when i get to each new city or town. let me know if I can help any of you face your fears. I love encouraging others. Thanks jeff for the great post. Keep up the good work, max

  58. For me, my greatest fears as a writer can be really depressing. Since I’m still only a teenager, I’m afraid my work will never end up being appreciated, or that I’ll never figure out the publishing industry. I’m afraid that because my creative flows come infrequently that I could never be a full-time writer. I’m afraid that things that come up later in life might squeeze their way in between me and my writing time. I’m afraid I’ll lose my motivation.

    But on the post itself, I agree with it completely.
    My dad tells me that everyone has voices inside them. Those voices lie to you, creating doubt and fear. He says that the only way to get rid of those fears is to first acknowledge that they exist, not deny them. Then, you must face up to the facts. Is what they say true? NO. They aren’t true. You have to believe otherwise, or you’ll never get anything done. But sometimes, there can be a small hint of truth in them, and you can learn from that truth. But the most likely case is that they lie, so you must stand up to your fears and speak truth to them. Counter the fears with your own truths.
    If the fears tell you that you will mess up a play audition (stupid example, but play along) and that you have no chance of getting the part, tell your fears that you have memorized the lines over and over, practiced for a ages, and have just as good a chance of getting the part as anyone else, if not better. Accept that as truth and move on.

  59. (Not going to waste my time writing my whole story.
    Just wanted to say
    Thank you.
    Thanks a lot)

  60. I believe that everyone have fears. The best part is when we are no longer driven by them, something magical happens. We feel powerful, free and rich.

  61. Fear took the form of perfectionism in my life for decades. Just a few years ago, a business coach shared a life-changing philosophy at his workshop: “You have to be willing to be bad at something long enough to get good at it.” It was my permission-slip to fail – and be okay. It’s given me the freedom to keep trying, ignoring the “voices”, believing this is just a simple part of the process. Just like you said, action combats fear. Thank you for yet another valuable insight!

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