The secret to overcoming your fears

In honour of Halloween…I’m going to share something that took me years of effort and thousands of dollars to discover:

To get unscared, you need to do the stuff you’re afraid of.

That’s it. That’s the message. You can stop reading now if you like. 😉

That’s not what I wanted to hear!

I know. It’s tough advice to take. Especially if (like me) you’ve invested years and years searching for the magic pill that will dissolve your fears.

I started out *waiting* for the day when I would wake up and suddenly be courageous. I figured you got brave first, then you did the stuff you were afraid of. Right?

That didn’t work.

So I started trying stuff.

  • Logical analysis of why I was afraid, what I was afraid of…and why I shouldn’t be afraid of it.
  • In depth exploration of where my fears originally came from. Rehashing shit that happened in childhood.
  • Reading self help book after self help book.
  • Counseling
  • Positive visualization exercises: vividly imagining myself in a scary situation, handling it in a brave way.
  • Meditation and calming techniques.

While all of these were helpful to a certain extent…none of them eradicated my fears.

And some of them (notably – the first two) usually made me feel worse.

My fears started to melt the minute I started doing the things I was afraid to do.

I enrolled in a week long personal development course.

They had us scale a telephone pole (with safety harness) and jump off. I was shaking by the time I was 2 feet off the ground.

By the end of the workshop…after I jumped off that pole, walked a tightrope 40 feet in the air and fell backwards off a platform into the waiting arms of my fellow course participants…I was free from my fear of heights.

I went from being afraid to climb a step ladder…to developing a love of zip lines.

Unfortunately, I was still afraid of making phone calls, approaching people, asking for things, promoting myself and talking to strangers.

You can’t get over one fear by taking on another.

I’m a slow learner.

It wasn’t until a few years and several thousand dollars later (after I became a badass who could walk over hot coals, bend rebar with my throat and swallow fire…but still couldn’t make a phone call) that I discovered the truth:

In order to get past a fear, you have to do the *actual* thing that you’re afraid of.

I realized that if I really wanted to get over my phone phobia, I would have been better off taking a part time job as a telemarketer.

I started doing the things I was afraid of

I noticed 2 things happened each time:

1. I felt absolutely fantastic once it was over with.

2. It’s somewhat less scary the next time.

And once I do the scary thing often enough, it becomes part of my comfort zone. Some things that used to scare me are actually *fun* for me now.

It’s speeding up

With each new fear that I take on, I’m going from “terrified” to “courageous” faster.

  • It took me about 2 years of attending weekly Toastmasters meetings to go from “worried I will piss myself scared” to being comfortable with public speaking.
  • It took 5 months for me to summon the courage to post my first sales page. Now I’m working on several offerings and I am about to (fearlessly) post a flurry of pages.
  • My hand shook so badly, I could barely dial into my first teleclass. I felt flustered and nervous. Three classes later, I felt comfortable, confident and in control. I was having fun!
  • I was nervous about attending my first local networking event. Since then, I’ve gone to at least a dozen…and I now feel no fear whatsoever.

You can wait for courage to arrive.

You can read the books, get the therapy and search high and low for a method that will take the fear away *before* you do the scary thing.

Or you can do the scary thing…and watch the fear disappear.

If you have some fears that are getting in your way…and the things you’re doing right now aren’t working?

I’m challenging you to do something that scares you this week.

Anything you’d like to share? Or commit to publicly?

I dare you to take action and get past your fear of commenting. 😉


  1. Sue Mitchell on October 25, 2010 at 7:27 am

    Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Always do what you are afraid to do.” I read that quote in high school and it has stayed with me. I like your idea of doing something scary in honor of Halloween. I have a scary email I need to send this week…so I pledge to do it. Can’t make the Tuesday call, but I will do it by the end of the week.

    What’s your scary thing to do this week, Patty? ;-D

    • Patty K on October 25, 2010 at 8:45 pm

      Yay, Sue for taking on the scary email!

      My scary thing? Approaching people. (I’ll be writing about this subject soon.) Specifically, this week I will contact a woman I met recently at a biz event and invite her for coffee. That will be a first for me.

      Thanks for asking! 🙂

  2. Kylie on November 3, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Patty, you are a major source of inspiration for me this week. I mean, I already knew that to get over (or get less terrified of) my fears, I needed to actually do them, but this post reminded me of that. So I’m doing scary things, mostly related to being social. And I’m doing them all in a row, so that I can kind of ride off the momentum I gain after I succeed at one. Thanks for being so inspiring.

    • Patty K on November 3, 2010 at 12:07 pm

      Thank you!

      Doing the scary stuff all in a row to ride off the momentum is an awesome strategy. I do that too. I find it gets progressively easier. The toughest part is just getting started. Go you!!

  3. effervescence » social magic links on November 3, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    […] The Secret to Becoming Fearless by Patty K. This post is actually one of the things that started me thinking about doing this month of being social. […]

  4. Jack Bennett | 32000 days on November 4, 2010 at 9:04 am

    Seems like lots of awesome bloggers are writing about fear during the past few days. I was inspired to do likewise with a recent post myself…

    The strategy is so simple, of course, and yet it’s the exact one most people don’t want to do… because they’re scared. So simple… simple, but not easy.

  5. Cyndi on November 7, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Thank you Patty !!!

    So glad I found your blog … you are an inspiration for sure. Lots to digest and process … so needed thank you!