Blog Post

Feel your fear and do it anyway

30. October 2022

This blog post first appeared as a newsletter. If you would like to receive my weekly newsletter, you can sign up HERE.

Can I share something with you? This morning I had planned to go drive to the mount and go for a walk by myself, but chickened out at the 11th hour. Why, you may ask? Well, driving in New Zealand still terrifies me. Actually, I should rephrase that. I have always had an irrational fear of driving in general. That fear has just been multiplied by a million here, because I now have to drive on the other side of the road.

However, there is no living in New Zealand in not driving, and then I remembered something Elizabeth Gilbert said in Big Magic (an absolute must-read by the way). Actually, I remembered two things she said:

“It seems to me that the less I fight my fear, the less it fights back… In fact, I cordially invite fear to come along with me everywhere I go.”

“Be brave. Without bravery, you will never know the world as richly as it longs to be known. Without bravery, your life will remain small – far smaller than you probably wanted your life to be.”

Here’s the thing: fear is boring. There is absolutely nothing special about your fear (or mine). Fear is the same boring thing for everybody. Fear stops us from doing anything interesting. Whether it is driving so I can go on a beautiful walk, starting a business, writing poetry, saying yes to a new job…

I don’t want to let fear get in the way of my pursuits, and I don’t think you want to either. I don’t want to sit in my rocking chair when I’m 80 years old and regret all the things I didn’t do and pursue because I was scared.

What I’ve learned is that fear will always be there. I won’t magically wake up one morning and feel ready to drive. I have to feel my fear and do it anyway. My fear is only going to build and grow bigger by not getting behind the wheel. However, by practicing and actually doing it, my fear will gradually dissolve.

The same goes with everything else. Fear will always be present. It would be delusional to think otherwise. What is important is that we don’t let fear get in the way. Feel the fear, yes, but do it anyway.

Fear can have a voice, but it cannot have a vote.

Naturally, there will always be times where we give fear a vote (like I did this morning), but recognize that in these moments you are giving fear a vote, and is that really what you want to do? In my case, I didn’t want to give a fear a vote, so now I’ve made a plan to go for a drive after work, and this time fear will not get a vote. However, fear will still have a voice. See the difference?

I have come to accept that my fear will always have a voice, and many failed attempts have shown me that I cannot push fear away. As Elizabeth Gilbert says:

“It seems to me that the less I fight my fear, the less it fights back… In fact, I cordially invite fear to come along with me everywhere I go.”

This has been my experience too. The more I fight fear, the worse it gets. The more I fight fear and the more I feed it, the more I get stuck in overthinking and in a constant state of anxiety. So, I try to not fight my fear. Instead I let it be, but at the same time I try not to feed it.

Am I always successful? Well, clearly not. It is a life long journey, but I think the very first step is bringing awareness to it and choosing whether or not you want your fear to get in the way of your pursuits.

So, next time fear is making an entrance, don’t fight or try pushing it away. Instead, invite fear to tag along. Allow fear to have a voice, but do NOT allow fear to have a vote.

Feel your fear, but do it anyway.



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