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Despite the Fear


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Not everyone makes a big splash entering the pool. Many of us enter the water slowly, gradually. A few timid souls even need to be hand-led taking one baby step at a time. HOW you get into the pool of life, however, is not nearly as significant as whether you do get in. If you're tired of sitting on the sidelines just waiting for stuff to happen because you're too afraid to speak up or take action, the time for change is NOW!

Doing something that you are afraid to do may sound daunting. You may feel it will take Herculean strength (which, of course, you don't have) to take a step while your knees are shaking, your heart is pounding and every cell in your body is bellowing “you can't do it!"

But here's the good news. You don't have to tackle big changes at the outset. More important is simply to get yourself going. And one way to do so is to muster up the courage to do just one gutsy thing. Big, small - it doesn't matter. What matters is that despite the fear you feel in your gut, you take an action which challenges your usual sense of self. Instead of using that tired old excuse, “I'm uncomfortable with that", you take a leap of faith and speak your mind or take an action despite, or even because of, the fear.

Here's how Gina described her “before" life. “I was the peacemaker in my family. I never had the courage to create waves. I used to joke about my fear of displeasing others by saying, “Some of my friends are for it. Some are against it. As for me, I'm with my friends. "

Now listen to Gina as she describes her “after" life. “I look back on the way I used to live life and feel sorry for that timid person. I never had an opinion, never did anything that wasn't expected of me, never took a chance. I was drowning in caution and starved for adventure. I'm proud of how far I've come. "

Just as fear comes in all sizes, so does creating your one gutsy thing. You don't have to make a big splash as you enter the pool. Neither do you need to compare yourself with others. It may be true that what's a big deal for you may be effortless for others. On the other hand, don't denigrate your strengths. What's a piece of cake for you may well be a challenge for others.

Deciding what your gutsy step might be will relate to your personality style. If you're a shy person, a gutsy step may be saying ‘yes’ to a social experience, such as attending a wedding where you only know the bride. If you're a controlling person, a gutsy step may be relinquishing control, such as letting your spouse plan a family vacation instead of insisting that your way is better. If you're a compliant person, a gutsy step may be saying “no" to someone in authority.

Perhaps you're still doubtful. You may think you're not ready for all this action-oriented stuff. But before you close the door on taking one gutsy step, reflect on the following questions:

" If you're afraid of provoking someone's anger, why not get personal coaching on how to approach a difficult conversation?
" If you're afraid to make a phone call, why not rehearse your opening sentence before you make the call?
" If you're afraid of learning a new skill, why not buy a how-to book to get a head start in the privacy of your own space?
" If you're afraid of dying, why not try living fully - today?

Copyright 2008

Linda Sapadin, Ph. D. is a psychologist and personal coach in private practice who specializes in helping people enrich their lives, enhance their relationships and overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior. For more information about her work, contact her at or visit her website at


Dr. Sapadin is a clinical psychologist, author, columnist, educator and motivational speaker. Her expertise is teaching people how to master debilitating fear, anxiety, procrastination and other self-defeating patterns of behavior. She also specializes in enriching relationships and enhancing self-confidence.


Now I Get It! Totally Sensational Advice for Living and Loving (Outskirts Press, 2007)

Master Your Fears: How to Triumph Over Your Worries and Get On With Your Life (John Wiley & Sons, 2004). (Also published in Korean and French)

Beat Procrastination and Make the Grade: The Six Styles of Procrastination and How STUDENTS can Overcome Them (Penguin, 1999).

It's About Time! The Six Styles of Procrastination and How to Overcome Them (Penguin, 1996). Also published in Japanese.


Today Show, Good Morning America, Fox Morning News, National Public Radio, the Voice of America, Good Day New York, The New York Times, USA Today, Newsday, The Washington Post.


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