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S2 EP111 – Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway

Episode Summary

Are you paralyzed with fear in some aspect of your life? Is this keeping you stuck? Is the fear of the unknown keeping you stuck, not doing the things you really want to do? How are you viewing success or failure that might be keeping you stuck? Discover how to get yourself unstuck – how to feel the fear and do it anyway! 


Hi everyone. I’m Dr. Margaret Paul with the Inner Bonding Podcast, and today we want to talk about feeling your fear and moving forward anyway with what you want to do. Our deceased friend, Susan Jeffers, wrote a great best-selling book with the title of our podcast, “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway.”

Dr. Erika Chopich, the co-creator of Inner Bonding, suggested this topic so I asked her to talk with me about this, and we had the following conversation. Erika started off saying: “I can’t think of anything in life that can be accomplished without confronting a fear on some level. There’s fear in everything we do that’s new to us and sometimes we’re willing to confront it on small levels, but it’s much harder when the outcome means more to us. I’ve met people who wouldn’t go to college because their fear of failure was so great, and they didn’t have any belief in themselves. They felt they couldn’t fail so they couldn’t try.” 

“Right,” I said. “I think the fear of failure gets in the way for a lot of people – that not failing becomes more important to them than expressing who they are.”

Erika went on to say, “Edison said that people fail because they didn’t try one more time. He had 9,999 failures before he invented the light bulb. A fulfilling life is like that. You just never take your eyes off the goal, never never never, and though its fearful and may cause you anxiety, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. It means you should walk right directly into it. And then you succeed eventually. I would not have learned to fly a plane and soar in a glider if I let the fear beat me because it’s very frightening to learn to fly. It’s very frightening to pilot your own plane all by yourself, but I did it because I didn’t let the fear guide me. I let the passion and growth guide me.”

“This was true for us,” I said, “with Inner Bonding when we first put out Inner Bonding 38 years ago. We got a lot of criticism from therapists saying it was just another form of pop psychology, but we kept at it and now hundreds of thousands of people worldwide are using this powerful process to heal themselves. But we had to not attach our happiness and worth to the goal and the outcome. Through Inner Bonding, we learned to make ourselves happy by loving ourselves, and to define our worth intrinsically rather than by outcomes.”  

“Yes,” Erika said. “I’m so glad we did that!

“I do see people feel the fear and do it anyway when they want to learn to ride a horse. The desire to bond with the horse and ride the horse is greater than their fear of getting in the saddle. You can see the fear in their eyes and you can see it in their rigid body, but they’ll do it anyway because they know there’s something greater than their fear. The horse knows too.”

“So,” I said, “I wonder why they’re willing to do it on a horse but not in other areas of their life?”

“Oh that’s interesting,” Erika said. “Riding horses is one of the most dangerous things that we do. It’s more dangerous than scuba diving or skydiving, and yet a person will get in the saddle even though they’re terrified. I think is it isn’t actually the ride – it’s the connection. Most people want connection, but many people are afraid to be vulnerable in a relationship. As much as they want connection, it’s more important to them to protect against the pain of getting hurt than it is to open their heart to love, so they’re more afraid in their relationship than they are of getting on a horse. This is true of animals in general. Many people will open their heart to an animal easier than opening their heart to a person.

“Of course, that’s not true of people who abuse animals. Those people have not opened their hearts. They feel the fear and then try to control. That’s what makes people do dark things. Many people are afraid of love – afraid of being controlled or rejected and abandoned. Because they’re abandoning themselves, they have a fear of being left by the other person but that’s because the intention is to turn the inner child over to the other person. Then they’re afraid they’ll get abandoned, but that’s not love and it’s not growth oriented.”

I jumped in here and said, “I see a lot of people who have a sense of what they want to do that would bring them joy, like in their work, but they just procrastinate. They don’t actually go for it. They don’t feel the fear and do it anyway.

“Right,” said Erika, and she went on to say, “I was thinking just now of all the good and great firefighters and cops who are there for us every time they put on that uniform and respond. They feel the fear and do it anyway. They do it every day of their lives. I did it that way as a firefighter and as a paramedic. I felt the fear every time and did it anyway because I had a great ability to compartmentalize the fear and deal with it later. But in a love relationship, you can’t compartmentalize. You can’t push the fear aside and deal with it later. You’re either present in the moment or you’re not, and that’s where people get tripped up. You’re either present in the moment with the fear and you’re willing to love anyway, or you’re present in moment with your fear and all you want to do is control and avoid your feelings. I think every great accomplishment a person does has involved feeling the fear and doing it anyway.”

“Yes,” I said. “We all know of leaders who are fearful and just want to control, and other leaders who are fearful but doing all they can to be loving leaders. The loving leaders are focused on the highest good of all, but the controlling leaders are focused on having power over others.”

“Right,” said Erika. “When they seek power over others bad things happen. Of course, there’s the difference between personal power and power over others. When someone wants power over others, it’s a breath in and they suck up all the energy and oxygen around them trying to consume it all to gain power over everything around them. They offer nothing. They give nothing, whereas it’s obvious that those who have some personal power and care deeply for their people, what they are doing is a breath out. They are using all their soul and skill and knowledge to protect their people, even at the possibility of getting killed. Then there’s the other level where you have to pay attention to your fear because it could be a warning sign to not do something or that there is something else you have to do.”

“Yes,” I said, “like in Victor Frankl’s book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning.’ Listening to his guidance is what kept him alive in the concentration camp. That’s what filters out what is a fear that you feel and move forward anyway, and what is the fear that lets you know about danger in the present moment and that you need to back off or take a protective action. The way you can know that is through your spiritual connection. It’s the difference between something that’s really happening in the moment and something you’re just telling yourself about because the wounded self will come in and scare you about things that are not happening, whereas there’s the real fear like somebody is trying to break into your house or you’re about to do something dangerous. If you are open, you will hear your guidance say ‘Don’t do that.’”

“And,” Erika said, “that’s not the same thing as feel the fear and do it anyway. I think what happens to a lot of people is they do know that their soul wants to go and do something, but then their wounded self comes in to scare them and they don’t do it. I allow my guidance to nudge me into all kinds of directions, and I can feel the difference from being nudged and guided by spirit, and when I’m inventing things to be afraid of. There’s a big difference between the earthly feel and dark color to it, and when it’s spirit nudging me onward and saying, ‘You need to do this even if you’re afraid.’ There’s light around it. I think some of the saddest people of all are the people who are immobilized by fear because they can’t move in any direction, and they can’t discern the difference between spirit nudging and real genuine danger. It’s an important part of our growth is to be able to discern the difference between when you really are in danger and need to back off and when it’s important to move forward even though you’re afraid.”

“Right,” I said. “Even though Victor Frankl was in real danger every moment in the concentration camp, he still listened to what spirit was telling him about what to do to be safe. Even in the face of the fear that was there every single minute, to determine his choices he still stayed connected to that nudging that you’re talking about.”

“And,” Erika said. “One of the challenges is how do you maintain your spiritual connection while you’re scared of something? How do you reach out to spirit? How do you listen? How do you not let your wounded self take over with wild fantasies of ‘what if, what if, what if?’ It’s about your intention. When your intention is to be loving to yourself, you’re going to be connected with spirit even though you’re scared. When you’re connected to spirit and then confronted with something that scares you, there is no ‘what if’ voice. It’s the difference between being in the present moment with spirit or allowing the wounded self to futurize. The wounded self futurizes with ‘what if?’  Often, people believe that if you’re deeply connected to spirit, you shouldn’t feel fear, and that’s erroneous. You’re going to feel the fear anyway because often it’s a new experience and it’s uncharted and you don’t know what you’re doing, but if it draws you in and there’s light around it and you’re in the present moment, you can feel the nudging of spirit to feel the fear and do it anyway.

“That’s how I know when to approach a crazy out of control horse. Am I scared at that moment? Yes, I could get really hurt or worse, but I let spirit guide me into when to approach and when not to. I read the horse well and I listen and I stay tuned in and I know how to approach it and what to do and when to back off and get myself to safety. Those differences are crucial to my safety. It’s crucial that I can tell the difference and discern the difference. Like that big horse at our neighbor’s house that came after me and put his ears back and showed me the whites of his eyes and started snorting, and I was like a foot from him. I knew that I was in imminent danger and so I knew that my job was to back him off, which I did, but then there’s been other horses that acted afraid, but they really weren’t. They were just testing me. They acted afraid and I didn’t need to back them off. I knew how to bring them in.”

“And,” I said to her, “that’s what makes you a horse whisperer.”

“Well,” Erika said, “that’s what makes anybody a whisperer in life. It’s the same thing, the same process, but it means being very present in the moment and trusting your guidance, not letting the fear of the moment govern your choices but letting guidance govern your choices. Fear doesn’t govern my behavior. Being tuned in and present is what governs what I’ll do next. I’ve met dogs like that that acted all vicious and nasty and some truly were, but I’ve met dogs who seemed vicious and nasty, but they were just scared and I could read the difference and know what to do – how to bring the dog to me and lower its head and let go of all that that growling and snarling stuff they do. And then they become puppies again. Life is like that. It can be growling and snarling but if you stay tuned in, you’ll know when to move forward and when to back away. So many times, you must feel the fear and move forward anyway to get where you want to be.

“It takes courage, and it has to be more important to you to truly fulfill yourself than it does to try and create an illusion of safety. I never think in terms of safety, but that’s what the wounded self thinks about. I think in terms of forward movement.”

“Yes,” I said, “and that’s about what’s loving to you rather than the wounded self trying to have control over being safe. That’s about what’s in your highest good. So often with the people I work with, it’s just about ‘But that’s not safe. Oh no, I’ve got to have control over being safe.’ and then of course they’re not safe and they don’t feel safe. The only way you truly have control over your safety is by staying spiritually connected and open. If you spiritually disconnect, you can’t hear the voice that will keep you safe. Many people believe that their five or 10 or 15 year old wounded self knows how to keep them safe because they believe it kept them safe as they were growing up.”

“Yes,” Erika said. “They think the voice that causes fear is the voice to listen to and it isn’t. The fear is never the voice of spirit. They listen to the fear that’s being created by their wounded self and think that that’s what they have to listen to, to be safe, but in reality, they’re completely bypassing the voice of spirit which can keep them safe.

“The day I soloed in a glider the very first time I was terrified, and I heard my wounded self saying, ‘What if I forget what to do? What if the weight difference without my instructor throws me off? What if a wind gust comes up and I stall the wing? What if I mess up the landing pattern and crash?’ That’s what the wounded self sounded like, but my connected self, my connection to spirit, said, ‘This is the day you get to soar. This is the day you fly with eagles all on your own. You’ve come this far and this is your moment,” and I could feel spirit urging me into the sky and lifting me upwards. I ignored all the ‘what ifs’ of my wounded self and I went for it, and it was one of the greatest moments of my life. To watch the ground fall away underneath me and to know that I was free in the air like a great soaring eagle because I listened and I trusted and I knew. That’s the difference. As I listened to my guidance, not to my wounded self, I knew that I would be safe and I knew it was a moment to just be fully in the experience, and I was scared anyway, but I knew I was going to be safe because I was being prodded by spirit. I heard both voices at the same time. I had one in my gut and one in my chest. The voice of my wounded self in my head was scaring my inner child, which I felt in my gut, and the voice of spirit was in my heart and I could feel the difference. I went with what I knew was highest. It’s often like that with the choices we need to make – both are there. It wasn’t really a gut feeling – it was like my wounded self was in my head creating that gut feeling of fear. My stomach was tied in a knot because I was so scared, but at the same time something higher was calling to me and I chose to listen to that. That was the loving choice and that’s how you feel the fear and move forward anyway.”

We ended our conversation there, and now I want to go on and share some more about feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

Sometimes people become so paralyzed with fear that they get stuck in their lives, not being able to move forward.

Are you stuck in your life? Stuck regarding work, or relationships, or health or weight? Do you make resolutions to change, but can’t seem to take the steps? This is what Judith is dealing with. Judith said,

“I’ve been struggling with motivation and depression and haven’t worked in four years. My feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and shame have snowballed to the point that I am in constant judgment of myself. I know I need to accept where I am to get unstuck but I can’t find self-compassion and I keep feeling like something is wrong with me. Every day that I don’t look for work I feel like more and more of a failure, yet I am paralyzed by feelings of low self-esteem. How can I love myself when I don’t like who I am or where I am in life?”

There are generally a few major reasons for a person being stuck. One is unresolved trauma.

If you had trauma in your life – childhood abuse, traumatic losses, or traumatic events – you might be stuck due to the freeze response that is a common reaction to extreme helplessness. When we cannot fight or flee during a traumatic situation, then our bodies go into a natural freeze response, and we can get stuck there.

If you have a history of trauma, or even if you don’t remember trauma but you are very stuck and can’t seem to move forward, then you may benefit from some form of trauma therapy – body-centered therapies that actually release the trauma that is stuck in the body. Four trauma therapies that seem to have great success are EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), TRE (Trauma Release Exercises), SE (Somatic Experiencing), and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprograming). I have personally used EFT very successfully and I’ve heard about wonderful successes with the other three. However, trauma therapies without Inner Bonding don’t last, because if you continue to treat yourself the ways you were treated or the ways your caregivers treated themselves, you will keep retraumatizing yourself. This is what’s happening with Judith. She is likely treating herself the way her parents treated her or themselves.

Another major reason for being stuck is a fear of failure. 

The wounded self in all of us is programmed to believe that we are not good enough. Self-judgment from the wounded self is a form of control, to protect ourselves from failure. When you believe that failure defines you as inadequate, then risking it becomes unthinkable. The wounded self might prefer the feeling of failure that comes from not looking for a job, over the risk of finding a job and failing at it.

Judith stated, “I keep feeling like something is wrong with me.” Most of us decided this as small children, when we didn’t receive the love we needed. This judgment that there is something wrong with you is a very common judgment from the wounded self. However, it is simply not true that there is something wrong with your essence. Your essence has always been a beautiful, incredible spark of the Divine, but when you didn’t receive love and valuing as a child, you decided you weren’t good enough.

It’s vitally important that you stop defining your worth in terms of success or failure.

Instead, define your worth by the effort you are willing to make, and by your intrinsic qualities – such as courage, kindness, caring, compassion, and a willingness to learn. Judith is stuck right now because she is defining herself by the outcome rather than by her effort and courage.

Judith will get unstuck when she makes it okay to fail and she sees failure only as a learning experience, rather than as a definition of her worth.

Judith stated, “Every day that I don’t look for work I feel like more and more of a failure, yet I am paralyzed by feelings of low self-esteem. How can I love myself when I don’t like who I am or where I am in life?”

The part of Judith who doesn’t love herself is her wounded self. When she lets go of trying to have control over looking for work by shaming and judging herself, and instead open to learning about loving herself and allowing spirit to take loving action through her, she will get unstuck. If it is not trauma that is keeping her stuck, then it is her intent to control that is keeping her stuck. When she shift’s her intent to learning to love herself, she will start to take the loving actions necessary to find work. She will never be able to do this from her wounded self, with her intent to control, but she can do it as a spiritually connected loving adult. As Erika and I talked about, it is spirit that gives us the courage and strength to take the loving actions we need to take – to feel the fear and do it anyway.

If you are stuck and can’t get yourself unstuck, then please reach out for help. You don’t need to be alone in your healing process.

Along with the fear of failure is the fear of the unknown.

Very often, in my sessions with clients, a person will want to try something new but is stuck in not taking the loving action. “What are you afraid of?” I ask. “I don’t know what will happen,” is often the answer.

Since we never know what is going to happen from one moment to the next, not knowing what is going to happen is not really the problem. The real problem is that we often inhabit the unknown with scary thoughts and images. We make things up that scare us into doing nothing.

Isn’t that strange? We can just as easily make up wonderful thoughts and images, but instead we make up frightening ones. We allow our wounded self to take over, filling the unknown with all the bad things that can happen instead of all the great things that can happen. But the wounded self believes it can protect you from future disappointment by predicting bad things ahead of time. According to the wounded self, if you don’t take the risk, you will be safe.

If you are stuck wanting to do something but not doing it, it may be that you are allowing your wounded self to populate the unknown with thoughts and images that scare you. For example, let’s say that you always wanted to learn to fly a plane, but you just can’t seem to get yourself to take flying lessons. You might be telling yourself things like:

  • I will make a fool of myself.
  • I will fail.
  • The instructor or others will end up thinking bad things about me.
  • I will find out that I really am inadequate.
  • I will get rejected.
  • I will get hurt.
  • I will die.

Obviously, as long as you are filling up the unknown future with these thoughts, you will likely stay stuck.

You could just as easily fill up the future with exciting thoughts, such as:

  • This will be really fun and exciting!
  • I love learning challenging new things!
  • Imagine all the places I could easily visit!
  • I will get to meet a lot of new people!
  • I am going to feel so great that I finally learned to do this!

Even if you do go ahead and take the lessons while holding on to the scary thoughts, you might not have nearly the wonderful experience you could have if you focused on the exciting thoughts.

The wounded self is deeply programmed to fill the unknown future with negative, scary thoughts. Do you really want to continue to allow this ignorant, programmed part of you to determine what you do? The wounded self has NO access to a source of truth, no access to your guidance. It can only think what it has been programmed to think. Its thoughts are not based on reality because it cannot predict the future, so it spouts out only what it has been taught. Basing your choices on these old programmed fear-based thoughts will keep you scared and stuck.

At any moment, you have the choice to move out of your programmed lower left brain and into your higher right brain – into connection with your guidance and with truth. You have the choice to fill the unknown future with excitement and joy rather than focusing on ‘what ifs.’

Which person is happier in life – the one who allows their wounded self to be in charge, or the one who is willing to allow their guidance to lead them?

Next time you really want to do something new but find yourself stuck not doing it, recognize that you are allowing your wounded self to fill your unknown future with all the bad things that can happen. Shift into your loving adult and consciously fill the future with all the great things that can happen, then feel the fear and do it anyway! Learn to accept the unknown with excitement rather than with dread. After all, life would be quite boring if we always knew the future!

I hope you join me for me 30-Day at-home Course: “Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships.”

And you can learn so much about creating connection from my recent books: The Inner Bonding Workbook: Six Steps to Healing Yourself and Connecting With Your Divine Guidance,  Diet for Divine Connection: Beyond Junk Foods and Junk Thoughts to At-Will Spiritual Connection, and 6 Steps to Total Self-Healing: The Inner Bonding Process.

And, of course, we have much to offer you at our website at

I’m sending you my love and my blessings.

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