Fear as a Guide

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do. Eleanor Roosevelt

Why is it that our inner voice tells us things we often deny before we finally admit that that voice not only scares the hell out of us but simultaneously excites us? It’s big. It requires change. It commands you to leap out of your comfort zone. I’m not talking about something harmful or illegal, but rather something that takes guts to do. Something that is fear-inducing.

I’m always in awe at the complexity of our inner selves. Living consciously is more satisfying but definitely not easier. When you fear what your inner self is guiding you toward, consider these thoughts.

  • Confirm that it’s your inner wisdom speaking and not some other voice, such as society saying you should have a high-paying, stressful job that doesn’t excite you.
  • Remember a time when what you are doing now sounded scary. Appreciate that all new experiences come with a dose of fear.
  • Your wise inner self won’t pressure you into making irrational, terrifying changes.
  • After looking at the situation from different angles, if you feel strongly that the guidance is from your wise, calm, inner self and you’re still afraid, it may be time to accept the fear and do it anyway.

I ask myself these questions when I feel afraid: “Is this the wrong thing to do? Or is this the right thing to do and I’m just scared to do it?” When I answer these questions in my mind, I pay attention to how I feel the answers in my body. I know it’s the right thing to do when I feel butterflies of excitement in my belly. It’s time to feel the fear and do it anyway.

Get Curious

Write in your journal using the prompts below or respond to them in a visual way such as painting or cutting images from magazines.

I am afraid to know...

(Blank) scares me because...

If I could orchestrate my dream outcome, it would look like...

My dream outcome would feel like...

Go Deeper

What did you learn about your interaction with fear?

What situation terrifies and exhilarates you now?

How might that fear be guiding you toward something exciting and worthwhile?

Talk with a Friend

My friend Sandra and I snapped a photo after having one of our solve-the-problems-of-the-world conversations.

“When you give yourself permission to communicate what matters to you in every situation you will have peace despite rejection or disapproval. Putting a voice to your soul helps you to let go of the negative energy of fear and regret.” ― Shannon L. Alder

Get out of your head by talking with a friend. Speaking your thoughts aloud brings them out of your inner world and into the outer world. Dialogue helps solidify random thoughts into coherent ideas, allowing you to suss out the ideas you want to hold onto for further development and to let go of the ideas that, upon closer examination, don’t feel right for you right now.

Concepts that seem fully formed in your mind may come out of your mouth sounding half-formed. That’s okay. Speaking aloud allows you to think of the idea from different perspectives, problem-solve, analyze, and to get a feel for whether or not you can see yourself doing it in the real world. Keeping ideas locked in the imaginary safety of your mind will eventually suffocate them and you. Letting the ideas out will give them an opportunity to flourish if they’re ready to grow, or to vaporize if it’s not their time.

A friend can listen only or you can ask her to pose questions and share feedback. Either way, you’ll gain a firmer grasp on your dreams, desires, goals, challenges, and inspirations. 


Share one of your wild and wonderful ideas with a friend. This could be via email, mail, telephone, or in person. Sometimes an idea feels too unformed and vulnerable to share, and that’s okay. Share the ideas you feel slightly uncomfortable sharing (new experiences are always a bit awkward), but know the words will come streaming out once you get started. I find the idea in my mind often makes more sense and is more fully formed than the idea that comes out of my mouth. That’s the purpose of this process. Speaking the idea aloud is the first step in bringing the idea from the ideal scenario in your mind to the reality of the outside world.