This article is entitled How to Face Your Fears

Did you notice that the last word was plural? 

There's a subtle, but important difference between it and the more common singular version.

Fear is a general feeling that's unspecified. Fears, on the other hand, are specific.

You could have a sudden, but inexplicable foreboding, and we'd classify that as fear; but you could also have a phobia for snakes, or heights, or poverty.​​​​​​​​ Collectively, they would be fears. And that's what I want to talk about. How to face those specific fears.

Pain & pleasure​​​

One of the basic drives in human beings is the desire to avoid pain and experience pleasure instead. But as Christian Mickelsen points out, if we do that all the time, then we'll only suppress our fear or fears. We'll never deal with them. 

Suppressed fear never goes away. It festers. It emerges stronger and more mature later on, and then it's harder to control. So the time to face it is when it first arises.​​​​

Effective distractions

In one sense, you deal with your fear or fears in a similar way. You look for an easy way to get rid of them, and usually that means by distracting yourself. You simply find something else to do.

What happens, however, is that you don't completely unhook yourself from the thing you fear. To understand this requires some deep thinking.

If you have an online business, or you're trying to create one, then it's likely that the thing you're afraid of is also online. It could be writing your daily email, or recording yourself, or having a Zoom call with someone in the hope that they'll buy your coaching.

The most effective distraction - that is, the one that's most likely to refresh you so that you can face that fear - is to get up from your desk and go for a walk, or to sit in your back yard and feel the sun on your face, or to run an errand ​​​because when you come back from that kind of break, you'll be in a different frame of mind than you were beforehand.

But that's probably not what you do. Instead, you wander around the Internet. And that prevents you from actually taking the break that you need​​; a break that will change your perspective.

​​All the while you're reading the news, checking your inbox, catching up in social media, or visiting other sites you're still feeling that fear. It may be less, but it's still there. And the reason that you still feel it is because fundamentally, there's no difference between using the Internet for work or using it for play.

Facing specific fears

There's another side to this, however, and that's how you deal with specific fears. The received wisdom is to face them head on; to "lean into them." If you're going to stretch yourself, then you're going to have to do things now that will enable you to grow, and they could cause some pain at the beginning.

Any sacrifice that you make for your own personal success or that of your spouse or kids, for example, means denying yourself of pleasure now and deliberately inflicting a degree of pain​​. But you tell yourself that it's worth it because of the increased pleasure you'll receive later.

But there's more to it than that.
In order to face any fear head on, you have to analyze it. You have to figure out what there is about it that makes you so afraid.
With a general fear, you can't do that, and it's because you can't identify something that's inexplicable. You just know it's there.
But with a specific fear, you can narrow the smallest part of it that scares you the most. And that empowers you to face it confidently.
But doing all of the peripheral things first. When you isolate the part that is the most scary, that is when you take it out of context and strip it of its power.
For example, let's say that you need to organize or re-organize a junk drawer.
Most people are stymied by such an undertaking because they try to deal with everything in it equally. And that approach will defeat you every time.
The more sensible way is to empty the drawer onto a table, or the bed, or even the floor if there's nothing in it that's so small as to be found by your bare feet during a nocturnal excursion.
Then spread everything out so that you can see what you're working with.

Start with the stuff that's obvious. Every drawer will have things in it that are there simply because it was more convenient to toss them in it than put them away. This is the time to put them away.

Repeat this process until you have two stacks of things: The stuff that you intend to leave in the drawer, and the stuff that you really don't know what to do with, but which doesn't belong there.

The stuff that you really don't know what to do with will be a lot less than what was in the drawer when you started, and that's what happens when you isolate the one thing that you're most afraid of. In the case of the miscellaneous items from that drawer, you may be able to put them in a small bag, or jar, or box and simply store them somewhere else. Of course, it would be better if you could just throw them away or give them to someone.

Fears are more complicated. You can't just throw them away, however small. That's akin to suppressing them. But by the time you isolate them, psychologically they will be smaller. They'll be manageable. You may even find that you're no longer afraid of what you were at the beginning. In fact, you may find yourself thinking, "Is that it? Is that all I was scared to do?" At which point, you'll just do it.
And that's the goal.



  1. Bruce, this is awesome content and I love the way we had to click through for the full article.
    Just a small suggestion. Make up 3 or 4 slides of points, not all the main ones and do a video on it for say 2 minutes with the cliffhanger ending which drives them to read the full content and include an offer at the end of the content.
    Put it on YouTube and drive traffic to your site.
    Track your click throughs and follow them up one to one. Even get them on a free 20 minute zoom call?
    Your thoughts?
    Just some thoughts for you

    • Bruce Hoag on at

      Thanks for this suggestion, Lloyd. I’ll put it on my list of things to do.

      Really appreciate your thoughts.

      A free Zoom call is already available to anyone who wants it. If you’re interested, then email me so that we can set up a time.

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