Most people in our culture are riddled with fear, and it’s running the show in our lives, taking the wheel in most of our decision-making. But the funny thing is, we don’t even know it. This is partly because, in our culture, we tend to dress up “fear” in the more socially acceptable clothes of “stress.” And stress—well, hell—stress is practically a badge of success in our culture!

We’ve been taught to think that fear is for sissies. We see it as a weakness, something we should hide from others and deal with alone in dark nights of the soul. But fear is not something that should elicit shame or stay hidden. Now more than ever, our fears need to shamelessly take center stage so we can let fear illuminate everything that is in need of healing in our lives and finally be free. Physical therapist Val Zajicek says PAIN means Pay Attention Inside Now. I think fear is like pain. It’s an emotional and physical signal alerting to you to Pay Attention Inside Now. Rather than running away from it, we need to examine it and let it heal us.

Fear is sneaky, and it shows up in all kinds of disguises, but until you see it for what it is, it’s hard to come into right relationship with fear.

How can you tell if fear is running your show?

1. You find yourself striving in vain for an impossible-to-achieve standard of perfection.

When you’re afraid (of criticism, failure, and rejection), you’ll kill yourself trying to be perfect. But of course, the mask of perfection also separates us from what we most want—real intimacy, to be known, loved, and accepted for our true self.

2. You settle.

When you’re afraid to take risks, defy convention, and go for what you really want, you convince yourself that your less than juicy life—your relationships, your job, the dismal state of Mother Gaia—is as good as it gets. When fear is running the show, you forget how to dream. You compromise in the name of being “realistic.” But settling isn’t realism; it’s a devastating symptom of the fear that what we hope is possible really isn’t. When you make the brave move to get to the other side of these fears, hope returns. It’s not the dashed hope of the crushed idealist; it’s the alive hope of those who are creating a new future, one in which we won’t settle for any less than joy, vitality, even miracles.

3. You say yes when you mean no.

When you’re afraid to disappoint people or get rejected if you don’t say yes, you’ll fall into fear-based, people pleasing, self-sacrificing behaviors that lead to resentment. But when fear is no longer running the show, you say no when it feels self-loving. As they say, “No” is a complete sentence. This doesn’t mean you won’t devote yourself to generosity and service. It means the service stems from a genuine love-based, rather than a fear-based motivation.

4. You say no when you mean yes.

When you’re afraid, you’re unlikely to take risks. You’ll feel the yearning to start your own business, go out with your dream girl, take that bucket list trip, have a baby, or take an art class. But you’ll say no because you’re afraid to fail, afraid to succeed, afraid to get rejected, afraid to stir things up, afraid to get out of your comfort zone. When you let fear cure you, you’ll start letting your soul take the lead, taking leaps of faith and saying yes when you yearn to.

5. You numb yourself with alcohol, drugs, sex, television, or excessive busyness.

Fear causes inner pain, a kind of soul sickness that shows up as depression, anxiety, restlessness, helplessness, hopelessness, frustration, sadness, loneliness, and fatigue. In order to avoid this inner pain, we tend to engage in addictions and other numbing behaviors. But of course, this only puts a very temporary Band-aid on the pain, while increasing feelings of low self-esteem that just increase the inner pain. When you’re not afraid to be quiet with yourself, to face your inner demons, to heal that which longs to be healed from the core, you’ll no longer need alcohol, cigarettes, overeating, workaholism, pain killers, or other numbing distractions. You’ll have the courage to do the deep transformative work that leads you to freedom on the other side of your journey.

6. You procrastinate.

When you’re afraid of putting yourself in the arena because of fear of failure, success, uncertainty, judgment, criticism, or rejection, you’ll tend to stand on the sidelines where you feel safer. When you face fear head on, motivation replaces procrastination. You’re not “going for it” based on a fear-based need to “make it happen.” Instead, the natural inclination towards love and service generates inspired action that leaps you forward towards that which wants to be born through you.

7. You get paralyzed.

When you’re afraid, you avoid making the decisions your soul knows you must make. Your intuition tells you it’s time to leave that toxic relationship. Or quit that soul-sucking job. Or set boundaries with your mother. Or go to rehab. Or speak up about the integrity breaches at work. But you’re terrified of the uncertainty that lies on the other side. If you make a decision, you’ll be thrust out of your comfort zone and into the vast unknown. But what you’ll discover on the other side of fear is that uncertainty is the gateway to possibility. When you don’t know what the future holds, anything could happen.

8. You become a control freak.

When you’re afraid, you feel the need to micromanage everything. You mistakenly think we live in a hostile, random universe that’s out to get you unless you grab the wheel with both hands and steer your life towards what you want and away from what you don’t want. You don’t trust that it’s a purposeful universe, that life is intelligent, that everything that happens helps you grow your soul, even if it’s not what your ego wants. When you make the journey from fear to faith, you trust that it’s a friendly universe. Then you can relax. Surrender to the flow of life, accept what is, let go of the handle, and enjoy the exciting ride. That’s when life gets really fun. Letting go is the frequency of miracles.

9. You muzzle yourself.

When fear is operating you, you’ll avoid speaking up. You won’t stand up for what you believe. You won’t let your voice be heard when your integrity is being threatened. You won’t tell people when they hurt your feelings. You’ll be too afraid to ask for what you really want. But when you let love lead, you start respecting and appreciating the divine voice that flows through you, giving it a voice and inviting it to be heard. And when you’re brave enough to speak your truth, you attract those who resonate with your truth. You find your soul community. Real intimacy grows.

10. You get sick.

Fear isn’t just an uncomfortable emotion that holds you back from following your dreams, connecting soul-to-soul with your true tribe, and serving out your life’s purpose. It also triggers stress responses in the body that put you at risk of disease and make it hard for the body to heal itself. Fearful people are more likely to get heart attacks, cancer, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, inflammatory disorders, chronic pain, and even the common cold. They’re also more likely to experience milder symptoms, such as insomnia, low energy, obesity, dizziness, headaches, backaches, decreased libido, and gastrointestinal distress.

Fear Not!

This is not meant to frighten you. It’s meant to wake you up, give you hope, and inspire you to embark upon the journey of transformation from fear to freedom. Here are a few simple tips to help you get started.

1. Meditate.

Meditation is a well-studied and scientifically-proven way to reduce fear, improve your health, ramp up your courage, and tune you to the frequency of real life magic. If you’ve never meditated before, try it, download the free Prescription For Courage kit at, which includes guided meditations meant to calm your nervous system, boost your faith, rewire your fear-based worldview, and help you transform your fear into fuel for awakening.

2. Question your beliefs.

Every time you have a fearful thought, question it. What’s true about that thought? What’s not true about that thought? The minute you question your thoughts and beliefs, you start to create distance, allowing you space to take a witness position to your thoughts. This starts to loosen fear’s hold on you right away. For specific techniques to help you question your beliefs, check out the free resources at Byron Katie’s The Work.

3. Trust the Universe.

Einstein said, “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” When you believe it’s a hostile universe, life is scary. But when you trust that you are held, loved, safe, nurtured, and protected by a guiding intelligence that is ALL LOVE, you can relax. Whether you ascribe to any specific religion or just consider yourself “spiritual but not religious,” anything that facilitates your trust in a friendly universe helps you let go and surrender, making your desires and problems an offering to the Divine in whatever way feels authentic to you. When you can stop grasping at what the ego desires and stop resisting what the ego doesn’t want, you can open yourself to becoming an instrument of the Divine, allowing that which wants to be born through you to come into being, without fear.

4. Find your soul tribe.

It’s REALLY hard to make this kind of radical transformation alone! In the beginning, it’s essential to limit your exposure to people who let fear run their lives (without judging them). Instead, find other spiritually-inclined, courageous beings who are making brave choices to be their most authentic selves. If you make this journey alone, you’ll feel terrified—and crazy. But when you see the magic that starts to happen when others live their lives this way, it will inspire you to stay the course, even when the journey gets challenging. You’ll also have way more fun letting your freak flag fly when others are flying theirs with you.


PS. My friend and colleague Anne Davin, PhD is currently enrolling her new e-course Origins: A 10 Day Journey to the Lost Sacred Within You. I brought Anne on board the Whole Health Medicine Institute, and to co-lead the Visionary Mentoring Program with me not just for her executive and leadership skills, but because, every time this woman opens her mouth, I want to record every bit of wisdom she utters. Anne Davin is one of the most genius people I’ve ever met, and the scope of her experience in the arenas of psychotherapy, spirituality, and the Divine Feminine makes her a powerful agent for personal and collective change. She is teaching Origins with two-time Grammy winning Native American Artist Robert Mirabal. For more information visit here.

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  1. Debs360

    I want to find a support network and do not know where to start. It feel a little unprofessional to say , Hey you are like me and do you want to be friends , lol. Where do you network for like minded people?

    • Janet Meegan

      Debs 360 , I to am looking for my tribe ?

  2. Korenna Colquitt

    I agree with Debs360!

  3. Denise

    Hi, I have been going on the site to find both people and activities I like. I have found amazing meditation groups, yoga, wellness groups, meditation dance circle groups, dance, hiking, and things like these.

  4. Peggy

    I”m on the brink of settling, am feeling paralyzed and just realized I might be numbing myself with TV. I’ve said to more than one person that I think I’m letting fear take over. It’s a conscious thing and I SOOO do not want to look back and see that I didn’t do something out of fear. I’ve taken the leap of leaving full time employment and had a plan and when that plan got shot, the fear and paralysis sunk in. I’ve always been a creative problem solver but can’t figure this out and the longer it goes, the worse it is. And I agree with the others about finding a tribe. That is really hard because this thinking is a little upstream for most people. My friends really don’t get it and it’s caused me to want to distance from them too.I’ve done some meet-ups too – haven’t found the amazing ones yet. LOL

  5. Miriam Linderman

    Perfect article in all ways. Thanks! This is where I meant to post my comment.

  6. Queue Q

    I find it extraordinarily difficult to trust in a loving universe in the face of all of the vastly unloving things humans seem to be doing to one another everywhere I look. (Spending eight years as a legal-aid attorney did not improve these odds.) How can fear be overcome in an every-man-for-himself climate?

  7. Deb

    Chronic panic disorder, agoraphobia…I don’t have a live anymore….I am just sitting around waiting for…well, the next panic attack, which is usually only 20 minutes down the road, 24/7. I’ve taken all the meds, nothing works, tried therapy, they just glaze over after the first 10 minutes. I have tried every “program” out there, will give this one a shot.

  8. Mindy J Kaleta

    Beautifully said!! Am taking those solutions and implementing them into my daily schedule. Thank you so much!! My book just recently arrived! <3

  9. Dan

    This is Wonderful! Thank you so much! God Bless You! God Bless You! God Bless You!…


  10. Erja Järvelä

    Lissa you are just brilliant ! <3 Heartful thanks.

  11. Lisa D

    I thought you would find this interesting – there are over 100 times the bible says to “Fear not!” and to take comfort. (Some say there are over 365 times, but in different contexts). I thought it was interesting you pointed out that fear can disguise itself in many things, like stress or busyness. Thank you for your essay. I shall not fear!

  12. Deb

    Nicely written book. I will admit that I having been a suffer of agoraphobia and chronic panic disorder since a kid (50 years now) at least everything I have heard from so many doctors over the years, and therapists is all in one place. I sincerely hope that this collection works for someone, I am out of money, and out of hope. I will continue to sit in my window, watch the cars go by, and wonder how is it those people get into those cars and leave their driveway without passing out? What must that freedom feel like? Please, please, all of you, today give thanks for things you take for granted, just the little things like walking out the door into the sun and not feeling like turning around and running back into the house, or the ability to walk outdoor to get your mail, or go to the grocery store and buy the food you want, not just what you can buy on line. That you can leave the house to go to your granchildrens birthday parties. That you do not spend your day with constant chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, and the best yet…so constantly dizzy that you have to place the furniture in the house so you can walk around constantly attached to something so when you feel the “pass out” sensation coming on you can lower your self to the floor. This is life as I know it. Ain’t it great?? Thank you for writing this book Lissa, I am so glad your on a healing road and have shared with others.

    • Kathy Harrington

      thank you for writing this. I am thinking I’m either really depressed and maybe have agoraphobia. Will have to find out and hopefully with this talk of fear can dosomething about it.

  13. Maja

    Lissa what to do when even though itry v hard to change my belief everything prooves world and universe is against me; always being nearly chosen but not chosen nearly booked but not booked; screwed over in the city where community is a punch in the face rather than word that means something (London); where and when no matter how hard i try everything proves i should have stayed in a job i hated and at least now have a home then try to pursue passion and be told i am talented and smart an dall yet still bArely making it as an artist and considering jumping into thames on some days when nothing makes sense…

  14. filmbartar

    Many thanks for the great posting. I am glad I have taken the time to see this
    keep up the excellent work 😉
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