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Getting the Courage to Face Your Fears

August 21, 2022 | by Sarah Pachter

Removing fear from the equation is the secret ingredient to resilience.

My niece, Hannah,* was very anxious about going to sleepaway camp and was considering retracting her decision to attend. She needed a distraction so I took her and her sister out for an afternoon of lunch and shopping.

During lunch Hannah sat across from me and kept fidgeting and sighing. I saw the worried look in her eyes.

“Let me ask you something,” I said to her. “Pretend you weren’t afraid. Would you go to camp or would you stay home?”

She answered with confidence, “Oh, for sure I’d go to camp. The only thing stopping me is the fact that I’m scared.”

“Then I think you have your answer. It seems like you should go.”

I knew I reached her when she responded, “Auntie Sarah, that’s pretty good advice. Thanks.”

The question, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” is something I ask myself when I’m faced with a decision and fear is holding me back.

Grit is an acronym for Getting Rid of Inner Terror.

It’s a question Michal Oshman, a top executive at TikTok, frequently asks herself, and it’s the title of her book, What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid? The question has been guiding her every step towards success.

Removing fear from the equation is the secret ingredient to resilience. That’s why the word grit is an acronym for Getting Rid of Inner Terror.

Getting ahead in life requires facing yourself and pushing past your fear. One constant fear is feeling like we are not enough. It’s normal to be afraid to fail. Interestingly, we are also often afraid to succeed.

Fear of failure stems from worrying our self-esteem will be damaged.  Fear of success is worrying that we won’t measure up to the successful person we become when that change happens. We fear the change that will occur when we expand ourselves to accept success.

Years ago, I was asked to speak for an upscale Passover program. I was young and afraid to publicly address powerful CEOs and owners of Fortune 500 companies. What impactful words of advice or motivation could I possibly offer to this audience? It didn’t help matters when I saw another speaker literally sweating and fanning herself, close to passing out.

Yet, I closed my eyes, stood on stage and just did my thing.  And that one speech led to many wonderful opportunities.

The way I overcome this dichotomy is I say yes before I am ready. When I’m presented with an opportunity that feels just beyond myself, I close my eyes and say yes before I can convince myself out of it. I make that jump. There’s no turning back.

Most of the time it works.  Try it, and watch yourself rise to the occasion and break any boundary. The key is to strip away the external layers, face the inner demons, and say to them: “You can’t stop me on my path towards my goal.”

That level of bravery transcends boundaries and it is within us all.

Teaching My Child to Confront Her Fear

I’m teaching my 4-year-old daughter how to face her fear. The transition from school to camp has been hard for her. New campers, new teachers, and the new environment make a perfect storm for her to cling to me during drop-off.

We have a routine each morning to ease her transition. We listen to her favorite songs and call her grandparents on the way. When we arrive at camp I open the trunk so she can check out the box of prizes she can earn with good behavior. Then we share a Forever Hug, an extended hug that requires a sprinkling of magic pixie dust in order to separate.

The routine provides structure and comfort that gives her the courage to leave my side. The goal is for her to eventually realize that she doesn’t need the external routine to have a solid, brave day in camp.

Recognizing your inner Godliness is the real source of confidence and courage.

After a week of this, I asked her, “Do you want to get out of the car and look at the prizes?” She bravely responded, “No, I can just get out myself!” She hopped out of the car and confidently marched towards the entrance on her own.

Bravo! Inside I was jumping for joy.

Later that day, I told her, “Liv, it’s not the song we play or the phone call to your grandparents. It’s not the prize in the back of the car! It’s you. You have all the bravery you need to have a great day at camp!”

That morning she realized she has everything she needs inside herself.

That’s what I remind myself when I get nervous speaking in front of a crowd. It’s not just the right outfit, the right lectern, or even the practiced speech. Those are all crutches. The real bravery is within me. It’s me giving a piece of my soul to the audience, and that genuineness is what people are attracted to.

When God blew into each of us the breath of life, He infused us with an infinite light. He wants us to realize what’s inside of us is what truly matters. Courage comes from within.

Take a deep breath in. Now exhale. When you breathe out, you are expressing a piece of Godliness that lies within out into the world.

Recognizing your inner Godliness is the real source of confidence and courage. When you strip away all of the extraneous distractions, at the core of it all we have spark of Godliness imbued inside of us. We don’t have to allow fear to make decisions. We can instead say the words, “I am enough,” and watch ourselves blossom.

*name changed

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