Cover Art for episode 18 How to overcome Fear on Changes Big and small podcast


You are listening to Changes BIG and small. This is Damianne, your host, as we explore what makes change exhilarating. Each episode, we’ll explore how you can create freedom in your life by embracing change. You can find several interviews in the previous weeks. I intersperse interviews with research and challenges to help you make changes in your life. I’m excited to have you listening to the episode this week, and hope that you’ll join at least one of the challenges presented, or create your own!

Last week, Sue and I talked about the major change that she is currently experiencing. She shared how she tries to find her authentic self, particularly by writing and practicing reflection using images. This helps her find out what feels right for her and what does not. We’ve also discussed this theme in several episodes:

  • Bogdan Copil, in episode 2, talked about the importance of clarity and communication
  • Annie Koshy, in episode 3, shared the journey that she took to be able to face fear and make changes in her life
  • Ryan Mallonne in episode 5 and Emily Sliman in episode 6 share how you can find the thing that you love by saying yes to something new and different
  • In episode 9, I shared two resources to build your self awareness, and I build on the idea in episode 10
  • In episode 13, Cristina Comunian shared some strategies for overcoming fear and getting what you want

As Sue said, a major part of dancing gracefully with change is overcoming fear, and having trust in things working out. So how can we overcome fear and develop trust?

Sue shared that she has a therapist to help her with change. Other interviewees have mentioned working with coaches. Those are both good options. If you’re not able to get a coach or therapist for whatever reason, there are other resources that you can use. Today, I’m going to focus on the work of the clinical psychologist Dr. Steven C. Hayes. I’ve chosen to focus on his work because it’s well researched. He also has a book and a number of free online resources that you can start with today.

What is ACT?

Dr. Hayes’ work is on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. I am familiar with Cognitive Bahavior Therapy from working with a therapist previously, but ACT was new to me.

While CBT focuses on control, ACT focuses on acceptance. As part of ACT, people clarify their individual values. ACT helps people move from FEAR, the acronym:

  • Fusion with your thoughts
  • Evaluation of experience
  • Avoidance of your experience
  • Reason-giving for your behavior

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy replaces FEAR with ACT. That fits right in with the focus of this podcast, with our bias for action:

  • Accept your reactions and be present
  • Choose a valued direction
  • Take action

By looking at the acronyms FEAR and ACT, you can see that the goal is to move from defensiveness and avoidance to acceptance and change.

The Skills

Dr. Hayes presents six skills in his ACT Toolkit: defusion, acceptance, presence, self, values and committed action. You can find information about each of the skills on his website to get started. There are three tools for each of the six skills. That provides eighteen tools that you can choose from. Dr. Hayes suggests starting with a few of his tools, and then focusing on them until they become automatic.

From the list, I noticed that I already do several of these. For example, I like to play the Impossible Game. Here’s how you play: Whenever you feel resistance against doing something that you know is useful, could you playfully challenge yourself to do it. Could you make it fun? If so, play the game.

I’m also interested in the presence tools. One of them is to sit with your eyes at a 45 degree angle, with a soft focus, and take some deep breaths. If your mind wanders, bring it back to your breath. Another is to do an action at half the speed you usually do it.

There are four more skills and 15 tools overall that I have not mentioned here.

This Week’s Challenge

Look through the six skills and choose which one you’ll focus on this week. Go with the one that calls to you or the one you feel the greatest resistance towards. Once you’ve decided on the skill, read through the three tools and choose one to practice this week. I hope that you will keep using your tool past this week, but remember, that change starts with one small step. So, let’s start by using the tool today to develop the skill in the long run.

The Extended Challenge

The book is necessary for the full picture of the ACT methods. I’ve just ordered A Liberated Mind: How to Pivot Toward What Matters. Are you interested in reading the book as well? If so, please join the Changes BIG and small Facebook group, where we can discuss what we’re learning as we read the book.

Episode Conclusion

Thank you for listening to this episode. If you’ve enjoyed the episode or have any questions, please let me know. You can reach me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or by filling out the contact form on the website. I’d especially like it if you would join the Changes Big and small Facebook community. I share additional resources there, and would love to support you in your change journey.

I hope you’ll share this episode with someone else. Every time I see even one new listen, that inspires me to keep creating the podcast. I appreciate you going on this journey with me.

As always, remember that change begins with one small step! Have a great week!


About the Author
I'm a curious problem solver.
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