Overcoming Fear to Pursue Your Purpose

overcoming fear with David Stone on CBaS cover art

Today, I’m chatting with David Stone from i-fearless, which David co founded with Gail Hulnick. David is the public face of i-fearless. He’s a life coach and transformational speaker and leader, dedicated to helping people overcome the anxieties, worries, and self-doubt that keep us all from achieving our highest potential. In 2009, in spite of a highly successful international marketing career, he worried himself into homelessness. Then, fed up with the fear and anxiety and self doubt that got in the way of the life he wanted to live, he set out to find a better way.

Your Challenge Invitation

We are our own worst enemies. We beat up on ourselves terribly and along with worry and anxiety comes self doubt. A great exercise to do is to remind yourself of victories, accomplishments that you’ve had in your past.

Think back to a time before you were 18 years old. Name 5 things that you did back then that you were really proud of. Maybe you wrote a poem and read it in front of the class. Maybe you were in sports and won a ribbon or something. It doesn’t matter what it was, as long as it’s a positive memory that raises good feelings for you.

One of the elements of fearlessness is self confidence. And self confidence starts with self esteem. You have to think well of yourself. You have to believe yourself to be a worthwhile human being. And in order to do that, we want to remind ourselves regularly of things that we’ve done that are worthwhile.

After you come up with 5 things you were proud of before you turned 18, move on write down five things from when you were in college or when you got my first job. You could come up with 5 things from when you first started having a family and five things from last week.

Every time you list 5 things that you are proud of, this brings up positive emotions or positive memories and feelings in your body. For your list, you can include anything at all that makes you feel good about yourself. Doing this exercise regularly will help you build your self-confidence and self-esteem.

Contact David by going to i-fearless.com.

You can connect with Damianne on the Changes BIG and small website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube. You’re also invited to join the Changes BIG and small Facebook community.

Remind yourself of victories, accomplishments that you’ve had in your past.

Timeline of the Chat

00:22 – Intro David
02:17 – David’s previous career
03:31 – Homeless for one month
08:28 – Putting things off indefinitely
09:38 – Whacked on the Head (change agent)
12:45 – Being fearful in our lives
14:14 – The relationship between fear and courage
16:01 – The tie between resilience and fearlessness
16:50 – Fear, Anxiety and Worry
19:38 – Learned worry and anxiety
21:22 – The 4 Problems with Worry and Anxiety
23:36 – Taking Risks despite Fear
26:01 – The Choice to be Fearful/Anxious
28:17 – Steps to overcoming anxiety
34:39 – Challenge
40:27 – Book recommendations
43:16 – Ending

Every habit that we have starts with a choice.

Quick Links

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Worry and anxiety never solve anything because next week we’re still worrying about the same thing.

Transcript of the Episode

David’s previous career [02:17]

Damianne: [02:17] What were you doing before this most recently?

David: [02:20] Well, many, many moons ago I started life as an architect and was designing and such. And then, because somebody once told me that that was a really good profession and you could make a good living at it and I’m supposed to like those things.

About 10 or 15 years in, I thought, I can’t spend the rest of my life doing this. I’m not that good at it. And I don’t like it that much. But by that point, I did enjoy the business of it very much and I found that I had a knack for marketing. And so I spent about 30 years as an international marketing consultant, focusing on architects and some construction companies, so that sort of design profession, and did very well at it, built up a great reputation, really enjoyed myself.

I did that up until I was into my early sixties. And then I started to think again, and I went through a transformation. I’m 66 now, so 11 years ago when I was 55, I, as you mentioned in the intro, found myself suddenly and startlingly homeless for about a month.

Homeless for one month [03:31]

I was actually living in my car. Now it’s fun to say I live in my car because you’re a road warrior, you know, the kind that keeps Hertz in business. But, no, I was genuine. I was going to sleep every night with my leg, wrapped around the gear shift.
When I looked around and I was desperate to find somebody to blame because it couldn’t possibly have been my fault, the more I looked in the mirror, the more I realized that there was white common denominator among all the events that had led up to it. And that was me.
I was the only one present for everything that had happened. all the things that led up to that. So I realized that okay, maybe it is me. Maybe I’m doing something wrong.

Damianne: [04:12] That’s a very weighty realization and one that’s not very easy for most people.

David: [04:19] It absolutely isn’t and I have a very clear memory of waking up this one morning. It was a truck stop in North Carolina, not far from where I was living. And I remember waking up one morning and the sun was coming up through the pine trees and it suddenly hit me.
And so I sort of said out loud to anybody that might’ve been listening. All right, whatever I’m doing is not working. I’m wide open to hearing it. I didn’t give up because I knew that I had the ability in me to do it. But I had been forcing my way through life. I had been forcing my will upon myself and much of what I had been doing was based on fear.
So many of the decisions that we all make are fear based and it’s things like a career choice. How many of us have made a career choice because, well, I’m going to be an engineer because my dad was an engineer or my mother’s a doctor, so I need to be a doctor because you can make a good living at that.

Damianne: [05:21] Let’s get a little bit more specific. How did you end up homeless for that month?

David: [05:25] First of all, my marriage at the time was falling to pieces and so that part of my life was falling apart. I had also gotten myself deep into debt, and it was debt that came as a result of fear. I had not long before that had a house that got foreclosed on. I found myself very, very deep in debt, despite the fact that I was making a whole bunch of money.

Damianne: [05:49] Well, that’s what I was about to ask because usually people consider an architect to be a profession where you can make a good living.

David: [05:57] That’s the interesting thing. It doesn’t matter how little money you make. You can be making, you know, 10 cents a year and be enormously wealthy and you can be making $10 million a year and be poor.
Let me state it this way. Broke is a temporary situation. We’ve all been broke occasionally. We probably all will be again from time to time. Oops, my credit card got declined, whatever it was. So broke is a temporary situation, but poor is a state of mind.
Poor comes from a mentality of lack and it comes from a mentality that I don’t have enough. I’m not enough. I will never have enough. I’m constantly struggling to meet. And again, it doesn’t matter how much you might make or how much somebody might pay you. We find ways to fulfill the image that we have of ourselves. I grew up in a family that technically the ratio of kids to income was very high.
And so, I grew up listening to my parents sit around the table every month and try to figure out how they were going to pay the bills. And so I grew up with this idea, and I’m not blaming them at all because I was the one that embraced the ideas, but grew up believing that money is hard to come by, that the only people who are rich are either lucky or crooked and that I was sort of doomed to be poor.
I believe very strongly that the universe or God, or whatever you want to call it, has this way of sort of nudging you through life. If there are lessons that you’re supposed to learn, you get these little nudges along the way, little hints.
Most of us, myself included, spend most of our time ignoring those subtle little hints. But eventually, the universe decides, okay, you really need to learn this lesson. And so it smacks you upside the head with a two by four and says, look, this is important.
For some people, it’s a divorce, some people, it might be a heart attack. There’s all kinds of life crises that can come along and they’re all designed to grab our attention and say, Hey, you’re doing something wrong here.
And for me it was homelessness. And that’s what finally got my attention. And as I say, I had spent my life and so many of us spend of our lives waiting for life to begin. I had always had that okay, as soon as I get this contract, then everything will be great. As soon as…

Putting things off indefinitely [08:28]

Damianne: [08:28] That’s a very familiar refrain.

David: [08:31] Isn’t it though.
Yeah. As soon as I finished this renovation on the house, then everything will be fine and we can start living. And at 55 years of age, I finally realized, Hey, it’s not starting. It hasn’t started yet so maybe I’m missing something here. And that was this huge wake up call.

Damianne: [08:51] So about a year ago you decided to make… Okay, no, this was not the time you were living in your car. How long ago was this?

David: [09:00] That was 2009, so 11 years ago now. August of 2009 is when I spent a month living in my car. And what happened after that? It was very interesting.
As I say, I woke up that morning and said, that’s it. I’m going to fix this. And I realized that it’s entirely up to me. I’m the one that has to take responsibility for this; I can’t blame anybody else. And so I was still working certain clients. And so what I would do is I’d get up every day and wash in the bathroom at the truck stop, and then I’d drive to the local library cause they had wifi and it was still trying to serve my clients.

Whacked on the Head (change agent) [09:38]

I’m working away in the library and I had to go to the bathroom. So I get up to walk to the bathroom and I’m walking through the stacks of books and this one book had fallen, literally fell off the shelf in front of me and landed on the floor. And I bent down and picked it up and it was a book by author Wayne Dyer. I don’t know if with Wayne Dyer or not. He’s passed away a couple of years ago, but he was a motivational speaker, inspirational fellow.
I looked at the book and it just hit me. This is the beginning of my answer. And so I started studying everything I could get my hands on to learn about myself, my ego, my mind, how it works, how it serves me, how it doesn’t serve me at other times.
My personal collection now includes hundreds and hundreds of books that I’ve read and courses that I’ve taken and just learning about how I got to that place and what I could do about it.
I carried on with my career for another few years. And then a couple of years ago, so that would be just as I was approaching 65, the age when most people say, well, maybe it’s time to retire, I started to think what do I want to be when I grow up?
This thing that I’ve done, it’s okay, paid the bills for the most part. I’ve recovered and I did make good money once I recovered and got my finances back in order; everything was fine. I thought, you know, what do I want to continue attribute here?
I’d spent my life teaching people how to sell stuff. And, you know, good stuff, maybe stuff you needed, maybe it wasn’t, it didn’t matter. But I thought what do I want to do? What kind of contribution do I want to make?
And so I started doing a lot of meditating and praying and asking the question, what is my purpose? What am I here to do? And as an entrepreneur, because I’ve been self employed all my life, the way entrepreneurs ask that question is they say, okay, let’s find a hole and fill it. What does the world need?
As I asked that question, what came to me very, very clearly was what the world needs is to stop being so afraid of everything, because that’s the transition that I had gone through. As I realized that all my decisions had been made from a position of fear, in a sports metaphor, playing defense, playing to not lose rather than playing to win.
And so, I realized that that’s what the world needs and I have figured out how not to be afraid so why don’t I share that? And that’s when I started, i-fearless, which is about a year and a half or so ago. And the mission is to help people stop worrying.

Damianne: [12:14] I guess purpose can take time, but 11 years.

David: [12:19] I kind of got myself back on track and got my life back together and carried on doing what I was doing. And through that entire eight year period is when I was studying and learning and all about myself and acquiring the tools that allowed me to now get this started.
And so it was two years ago that I started i-fearless with this mission. This is my full time occupation and this is what I love to do.

Being fearful in our lives [12:45]

Damianne: [12:45] How does being fearful show up in our lives?

David: [12:49] Oh, many different ways. First of all, as I said earlier, it’s in the decisions that we make and in the way that we make decisions.
Okay, I need to buy some groceries. Well, now I’m in the midst of COVID. So how will I decide to go about doing that to feed myself? Ooh, if I go to the grocery store, I might get sick. If I drive to the grocery store, some idiot car might run into me. If I go to the grocery store, what if they are charging me too much?
What if they’re gouging for prices these days, because things are a little harder to come by. That’s the kind of way, and we feel that in our minds and in our souls that we’re making these decisions from fear. The way you make a fear based decision, you just say, okay, I will decide to do such and such in order to avoid something bad happening.
I’ll post on Instagram or Facebook. Fear shows up when our first thought is will my friends like this? What will people think about me if they see this post that I’ve made, as opposed to this is my expression of myself. I feel compelled to say this to the world; that’s a joy based decision. And those two are opposites. Fear is the opposite of joy or love?

The relationship between fear and courage [14:04]

Damianne: [14:04] Oh interesting, because actually what I was wondering is if fear is the opposite of courage. So what is the relationship between courage and fear?

David: [14:16] Oh, that’s an interesting one because courage can be a fear-based response. And this, this may seem counterintuitive. When we look at people that we think of as courageous, you know, let’s get silly and look at all the movies. We’ve got all these action figures.
We got Captain America and we’ve got Iron Man, and we’ve got all these people, James Bond, if you want, who come across as courageous and fearless, but more often than not, when we look at those ones, they’ve actually gotten nothing to be afraid of because we all know that they’re bulletproof or they’ve got bigger guns or they’ve got thicker armor or whatever it is. So we know that they’re going to be fine.
The people who are courageous are often simply more aggressive; they’re more afraid. And so the way my fear shows up is I’m going to be more aggressive to you. And this shows up in war time a lot. This is particularly unfortunately to men because men were brought up and socially conditioned to be brave and to be courageous and you never show that you’re fearful at all. You never show vulnerability.
But real fearlessness embraces vulnerability. I don’t know what might happen, but whatever it is, I’ll be able to handle it. Not that I will be victorious and defeat anything because courageous involves defeating something else. It’s not a war and love and joy are the opposite of fear. Fear is a lack of love. Fear says something bad is going to happen to me. Love says nothing bad can possibly happen to me.

The tie between resilience and fearlessness [16:01]

Damianne: [16:01] As you speak, the other word that is coming to mind is resilience.

David: [16:06] Yes, and that is very much part of fearlessness because a person can live fearlessly and stuff still happens to you. Stuff happens to me every day that I’d rather not have happen to me. But to go back to your question of how does fear show up. Fear shows up when you wake up in the morning dreading the day ahead, wake up in the morning worried about what might happen and worried about bad things that are going to happen to you.
A joyful person wakes up in the morning and says, yes, who knows what’s going to come along, but whatever it is, I’ll be able to handle it. And if it knocks me down, that’s okay. I’ll be able to get back up again. And that’s the resilience that you just mentioned.

Fear, Anxiety and Worry [16:50]

Damianne: [16:50] And I know you also talk about the relationship between fear and anxiety and worry. How does fear become anxiety or worry? Does it become anxiety and worry?

David: [17:03] That’s a really good question. And that’s sort of the beginning of the path to fearlessness because fear is a very useful biological response to a real and present danger. And it was built into us millions of years ago when the saber tooth tigers were chasing us for dinner.
Today, it shows up, you know, if you’re walking along the street and step out in the street and you look to the left and there’s a bus coming at you, you will have a fear based response. Adrenaline will pump into your system, the cortisol will pump into your system, your breathing will speed up, your heart rate will speed up. All that is in order to prepare your body to take instant action to remove you from that fear. And so you see the bus coming and you say [sound of fear] and you jump back to the curb and it’s fine.
The emergency has passed and your heart rate goes back down, your breathing goes back down, all the rest of it. So that’s what fear is. And it’s very, very useful. Anxiety, on the other hand, and worry are related to fear, but how they differ is that they are responses to a perceived threat that is either more vague or somewhere off in a distant future.
And we’re not entirely sure exactly how to respond. Our mind says, oh oh, there’s something to be afraid of and our body obediently responds to a fear based situation. The problem happens though, when that anxiety, that situation… so I’m worrying about my retirement. Will I have enough funds put away from my retirement? Well, that’s a vague far off in the distant kind of future that if we spend a long time thinking about it, if we think about it every day, the cortisol is still pumping into your system, your heart rate is still elevated.
And so when we have chronic anxiety, some really bad things start happening There’s some very bad physical outcomes for that because it’s designed to be for emergency purposes only. But if the emergency just continues for days or months, or even years, then that’s not what it was designed for.
So anxiety and worry are our responses to these more vague and far off in the distance threats and the way we should deal with that is very, very different. And that’s what I try to teach people about how worry and anxiety are not required and they’re not useful.

Learned worry and anxiety [19:38]

Damianne: [19:38] it sounds like perhaps one can kind of learn worry or anxiety.

David: [19:45] Oh, that’s exactly what has happened because we have all been taught to worry and be anxious. When a child is born, when an infant is born, they are born with two instinctive fears and only two. One is the fear of loud noises and the other is the fear of falling. Those are both built into our system. Every single other thing that we find ourselves being afraid of has been learned or conditioned into us.
When we’re born into a world that has people constantly telling us that we’re supposed to be afraid of this or that or the other thing… I mean, right now here in the US, we’re gearing up for this so-called election. Everybody is shouting messages about, you know, if that guy gets elected, boy oh boy, will you ever have stuff to worry about? And the other guy is also saying, boy, if that guy gets elected, your world’s going to be horrible. And so they’re all telling us that we should be afraid and we should be worried.
Turn on the 24/7 news coverage and every single thing is here’s what you need to know right now. Well, for most of them, I don’t need to know it and I certainly don’t need to know it right now, but I’m being pumped up and told that I’m supposed to be worried about it. I look around and everybody else is worried so I guess I’m supposed to be worried too. So why not? We’ll just buy into it, but there’s four problems with worrying and anxiety.

The 4 Problems with Worry and Anxiety [21:22]

Number one, it feels awful. It’s just an awful, awful emotion. It’s one of the worst emotions that we experience as humans.
Number two, it never solves the problem because worry is very different than problem solving. Problem solving is a really useful activity, but it requires a different mental process than worry and anxiety do.
Worry and anxiety just go around and round in circles and never make any progress. Problem solving tries a solution. We get some results. We evaluate, we modify, we try something else and we make progress. Worry and anxiety never solve anything because next week we’re still worrying about the same thing.
Number three is it literally makes us sick. And if you can worry long enough, you can either become homeless or have a heart attack or die eventually. The list of things that happens to your body when you do this chronically is really nasty and long. But number four, the thing that bothers me the most…

Damianne: [22:28] More than death?

David: [22:29] Yeah. It blocks our human potential because we set up barriers to ourselves before we even start. We convince ourselves that we’re not capable. We convince ourselves that we’re not good enough. In my situation, oh no, money’s too hard to come by; you can’t do that.
So bingo. I’ve blocked myself from financial security and financial abundance. It’s all going on in my own head. It also blocks us, you know, you want to be a singer. Somebody wants to be a singer and somebody, some nasty teacher said, Oh no, why don’t you just hum along? And so now I’m afraid to open my voice in front of people because of what people might think. And so we never even give it a try and the things that we might dream about, we stop before we’ve even started, because we’re afraid of failing. We’re afraid of looking like a goof or afraid of taking risks.
That’s why I like to say your parachute can’t open until after you’ve jumped out of the plane. It’s necessary to take a risk.

Taking Risks despite Fear [23:36]

Damianne: [23:36] So taking those risks, does that mean that you have no fear or is it a matter of working with your fear, overcoming your fear? How do you think about that?

David: [23:45] Well, again, let’s distinguish between fear and anxiety, right? Because if I’m going to take a risk, maybe I’ll do free solo climbing up the face of the Burj Dubai and well, I don’t have those skills and the likelihood of me dying from that is a hundred percent.
And so it’s really are useful to be afraid of that. But as I think about things that I might want to try, and this is what entrepreneurs do all the time and the adventurous do, they evaluate the risks and they say, all right, what are the risks that are involved here? How might I reduce those risks. How might I manage those risks? What are the odds…

Damianne: [24:26] The stakes and what’s the expected reward, and how do you quantify it.

David: [24:31] Precisely. And that’s how I move ahead. You know the old story, if you don’t want to take any risks, don’t get out of bed in the morning and then nothing can get you.

Damianne: [24:40] So it sounds like you actually need to engage with your fears. It’s not a matter of pretending they don’t exist or thinking, Oh, well, if I am fearful, I can’t do this or I have to do this if I’m fearful, but it’s rather taking a more measured, deliberate approach to your fear.

David: [25:01]
The classic example is you’ve got a parent who, for whatever reason, maybe they had a bad experience as a child, are afraid of dogs. They just have this fear of dogs. Well, they’re going to build that into their children and pass that along with their body language, the things that they choose to say. Yes people have had bad experience with a dog but for the most part dogs are really nice and all they want to do is lick you and so there’s an irrational fear.
Fear of flying, for example, yes, there are risks involved, but they’re minuscule. But yet people have these fears and so we can use our tremendous power of our minds to work our way through it. And the first thing to do is to recognize that our anxiety and our worry are mental choices that we’ve made. I have chosen to be afraid of this thing. And we’ve made that choice so often that it’s simply become an unconscious habit.

The Choice to be Fearful/Anxious [26:01]

Damianne: [26:01] I can imagine some people being a little bit annoyed or upset listening to us saying really you think I’m choosing to be anxious. You think I’m choosing to be fearful. Help us work through thinking about that.

David: [26:19] Sure, absolutely. Think about a person who’s an alcoholic, for example. Now that started as a choice; they weren’t born an alcoholic, barring fetal alcohol syndrome or something like that; that started as a choice. Every time they took a drink, it was a choice.
That choice eventually became a habit and that habit became an addiction and that addiction then becomes enormously difficult to remove or replace. Every habit that we have starts with a choice. Trust me, I was also skeptical when I first encountered this. Surely, it’s somebody else’s fault; I didn’t make this choice.
Here’s the flip side of that. And here’s where it gets useful. If I say that this fear is not my choice, this fear is as a result of some external circumstance that’s beyond my power to control, then I surrender any ability to get rid of it because the ability lies in somebody else’s hands. Until that person or that circumstance decides to change, I’m helpless.
But the minute I say, no, I’m in charge of this, I’m going to decide that it’s my choice and then I get to do something about it, I start to have the power. Then I can start to say, all right, it’s a whole lot easier to blame somebody else, it’s a whole lot more convenient, but it leaves me stuck where I am.
As soon as I make the difficult decision to say, all right, I’m going to take a hundred percent responsibility for my fears, for my mental choices that I make, et cetera, then I’m in a position to change that.

Steps to overcoming anxiety [28:17]

Damianne: [28:17] So that’s a journey. I think getting there can be a journey for people. What’s the first step that somebody can do if they suffer from anxiety?

David: [28:29] The first step is to decide that you want to do something about it. There are a lot of people that I encounter who kind of identify with their anxiety and their worry.

Damianne: [28:41] It serves us definitely in some way. I think this is where there is often this dichotomy. It could be serving us in some way in terms of making us feel good that we’re showing our caring, but that’s also a story that we tell ourselves, right? We are convinced we are getting some value from it although it might not be ultimately helpful to us.

David: [29:07] Anybody that has and maintains any kind of a habit does it because they believe that it serves them in some way. Takes somebody who smokes, for example, why do you do it? Well, now because it’s an addiction and I can’t stop. Well, why did you start?

Damianne: [29:23] It relaxes me. I like it. I spend time with my friends. I….

David: [29:27] It makes me look cool. Yeah, all those are good reasons. Now if you look at the flip side and say, how is it not serving you? And then you weigh these are the ways that it’s serving me, these are the ways it’s hurting me, which would I prefer. Then you can make that decision. And it’s the same with worry and anxiety.
Yes. There are ways that people say, no, this is why I want to hang on to it. Well, good. That’s all right then. I mentioned those four reasons that I prefer not to have it in my life, the four disadvantages. In my mind, they simply outweigh any advantages. So that’s the first step. Decide that you want to.
The second step is to get to know anxiety really, really well.
I hear people say but I already know it. I know it far too well. But no. I mean study it in a very objective scientific way. In my book and in my workshops, I say let’s be scientists in a laboratory.
We’re wearing our white lab coats, and we’ve got this blob of anxiety sitting on our lab bench, and we’re going to take it apart, dissect it and see what it’s made of. And what we learned then is this whole thing that you have been taught and trained and reinforced on a daily, if not hourly basis, that this is normal behavior. Everybody else does it so therefore, it’s normal and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s just part of being human.
And in this little study phase, we learned that no, it’s not necessarily natural. It’s normal in that so many people do it, but obesity is also normal. And underfunded schools is also normal. So many things are normal that aren’t necessarily serving us. And lots of folks are saying no, I I’d rather not have this in my life. So we can make that decision and say, all right, it might be normal, but I don’t want it in my life. Thanks very much. So that’s the second step.
The third step is to make the really important decision that I will take 100% responsibility for everything that’s going on in my life. And that means I will never again blame or complain. I won’t blame the government. I won’t blame the weather. I won’t blame my boss.

Damianne: [31:41] Never again, David?

David: [31:43] Never again. That’s a tough one and, again, that’s another habit because it’s so much fun. But again, it doesn’t help me because as long as it’s somebody else’s fault of what’s happening to me, I’m completely powerless to change that.
And if I want to change it, then I’m going to have to take back the power. Now there’s a lot of situations that we find ourselves in that truly are not our fault. So…

Damianne: [32:09] That’s exactly what I was going to ask about. So what do you do then?

David: [32:12] Well, the one thing that you always have control over is your attitude. The great example of this is the writings of Victor Frankl. Pre WWII, he was a psychiatrist in Austria. He was Jewish and he was captured by the Nazis and sent to a concentration camp along with millions of others. He decided in that moment that he would not allow those circumstances to defeat him.
He wrote a book afterwards, his famous book called Man’s Search for Meaning. And basically what he said is if you have meaning and purpose in your life, there is nothing that anybody else can do to you that will cause you to collapse. No matter what the circumstances, they can chain you to a wall, you can still choose the thoughts you’re going to have. You can choose your reaction to your circumstances.
I live in the South part of Florida. We have hurricanes fairly regularly. I mean, it’s pretty predictable and it’s amazing how many people in this area, when June, July, August, September start around, they’re just freaking out. Oh no, it’s hurricanes, what are we going to do? You could move if you don’t like it.
Number two, hurricanes are wonderful because you can see them coming from far off, and there’s some things you can do to prepare, but to allow that situation to put you into this state of unhealthy anxiety doesn’t really help anything.
So I can say, yeah, hurricanes come along and when they do, I will cover up my windows, I’ll take all the patio furniture off the deck, I’ll prepare as best I can, I will have a kit ready in case the power goes out or I’ll evacuate if I have to.
Getting worried and anxious about it doesn’t serve. All it does is make me feel awful and it ruins my health. So again, this is where I’ll use problem solving to change the situation. But if my circumstances are such that I can’t control and they’re just nasty, well stuff happens and getting upset about it doesn’t help in the least.
You’re right, it is a journey and it takes training. I’ve spent 10 years retraining my mind to have this kind of response rather than the anxiety response or the blaming response or the complaining response.

Challenge [34:39]

Damianne: [34:39] So for somebody who’s listening who may be new to this, or they’re somewhere along the journey but they’re not quite there yet, what’s something that they could do? Do you have an invitation or a challenge for listeners of something that they could do to take that first step.

David: [34:53] Well, absolutely. I mean, we have a Facebook group and it’s called Fearless Living and Growth Society. And there’s a free Facebook group where we talk. I put out all these tips and stuff out there on the Facebook group and people are helping each other and reinforcing to each other that it is in fact possible.
The first step is to recognize and say to yourself, yes, I can do this if I want to. I can stop worrying. It is in fact possible. So you want to start searching out likeminded people. One of the pieces of advice I give is quit the complaining club. We all know those people. They walk into their room and you can say, Hey, how you doing? Oh, it’s terrible. You know, it’s raining and it’s supposed to snow tomorrow.

Damianne: [35:44] So maybe every time you come up with a complaint, you can think of something positive to follow. Try to encourage yourself, try to train your brain to see something positive as well.

David: That’s a good one. Here’s another one. We are our own worst enemies. We beat up on ourselves terribly, and along with worry and anxiety comes self doubt. I’m not good enough. I don’t measure up, what are people thinking of me? And so a great little exercise to do is to remind yourself of victories, accomplishments that you’ve had in your past.
And here’s one aspect of it. Think back to a time before you were 18 years old and think of five things that you did back in your youth, that you were really proud of, that you thought, wow, that was cool. Maybe you wrote a poem and read it in front of the class. Maybe you were in sports and won a ribbon or something.
Maybe you, whatever it was. I’ve always loved mechanical things and cars and stuff that go and when I was probably 12 or 13 years old, I built myself a little go-cart. My dad had a garage and he had an old lawnmower engine and bits of wheels and I just cobbled this thing together. I’ll never forget the day that it actually ran and I’m bouncing across the front lawn. I was more shocked than anybody that it had actually worked. And I was just so tickled with myself.
One of the elements of fearlessness is self confidence. And self confidence starts with self esteem. You have to think well of yourself. You have to believe yourself to be a worthwhile human being. And in order to do that, we want to remind ourselves regularly of things that we’ve done that are worthwhile.
I did a workshop sometime ago and there was a woman there and we went through this exercise, five things before you were 18. She could not remember a single thing that she had done before she was 18 that made her proud of herself. And I thought, how sad is that? I coached her a little while? And she finally said, Oh, I remember. She used to be a competitive swimmer and remembered an event that she competed in and she won on metal of some sort. And the way her face changed when she remembered that and suddenly realized I’m still that person. I’m still that person who is worthwhile, who can accomplish things. It was wonderful. It just brought tears to my eyes to see her emerge like that. And she walked out of the workshop that night, she says my shoulders aren’t stiff anymore. It just felt so good.
So do the one before you were 18, but then move on and say, okay, now five things when I was in college or when I got my first job and five things, you know, when I first started having a family and five things last week that I did, and we remind ourselves.
Does it have to be something where it was an award. Something that comes to mind is that when I was, I don’t know, 13, no, 11, 12, I would invite the neighborhood children and make lunch for them.

David: [39:02] That’s wonderful. That’s exactly perfect because no, it doesn’t have to be an award. It can be I had a wonderful conversation with my sister or a friend and I was supportive; I was there when they needed me.
Damianne: [39:17] So it’s anything that brings up positive emotions or positive memories and feelings in your body.
David: [39:24] Anything at all that makes you feel good about yourself. We need to practice feeling good about ourselves because there’s so many things that go on that make us feel just awful.
Damianne: [39:37] And savour it because I think some people think that it’s prideful for me to be thinking that way.
David: [39:44] This is another way we were trained. Don’t get too big for your britches. You’re getting a swelled head, you know. They have a great saying in Australia, New Zealand. They call it cutting down the tall poppies. It’s the way all of us use to chop anybody else down and what a horrible thing to do. Why don’t we build each other up instead?
There’s a difference between self confidence and arrogance. There’s a line between those two things and self confidence is wonderful and necessary. Arrogance we don’t need and that’s destructive because it says I’m better than you are. No, I’m not better than you are, but I’m perfectly fine just like …

Book recommendations [40:27]

Damianne: [40:27] I like that. So let’s say somebody is doing this challenge and then they’re ready for the next level. I know you’ve read a lot of books. What’s one book that you would recommend to listeners?

David: [40:40] Well, sorry but you’ve fed right into that. One book that I would recommend is my own book Unsubscribed from Anxiety.

Damianne: [40:49] Okay. That that was a poorly worded question. Of course, there is your own book. If there is another book that is not your book, because I fell right into that one. But I was reading your blog post today and I noticed that you reference a lot of other books.

David: [41:07] Oh, yeah. I’m a big fan of Wayne Dyer, Dr. Wayne Dyer, who’s passed away a couple of years ago. There’s one of his books that really stood out for me. My copy of it is so marked up and dogeared, notes in the margin. It’s called The Power of Intention. So basically what it teaches us is how we can start being in control of our own lives.
Another book I would highly recommend to people is by one of my teachers, Jack Canfield, and it’s called The Success Principles. That would be an excellent, excellent book that I would recommend to anybody.
One of its foundational principles is this idea of taking 100% responsibility for whatever happens in your own life. He also talks about surrendering your membership to the complainer’s club. We often find ourselves surrounded by toxic people, whether it’s in the workplace or whether it’s social, and they pull us down; they drain the energy out. When we’ve spent some time with that person, afterwards you just feel exhausted and they literally do suck the energy out of you.
I don’t have room in my life for those people. My energy, my joy is far too precious to spend time there. So I seek out the ones that lift me up and I try my best to do the same for others. I want to be somebody when they left time spent with me, I want them to feel better than they did when they arrived.
One of the hard things is very often we’ll discover that family members are toxic. There’s a great saying that I’ve read recently and it’s toxic people are still toxic even when they’re disguised as family.
We can all relate to that because we all have family that are just wonderful and we all have some that maybe not so much. And so those are some of the steps that we want to take now and you can get it out of your life if you want.


Damianne: [43:16] There is so much wonderful information and advice and steps and actions, and I’m really excited about all of the actions that you’re shared with listeners that they can do from this very moment. So thank you so much for that.

David: [43:30] My pleasure. As you can tell, I get excited about it because the way it feels to live without that is so good.
I mean, imagine, just imagine, imagine that your fairy godmother came down, waved her wand and suddenly you were incapable of being afraid of anything anymore. Now she didn’t make you rich. She didn’t make you look like Jennifer Lopez, Brad Pitt. She didn’t give you a IQ of 160. The only thing she did was make you be unable to be afraid of anything. What would you do? What would you try? That’s what this feels like.
You wake up every morning and think yeah, I can do that. I can try it and I don’t have to say what might happen. No, go ahead. Think of that fairy godmother. You are no longer afraid of anything. Wow.

Damianne: [44:27] That is magical. That is magical. David, where can people connect with you and learn more about your work? You do lots of great posts. You’re very active online. Tell us about some of the materials listeners can access.

David: [44:42] The best place is to find us at our Facebook group, our free Facebook group, it’s called Fearless Living and Srowth society. So just go on Facebook, you know, type that into the search and it’ll be right there. We would welcome you to come and join us. It’s relatively new. It’s only been up for a couple months, but our membership is building. We’re going to share all kinds of these tips and techniques with people there.
And we encourage other people too. Like you said, people might not be ready to believe that it’s a choice. That’s okay. We’ll coach you and show you how it is and no obligation. Nobody’s pressured into anything. I mean, that’s a whole fear based thing, you gotta do it my way.
No, you don’t. So that’s one place and then probably the best place is we have a website and it’s i-fearless.com. So i-fearless.com is our website.

Damianne: [45:34] And those links will be in the show notes as well.

David: [45:37] That’s wonderful. Thank you.

Damianne: [45:42] I really appreciate you taking time from your day to chat with me today.

David: [45:46] Oh, it’s the pleasure is all mine. I’m just so delighted to share these ideas and to help other people

Damianne: [45:52] You are very full of energy.
Thank you.

Love and joy are the opposite of fear. Fear is a lack of love


And so we never even give it a try and the things that we might dream about, we stop before we’ve even started, because we’re afraid of failing.

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