‘Do one thing every day that scares you’ – er, no thanks

I saw a post in one of the many Facebook groups I’m in. It said ‘do one thing every day that scares you, do you agree?’

My response – no, it’s too blunt. I’d feel like I was constantly living my life worrying about the next scary thing each day. Yes, sometimes you have to suck things up and get on with it, but not every damn day. And some fears/people need proper understanding and a more supportive approach.

That post got me thinking…


Types of fear

Last year I read ‘Playing Big’ by Tara Mohr. My main takeaway from it was that there’s two types of fear – the irrational one and the exciting one.

In the book, she quotes Rabbi Alan Lew explaining that in biblical Hebrew, there are several different words for fear.

Pachad is ‘projected or imagined fear’. Irrational, lizard-brain, over-reaction.

Yirah is ‘the fear that overcomes us when we suddenly find ourselves in possession of considerably more energy than we are used to, inhabiting a larger space than we are used to inhabiting’. Ooh. The exciting one. Butterflies in the tummy. Stepping into the unknown (but a safe unknown, not an Indiana Jones unknown).


Yay, butterflies! *

Going back to ‘do one thing every day that scares you’, that phrase is misattributed to Eleanor Roosevelt.

MISattributed. What she actually said is:

‘You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.’

It’s in her book ‘You Learn by Living’ (think I’m going to add it to the book club list).

You must do the thing you think you cannot do.

That’s the exciting, butterflies fear, yirah. Not the irrational over-reaction one, pachad.


Boo, pachad. Double-boo, pachad-plus.

When I was researching that quote, I came across another good one.

Tim Ferriss, the guy who wrote ‘The 4-Hour Work Week’, (basically, you outsource everything) did a TEDtalk all about fear where he said – ‘…the best results that I’ve had in life, the most enjoyable times, have all been from asking a simple question: what’s the worst that can happen?’

What’s the worst that can happen?

That’s where we get into those irrational over-reactions. The pachad fear.

Some people have like ‘pachad-plus’. Their brains misfire. Before they can calmly consider ‘what’s ACTUALLY the worst that can happen?’ their brains have spiralled downwards, to create the worst catastrophe they can possibly imagine – and then make it a bit worse again.

My friend Ella cannot buy balcony tickets for a gig. Even if she’d much rather sit down for the show than stand all night, her misfiring brain won’t let her. It’s convinced her that (she’s a big girl) if she’s in the balcony, when she sits down her seat will break, and that will cause all the seats around her to break in a kinda domino effect, and those broken seats and everyone in them will crash through the bottom of the balcony and crush the people standing below.

Yep. *shrug, raised eyebrows*

One of the best things I’ve read recently was from Aaron Gillies, he said ‘your brain is a twat and it lies to you’ in his book How to Survive the End of the World (When it’s in Your Own Head). I sent Ella my copy.

OK, so – think of those two things together:
– what’s the worst that can happen?
– your brain is a twat and it lies to you

If you find yourself imagining a catastrophic state where you deciding to go networking leads to the local golf club burning down, then – 1) I’m not really the right person to help you with that.

But 2) you know, deep down, that just because your brain suggests this possible outcome, it’s highly unlikely to actually happen. Remember you’ve asked yourself ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’ not ‘what’s the most LIKELY thing to happen?’

What could go wrong? How about thinking ‘what could go right?!’ If you don’t try, you’ll never know.

Lean into the yirah feelings. Exciting. Butterflies.


Do you agree?

Pretty much everyone else commenting on that post I first mentioned – ‘do one thing every day that scares you, do you agree?’ – said they agreed with the statement.

I wonder if they really did agree, or they just wanted to be seen as agreeing with the author of the post?

You don’t have to go along with stuff everyone else is doing if you know it doesn’t work for you.

I recently talked about how templates don’t necessarily work for everyone, or certainly not straight out of the box.

But advice also doesn’t necessarily work for everyone.

No-one else has your life, your experiences, your plans. All of those things shape which jigsaw pieces you need to complete the picture.

Some advice might be the right shape for your picture, some might not. (Jigsaw fans, look away now!) You could always cut the corner off to make it fit.

It’s your life, your puzzle. Not everyone’s pieces will fit your puzzle.

What you do need to know is what shape of pieces will fit.

The, like with the templates, you can think about what you know you need and consider if the advice being offered is the right shape for your puzzle.


Here’s the summary

Your takeaways for today:
– You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
– What’s the worst that could happen? Your brain is a twat and it lies to you. What could go right?!
– What shape of pieces do you need for your puzzle? You can always cut a corner off to make it fit…

Sorry, jigsaw people.


* I really didn’t expect butterflies to feature so heavily across this blog (here’s a previous thing I wrote about them, and kinda this one too). Funny how things go, eh?

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