zen habits : breathe

The Fearless Challenge

By Leo Babauta

There’s a big part of all of us that doesn’t ever want to face our fears.

The fears operate in the backs of our minds, affecting our lives in so many ways: we procrastinate, lash out at others in frustration, hold ourselves back from connecting with others in a meaningful way, stop ourselves from finding our purpose or creating work that matters, and much more.

But we don’t face the fears, despite their power over us, because we don’t like even thinking about them. We don’t want to acknowledge them. And this is what gives them their power.

Today, I’m challenging you to change this.

I’m challenging you to take a small action each day to face your fears. To become fearless, one small step at a time.

From now until the end of the year, commit to a daily Fearless Session.

What’s a Fearless Session? It’s a few minutes of courage:

  1. Sit for a few minutes (3-4 minutes) simply facing your fears. Notice the fears that have been arising in you, and see how they affect your body. What feelings do they arise in you, physically? Be brave enough to sit with them as long as you can (feel free to stop if it gets too intense).
  2. Try to look at the fear with compassion. You are stressed or hurting in some way. Wish for an end to your stress or pain. Wish for your own happiness. Give yourself some love.
  3. Sit for another minute and try to see the goodness in yourself, underneath the fear. This takes practice, but start to see how wonderful you are, underneath everything. This goodness is always present, but we don’t often look at it. See the love, compassion, beauty, good intentions, kindness, that are inside of you all the time.

It should only take about 5 minutes total, though you can start by doing just a few minutes. I recommend starting a timer for 5 minutes (or 3 to start out if you want).

Then every Saturday, make a brief report on this form (anonmymously). This will keep you honest and help you learn from the experience.

Join my challenge today: post about committing to the Fearless Challenge on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with the #fearlesschallenge hashtag, or just tell your close friends that you’re doing it.

Why This Matters

Why bother doing this challenge? Because fears control us, but we don’t have to continue with that pattern. We can find the courage to face our fears, in small doses, and find compassion for them. This can help melt the fears and change our mental patterns, so we’re not so caught up in our stories about them.

Over time, you might notice yourself catching your fears during the day, when you’re not doing a Fearless Session. You might see the fear starting up, and then stop yourself from builidng it into something bigger. You might stay with the physical feeling of it starting, and then all of a sudden you’re back to the present moment, awake to what’s going on right now. This waking up in the moment of starting the fear train is a really valuable skill.

The last part, of seeing the goodness in yourself, is a fascinating exercise. This goodness is in all of us, all the time, but we don’t often notice it. It’s underlying everything we do, even the fear — we have good-hearted intentions, and we fear they won’t come true.

If we start to see the goodness in ourselves, that’s there all the time, we start to have confidence that we’re good enough. We doubt ourselves less, have less fear that things will go wrong, because we have a basic confidence that we’ll be OK no matter what situation arises.

Think about this: if you fear messing up, and hope for success … what happens if you are confident in your goodness and think you’ll be OK no matter how you do? You can just do the job, make the presentation, take on the project, without fear that things will not go the way you want. Because even in that case, you’ll be fine, you’ll figure it out from there.

Stopping our mental patterns, finding compassion for the pain of fear, and seeing our basic goodness — these are the antidotes to fear.

Join my challenge today: post about committing to the Fearless Challenge on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with the #fearlesschallenge hashtag, or just tell your close friends that you’re doing it.

Then every Saturday, make a brief report on this form (anonmymously).

My New Course: The Path of Fearlessness

I highly encourage you to join me in my Sea Change Program for one of the most important courses I’ve ever offered: The Path of Fearlessness.

It’s a six-week video course that’s a part of my regular Sea Change Program (free for 7 days, $19/month after that), and consists of:

  1. 2 video lessons per week
  2. A Fearless Challenge: Do daily 5-10-minute Fearless sessions
  3. A live video webinar with me
  4. Daily challenges on the forum (optional but recommended)
  5. Questions about the course can be asked on the forum

Sign up here: Sea Change Program



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