Is It Time To Forget The ‘Feel The Fear’ Message? [Episode 19]

This episode is for you, if you want to make a difference, creating a genuinely level playing field, love the idea of 'break the bias', but aren't sure how to do it without getting shouty and angry and telling everybody what they're doing wrong!

If you've ever got stuck in the "who am I to do this?" 3am self-talk, then this episode is for you!

And if you want to know the secret for creating breakthroughs instead of burnout on our passionate world-changer journey, I'm going to teach you my 7 Cs process to be able to do exactly that.

Here's What We'll Cover About 'Feel The Fear':

  • The positive intention behind the 'feel the fear' message
  • Where did it come from?
  • What really happens when we push on through - to the body, our thoughts, our emotions and our results
  • Why it's not about waiting until you're fear-free
  • The two type of stress, and why one of them is actually your friend
  • The alternative to 'feel the fear' and how to achieve it

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Tweetables On 'Feel The Fear'

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Prefer to read? Here's the transcript:

Have you ever been told to push on through the fear, and found out how disastrously that can go? Have you ever seen that advice on social media and beaten yourself up, because you didn't want to push on through the fear? Is it time to forget the feel the fear message? And if it is, what could we be doing instead?

If this resonates for you, then this episode, episode 19 of the Ditching Imposter Syndrome Podcast is for you. So feel the fear, push on through the fear, I see this advice every single day on social media, from coaches, business mentors, celebrities, we end up feeling bad, guilty, even ashamed if we are not going with their advice. There's even been a new book on manifesting recently that's really taken off, which is great, because it's a fantastic topic, one I've been teaching for years, that has our whole chapter on pushing through the fear. And if that isn't working for you, you are in great company, because for most of us, it simply doesn't, particularly if you are running imposter syndrome. So in this episode, show notes at, we're going to cover the positive intention behind the feel of fear message. Where did it come from? What really happens when we push on through the fear?

While, it's not about waiting until you are fear-free and ready, the two types of stress, one of them is actually your friend in this, and the alternative to feel the fear, and how to achieve it. So I remember a couple of years ago, I'd been at a conference and there was a masterminding day afterwards, and everybody was on a high. Do you remember those days where we could actually meet up in-person? And it was the very end of the masterminding day, everybody had been having breakthroughs in their business, been connecting with people, had an amazing, amazing life-changing time. And a very brave soul at the end of the masterminding day, in the final Q&A, and I remember this woman was the last person to ask a question, she put her hand up, and she said, "I'm scared. I've got big dreams for my business, but I'm scared. What advice do you give me?"

The response she got was, "Just push on through. Yeah, fear's for woossies. Don't let the fear get in the way of your dreams, you've just got to pull your socks up, put your big girl pants, and push on through." And in that moment, everybody in the room who'd been united with her go, "We're secretly scared too, and she had guts to actually raise the issue." Deflated like balloons, punctured by a cat's claw. Yeah, I saw the whole room just go, "Oh." Because they knew push on through the fear wasn't working for them.

It was working for the person that had been running the Q&A, but it wasn't working for them. And I could instantly see, they were then setting themselves up to fail. Now, there's a positive intention behind the feel the fear message. It's basically, don't let worrying, and what if-ing, see the last episode, episode 18, which is all about why we need to talk about worrying, is that what if-ing, that worrying, don't let it get in the way of your dreams. Don't pay more attention and energy to your excuses than to your goals and your desires. But what if this is deep-rooted fear? What if the actions we're going to take are going to suddenly make us visible? Open us up to failure? Or success? Or trolling? All of these things that are running in our heads. There is a difference between the worrying and what if-ing, and genuinely doing something so far outside of our comfort zone, it feels like leaping out of an airplane.

I remember back in my engineering days, I was running massive imposter syndrome. I had no idea what it was, I thought I was the only person on the planet that felt that way, as so many of us do when we are running this, and I pushed on through the fear, and I came close to burn out. And pushing on through the fear meant I was constantly running on adrenaline, which most of the other people in the factory I was working in were too, and it meant that fight, flight, freeze response was always there in the background. And I ended up finding myself becoming actually really angry, reactive person, because I was pushing on through the fear. I didn't like the version of me that was coming out to play, I didn't know how to fix it, didn't have anyone there to support me with imposter syndrome, didn't even know that was running the show and making my biggest life choices, and I ended up leaving a career I loved, because I'd pushed on through the fear.

So where did this kind of whole feel the fear thing come from? Well, it's a strategy that worked 20 or more years ago. It's very alpha male. It's that stiff, upper lip where we don't want to talk about feelings, we're showing up as a doing, not a human being. And sometimes it can work, because sometimes we use the fear as an excuse not to take action that our heart is calling us to do. But what really happens when we push on through the fear? So when we think about it from a body point of view, if we are feeling fear, we'll be thinking fear-based thoughts, worry thoughts, what if-ing, catastrophising. This fires off biochemical reactions in the body that happen absolutely automatically. There is no way to think the fear-based thoughts and not have those biochemical reactions fire off. They trigger what's called the sympathetic nervous system, the fight, flight, freeze response, which fires off hormones like adrenaline, cortisol to get us ready to deal with that sabre-toothed tiger.

This creates our experience for emotions. In their simplest form an emotion as a biochemical reaction in the body that feeds more fear-based thoughts, and suddenly, the cycle cranks up, until our inner drama queen or inner drama king is on full alert. And there is no way that they are going to let us go and take that action. Now, a lot of us have been dealing with chronic stress and anxiety, as we hopefully come out the other side of the pandemic, that chronic stress has been running for a couple of years for a lot of us, that low-grade worrying. This means we're even more susceptible to that fight, flight, freeze response, it's triggered even more easily than it would've been before. Being stuck in that chronic stress, that worry, the low-grade fear, hypervigilance, where we're constantly on alert for threats takes a toll on the body.

That fight, flight, freeze sympathetic nervous system is meant to kick off for a few minutes, deal with the sabre-toothed tiger, and go, "Oh, okay, we're safe now." And come back into balance. When we are pushing on through the fear, and this is our constant way of being, all of the things the body does when it's calm and relaxed don't happen, like cellular regeneration, and growing your hair, and digestion, all these things that don't really matter so much in that moment if you need to be able to run. So it takes a toll on the body. It takes a toll on the mind, because neural pathways are formed when we think a thought repeatedly, and if you add in a strong emotion, it fast tracks creating that thought habit. So when we add fear into a thought pattern, it's like we're creating a button in our brain for a tiny trigger to fire off a cascade of worry and fear-based thoughts. So we're actually training our brain to be more scared.

And it has a huge impact on our results, we're out of alignment with what we want to achieve. If we look at manifesting, for example, we're actively saying, "I want this thing, but I think it's dangerous or scary." And funny enough, the unconscious mind is going to say it there and protect us. It won't let us achieve something it believes is dangerous, or impossible. There's a primal part of the brain that processes information slightly ahead of the prefrontal cortex, that does our kind of creative and logical leaps of thinking, because it needs to protect us. That's why if you've ever had the experience of crossing a road and suddenly pulling back because there's a car you hadn't consciously noticed going past, that was that primal bit of the brain doing its job brilliantly. It triggers protection mechanisms to keep us safe.

In day-to-day life when we want to achieve a goal that part of the brain perceives the threat, it gets the inside scoop that we're about to do something scary, dangerous, or impossible, and the way it protects us is self-sabotage. And this is why we end up getting in our own way, we don't return that call until slightly too late, we volunteer somebody else for the golden opportunity to shine, we discount our prices, don't ask for a pay rise, don't go for a promotion, or an opportunity our heart is dreaming of, all the different ways we keep ourselves safe. And pushing on through the fear makes it much more likely that we'll bring these into play.

But it's not about waiting until you are fear-free. The research studies I did in 2019 and 2022 into imposter syndrome have shown that waiting until we are ready, ticking every box, is a coping strategy that so many people use that simply doesn't work, because we then end up beating ourselves up, because we never actually quite ready. So it's not about waiting until you are fear-free, it's about learning how to manage the self-talk so that we don't need to live in that fear. So we don't get the worrying and the what if-ing, meaning there's something to push on through. And we're going to be talking about that in a couple of episodes' time, I'm actually going to be talking about the two types of fear, and why one of them is completely trashing your results. So if you're not subscribed already to the Ditching Imposter Syndrome Podcast, via your favorite podcast app, please make sure you get that, so that when the two types of fear episode comes out, you'll get a notification, you're going to want to this one.

But today I want to talk about the two types of stress, and why one of them is actually our friend on this. So there is an amazing man, researcher called Hans Selye, who researched various aspects of the endocrine system, so this is our nervous system. And he concluded there were two types of stress. If you've ever thought, "I really need the fear to perform." This segment is for you. So the two types of stress, he talks about distress, which is the fight, flight, freeze response, where we are sitting there in fear, and we're having to push on through, and force ourselves to do things, and it's horrible. And he talked to about eustress, eu from the ancient Greek, meaning good, so good stress, which is the anticipation, the excitement, the, "This might be a bit of a stretch, but I'm buzzing."

Now, they both trigger the sympathetic nervous system, and I know as a yoga and meditation teacher, that actually the fight, flight, freeze response, the sympathetic nervous system, is not our enemy. If we turn the sympathetic nervous system off completely, that's how we end up as couch potatoes. We actually need that balance of being relaxed, but alert. And what Hans Selye recommended is using that to connect with the anticipation, that slight excitement. We're not talking kid on Christmas morning, coming down and finding out Santa has been here, but that slight sense of excitement that gives us a buzz. This gives us a little bit of the stress hormones, but it's enough to help us to connect with our peak performance, rather than to paralyze us through fear. So the alternative to feeling the fear is to flow instead of forcing. It's getting an alignment with your goal, allowing yourself to become the version of you who achieves that goal through a sense of excitement instead of fear.

And if you've hung around with me on this podcast before, you'll have heard about the imposter syndrome gap, that gap between who we see ourselves as being, and who we think we need to be to be able to do or achieve something. And over that gap, we build the bridge of coping strategies until the gap opens up, because we've got to achieve something that we're not used to doing, and suddenly, either the bridge falls into the ravine, or we have to desperately put more energy into building a bigger and better bridge of coping strategies. Instead of pushing on through the fear, which is like walking over that rickety bridge of coping strategies, trying not to look down, if we clear out what was triggering the fear, what we were scared of, we let that go, we release it, we can close the imposter syndrome gap, allowing us to become that version of us. And then instead of feeling the fear, we get to clear the fear, and do it anyway.

Because I don't know about you, but do it scared, I would much rather do it excited. Letting go of that feel the fear, letting go of the pushing on through and all the harm it does, and instead, harnessing that energy to go and create. It's why I created my natural resilience method, so that's five steps that you can use if you want to move from feel the fear and pushing on through, to clearing the fear, so you can become the version of you that creates whatever it is you're dreaming of, or has the message or mission that your heart's calling you to share.

So step one, is resetting the stress response, learning how to press pause on the mind story drama, adrenaline, cortisol rush. Step two, is rewiring your brain, being able to use the power of neuroplasticity to create neural pathways that turn your inner critic into a genuine cheerleader without pretending. Step three, rewiring your body. The body gets addicted of the drama, to the adrenaline, and if it's not getting a hit of cortisol, it will create thoughts that give it that. Step four, resetting toxic boundaries with people, with ourselves, with what we are consuming, to allow us to feel free, and realise that most people's stuff we're taking far too personally. And step five, is all about consciously creating your future from that expanded place of being more of who you really are.

So that wraps up what I wanted to say today. If you want to work through those steps with me, that's in my Inner Critic Bootcamp Training that you can find at I'd love to get to work with you on that, it's a massively wonderful life-changing program, and so surprisingly simple. And resources for you today are over at If you've got my book, Ditching Imposter Syndrome, you can find out more about the whole, "But fear helps me to perform." Thing, on page 138, or search for but fear helps me to perform if you've got the ebook version.

The Inner Critic Bootcamp And if you want to help other people to be able to go through my natural resilience method process, you can become a certified imposter syndrome first-aider, and you can find out more about that at And I will be back next week, which is, if you're listening to the show when it comes out, International Women's Day 2022, talking about break the bias, which is this year's IWD theme. What on earth does that mean? How on earth do we do it? What are the three pillars for this? And how can you put it into action? I'm going to guide you through step-by-step, and also let you know about a masterclass I'm running for you to teach you how to break the bias even if you are running imposter syndrome. If you found this episode useful, please make sure you subscribe, leave it a lovely review on iTunes, let people know how it might help them, and I will see you next week with break the bias.

About the author

Clare Josa

Clare is considered a global authority in the fields of Imposter Syndrome, burnout and toxic resilience, and has been an international keynote speaker for over 20 years.

The author of 8 books, a reformed engineer and the former Head of Market Research for one of the world's most disruptive brands, she blends research-backed practical inspiration with demystified ancient wisdom, to help you create breakthroughs in ways that are fast, fun and forever.

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