The Truth About ‘Do It Scared’: The Antidote and Which Of The Two Types Of Fear Is Trashing Your Confidence [Episode 029]

Ever feel like you're holding back on your dreams? Not speaking up with your best ideas? Backing down too easily when challenged? Not taking those golden opportunities to shine? But trying to be brave and push on through your fears?

Then you need to hear the truth about 'do it scared' - and get the inside scoop on the two types of fear - and which of them is trashing your confidence!

What You'll Discover Today

  • The neuroscience (demystified) of how fear stops us from speaking up - and it's nothing to do with courage
  • Why your mind goes blank when you're asked a question in a meeting
  • How 'do it scared' makes us self-sabotage
  • The difference between Imposter Syndrome & self-doubt...
  • ... and why this means that mindset isn't enough to make your voice heard
  • The two types of fear, and which of them is trashing your confidence
  • Why the myth that we need stress to perform actually keeps us stuck
  • Plus a masterclass I'm running to help you with all of this, for IWD2023.

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Resources From Today's Episode:

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Note: this is an AI-generated transcript, so please forgive typos.

Welcome to Episode 29 of the Ditching Imposter Syndrome podcast. And today we are talking about the little known truth about 'do it scared', why it's such a bad idea, the antidote, and which of the two types of fear is trashing your confidence. Why, listen? Well, if you ever feel like you're holding back on your dreams, not speaking up with your best ideas, backing down too easily when challenged, not taking those golden opportunity to shine, but trying to be brave and push on through your fears, then you need to hear the truth about 'Do It Scared' and get the inside scoop on those two types of fear, which one of them is trashing your confidence, and how you can start taking the first steps today to turn this around.

The Ditching Imposter Syndrome podcast with love from Clare Josa is full of bite sized practical inspiration for becoming the real you. Want to feel bold, confident, courageous and excited about your goals and mission? Maybe you're feeling scared, perhaps secretly self sabotaging, feeding your fears more than your dreams? Clare Josa's Ditching Imposter Syndrome podcast shares proven strategies, inspirational how to for clearing out the hidden blocks that keep us stuck dreaming big, but playing small. So if you want to make the 2020s the decade where you finally get to have the impact you've been dreaming of, then let Clare's upbeat, practical approach empower and inspire you to create breakthroughs in ways that are fast, fun and forever. Show notes and resources are at

Here's the problem. I've been researching imposter syndrome and confidence for over 20 years now, and I've actually got a formal research study that's now been running for the last five years. We have found that 88% of our research study respondents say they don't feel totally confident when speaking up with their ideas in meetings. They're pushing on through the fear if they do this at all. 45% are actively avoiding it. Just imagine the impact this has. What I want to share with you today is the demystified neuroscience of how fear stops us from speaking up. It's nothing to do with courage, okay? How this makes us self sabotage, the little known difference between imposter syndrome and self doubt, and why this means mindset is not enough to make your voice heard. The truth about do it scared, pushing on through the fear, why it's such a bad idea. Those two types of fear I've talked about and which one of them is trashing your confidence. Plus a master class that I'm running to help you with this to celebrate International Women's Day 2023. When I talk to people about pushing on through the fear, it is so hard, particularly if you're face to face, you can see their jaw tense, that gritty teeth determination.

I've talked about things like toxic resilience before on the podcast. You can see the feeling that they've got to push back, to bounce back, to pretend they're okay. My research studies show that this actually leads to anxiety, to burnout, toxic resilience, that bouncing back, and all sorts of anxiety as well as performance issues. This is actually incredibly common. Whether you're listening to this episode today for yourself or for a team member, a colleague, or a loved one, my research study shows that 43% of people are regularly avoiding being visible. 81% struggle with being quoted in public with their opinions, whether that's in a report internally in their organisation or a quote for a journalist. Only 19% actually feel confident or excited, by doing that comparison it is is a really big issue. Comparing yourself to others and judging yourself is not good enough. 72% are struggling with this daily or regularly. It's a real big red flag that someone's struggling with imposter syndrome. And 22% of respondents have considered quitting in the past week alone due to imposter syndrome, with a shocking 1 in 12 are thinking about doing this every single day.

And one of the biggest coping strategies for imposter syndrome is pushing on through the fear, pretending that you're okay, pushing this down. When we do this and we're not speaking up with our ideas and we're not making our voice heard, it leads on a personal level to stress, to worry, to anxiety, to lying awake at three o'clock in the morning beating ourselves up, scared that somebody's going to find out we're not good enough. We don't fulfil our potential. Our company, it misses out on our ideas. An organisation can end up going down completely the wrong track stuck in groupthink because the person in the meeting who can see that it's completely the wrong thing to be doing is afraid to speak up and challenge the status quo. People end up overlooked for promotion because people can't see how great they are because they're not sharing their ideas. The stuff in their head stays in their head. And you can end up resent it as you see other people getting opportunities and promotions that you know you secretly deserve and then feeling guilt and shame because you know the reason that you weren't considered is because you kept your mouth shut.

So what I want to cover in today's episode is forget, feel the fear. How about clear the fear and do it anyway? So I said I was going to talk about the neuroscience demystified of how fear stops us from speaking up and why it's nothing to do with courage. In your brain, when you spot a threat, we're hard wired to spot threats and problems. It's part of the survival of the species. The body goes into the fight flight freeze mode. That's called the sympathetic nervous system. It fires off everything that's needed for you to decide whether or not you are going to fight the Sabertooth tiger, run from it, or freeze and hope it can't see you. What the body does, all sorts of incredible things in a split second, completely beyond our control, is it diverts blood flow from all sorts of wonderful processes to the limbs. Oxygen levels increase in the blood, the heart rate increases, breathing increases to get us ready to run if that's what we want to do. It also does something in the brain. It prioritizes blood flow to the primal part of the brain that's responsible for split second high risk decision making, rather than the clever bit at the front that does all of your wonderful question answering in meetings.

So what happens when you're in a meeting, for example, and your mind goes blank? Yeah? Is if you found that spotlight heading towards you and you felt fear, the body is going, Oh, my goodness, they're about to ask me a question. It goes into the fight flight freeze mode, the bit of your brain that had the perfect answer suddenly goes, I'm not on duty. Talk to the primal part of my brain. Yeah. And you don't have access to that answer. Your mind goes blank. And as soon as the spotlight's off you and the fight flight freeze mechanism stands down, suddenly you're there, "what if-ing" for the next six months, saying, if only I had said this, if only I had thought about that. So this is one of the problems with do it scared. The other problem with do it scared is we're much less likely to take risks. We're much more likely to play safe and your body feels every thought you think. So those stress thoughts, the worry thoughts, the "what if-ing", the catastrophising are constantly feeding your body and every cell a diet of stress hormones, adrenaline, cortisol, which over time are a massive high risk predictor for burnout.

That fight flight freeze mechanism is designed only to be used for a few minutes at a time. And for so many of us, because we're constantly pushing on through the fear, through toxic resilience, through imposter syndrome coping strategies, we can run it for months or years. And this has a huge negative impact on the body, on our mental and emotional health, and on our performance. It makes us self sabotage. As I said, it helps us to play small. We take different decisions when we're scared to when we're excited and empowered. We don't speak up with that idea. We don't volunteer for that opportunity. Our posture will be different and people will be reading that and sensing that in that moment we're not feeling confident. When we push through the fear, we also, at a deeply unconscious level, make a choice on how we're going to behave. Are we going to fight? Are we going to flight and run? Are we going to freeze? So one of the little known consequences of pushing on through the fear is if your unconscious mind chooses the fight option, then pushing on through the fear can actually make you come across as quite confrontational, defensive, and aggressive.

So there are some really negative consequences here. And if you're new to my work and you haven't yet come across the research I've done into the difference between imposter syndrome and self doubt, then check out the show notes. There's another episode of this Ditching Imposter Syndrome Podcast that it's really worth you listening to. In summary, right now, it's important to understand the difference between self doubt and imposter syndrome. Self doubt is about what we can and can't do. Our skills, our capabilities, our experience, our network. That is easily resolved through training, through on the job mentoring, through time. But imposter syndrome is about who we think we are. I am not good enough. What if they made a mistake hiring me? What if they realised I am bad at, I am rubbish at, I am no good at? All of this is running at the much deeper identity level rather than the more surface level skills and capabilities and qualifications experience and network. So it means we take it really personally. So instead of the fear just being a bit of a mindset boost of, Okay, here is all the evidence that I can do this, that allows you to then reset that fight flight freeze stress fear based response.

With imposter syndrome, it's much deeper. So the fear that you're then dealing with is running at the identity level. What if I'm found out? And if I work with somebody, say they take my Imposter Syndrome Bootcamp Coaching Program, will often find that the fears down at that level are quite existential. So you're not pushing through surface level fears that a bit of a pep talk is going to fix. You're dealing with stuff that's really about who am I as a person. So pushing on through them is even more painful. So the truth about do it scared. Now, I'm not saying you should never take that deep breath, put on your big person pants and just go and do it. I'm not saying wait until there's no fear. What I'm saying is do it scared needs to be a conscious choice. And if at all possible, instead of doing it scared, do the inner work to clear that fear. And then do it. Do it excited. Why do it scared when you can do it excited? And to understand a bit more about this. I want to talk to you about what I call the two types of fear, or which one of them is trashing your confidence.

I talk about the two types of fear being number one, legitimate fear. This is the fear that the fight flight freeze mechanism was designed for. Your life is in danger. Your body wants to make sure that you survive until breakfast the following morning. It's why the human race has lasted for as many millennia as it has. This legitimate fear, for example, is walking along a slippery cliff path on a windy day. You know it's not safe. Your body will be telling you, your mind will be telling you, Clare, you really shouldn't be doing this.

It's not a great idea.

That is legitimate fear. And people who have a lower level of understanding of legitimate fear are often the ones who are doing crazy, dangerous things to get themselves a bit of a thrill. I'm thinking of people like Tom Cruise, who apparently for his latest film, rode a motorbike off the edge of a huge cliff drop somewhere in the mountains for a scene five times. He's somebody who's been able to override the legitimate fear in his body. For most of us just looking at that scene is enough to make us go, No, I'm never doing that. Then the second type of fear I talk about is mind story fear. Mind story fear, the stories we tell ourselves, the what ifing, the catastrophising, the worrying, particularly at those quiet moments in the dark of the night. Now, here's the problem with mind story fear. Firstly, it's not actually real. It's not here, it's not present. Unlike legitimate fear, where you're actually in the middle of that dangerous situation or about to avoid it, mind story fear is in our minds. The clue is in the name. The other problem with it is your body feels every thought you think, and it can't tell the difference between fear that comes from a story we're telling ourselves and fear that's about a legitimate fear.

So if you're thinking worry thoughts and it's firing off the fight flight freeze response, you're pushing on through the fear in a similar way to if you were actually physically doing something dangerous. So a huge amount of the work I do with people is about being able to press pause on the mind story fear. Being able to rewire your neural pathways, amazing thing called neuroplasticity so that you're free from the mind story fear. You retune that in a radio station, and then we do the level deeper of working in the body to clear the body's addiction to the adrenaline that comes from the mind story fear because a lot of people are relying on it, as I'll explain in a moment. Then we also do that deeper work to look at where did that stuff come from and what do I need to release to be able to become all of who I really am feeling excited about that journey instead of scared. When I talk to people about the two types of fear, a common objection I hear is, but I need stress or fear to perform. If I didn't have that adrenaline rush before I go up and do a talk or before I present in that meeting, I would be a couch potato.

So this is right, but not. I just want.

To take a brief pause here to tell you about the Imposter Syndrome Bootcamp. We've managed to open up a few more places and it is an eight week accelerated coaching program that's hybrid. It combines science backed, inspirational, accelerated learning online training modules with a private podcast and mentor in your pocket and one to one mentoring sessions plus tutorial calls with me. It is a fantastic way to make incredible progress in clearing out imposter syndrome in just the next eight . It's designed for you to be able to reset. It as my gift.

Whenever you want you to go a layer deeper. If you want to find out about that and apply for a place or get your boss to fund a place, go to

There's an amazing researcher called Hans Selye, who talks about two types of stress. The sympathetic nervous system that fires off our stress response has a positive purpose. It gives us energy, it gives us motivation, it gives the onf, yeah? But only when you channel it the right way. So Hans Selye talks about distress, negative stress, that fight flight freeze fear based response and the harm that does to the body. And then he talks about another stress called Eustress. Eu from the ancient Greek meaning good, good stress. This is that slight anticipation. So you've got a little bit of adrenaline and cortisol running, but it's more of that excitement and curiosity rather than stone cold fear. And if you really want to perform to your best, the Eustress is brilliant because it doesn't divert the blood flow in the brain. So you've still got access to all of that wonderful clever thinking that you've been doing and able to communicate that in ways that can inspire and increase your impact. So a huge amount of the work I do with people is actually about how to make that journey. Now, if you've already got my book, Ditching Imposter Syndrome, we talk about exactly how to do this in there.

And if you want to really have a huge impact with this in just 6 to 8 weeks, it's worth considering my imposter syndrome boot camp program. It's hybrid, accelerated learning training all in bite sized coffee break chunks, along with one to one support from a specialist imposter syndrome coach or master coach. And we look at how can you shift what's been going on for you, potentially for decades, to get to the space where you're becoming all of who you really are, living from that place of curiosity and excitement instead of fear and having the impact that your ideas and dreams deserve. And if you're listening to this episode when it comes out, I'm running a master class on exactly this to help you out step by step for International Women's Day 2023. So make sure you check out the show notes. There's a link to go and book your ticket for that. It's at And in that session, I'm going to be guiding you through why we don't speak up. It's all about hear my voice, how to have the impact your ideas and dreams deserve without feeling secretly terrified. So why we don't speak up, why we go Beige, #is belessbeige, the role of imposter syndrome, more on the mind body link, I really want you to get to experience this in real time rather than just learning about it cognitively.

Looking at the difference between courage versus confidence and why confidence is actually the wrong thing to be focusing on. A 60 second courage finder, using the power of visualization to overcome our fears and looking at what you can do within 24 hours of that session to fast track your progress. So if that resonates with you, please make sure you've gone and signed up and grabbed your place on that talk. And I'd love to hear from you. Have you found that maybe the mind story fear of those two types of fear has been getting in your way? And how might it feel to be able to press pause on that, to retune your inner radio station to shift from catastrophizing to encouraging so that your ideas and dreams can really start to have the impact you deserve. Pushing on through the fear becomes a thing of the past for you. There's a link in the show notes to where we're discussing this both over on LinkedIn and Instagram, and I would really love to hear from you. I really hope you found today's episode useful. If you have, please do leave it a lovely review on iTunes or wherever you love to get your podcasts.

It really helps other people to find this podcast. I'll be back next week when we're going to be talking about unlocking your potential. The single most powerful belief for personal growth. I hope you have an amazing week and I will see you next time.

I really hope you've enjoyed today's episode of the Ditching Imposter Syndrome Podcast. If you have, please go and leave it a lovely review on iTunes or share the link for today's episode on social media or with those that you know might appreciate it. Every little bit helps us to make a bigger difference. And I want to know your do one thing. As a result of today's episode, what is your Do One Thing? Let me know on social media. I am Clare osa on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Tag me, use the hashtag do one thing. Share today's episode link for a chance to win a mentoring session with me. I can't wait to hear what action you're going to take.

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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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