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Does Anyone Else Have Trouble With the Phrase “Be Fearless?”

My business partner (with feathers) attending the Insta-webinar with his mommy.

Am I the only one who struggles every. single. time. I hear, read or, well, write, the phrase “be fearless?”

I aspire to it. I admire it. I envy it. And I think it is a catastrophic liar.

After all, if I was ever actually totally fearless, that would put my (highly job-attached and perfectionistic) fight-or-flight syndrome out of business.

If I ever actually managed to proceed from day to night, night to day, with NO FEAR, I’m not sure I would be me anymore. I’m not even sure I would be alive anymore, given that every aspect of my ancient limbic brain system is programmed to generate fear when it thinks fearfulness is warranted for survival’s sake.

(By the way, this doesn’t mean I don’t understand there is a deeper meaning of “be fearless” or that I don’t attempt to reach it every morning in my meditation. But that level isn’t so relevant in what I am discussing here.)

In some sense, what is there to truly fear? No matter what it is I think is causing my fear in any given moment {hungry cougar eyeing me, underperforming thyroid gland} I realize it is really a fear of death I am staring down….or hiding from.

And yet I still feel the fear. I still feel it. It is still there.

This is particularly relevant today because I just finished taking my first webinar on how to grow my Instagram influence. Or Pearl, Malti & Bruce’s Instagram influence. Or something like that.

The course was free and awesome – one of those super high energy intensive hours that feels like I’m the only one in the room who didn’t stock up on extra energy drinks beforehand. It was packed with information and totally worth an hour of my time.

It was all of that and more, right up until the very end when the course creator started her “special offer” spiel, which I was actually really interested in. And then she said something to the effect of how she knew the people on the webinar who made a quick decision to buy her materials were the ones who were really serious about their business, and this offer wasn’t for the ones who were making $5 here and there, or just blogging for friends and family, or something like that.

Anyway, while I can’t recollect her exact turn of phrase now, I absolutely recognized the emotion that it triggered within me – SHAME. 

I started to feel bad about being there. Bad about thinking so much of what I have – want – sometimes need – to offer in this world. I was able to recognize SHAME so quickly this morning only because of a much more painful experience I had several years ago in a live-in-person version of this morning’s webinar.

On that morning, I was in a small group of women entrepreneurs. We were seated on the floor and everyone was taking turns talking about what they charge and why they are worth it. Feeling worse and worse, I suddenly blurted out with anger and fear and frustration all my struggles with not feeling like I could ever come close to charging what I needed to make ends meet.

The woman sitting next to me (a very high-energy, confident and nearly cocky personality) proceeded to swat down (i.e. write off) my protestations like I wasn’t even there. Which is about how I felt after this happened. I clammed up for the rest of the afternoon and the entire evening. I drank wine. I drank more wine. I cried. I cried some more. I cried all the way home on the plane.

And only when I stepped off the plane, home safe again, did I realize. SHAME. I was ashamed. I felt ashamed. I felt publicly humiliated for not fitting in, for feeling frustrated and stuck and small in a circle clearly designated for a celebration of greatness, power, fearlessness.

So I recognized the soft stirrings of SHAME right away when our webinar leader today uttered her oh-so-casual remarks about entrepreneurs who make quick decisions. I don’t make quick decisions very often. Sometimes I think I do, but then if I look back behind that seemingly quick decision, often I can see the much longer and not at all quick path I took to get to it.

But I only knew one thing this morning when I had finished listening to the “meat” of the webinar – the part before the super-special discount offer pitch. I was exhausted. Overwhelmed. Full to the brim with as much information as I was capable of holding in that particular time and space. I was not ready to decide on taking in more information even at the rock-bottom one-time-only discount price she was offering and even though I believed the paid information would be every bit as useful as the free information I had just received.

I just didn’t have any place to put any more information. And I was feeling fear. Fear that I had already bitten off way more than I could chew. Fear that I was really taking myself and my writing and my dreams and my offerings far more seriously than was healthy or good or even sane.

I was feeling fear that, by learning this new information, I was just going to disappoint myself with it. I was going to be the one webinar participant out of 16,000 or so who couldn’t figure out what to do with it or how to make it work. I was feeling fear that the shame would come back so strongly I would actually move backwards rather than at least staying where I am now, which is neither ideal nor pathetic.

I was very fearful I had broken a promise to myself, made to myself after that earlier horrific live conference I now label “SHAME” in my mind, never to venture back into the land of high-energy feminine overachievers with extroverted personalities and super-loud voices and oodles of success stories to share. I had promised myself to never let myself get toppled or trampled underfoot by that type of aggressive abundant kick-ass confidence ever again, or by the people who exude it.

Truthfully, I like more quietly confident company on my journey towards becoming my best self (another phrase I highly dislike, but that is a whole separate blog post) – you know, the kind of people who actually pause to take a breathe in between each of their loudly confident stream-of-consciousness sentences.

What made me laugh a little was that, right after I finished up taking the webinar, I decided to do my daily yoga lesson. The title was “Be Fearless.” Hah.

The content seemed designed to provoke a continual flow of fear – a collection of tottering one-foot, one-toe, one leg-in-the-air poses that had me flailing for backup from the dresser, mattress, door frame, anything within arm’s reach.

But somehow, instead of provoking shame at witnessing myself “failing” at yoga, I felt empowered. I felt proud of myself for simply proceeding, for picking myself up off the literal floor again and again to resume following my instructor’s directions as best I could.

I think the difference isn’t one of material. Both the webinar and the yoga lesson were conveyed via online video. Both were free. Both were conducted by amazing, empowered women – young women with old souls and bright hearts and beautiful intentions to give away wealth from the deep well of personal abundance they had clearly worked very hard and with great focus to amass.

The difference, for me at least, was one of delivery. I simply favor an intensely personal, one-to-one conversation over a massive dance party, complete with multiple simultaneous social messaging streams and interactive content. I think that is because I am an introvert, and I hear as quietly as I speak.

I don’t fault either instructor for my different reactions to each webinar. Nor do I fault myself. But I understand in a way I didn’t prior to experiencing either. I understand that I can learn from both. I can gain value from both. Both have lots to offer.

But I need to take the former in much smaller doses than the latter, because the former drains my energy while the latter fills me back up again. My vision of success doesn’t actually include “be fearless,” because most of my best growth and unfolding has occurred in the presence of my own fear.

My fear tells me there is risk involved. My fear helps me make decisions about what to do now, what to do later and what not to do at all. My fear sometimes saves my life. My fear is not an enemy to be overthrown or a predator to hide from (or slay).

My fear’s intentions, I think, are friendly. To be fearless is to lose a friend I value, one who also speaks softly, intimately, in the way I am most likely to hear.

I don’t like the feeling of fear, but it is not the same as the feeling of SHAME and it will never blindside me like overconfidence sometimes has. I am slowly but surely learning the role fear has to play in my life, and I admire its perseverance and – frankly – accuracy.

Today’s Takeaway: What is your reaction to the phrase “be fearless?” Aspiration? Admiration? Frustration? Do you think it is possible or advisable to become fear-free? What would that look like for you (on any level)? What is your relationship with your own fear?

Does Anyone Else Have Trouble With the Phrase “Be Fearless?”

Shannon Cutts

Parrot, tortoise & box turtle mama. Writer. Author. Mentor. Champion of all people (and things) recovered and recovering.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2018). Does Anyone Else Have Trouble With the Phrase “Be Fearless?”. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 31, 2020, from


Last updated: 18 Mar 2018
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