6 Tips to Do Crazy Things that Scare You

by STEVE BLOOM

Do Something Crazy

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

When I was a little boy, I was afraid of just about everything. Too shy to make many friends, I kept my social circle small. I shunned change and risk-taking; the thought of doing something crazy like traveling to another country didn’t appeal to me.

As I grew up, I started noticing all the opportunities I’d been missing. My own fear made me miss out on fun adventures and many potential friends.

So one day I decided I had to face down the things that scared me. If a great opportunity came along, I had to take it – no matter how scary it seemed.

Funnily enough, the more I did the things that scared me, the more I realized just how safe these things actually were. Instead of running away from crazy, scary things, I started to run towards them.

The little boy who was once afraid of travel started to visit exotic far-off locations. I did things that once seemed way too crazy to attempt like swimming with sharks in Belize or hanging out with locals in Vietnam.

I stretched my social skills too. Long ago, the thought of approaching a cute girl and starting up a conversation seemed terrifying. So I faced that fear and started striking up conversations whenever I wanted.

It didn’t feel like life was passing me by anymore. In fact, doing things that scared me made me feel more alive than I’d ever felt. Nothing seemed beyond my reach.

Here’s what I’ve learned along the way.

1. Minimize thinking once you’ve decided to do it

Fear is an expectation of what might happen in the future if we take a certain course of action.  Because we don’t know what will happen on the scary path, the uncertainty can feed our fears and make us envision all the potential bad things that might happen.  It’s easy to get lost in these thoughts and psych yourself out before you even take the first step.

Train your brain to ignore these thoughts. When you’re mind starts racing, calm it down and get back to reality. Many of the fears you’ll focus on will be nothing but your imagination going wild.  It’s good to be aware of all the potential dangers, but you can’t dwell on them.

2. Scary things=growth

Remind yourself that the biggest moments of growth happen when you do something scary. It’s always scariest the moment you move away from your comfort zone and try something completely different.

Sticking to the safe and familiar will assure that you continue to see the same results in your life.  By moving away from the norm and facing down those fears, you’ll get places you’ve never been before.  To get somewhere you’ve never been, you have to do things you’ve never done.

3. Get pumped up to do it

Fear isn’t the only feeling you’ll get when you think about trying something crazy; it can also feel thrilling and exciting.  But too often, the fear overrides those feelings keeping you from actually doing it.

Pump yourself up.  Get so excited that fear is crowded out and diminished in size.  When you feel that exciting energy surging inside you, you’ll get the inspiration and motivation to get yourself going and you’ll think less about the fears you might have.

4. Start small, aim big

Let’s say that you want to skydive. It might be too scary an idea to immediately hop on a plane, go to 16,000 feet and parachute out. You might be jumping the gun a little.

That’s why skydiving places have a period of preparation and training involved before you even step into a plane.  They know it’s important to build up to that big moment.

It’s okay to start off with small, steady steps to reach one big scary goal. By taking it in small, more manageable chunks, you’ll find it’s easier to keep pushing yourself to the end.  All that matters is that you’re moving forward to something that you ultimately want to do.

5. Distance yourself from how crazy you think it is

One mental trick that works well for me is to distance myself from the crazy thing I want to do. That can help prevent you from getting too into the moment and psyching yourself out.

Approach it as if you’re another person.  See yourself as an observer of the situation almost as if you’re watching yourself.  The main idea is to just get outside of your head and dissociate yourself from what’s going on.  By disengaging with the situation, it won’t seem as scary.

6. Change your attitude about fear

It’s not always best to examine our feelings of fear on an emotional level.  Rather than tackling them that way, we should take a closer look at our attitude towards it.

Think back to the last time you did something really scary.  It didn’t seem so scary after the fact, did it?

That situation goes for all fear – it goes away once you’ve actually done it.  It just drifts away because the reality isn’t as scary as the fantasy happening inside your head.

Whatever you’re thinking about doing will be exactly the same.  You’ll feel scared before doing it, but feel better once it’s over.  If you don’t do it, that fear will always be with you.  Imagining that fear vanishing away after the fact can be a good source of motivation.  All you have to do is just start.  Do it now and let the fear fall away later.
photo credit: Matthew Kenwrick

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Comments

  1. Hi Steve,

    For me #2 and #3 worked wonders.
    I try to interpret fear as a sign I’m breaking my glass ceiling and it changes to excitement right away.

    “Get so excited that fear is crowded out and diminished in size”

    I like the athlete approach even better: Instead of trying to push away fear, they make themselves interpret it as excitement.

    #4 Start small, aim big – seems a great advice. I have to try that!

    • I like that way too – reinterpret it as excitement. There is an exciting aspect to fear. That’s why roller coasters are so much fun. It’s not always as easy off the coasters though, but if you can do that, it would help out a lot.

      I have to admit that I get a little excited when I’m afraid of doing something too. That’s part of the reason I run towards the things that scare me now.

  2. Hey Steve – I absolutely hate the phrase ‘feel the fear but do it anyway’ because it’s so overused. However, it’s exactly what we all need to be doing to push ourselves outside of our comfort zone.

    For me, the scariest thing is walking into a room full of people who don’t know me and introducing myself to one of them (or a group). Every single time, I try and talk myself out of it. And the only thing that works is considering how I’ll feel afterwards if I don’t go through with it.

    That wins every time!

    • Hey Razwana,

      I think the other thing is just thinking that you can handle it. You can do it! Don’t do things just because you feel the fear and should then do it anyway, but if you want to do something, but fear doing it, remember you can handle it! Why not do it?! Just get yourself excited to do it!

      That seems to work for me :)

      • I look at it similarly. Even though I’m scared, I always try to remind myself that I can handle it. I think it’s about confidence. It’s good to have that belief in yourself.

    • Hey Razwana, I’m with you on that phrase. It’s become so overused now that it’s almost cliche. But the sentiment behind it is good.

      Oh I know what it’s like to walk into a room full of people you don’t know and trying to introduce yourself. That’s what I used to do in my pickup days. I would go into a bar and know no one (well, other than the few guys I was with), but by the end of the night, I would make several new friends. It was always scary at first, but when you get into the swing of things, it becomes easier.

  3. Hi Steve,

    You are so right about point 1. We can mentally talk ourselves out of doing so many things if we over-think them. Best just to get on with it.

    • Hey Jo. Over-thinking things and talking myself out of it used to be a problem for me – but I eventually got out of my head and that made it all better.

  4. When I’m thinking about doing something scary or outside of my comfort zone I try to keep an end mind perspective. To think about what I’ll learn or achieve if I do what scares me, this drives me to risk the unconformable or unknown. Great advice Steve!

  5. Wow Steve, you are very good at dismantling fear. I thought I’m good at it, but you are the master.

    I’ve never thought about #5, but it’s so obvious: “Would it be a logical thing to do for someone else in similar situation?”
    Thanks.

    • I think you could do it for most situations. If you can distance yourself from what’s happening, you’ll feel less fear. For me, that might mean looking at things logically because that helps get rid of that emotional fear. I try to observe things from an objective view so it takes me out of the situation.

  6. All great tips, Steve. I think what I’m doing with my life right now is pretty crazy – having quit my job, gave up my career and trying to build up an audience and business online. For me, I realize, like you say that scary things = growth. Also, it’s the regret that I’m trying not to live with. I am intentionally doing the things that I want to so I won’t regret them later. In the process, I’m learning a lot about myself, about blogging, about business and about living. And I’m pretty certain I won’t look back and regret this. I hope I don’t look back and regret that I did do this though. LOL (kidding!)

    • You more likely to regret the things you didn’t do as the old saying goes. I’ve found that to be incredibly true. So even if it’s scary, if it’s something you want to do, you just have to face those fears and do them. I’d rather do it and fail than not do it and regret not trying. And like you said, there’s so much to learn. I’ve learned a ton from starting this blog, writing a book and all the travel I’ve done.

  7. It sounds like we were very similar growing up: I was afraid of my own shadow and would never try new things.

    I loved your advice on doing crazy things. Not thinking about it after making the decision is the best of them all. The best things in life that I’ve ever done have seemed crazy, but thank goodness I didn’t think them all the way through otherwise I would have missed out on life-changing adventures!

    • Missing out on adventures is what spurred me to change. I didn’t want to have that happen anymore and I realized that fear was the thing holding me back. Some of the best things I’ve ever done once seemed crazy to me. Got to do it anyway, that’s how you live life to the fullest.

  8. Steve,
    I read “Fell the fear and do it anyway” this year and it’s helpful not least because the idea is that we all fear things but those who do stuff don’t let it stop them. Doing things that are new, different, risky, etc will all feel risky but life will be dull if we don’t do these things. And who’s to say where one little go at something a bit scary might lead?

    • You never know where one little risk will take you. That’s what I love about them – I always learn something about myself or life or realize a new skill I didn’t know I had. There’s often not much you can do about feeling fear, it’s usually there. What we can do is stop it from stopping us.

  9. “Fear is an expectation of what might happen in the future if we take a certain course of action”

    –Well said.

    Speaking of minimizing fear and taking action. Have you got any specific tip or action for how you do this yourself?

    • I try to put my fears into perspective. Whenever I start thinking about the worst case scenario, I try to look at it logically. For some reason, logic seems to kill fear. And when you put your fears into logic, they don’t hold up as much – you might still feel them, but you start to see them as more of an illusion than an actual threat.

  10. Wow! I loved your post and you are definitely right, “To get somewhere you’ve never been, you have to do things you’ve never done”. Really got me motivated. Thanks so much for sharing. Great post!

    • I’m glad you got motivated by this. It seems to have struck a chord with many people and that was just what I wanted it to do. Thanks for commenting!

  11. Growing up I led a comfortable life and was scared of change. I felt the need to be in control and when I was in a situation that I was not in the driver’s seat I was scared. I avoid taking risks because I had the fear of uncertainty but as time passed I saw opportunities missed because of my fear. This post has reminded me of that and showed me how I could move past my fear and embrace growth. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks for the comment, Lynne. Fear is a big killer of opportunity. That’s why I’ve been running to things that scare me and that has made a big, positive difference in my life. I’ve done a lot more than I thought I was capable of doing.

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