The Only Thing to Fear is Fear Itself (And Rattle Snakes, Of Course)

I just sent the letter to our landlord letting him know that we’d be out in a month.

We don’t know where we’re moving yet. And we’re still scraping together a deposit for wherever we end up. But we can easily save $200 a month by moving to another house in the same town. And it will be closer to Ian’s work. And you can bet that it’s going to have a bath tub.

Those are all reasons why we’re moving. But do you want to know my biggest reason? The reason why we’re leaving a very large house on 2 acres in the perfect location with a great view?

Photo credit: whatmegsaid


I’m afraid of snakes. Rattle snakes, to be precise, but all snakes nonetheless. So afraid that I hate giving my goats water because of the possibility that I might step on one. I became even more paranoid after Ian spotted a baby snake by the house. It didn’t have rattles, though. He thinks. Yes, this fear is my biggest motivating factor. It might seem silly, (though I feel validated after I discovered an abscess on my goat caused by a snake bite) but is it really?

Have you ever stopped yourself from doing something because you were afraid? Sure, there were really awesome excuses to go along with it, but at the core, it was just fear.

Snakes aside, I’m scared of a lot of things. And I’ve done a really good job at holding myself back because of those fears. But my excuses were great:

I can’t, I’ve got one  two  three four kids to take care of and my husband works a weird schedule.

I’m not qualified, even though I’ve spent hours reading about it.

I don’t know what to do, even though I just gave someone in a similar situation step-by-step advice for doing what needed to be done.

Those are ok excuses. But they mask underlying fears:

I’m terrified that nobody is going to like me.

I’m scared that I’ll fail.

I’m afraid that we’re going to end up broke, living in a cardboard box (Minimalist dream? I don’t think so).

I’m afraid to go anywhere new because I’m certain I’ll be killed in some crazy act of violence (thanks for that one Mom).

Most of all, I’m scared that I’ll succeed beyond my wildest dreams.

Why? Because if I do, then I’ll have to let go of those familiar voices that told me that I am not enough. They’re unkind, but I know them. They’ve been with me for a long, long time.

Facing our fears is hard. It takes courage and strength. And sometimes it takes a lot of time. But it can be done.

Know where you want to go

Overcoming fear is easier when you know what you’re working toward. Is it more friends? Travel? Location independence? When you get a clear picture in your mind of what you want, it makes it so much easier to persist even when your lizard brain is telling you not to.

Surround yourself with allies

We need people, yes? Most importantly, we need people who will encourage us and keep us accountable to our values. I can guarantee this: if you try to go it alone, you will succumb to the fear. Get help, lots of it. My favorite places for encouraging people are: and the Free Agent Academy. Look for other people who are doing what you want to be doing. They will be key in your success.

Take one step

It’s hard to stop a moving train. And that’s exactly what you become when you take a step in the direction you want to go – an unstoppable force. We all know that it’s easier to prevent something from happening than it is to stop it once it’s started. You are no different. Reaching out to someone on Facebook or Twitter signing up for a class are simple first steps that can take you closer to your dreams.


This year, I’ve faced my fear of reaching out to new people. Putting myself out there as a vulnerable offering terrifies me more than snakes do. Knowing that someone can easily reject me is enough to make me retreat back into the shell that I’ve fought so hard to be free of. But I did it. It just took the decision to do it and the resolve to keep doing it, no matter how uncomfortable I felt.

A fear that’s been with me for almost a decade is one of not having enough money*. We earn way less than we should, putting us pretty damn close to the poverty line. Too close for my comfort. I often have to fend off negative thoughts, those jeering voices telling me that we will always be poor and that I should just stop trying.

But I won’t. Because I am better than the look I get from the checkout lady when I use my food stamp card. I am more than my fears. I was created to make an impact on this world.

And so were you.

My life is heading in a pretty amazing direction right now. I’ve overcome a lot of fears and will continue to do so because I’ve tasted the victory of defeating fear. And I want more.

Do you have fears that you’re holding on to? Can I help you in any way? I’ve detailed a lot of what I’ve done to overcome fear in Sustainable Change. It’s free and comes with some pretty simple action steps. You can get that by clicking here.

*We’re getting creative about this and signing up for Josh Gordon’s (@nonconformistpa) 1 Month to $1000 challenge that starts next month. He’s gotten input from a LOT of inspiring people who are absolutely killing it and I can’t wait to tap into their wisdom. If we do everything they say and succeed then we get an extra $1000. And you can bet we’ll be doing what we can to do make that extra $1000 every month. And if we fail? Well, we get our money back and will still have all of that excellent information floating around in our brains. It’s a win-win situation


  1. Linda Tyler says

    Sometimes those voices are shame-based voices, too. No advice, no step-by-step helpful ideas-just sayin’. You’ve got an awesome website here, Nina. I read a lot of what you post, but don’t always comment. I’m mostly a lurker! I do appreciate, though, many of the things you’ve written. I think you’re doing great in your life and I don’t see that you let much stop you from doing what you want to accomplish. You are too hard on yourself, girlie! If it matters and even if it doesn’t, I’m proud of you and Ian!

  2. Designermommy says

    I soooo completely understand the fear of poverty… when you talked about it I nodded my head and knew right where you were. We, too, are just above the poverty line… on one income while I struggle to finish the last year and a half of my bachelor’s program in Interior Design. We have two kids under 4, and my husband barely makes enough for us to have a roof and eat. He earns *just* enough for us not to get food stamps or any helpful public assistance. We just got turned down for 2 apartments because my credit is poor (I lost my job in the fallout of ’08 and had to declare Chapter 13 bankruptcy to “right the financial ship” so my kids could continue to eat and be clothed), which hurts because I always pay my rent and we’ve had impeccable rental history and references. Its very hard to to tell myself that nobody wants to live next to a poor family like us. I, too, am terrified that I will graduate and won’t find a job and we’ll always be poor. I feel like everyone thinks I’m not a good person because I’m poor. Its difficult NOT to have those fears.

    For us, we just keep telling ourselves that this is a TEMPORARY situation… we chose to live lean so I can get an education. But with the current popularity of “poor bashing” it gets hard sometimes to keep my chin up. One of the quotes that I constantly remind myself of and that helps me lately is “Be Kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” -Plato. I think in the end, its about not letting poverty make us bitter and change our inner goodness and kindness.

  3. says

    I lived with fear for so, so long.
    It still creeps in, too often, and too often stealthy, silent, sneaking up on me. But I’m better, stronger. My mouth speaks courage, in His Word; my actions follow obedience instead of feelings of insecurity. Baby steps…
    And someday, maybe I’ll be utterly free!

    Thanks for always speaking such vulnerable, tender truth, Nina!

  4. says

    We all have our fears, no doubt. In a class today, we talked a lot about them. I think I have a healthy fear of heights. What’s odd is that if I climb the tree or the scary ladder or jump from the cliff into the lake, folks say “Congrats, you overcame your fear!” But in truth, if we wait till we overcome fears, we’ll never make it. We just do it anyway. We “Do it afraid” as Free Agent Academy member Michelle Knoll said today. I like that. Thank you, for honoring FAA in your post here Nina.

  5. says

    There are many things that I’m doing afraid right now, Kevin, and I’m glad that I am. If I’m going to be afraid either way, I might as well be moving forward, right?

  6. says

    Thank you so much for sharing so honestly. It is so frustrating to be in that situation. And so easy to let it get you down and keep you there. It is TEMPORARY and I’m sure you will come out of this having learned something very valuable. For us, we’re grateful that when we do get to a place where money is not always at the top of our minds that we’ll know how to live on a little so that we can give a lot away.

Leave a Reply