Fear Mongering: The Secret to Courage and Bravery

Fear Mongering is the term I give to the manipulative strategy and tactics your own fear employs to control your behaviour.

In this video, we’ll explore the devious tricks your mind will play on you to prevent you from taking bold actions and positively changing your life.

We’ll dive into why fear does not have your long-term best interests at heart, and is more interested in keeping things familiar than allowing your quality of life to improve. I’ll break down each of the most common tactics I’ve seen in over a decade of coaching. And I’ll share simple practical tips on how to be brave in the face of these manipulations so that you can change your life without feeling terrified.

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Full transcript (unedited)

Let’s talk about fear mongering. This is the term I like to give to the process where your irrational fears manipulate you, to keep you under control. In a similar way that politicians and so on might do to manage a population to govern. Your mind does this with you, governs you by fear mongering. First thing I want, you think of the difference between helpful and unhelpful fear. As I’ve mentioned before, helpful fear is rational for your quality of life. It’s a being afraid of the right things to be afraid of things that will harm you, things that will slow you down and limits you things that might kill you. That is what we call helpful fear. It’s helpful that I’m afraid enough to check both ways before I cross the street, it’s helpful that I would rush into a building lock the door behind me if I saw a mob with weapons marching down the street, but unhelpful fear is where I’m afraid of something. And my reaction to their fear actually makes my life worse. I’m afraid of going for the job opportunity. So I don’t go for it that makes my life worse. I’m afraid of the hassle of trying to figure out how to eat healthy, so I just keep eating unhealthy, that makes my life worse. If your fear leads you to behaviors that actually reduce your quality of life, or miss the opportunity, cost, opportunity cost of increased quality of life, we’d call that unhelpful fear. One way to think about as your fear is 1000s and 1000s of years old, in terms of evolution, that doesn’t always line up with modern day life. But sometimes misfires, behaves as if you’re still on the African plains, fighting against lions, when actually you’re just reading an email from your boss. When that happens, it’s going to need a manual override, you’re gonna have to see that it is manipulating. You feel like fear controls you with force, especially when you feel afraid, right. When you feel terror or panic, you’ll feel like you’re actually being held back physically. But you’ve got to understand fear cannot hold you back physically, unless it actually makes you pass out. Anything less than passing out from fear, fainting, you are still in control of your faculties, you’re still able to move physically and talk. It might not be your highest level of performance, but it’s still possible. But what fear needs to do is trick you into thinking that it’s not fears greatest trick is to make you think you have no control make you think that this is an act of force. If you believe it, then you’ll behave according to that belief. And it will come true for you like I can’t talk to I’m too afraid, you’ll actually make it true that fear hold you back. But if you’re like, I’m really afraid of talking to him or walk towards her anyway, you’ll see that your feet still move. And that was all an illusion. It’s like they talked about Game of Thrones, you know, power is shadows on the wall. It’s not real. But if you believe the shadows and you react to them, you make it real. So now I’m going to talk about some of those shadows. You can see past these and outmaneuver them and outflank them, then you are free. Okay, feel fear is your only real prison. irrational fear in particular, if you can work past irrational fear, then nothing really holds you back. The idea that anything outside you hold you back is an illusion. You’ve seen enough exceptions of your life for people doing impossible things. To know that there must be an illusion of restraint here, that we’re not really held back by anything other than ourselves. The main tactic you’ve got to be watching out for with fear is the delay tactic. Pretty much everything I’m about to talk about serves the single purpose of delay. Anything that stops you doing the thing, right now, that’s all fear needs to do. You think about this the perfect strategy, if I’m a master of stopping you from doing something right now. That’s all I’m a master of. But I also have the endurance to keep reapplying the strategy anytime I need to, then you’ll never do it. You want to exercise. If I can just tell you start tomorrow. Every day, you’ll never exercise. It’s a brilliantly simple strategy. You got to remember fear is just trying to keep you familiar. It’s trying to keep you the same not safe. So not interested in your growth. In fact, it’s quite afraid of growth, it’s afraid of success. He doesn’t want success or growth because it means massive change means unfamiliarity, confusion, struggling, starting again from the bottom, but he’s got no interest in any of that. So if it can delay any positive changes, even for a few minutes, but also has the endurance to do it again, the next time you think about it, then you need to get started. And all of the tactics I’m about to describe are all just delay tactics. My favorite one that comes up a lot is what I call the Everest effect. Okay, the idea that you have to climb Mount Everest right away or otherwise nothing counts. It’s also what I call false encouragement. Okay, fear, quite often doesn’t look like fear. Doesn’t feel like you’re afraid. And one of his worst most powerful tactics is it looks like it on your team, it looks like a cheerleader says Go for it, do it, do it all, do it perfectly, smash the whole thing out and your first ever attempt, go be like a black belt in your first class. It sounds like it’s trying to push you to do it. But actually what it’s doing is making the tasks so intimidating, making the achievements such a high level of impossibility that you won’t need to move an inch towards it. It doesn’t even want to take a step towards Basecamp. It doesn’t want you on the mountain at all. But the trick is to make you think you’ve got to do the whole mountain. So whenever you feel the pressure, to be a master of something right out of the gate to be perfect in your first draft, to get it right, and no, no risk of getting it wrong. But it feels like your brain is like Go Go do it. But do it perfectly awesome. And do the whole thing all at once. With no in between steps. Or even just pushing lots of tasks together, like go get a degree as if that is just one single action. Other than a way you haven’t even like looked at the courses that are available. That’s a tiny action on its own. You haven’t gone have a meeting with the dean to see how you get into the course that’s a little Mac action on its own. Like the idea that getting a degree is one thing. No, that’s the Everest effect. To make it look a single step is a mountain solution to this as quantum part courage, okay, break down whatever it is that it’s asking you to do until its tiniest first step. And they only have the obligation to do that tiny first step, you just have to research courses to see if there’s anything you like, and no further obligation after that. You don’t have to get a degree. You don’t have to get married and have kids, you just need to make eye contact with that girl at the dance class. That’s it. And after that, you can reassess what you want to do. Your ability to take the massive mountain and turn it into a single step is how you outward the Everest effect. Remember, that feels like encouragement, but you don’t actually move in. It’s not really encouragement, isn’t it? It’s discouragement. The next one is what I call the avalanche threat to type of catastrophizing. This is where your fear projects into the future that if you take even a tiny little step, even experimental, tiny exploratory movement, the door will slam shut behind you, you won’t be able to get back through. And there’ll just be this cascading domino effect avalanche of disastrous consequences like you can’t even step without ruining your whole life. What we’ll do is extrapolate on the tiny move that you’re thinking about doing it make it look like it’s chained to these other consequences, and you won’t be able to back out once the process has started. It’s like you imagine I want to go try that new dance class. Because I once you try the new dance class, you’re going to suck at dancing, everybody’s going to talk about it, it’s going to be spread around the whole world that you understand. So your friends are gonna leave you, your job is gonna have to let you go who’s got all this negative feedback, and now you’re homeless and alone. Doesn’t seem really like you can’t even like back out if it sucks. Or a lot of people get this one with relationships. They’ll be like, I can’t ask her out. Because what if she likes me and then we end up in a relationship. I don’t actually like her that much. But I can’t break up with this. I end up getting married and divorced. And she takes me farther than what I’ve got. Because I just can’t leave this idea that you’re not allowed to go back through the door, you just came through that it’s permanently shut and sealed behind you. It’s a lie, isolated, no obligation experiments. That’s the solution to this. Everything you do has no obligation to continue. And you’re allowed to cut it off and run back through the door. If it goes terribly wrong. You’re allowed to quit. You’re allowed to put your hand up and go, Hey, I was wrong about this. It’s not not the right move. I made a mistake. You’re allowed to break up with someone and it turns out they’re not the favorite person to be with you lead to even things at any point. There is no compulsion. Just because you started something doesn’t mean you have to finish it. Let go of their bullshit conditioning from early school years that quitters losers are silent, no. Excellent people quit. Quitting is a key element to success. You have to quit things that aren’t going well and aren’t on track as soon as possible. So let go the idea that you’re not allowed to quit because that’s just your fear trying to stop you from starting. Another more classic form of catastrophizing is the what if technique, and this is where your brain goes off on an imagination, tangent of just blowing up the potential consequences of your actions with very little to no evidence whatsoever. I’ve never seen catastrophizing happen by an expert in the field, right? They don’t catastrophize about what’s going to happen. And thing that they’re very knowledgeable about people only catastrophize was shifted, they’ve got almost no experience with a no real education with well, they might have only had bad experiences, but they’ve only ever tried it like one way. Some of you might be scared of getting into a relationship because they’ve only been in like three abusive relationships. But they don’t actually have experience of a wide range of people. They just keep hooking up with the same idiots every time. This is where I’d actually employ a thought stopping technique. Okay, one of my clients does this. He just keeps a rubber band around his wrist. And as soon as the water start, he just snaps that rubber band nice little sharp pain on the wrist does No permanent injury in a stop. I don’t know. So stop, stop imagining stop. Now you might have to do this multiple times, sometimes per minute. But the same way, catastrophizing just simply isn’t allowed. Your brain is not allowed to imagine stuff that does not have relevant expertise. And it’s not allowed to imagine consequences when it hasn’t done extensive trial and error experimentation. It’s like a scientific method. It’s not allowed to draw conclusions when there hasn’t even been a study yet. Every time it starts going, well, what if this happens? Just go snap? You don’t even answer the question. What if this happens, you don’t even try to solve their problem, you just snap? We’re not allowed to think about that. Right? This is not planning, worrying is not planning. Now that raises something like what if that happens, and that’s a legitimate threat, then have a plan to minimize that threat and keep moving forward anyway. If it’s just throwing, what if questions at you stop you moving forward, snap that rubber band, or slap yourself in the face, that’s what I do. Another technique is rewarding promises with exemptions, you actually get a dopamine rush when you promise something, when you promise a positive change to yourself or others, especially to others. When you say I’m going to hit the gym on Monday, and they’re like for you and you’re like, oh my god, that feels awesome. I feel like I’ve actually been to the gym started thing, where do I even need to go now that I feel this good. I’m not actually that motivated, I’m not feeling the crisis I was feeling for. So fear will give you a nice little dopamine hit when you promise to make a change just so long as you don’t actually follow through, you’re allowed to make any promises you like, you’ll know someone who’s a chronic promise breaker. Somebody constantly has ideas about how they’re going to change and make the life better and never follows through. You don’t really feel like a drug addict. Every time they promised something. It’s like they had a hit, and they feel good again. And that’s why they never change because it’s the promises they’re addicted to, they’re not actually interested in changing, no more promises, take the action, or don’t take it right now or not at all. So it’s not like I’ll start exercising on Monday, drop and do 10 Push Ups right now. I don’t care if you’re in the bathroom. If you want to exercise exercise right now, do some tiny version of the thing that you’re planning you’re doing right here, right now. That’s a commitment. The only thing you’re allowed to reward is behavior, you cannot reward anticipated behavior. It cannot reward the idea of taking an action that took the action or you didn’t reward and punish accordingly. The repetition compulsion. This is a human trait that I’ve only been made aware of lately, but it’s really prevalent. We like to repeat something that we’ve done in the past, because of sunk cost fallacy, we have this idea that like if I just keep repeating it, it will eventually work. And feel loves this promise, look, just keep doing the same thing. And eventually you’ll get a different result. So this way, you get to feel like you’re pursuing a different result. But fie is actually getting what it wants. And that is you’re not changing your behavior. So you’ve got to have a rule that if you’re ever repeating something, your attempt must change in some way, your methodology must change in some way. Okay, like, let’s say you go into the gym, and no matter what, how much you work out, you’re not just not making improvements, you must adjust your workout a little bit, you must adjust your nutrition a little bit, you must talk to an expert and get some feedback on what you’re doing. You’re not allowed to just repeat what you did for the last month or two months or three months, that didn’t get any results. Make a rule with yourself. If something’s been going for a while and you’re not getting positive changes, you do not repeat it. Not without at least some significant adjustment, vicarious trauma. This is where we’re afraid of something because bad things happen to other people, at least we perceived it that way. Right? We get people be like, I don’t want to start my own business. Because Bill started his business. Now he’s bankrupt. As a view being made bankrupt from starting a business that’s like, I’m just gonna have that experience internally. So I don’t need to have an external. So fear likes to say, look, what will happen to other people is going to happen to you and your perception of what happened to other people is accurate. And neither of those things are true. What you can do is you can have a conversation with your fear and say, Look, bad things did happen. Other people are trying what I’m about to try. So let’s learn from it. Let’s find out why bad things happen to that person and do what we’re going to do a little bit differently. So it doesn’t happen that way. Those business tanked. Ask him why. What happened May? Oh, you spent too much right. You spent more than you’re making. Okay, well, when I run a business the rule is I can’t spend more money than I make. Problem fucking solved. One of the most subtlest and devious tactics of fears that undermine your past by negatively cherry picking evidence. So your fear will conveniently overlook the fact that you’ve survived up until now, which means you must have done most things good enough. Notice that the reason you’re watching this and you’re not living in a ditch, drinking methylated spirits or not lying in the ground dead is because you’ve done most things right in your life, at least right enough in it. You think about your past you’re like I’m such a fucking fool. Because I always fail, I’m never good at anything. What evidence? are you basing it on? How do you manage to convince yourself that you’re not good enough? When you’re clearly good enough? Right? Well, what your fear does is it cherry picks evidence, moments in time that you felt were a failure, or that didn’t go the way you planned. Or even worse, it takes something that actually met the golf criteria, and then after it’s done, changes the criteria that says that wasn’t enough, right? It just makes whatever looked like a success back then into a failure. Now, because the bar is set higher. Most of our fear problem is actually the way we measure ourselves and measure our past accurate journaling as the solution to this. You should every day be tracking your wins. And you’ve got to acknowledge the things that you’ve become complacent about, did you get to work on time, that’s a win, did you eat and take care of your hygiene enough to survive through tomorrow, that’s actually a win, might not have been the best eating, you might not be the cleanest person in the world. You know, your job might not be the best job anyone’s ever had. But the fact that you’re still going and still surviving, these will count as ones. And when you notice that you’ll realize that your failures are relatively rare. It’s very rare that you don’t do something to the point where you’re actually harmed by most of the time, even if it’s it was a struggle and emotionally turbulent. You got through it, you survived. You might feel like it really useless with money. But are you in jail for fraud right now? Right? Are you homeless? are you begging? If not, maybe you’re right with money, maybe not the best, but good enough. Look at what’s actually happening with you measure it properly, give yourself props, when you’re doing well in the start to change the story about who you are, so you can trust yourself with future endeavors. Couple more that fear does one of them is what I call the research hole tells you you don’t know enough yet to take an action. So go do more research. And thanks to things like Wikipedia and YouTube and online courses, people can get into holes of research where they just stuffed the head full of information, they feel like they’re making progress, but their life is exactly the same as before they started, they haven’t done anything differently. You counter this by making a rule, you can only do research after an action. Anytime you’re allowed to look up, the best way of doing something is after you’ve already made the attempt. And you’ve got some actual feedback to work with. You want to know the best move in jujitsu, go to a class, do the class first. get beaten in the rolling afterwards, figure out why you were beaten and then go find a video on how to deal with that problem. And then go apply it to the next class. It should go action research, not Research Action, any kind of starting position, do the thing first, and then figure out a better way of doing it. And then keep taking action. And of course, the classic one, the invisible one that rules most people’s lives is just the timestamp distractions. Just the minutes and the seconds that add up to hours and weeks and months over your lifetime of you doing shit. That just doesn’t matter. But feeling like it’s important. One of the best things fear can do to stop you from doing change has made the to do list of stuff that needs to be kept the same, so big that there’s not enough time to do more. If you think of those people that do amazing things with their lives. Like I saw one guy the other day, he’s been a doctor, an astronaut, and a military officer all in one lifetime thing. Well, how does he with 24 hours a day do so much when most people do so little? How does somebody learn nine different languages when most people barely master their fucking original language? Well, they don’t waste time. It’s as simple as hey, you could do the same now. They’re not geniuses necessarily. They’re just extremely efficient. Stock trading your whole to do list is if at all equally important. Start learning about things like the Pareto Principle, start applying what matters most upfront and letting things go at the end. Usually, whatever your current positive change action needs to be should be the first thing you do right after breakfast, okay, and might even be the breakfast itself to being changed. Anything else that needs to be done anything that just keeps life the same happens after you’ve done your growth moves. If you reverse the order, like uncomfortable growth second and boring shit first now if you reverse that, your life will absolutely change. And overall, the key thing to keep in mind is that any delay on a positive change action should be viewed with suspicious skepticism. As soon as you’re putting something off that you know is good for you that you know you should be doing should become immediately very suspicious. Am I being manipulated by fear right now? Is this bullshit? And what’s the tiny action I can do right now? To make sure at the very least this hasn’t been delayed entirely. You know, if you didn’t know you’re supposed to be doing your tax return at least fill out one line on the form before procrastinating another day or won’t make it you can never look at the thing without taking some small action in that way. If you’re at least not delay, and then you’re really a master of overcoming fear. Of course if you want to accelerate your progress with becoming a brave and courageous person and learn more about these mastery techniques, get in touch And I’ll walk you through some strategies.

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