How to Make Decisions: Hunt the Fear

The choices most people make are opiates.  They let you turn you off.  Power down.  They let life just happen around you.  You give in to them, fall asleep, and wake up years later.  You’ll be totally unfulfilled, but too lethargic to care.  Those choices are comfortable.

TV is comfortable.  Video games are comfortable.  Staying in your unfulfilling job is comfortable.  Holding your drink at your chest in a bar and telling yourself that no one there is worth talking to is comfortable.

Shitty decisions that will turn you into a shitty person are almost ALWAYS comfortable.

The decisions we ought to make . . .

they’re shots of adrenaline.   They demand and provide hyper awareness.  Your chest tightens.  Your handles tingle.  Your heart races.

Most of us feel our hearts thump faster and shrink away.  We feel excited or nervous, and we second guess ourselves.

We have it backwards.  Fear, excitement, feeling your chest lock up and your throat clench and suddenly being extremely aware of how dumb your hands look wherever you put them: these are signs you are doing the RIGHT thing.  Lean into these emotions.  Hunt them.  Follow your fear.  

If you are socio-economically privileged enough to be reading this blog, fear isn’t something to run from.  Fear doesn’t mean you are about to get eaten by a lion or beaten to death.  It means you are about to enter into a social situation that is new to you or stretch yourself in an amazing way.

So what scares the hell out of you?  Is it physically dangerous?  If not, THAT is exactly what you need to be doing.  No more easy shit.  If it’s easy, it’s a waste of your time.  If it scares you to death, now you’re getting somewhere.

The Face of Comfort

People eat junk food, stay in good-enough jobs, and drink beer before socializing with strangers all because comfort is their master.  Comfort says,

Let’s do what’s easy.  Let’s stay at this job that pays a bunch of money, garners the respect of my peers, and leaves me with a gaping hole in my heart.

Comfort is like water.  It’s flowing downhill and it doesn’t care how it gets there.  Comfort is a bullshit artist.

A beautiful girl is in front of you in line for Starbucks.  You know you’d like to strike up conversation.  Comfort will tell you:

She probably has a boyfriend.  Plus it wouldn’t be appropriate in here, it just might bother her.  And you’re running a bit late besides.   And blah, blah, bullshit rationalization, blah  . . .

When you push past the that crap and resolve to suck it up and say something, something else perks up.  Fear.  It spikes your adrenaline and seizes your chest.  It makes your guts squirm.  It secretes glue out of your tongue and turns you mute.

When you finally let that girl walk out of your life, comfort is quick to console you.

You didn’t need to say anything anyway.  Plus she wasn’t THAT pretty anyway.

It knows that acknowledging your cowardice just might make you uncomfortable enough to change.

The face of FEAR

Fear lives beyond comfort.  In the unknown.  Where things are new and unpredictable and scary.  The shortness of breath you feel, the locked chest and lead legs, those are fear.

People misinterpret fear.  They think it’s telling them to back down, to give in and slip back into comfort.  They avoid fear and treat it like a dog treats an electric fence.  It marks the boundaries of their life.

They could not have it more backwards if they tried.  Fear shows up when you are about to do something great.  Fear is the signal of a near-life experience.  Fear is the alarm clock telling you that you need to wake the fuck up.  Because it’s go time.  You’re about to do something awesome and you need to be there for it.

What to do about it

Lean into fear.  Hunt it down and sit with it.  The results are life-changing.

In the case of the pretty girl at Starbucks, when you feel yourself go into rationalization mode, try this instead:

  • Acknowledge it.  Say out loud: “I’m feeling anxious about saying a few words to a 100lb girl”
  • Open your body language.  Show your palms, expose your throat, take up  more space.
  • Take a deep breath.
  • Thank the fear for showing you what you need to do.  For revealing how you can grow.
  • Lean right into the fear.  Be direct.  Say, “Hey, I know this is totally random, but you are absolutely gorgeous and I’d be kicking myself for the rest of the day if I didn’t find out more about you.  I’m [your name].”

Courage is a muscle which becomes a habit which becomes a character trait which becomes the defining aspect of a person’s life.  Start exercising your courage and you are on your path to becoming the man.  And remember: you can only display courage when you feel fear.

So thank God for fear.  I know of no better decision making tool.  If something scares you, yet has very little odds of causing physical harm, you have to do it.  Simple as that.  If you can’t, you must.

Where have you been holding back because of fear?  Write it in the comments.  Hold yourself publicly accountable – nothing works better for changing your behavior.


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9 Responses to “How to Make Decisions: Hunt the Fear”

  • Most favourite line of an advice site at the moment is:

    Acknowledge it. Say out loud: “I’m feeling afraid of saying a few words to a 100lb girl”

    That made my evening!

  • phenomenal article, so very true, and just opened a new door for me.
    i’m normally the fuck it kind of guy idc, but this.. is awesome. FEAR

  • Awesome.

    “Courage is a muscle which becomes a habit which becomes a character trait which becomes the defining aspect of a person’s life. Start exercising your courage and you are on your path to becoming the man. And remember: you can only display courage when you feel fear.”

    Thanks for contributing.

  • Well done. I particularly like “Fear is the signal of a near-life experience.” You should embroider that shit and hang it on your wall, because it’s right up there with “Home is where the heart is.”

    As a member of the other fifty percent, my critique of your post is that it’s written with the assumption that the reader is a dude. I suppose I shouldn’t expect more of a site called kickassacademy, but I thought you’d want it brought to your attention that this article misses half of its potential audience.

    It’s not popular to remind people of these sorts of things, so I was afraid to bring it up. But after reading this post, I fhad to face the fear and tell you. Kickass women read stuff too.

    • Haha, I appreciate the reminder and I’m glad that you spoke up! I originally wrote this with regards to guys who are trying to overcome the anxiety they get in approaching women. There are a 1000 more cases that are gender neutral, but that is what I had in the back of my head and it came out in my pronouns. Doh!

      In the meantime I’ll take your words to heart: “Kickass women read stuff too.” I will definitely have posts that may be gender specific, but nothing about ones like this says I need to limit the audience


  • I’m afraid of connecting with old friends. I don’t know the status of our relationship. I’m afraid of connecting with people. It all feels messy, and I don’t know where things will go if I connect with them. But then I’ll never know if I don’t.