I Am Afraid All Of the Time

I Am Afraid All Of The Time

I’m afraid to lose money. I’m afraid new things I try won’t work out.

I’m afraid the people I love will leave me.

I’m afraid people won’t like something I wrote. Or a podcast I did.

I’m afraid the future won’t be what I want it RIGHT NOW to be. That it will look different. That it will be out of my control.

I’m afraid when I read a new review of any of my books. What if it’s bad?

“Oh, you should get over that feeling already. You have to be a pro.”

Ok. I’m a pro. But I’m still afraid. What if they hit the right buttons that have caused me fear ever since I was three years old.

I don’t know how to button those buttons. They are exposed wounds, hot, scarred, bleeding.

I’m afraid someone will hit them over and over.

I’m afraid of you right now.

How I try to get over fear:

Themes Over Goals

The more expectations you have, the more you will be disappointed. A goal (make a million, lose 100lbs, get someone to love me, etc) is an expectation. A theme (eat healthy, make friends) is a way to live.

The fewer expectations I have, the more likely it is I will exceed them.


Kindness without expectation back has no fear in it. And, it’s a secret way to always improve yourself without having a goal of improvement.

What if someone pushes my buttons. How can I be kind back? I can’t. It’s hard. But then if I can, then I improve.

One Thing A Day

I try to do one thing a day that makes me uncomfortable. I don’t know what I will do today.

Body, tell me something to do today that is uncomfortable and I will do it.

And then I wait for the answer.

Once I do it, then that thing that made me uncomfortable, whatever it is, will be a little more comfortable.

Stories Over Objects

I like to make every day a story that I can tell. I like to make every object I buy have a story behind it.

Then I can give it or show it to someone and it’s like the top of a pyramid with a huge amazing structure underneath.

When we look at someone, we just see a doorway. The door opens and that person is having a dream. The dream is uniquely theres and nobody can fully know it but we can all participate.

I want my dream to be vibrant and filled with stories. I think often people when they are older look back and say, “What have I done? Where is everything?”

They do this because they collected objects. Objects wither and gather dust and disappear. Story adds color to the private dream we all experience.

Value Over Money

I went to a wine auction recently.

They had a great technique. Put guys at tables and give them a “wine tasting” first to get everyone drunk.

Put a beautiful woman at each table to say, “you guys should bid on X”.

Then guys would start competing with each other to bid on “X”.

The wine auctions make tens of thousands of dollars in profit. Because a bottle of wine shouldn’t cost $5000. It should cost $40.

Guys are stupid. But everyone has their own areas of stupidity. Money is important. it’s the way we barter our experiences, our objects, our skills that we spend years developing, our dreams, for someone else’s objects or skills or dreams.

If you don’t respect the value you have brought to this life, then you will end up getting nothing in return.

First self-respect. Then you can get greater and greater value with the dream you currently bring into the world.

Life Over Death

We are often so scared about death, we forget that the greatest mystery is how to live life right now.

Water a plant. Literally and metaphorically.

Don’t Give Yourself

It’s ok to give love. To give kindness. To give your hard work (in exchange for value).

But too many people give themselves. That’s too much of a burden for other people to handle.

They can’t handle it!

They will drop it. It will make a big mess. The floor will be slippery then. Everyone will be upset.

I find it’s hard to not give myself. To hold onto my self-esteem and not give it to anyone else to manage and take care of.

It takes practice. I trust. I love. I want to be loved back. So I give myself because it’s the easiest thing to give.

So I admit – it takes practice. I’m afraid I won’t put in the practice.

Today is a good day to start practicing. Check the box: physical health, emotional health (are you around good people), creativity (I’m writing a post!), gratitude.

That’s how I practice. it doesn’t always work. But when it does, I am a better person for it. These two things compound if you let them: betterness…or bitterness. You chose.

I don’t want to be afraid anymore. Sadness, anger, jealousy, mental illness, are all the masks that fear wears because it is too scared to reveal itself directly.

I’m going to try really hard not to expect anything from anyone. To respect myself and the work I am putting in.

To be me and not give it away.

To be scared (and ok with it) right before this moment I hit “publish.”


  • RapmasterD

    I am sure James knows when someone is as prolific a writer as he is, there will be some duds and ho-hums…but also more stellar essays simply because of the volume of creativity. THIS is one of those essays.

    What I loved in particular about this article is the SHIFT in thinking about themes versus goals, stories over objects, and value over money. I’ll save ruminating about themes versus goals for another day, because that one will take me a full day to ponder.

    Regarding value, I think our opportunity is to realize how subjective the term ‘value’ is, and therefore make it as ‘real’ for ourselves as possible by becoming more self aware versus following the herd while we’re engaged in auto-pilot.

    I live in the land of “94XXX” zip codes where there are a LOT of Teslas, and don’t get me wrong. They are beautiful cars and I don’t begrudge anyone for owning one. And I thank Elon for disrupting the established order in so many ways. But do I personally ‘need’ a Tesla? Heck, do I even need a $40 dollar bottle of wine? (Don’t ask me that this Friday or I’ll show up with glass in hand.) Thanks James, for making me think a bit more, as you always do. And one more thing.

    This is a quote to record and ruminate on: “Sadness, anger, jealousy, mental illness, are all the masks that fear wears because it is too scared to reveal itself directly.”

  • Melanie Wendel

    ‘If you don’t respect the value you have brought to this life then you will end up getting nothing in return’

    People seem to sense insecure people a mile off and use it for their own benefit – does it make them happier people in the long run? No.

    The media and society give us the impression that failure is the worst thing that can happen to us and that you have no other choice but to capitulate. Is this really so?

    Respecting your own value means not falling on your face, but catching yourself in mid-air and walking on. Respecting your own value doesn’t prevent hardship and failure, but it helps you continue on life’s path and earn other people’s respect.

    Loved the part about using themes instead of ‘cliched’ goals.

  • Ken

    This is my first time commenting on here. I have enjoyed your blog quite a bit.
    What exactly is the difference between giving love, giving kindness, and giving yourself?

  • Emile Jarreau

    Looking forward to meeting you one day. Love all your books. The show “Billion’s” is fantastic and the recent interview about “10 % happier” was great. Keep it going James:)

  • anne lee

    Hi, Looking forward to see you one day. Take care. Happy every day..

  • Have your taken an improv class before James? Hands down the best decision I made as an adult as far as overcoming fear and leaning yes instead of no.

    Also, I’ve created a professional life out of getting people to embrace their fear, embrace their suckage and turn it into gold. Check out my Fear Experiment℠ –> http://bit.ly/1fwfWnh.

    Pretty awesome to see folks go from “I Am Afraid All Of the Time” to “I can do anything. And if I can’t, so the fuck what.”

  • Iulian Stoian

    Great read! We all are afraid. Being vulnerable was the solution for me. It makes you unbreakable.

  • Kalou Koefoed

    I want my dream to be vibrant and filled with stories too.

  • Thimo Finkbeiner

    Good to know that someone like you had still fears. Makes me feel more comfortable, lol. Especially liked the point: Don’t give yourself

    Take care