One Simple Trick to Overcome Your Biggest Fear: Ruth Soukup (Transcript)

Ruth Soukup at TEDxMileHigh

Full text of best-selling author Ruth Soukup’s talk: One simple trick to overcome your biggest fear at TEDxMileHigh conference.

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So, at 23 years old, I was pretty sure I had ruined my life forever.

I remember, at rock bottom, I opened the phone book to the P section for psychologists. And I stared at that phone for what… felt like hours, just trying to work up the courage to make that call.

Because in that moment, I was a divorced, unemployed, bankrupt college dropout who had just moved back in with my dad after my last hospital stay, because I literally had no other place to go.

My arms and legs were covered in ugly scars from all the suicide attempts and self-harm. And most days I was still so depressed I couldn’t even get out of bed.

I was a mess. And I was completely terrified.

I finally did make that call and I said I’ve just spent the last two and a half years talking about every bad thing that’s ever happened to me. And it hasn’t helped, and now I just need to know how to live.

And so for the next two years, that’s what I did.

First, it was learning how to go to the grocery store without having a panic attack. Then it was getting a part-time job in my own apartment.

And fighting my way back from that depression, I learned that, sometimes, courage is just taking that first tiny step. And then the next tiny step after that.

But eventually I did finish college, and I got married and had a couple of kids, and became a fully functioning member of society. I even registered to vote.

And then… and then I started a business… oh! And once again I remembered how it felt to be terrified every single day. I was so afraid of making a mistake, so sure that I was doing it wrong. I felt like everybody else had it figured out and I was a fraud. Every blog post felt like another opportunity to fail.

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And while that fear never totally went away completely, it did over time get easier. And my business grew.

My blog started reaching millions of readers. I wrote best-selling books and created courses and products and resources to help people reach their goals. I even started a podcast.

But over and over and over, my students and readers and customers and podcast listeners kept telling me: they felt stuck.

One told me how she had bought a planner, and then just let it sit there for over a year, just because she was so afraid of messing it up.

Another told me how she had dreamed about starting a business for so long, her whole life. And every time she got close, she stopped because it felt like too big of a risk.

Another was in tears when she told me: I just want to want something.

And although the symptoms were all a little bit different, I could relate, because the underlying root cause was something I knew all too well. It was FEAR, not the phobia kind of fear, like the fear of snakes but this deeper, more internal kind of fear.

The kind of fear that keeps us from stepping outside of our comfort zone, the kind of fear that keeps us from taking risks and prevents us from wholeheartedly pursuing our biggest goals and dreams.

And it made me wonder: How does fear show up differently for all of us and how does that impact our ability to push past it?

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