How to Dream Bigger in Spite of Fear

dream bigger

In July of 2012, I decided I wasn’t dreaming big enough.

I attended a conference full of people doing amazing things for themselves, for charity, for their families…

And I felt an incredible sense of inadequacy.

Inadequate because what I felt inside wasn’t matching the actions of my outsides, and all these amazing people I was meeting were showing me that it could be done. My heart was overflowing with emotion, compassion and eagerness; I was just so scared to harness it for fear of rejection or failure.

In July, I decided to stop letting fear dictate my inaction, and instead, I began to let it fuel me to take more action.

My big dream that I’ve been working to make a reality ever since is detailed at the bottom of this post. Please read on to check out how my refusal to listen to fear is going to fuel me as I gather charity donations across North America, and how you can help inspire hope into thousands of people who want to give up.

But first, I want to help you overcome your own fears that are holding you back from achieving an epic reality.

I think that we all get caught up in the fear of big dreams because when they fail, they hurt so much more than the smaller dreams.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been crushed and paralyzed by fear way more times than I have by rejection or unachieved dreams.

I like to think of fear as an emotional recreation of Carrie’s mother. Remember that movie? Yeah, the one with all the corn syrup and pyrotechnics…

Carrie’s mother is the embodiment of fear. She is so afraid for her daughter to experience any kind of life outside the one she knows, that she goes to such lengths as to lock her in the closet and try to beat her into submission.

She says that she just wants the best for her.

Well, that’s a lot like the fear we experience that holds us back from our prolific dreams. Fear tells us she wants the best for us, then locks us in the closet and tells us what horrible people we are…

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you’re not a big fan of being kept back from all the amazing things in life that you deserve.

In order to achieve those amazing things, you have to fight fearback. You have to force your way out of that house to see the world that fear wants to keep you safe from.

If you’re choosing to step up to fear and teach her who’s boss, try out the tips below. They may help you when the going gets tough…

Responding to your inner “They’re all gonna laugh at you!”

Your fear will beg, scream and cry to be heard. That voice of fear can get pretty scary sometimes.

When you start hearing that voice telling you that “they’re all gonna laugh at you” when you fail (like Carrie’s mom screamed at her), take a deep breath and ask yourself: “So what?”

Is that the worst that can happen? They laugh at you? They see you fail?

Some people thrive on laughing at those that fail because it makes them feel better for never trying.

Don’t worry about what they choose to do with their energy. Creating your own life will require some hiccups. But you know what? They’ll inform you to be more successful the next time around.

Let yourself feel the fear

Don’t try to push it away (it won’t work). Fear is a natural emotion, and there’s not much we can do about experiencing it. The key is to feel the fear, then take action anyway.

Deep breaths

When I feel the threat of debilitating fear, I ground myself with a deep breath or two.

I close my eyes and breathe down into my belly. Breathing in the emotion, and breathing out love, acceptance and strength. I know it’s scary, but when you get through this, you’ll be even stronger the next time fear comes around.

Don’t compare what others around you are doing

The people around you may be slaves to fear as well. Don’t use them as your model of “normal.” Just because they’re not living their dreams doesn’t mean you shouldn’t either.

Be the one that breaks the mold, and show them that it can be done.

Similarly, if you’re around other people who are already living their dreams, be wary of the comparison trap. Your path is your own, and it may take longer (or shorter) than theirs did. If they’re positive, helpful people, maybe they’ll be able to give you some tips for success!

Make fearless friends

You know how you feel when you hang out with the constant complainers or the negative nancies in your life? Like crap, right? Well, hanging out with fearless friends can have the opposite effect.

When you surround yourself with people who are working to create the lives they want and refusing to listen to fear, you’ll feel more motivated to do the same. Rather than talking you out of action, these friends will talk you into it!

Expect rejection at some point

The hardest setback for me to accept personally is rejection. I don’t take it well. I used to be an actress and quit because I felt broken every time I heard “no.”

Now that I am a little older and wiser, I have the ability to look at it from the outside and know that–most times–it’s not personal.

Think of it this way: someone will say “yes.” This “no” is leading you to that “yes.”

The pain may be intense right after and maybe even for a couple of lingering days, but this, too, shall pass. This is making way for that triumph to come into your life.

Be creative

If you’re hearing tons of “no”s all day long, you may need to assess your tactics for getting yeses.

Is there another way to accomplish what you’re setting out to do? Is there another route to take that you haven’t seen before?

Brainstorm, do your research, and don’t get beat down by it.

Know that you can

The belief that you can make this dream a reality is going to be the foundation that you build this life upon.

I’m not going to say it’s impossible to accomplish your dreams without the knowledge that you can do it, but I will say that it’s going to feel like it is.

When you don’t believe that you can, you’ll find that you stop yourself from following through, negate many of your small victories along the way with justifications, and maybe even subconsciously convince those people that you want yeses from, to say “no.”

Don’t shut yourself down before you try. Devote some time to creating the belief in yourself.

My Big Dream

If you have read my very first post here on The Change Blog, From Depression to Happiness: The 4 Steps That Helped to Change My Life, you know that I suffered from clinical depression and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). I got so low that I even tried to take my own life.

After years of self-work and finding fitness, I have overcome the paralyzing effects of depression and OCD, and am now a strong, happy and grateful person.

I created the life I wanted with the help of fitness and positive thinking. Now I want to create a movement that will help others do the same.

To celebrate the 30th birthday I almost didn’t have, I’ll be touring across the US and Canada doing 30 donation-based bootcamps in 30 different cities to benefit the non-profit movement called To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA). They help people who struggle with depression, self-injury, substance abuse and suicide.

In order to do this tour, I’m running a campaign on IndieGoGo to raise money so that I can get my message out to the people who need to hear it.

Every person deserves a happy, fulfilling life. I would be so grateful if you would help me inspire hope into those who need it most. Help me show them that it can be done.

To view the campaign video with the full story or to donate, please click here.

If you can’t donate, I completely understand. If you believe in the message, you can still help ignite this movement by sharing it with your friends and loved ones. There are easy instructions and even clickable sharing links on the IndieGoGo page.

Thank you for taking the time to read about my big dream. I can’t wait to read about yours.

20 thoughts on “How to Dream Bigger in Spite of Fear”

  1. “I’ve been crushed and paralyzed by fear way more times than I have by rejection or unachieved dreams.”

    So true for all of us. Great post Amy.

    Good luck with your IndieGoGo campaign!

  2. Motivating Post Amy…. And All the best for the campaign….
    I have a dream, sometimes I feel its good to be a dream, I dont know it would be really this nice once it gets realized…. What kind of a feeling is it? Is it a fear?


    1. Sounds like a bit of fear, Roopa. I’m still in shock a bit that my dream is happening, but I’m also not. The action-taking feels better than I thought it would; the pride and the realization that I can do this, are enlightening. I highly recommend it ;)

  3. I like your post especially that i should Expect rejection at some point, yes sure when they will see I am moving against the flow they will reject me, but here where miracles happen, so keep going and everything will be ok :)

  4. Wow, this hits home for me. Six months ago I almost gave up on myself because I was completely lost. I have been battling addiction and mental health issues for a very long time, and I was living in complete fear. I reached out, luckily, and I’m on the way back. I just started a blog with a very similar message. I NEEDED to read this article. Thank you so much. I will be following, and best of luck!

  5. Don’t compare what others around you are doing – I think this is one of the best tips given in this article. Perhaps you can look at what others are doing and see if it applies to your situation, but never compare because it will only be a source of insecurity.

  6. Motivation, strength and passion is all you need to succeed in life and overcome your failures. Many times in life I’ve gone through stages where I was completely lost but I believed in my abilities and today I stand where I should be.

  7. Amy, Awesome post and Video for the 30-30 Project.

    Fear stops so many of us. I just love your energy not only in your post, but through your smile in the video. Thanks for reminding us all to push through fear, ask for help, and get moving — DREAM BIG!

  8. Thank you for the great post. I especially liked the tip on making fearless friends. It’s like the saying, “you’ll become like your 5 closest friends”. I truly believe that the people you choose to spend your time with will influence who you are. Best of luck on your tour.

  9. mahavir nautiyal

    Great motivational post. Fear of the unknown or failure strikes most of us. Still it is better to take first tentative steps. There will be some ‘ yes person’ around to hold my hand and support my dream. Thereafter it will be a roller coasting ride, God willing.

  10. Hi , Thanks a lot for writing this! very motivating indeed. We should really try to overcome our own fears in order to pursue our dreams. Great post !

  11. I am so happy that you are in a much better place now and that you are sharing your experiences and learning with others. You will truly be a beacon of light to others. Good luck in your future endeavors!

  12. Thank you Amy!
    Fear of failure can be so totally debilitating, can’t it? I’m so pleased to see you taking such positive action to help change this for others.
    I’d like to quickly comment on one thing you said here: “I think that we all get caught up in the fear of big dreams because when they fail, they hurt so much more than the smaller dreams.”
    Actually, I don’t think this is true. The reason I say this is that when you keep playing small, you IMAGINE that you’d have further to fall if you took a step up, and that keeps you small and fearful. But when you take steps towards the bigger dreams, I think you grow stronger and have a more solid foundation to work from every single time. You never have further to fall, because you start from higher up each time, and you’re less likely to hurt because you’re stronger inside.
    That’s been my experience. When I’m playing small I feel SO much more vulnerable than when I’m doing big and terrifying things that also make me come alive.
    Keep up the good work! Meg

  13. Just found this article, and do relate, and find it helpful. Because there are no posts in several years, I am not sure if questions left here will be seen…My current search is whose happiness should come first, when you have 4 kids, a husband…but live in crippling depression because you are trapped living in a place where (my) parents control me, beat me up emotionally- but play a key role in “helping me” with these kids, as well as provide us a small but rent free home. ( All of this has prevented me from being able to work). I would move, and feel the freedom I so crave, away from them in a heartbeat. But, they say it’s never about my happiness, but my children. They range from 13 to 1…and are happy here because of friends, school, etc. I feel like I am forever imprisoned here bc of that- my happiness is not important.
    I am in therapy. Lots of it.
    I have lived other places and never had to rely on them…but now am trapped here indefinitely. Do you plod on and try to “water your own grass”…put up with their negativity, and attempt to work and be whole again? Obviously that is what im doing. But it is a toxic situation that only my kids possibly benefit from- how can kids be happy when their parents are not? Who comes first?

  14. I am searching for a way to express and feel happiness more. I have written over 100 poems and just realized that most of them are very sad poems. I believe that I need to get out of that sad expression and feel it may be harming me to write such sad stuff all the time. Is that true? Am I making it worse for myself? It’s my way of expressing and feels therapuetic but now I’m not so sure.

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