Do it scared, do it hurt, do it depressed…

December 27, 2010

I am revisiting the notion of not letting fear, pain, depression, anxiety, or any other invisible inward feeling stop us from doing what we feel is the next right or wise thing to do.

For most of my life, I let unpredictable, unreliable inner feelings act as a traffic light telling me what I should or shouldn’t do next.  I was naive enough to believe those feelings and would often shy from important things in my life that needed to be done.  Important things like filing my taxes on time, opening mail, completing a home project, working out, or fulfilling a promise made to friends or family.

Instead, I often felt paralyzed by fear, depression, or anxiety.  Feeling so overwhelmed that the easiest thing to do was to procrastinate the task and escape into sleep, tv, or in the old days of active addiction and alcoholism, I would drink or drug.  None of these escapes were of any value.  I was seldom rejuvenated and the task avoided was still there.

Then one day, years ago, I was listening to some teaching on pressing through fear or other overwhelming feelings.  A simple suggestion was posed, “Why don’t you just do it scared”? 

‘It’ being the task that you would otherwise avoid or procrastinate on.  So I began to think back and ask myself, how many exams did I write in school while scared?  Pretty much every one.  Or when I was starting out my career and doing interviews, how many interviews did I do scared?  Pretty much every one.  And how many sporting events did I play scared?  Again, pretty much all of them.  So I realized I could, and often have, done many things while scared.  So why not continue in this?

How was it the first time any of us walked into a room of AA, NA, Al-Anon, OA, or any 12-step program, scared?  I would bet all of us.  Yet what did we find on the other side of that fear?  Sobriety?  Help? Hope? A new beginning after repeated failures and painful losses?  Yes, absolutely!

I believe  that  fear and other negative emotions are tactics often used by the sick/addicted part of our thinking to self-preserve the sickness or addiction.  Somehow, it is like our unrecovered self has a mind and agenda of its own, and it wants to continue to live and grow.  So it suggests to us that we should remain immobile and avoid certain tasks.  Often, the very tasks that will give us the most growth, recovery, and victory in the shortest period of time.

I post this because I find myself in a bit of a post-Christmas funk.  My mood has been heavy for a few days since Christmas and some things are bothering me.  I am home early from work and I have some financial matters that really need attending to.  And at this moment, my mind is doing everything to avoid these matters.

So my determination was to acknowledge and expose these feelings for what they are by sharing them on my blog, then press past the anxious feelings and just do them.  Which is the next and only thing on my list of things to do tonight. 

If re-living feelings of fear and anxiousness similar to those I felt at many important moments in my life is the worst it can be, then I know I can handle it.  I just need to keep it simple, shut the brain off, turn the body on, and do it.  Scared, anxious, depressed, overwhelmed, or whatever.  It is do-able, even if I am not comfortable.





  1. Ok, so fast forward about an hour since I posted. The tasks are done. My gut wrenched through the beginning of it, but it soon became easier and now done. Not anywhere near as painful as my head told me it would be.

    • Yea! Glad you got through it. Great post. I always tell my kids that the only thing for it is to do it. Unfortunately or fortunately, I have to set an example that way. I get a lot more done with them watching me. I try to think of it this way. There is no courage without fear so that must mean I’m very courageous. Thanks so much for your post. All the best, and I hope your funk doesn’t last too long.

      • Thanks Piper…. funk has subsided to virtually nil. I find that just getting busy and doing the next wise thing. Activity then breeds activity.

        Yes, we need to be an example to our kids the best we can. None of us are perfect as we have all discovered.



  2. I know exactly how you are feeling. For me, the hardest thing since my addiction ended was learning how to go through the fear…go through the pain…go through the anxiety…go through the sadness…without using. I didn’t know how to address all of the healthy emotions that we humans must go through in order to “get to the other side”. I count it such victory today, when I can pass through all the fires of this life without drugs or drinking. I remember the days (most of my life) that I just numbed myself with drugs so that I couldn’t feel. Now, it’s empowering to get through in a healthy, drug free way. BTW…despite what you express as feeling a bit down after the holidays, you sound like a true victorious overcomer. You can do this! You ARE doing this.

    • Hey Coach…. thanks for the reflections. The key word in your reply is “through”. I had no working knowledge of “through” when I was in unrecovered thinking and behaving. Instead, every challenge was “catastrophic roadblock”, and therefore escape, avoid, or medicate. Thanks for the encouragement.



    • PS… I cruised by your page… didnt see place to reply. Do you have a wordpress blog? Some interesting material on your site.

  3. Thanks Chaz.

    I enjoyed your post.

    “Why not do it scared?”

    I never heard it like that before. It makes sense.

    In a couple of weeks, I want to do something new in my life.

    I am starting a training business. There are a lot of unknown varibles.

    So, I’m going to take your advice.

    Instead of procrastinating, “Why not do it scared?”


    • Hey Dale…. glad the post had some practical value. I know the, “who not do it scared” thing was a total eye-opener to me, yet it sounds so simple. But it just isn’t in the addict mindset to any great degree. Well, other than when we go pick up our stuff that is :).

      I remember hearing about an NHL hockey goalie, it may have been Andy Moog, but a star goalie. He was known to vomit in the dressing room before many games out of nervousness. Yet somehow he made that walk down the tunnel, onto the ice, and started each game… scared. And got it done.

      Whats the old saying, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation”? Maybe this is what it is referring to.

      But I can assure you, it works. Has been working for me for years, even if I have to re-learn it from time to time… like yesterday.



  4. Good for you Chaz!
    I too have done many things while scared – but they were things both my adult & and inner child wanted to do – so there was no conflict.

    That fear & depression you describe is from the inner child who never had good parents to help us do homework, etc. & left us too much to our own devices. We came to believe we were incompetent, lazy, stupid…. so of course the kid will balk at doing ‘adult’ things – even tho we know how to do them now.

    I make it easier on myself when the kid doesn’t want to deal with something. If something isn’t imperative, I work on the resistance, which can take time. If it’s a necessary task, then I have a long talk with her, ask for her co-operation (or at least not get in the way) & hold her on my lap. Then – do it. The kid need to feel it’s not alone!

    • So true Donna. Interesting how your description of the inner child is exactly how I felt growing up. I always felt so alone. My parents never helped me with homework and I was petrified when I couldnt understand something. My alcoholic father was not available and my Mom, although mistakenly, never felt she could help. Even though she was a professional working in taxation, she never thought she could help with my math. Maybe because her parents never helped her with math.

      But I always felt so alone. Very unsupported. My parents never helped me choose a career, pick school courses, choose friends or girlfriends. So ya, those residual feelings of aloneness seem to be alive and well.

      Yet I have learned to get through many things. It is fabulous. And the good part is that there are ways to continue to grow and learn.

      always great to hear from you.



  5. Love this! So glad to know today that feelings are fleeting, but my actions are my life.

    • With ya on that Heather. Life is in the “doing”. Feelings are unreliable and can be all over the place. But we can improve all the time on bringing them into line. Maybe not quickly or completely, but suffice it to say most of us are less controlled by our feelings than we were previously.



  6. Doing it scared…..great summary. Before I got sober I always had this one ideal that I still go back to….it was to always have something in my life that made me think “what in the hell am I doing?”. Forcing myself to do something irregular, scary or unknown brought with it a lot of growth….singing in the opera, going to grad school, etc. If I didn’t have something like that, I wouldn’t feel right. Well, the tough thing after getting sober, for me at least, is getting back to that “what in the hell….” state of mind because the program is ALREADY bringing it with it so much (sometimes) uncomfortable growth. SOOOO…. the what-in-the-hell-am-I-doing level of growth these days takes a lot more “doing it SCARED”…or at least I think that was my point, lol. It’s that lack of control man, freaks us out every time.

    Happy and Safe New Year to you my friend,

    • Hey Jerr… good to hear from you.

      Funny how we like the lack of control and love the adrenalin rush of some things, yet shy away from, avoid, and medicate over/around others. Why? Perhaps because we perceive value of some kind by enduring the “what the hell am I doing” experiences, while we do not see the same value or reward for others… like say, taxes.

      Maybe we it is a manifestation of our self-centeredness that rationalizes the pain of some achievments because the grand prize of the self-centered, the ego-boost, awaits us on the other side of pain?

      Who knows. But something drives us there. Something tells us we can endure the pain. And similarly, that same motivation is absent in the things we procrastinate and avoid. Same pain, same fear, same anxiety, different motivator. Perhaps.

      Safe New Year on the horizon! Same to you bro.



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