4 Lessons on Conquering Fear and Living the Life You Want to Live


“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?” ~Marianne Williamson

After lying on my apartment floor for an hour, I walked over to the mirror, leaned in, and looked into my eyes.  This was the moment I came face to face with the truth: I was afraid to stand up and be who I wanted to be in this life.

It was not the fact that I was so rock bottom that scared me. It was the belief that I am capable of so much more.

Five years ago, I was in a banking job that demanded more of me than I could give. I remember one day a customer standing at the edge of my desk, yelling at me, and all I could do was get up from my chair and run away as my first panic attack took hold of me.

It was during this time that I began my relationship with food. Every evening was the same: I would leave work, get Mexican take out, return home, turn my cell phone on silent, and watch reruns of Sex and the City.

I lived vicariously through Carrie and struggled with her through her journey. It was in these few hours that I felt connected to something. I did not have to work hard, try, or fake anything; I just observed. This ritual got me through the year of 2008.     

On New Year’s Eve, I sat waiting for my date to celebrate a new year, looking down on the pile of clothes on my floor. Not one shirt or pair of pants fit me. The last thing I wanted to do was celebrate anything as I wondered how it all added up to this one evening.

The truth was, I had let myself go and weighed the most I have ever weighed in my entire life.

The next morning, after a long evening of questioning and self-loathing, I woke up and started sifting through the pictures of myself from the evening before. Something in me wanted to fully acknowledge the truth of my reality; I lay down on my apartment floor, began accepting how far I had let myself go, and let it all out.

An hour later, I peeled myself off the floor, walked to the bathroom mirror, leaned in, and declared that I did not recognize the girl in the mirror. That moment of recognition, or a lack of recognition for that matter, was my turning point.

I had been hiding behind clothes, food, and Sex and the City reruns for far too long, and as painful as it was to face this reality, it was my awakening. This was my life, and there was no other option but to stop hiding behind food, face my fears, and move forward, fiercely. 

This is exactly what I did. I left my job as a personal banker, lost forty pounds in the first year, became a certified personal trainer, and eventually started my own company to inspire and empower others to move fiercely forward in their lives. I became a warrior!

Over the next four years, I learned four lessons that empowered me to live the life I wanted to live.

1. Moving forward is the only option.

That day, I did not know much about how I was going to change; I just knew why I needed to change.

So I started somewhere; I dusted myself off, wiped my tears, and began emptying my kitchen cupboards. Day by day, action by action, I began moving in a new direction, and it felt different. I began seeing changes, both physically and mentally, soon thereafter and felt a sense of pride in myself that I had never felt before.

It’s easy to overcomplicate the path to what you want, but it is very simple: take one small step forward each day.

2. Walk through the fear, you warrior.

When I first began my journey of moving forward in my life, I was excited, empowered, and motivated by all the positive changes that were taking place, but with this also came fear.

What I feared most was having the courage to hold my own and be the best version of me. I envisioned the woman I wanted to be; she was empowered, confident, sexy, strong, and capable of anything she set her mind to! Then suddenly the fear crept in as I wondered how I would walk in this woman’s shoes and pull it off.

Fear is an interesting thing; it can paralyze you or catapult you. If you let it paralyze you, you will continue doing what you have always done and shy away from the courage you have within you, your light. If you let it catapult you, you turn your fear into fuel and use it as a tool to conquer whatever stands in your way.

It was the day I created my personal mantra, Fierce Forward, that I came face to face with my biggest fear that first year: stepping foot in the weight room.

Walking into a room full of grunting men who have been doing this for years was extremely intimidating, but I would not allow my fear to paralyze me. I began running faster, brewing up the courage as I envisioned myself walking tall toward the weight room, stepping over the line that divides my past endeavors from my future endeavors.

I knew I had to put a fierce face on, and ten minutes later, I was lifting weights amongst the men I once feared.  Little did I know at that time that lifting would become my passion and be the activity that empowers me most. Choosing to face my fear that day paid off ten fold, as lifting inspired me to become a personal trainer.

The more experience I had with facing my fears, the more of a warrior I became.

Fear should be walked through, not around. When you walk through it, you are choosing to face what you are afraid of and overcome it. That day in the gym, I walked through my fear!

3. You hold the key.

It was in one of my favorite movies, Sucker Punch, that these words, whispered by Sweat Pea, awoke something powerful within me: “Who chains us? And who holds the key that can set us free… It’s you. You have all the weapons you need. Now fight!”

These words impacted me in a way nothing has before. I had been trudging through most of my life, reacting and living like a zombie. When I heard this quote, I was four years into my journey.  Through all the trials and tribulations I faced in those four years, I realized that I had already learned this lesson; I hold the key, and I always have.

We are the only ones that can change our lives by taking responsibility for those changes. Just as I chose to take responsibility for my unhappiness, to move forward, to walk through my fears and to live the life I imagined for myself, so can you.

4. Practice loving you.

I knew that I had to believe in myself wholeheartedly to move forward in my life. I made it a mission to tell myself every day that I am beautiful, strong, confident, and powerful. Even if I did not completely believe it yet, I knew I had to “fake it until I make it,” and so I did.

It was only through practice and intention that I began learning the art of self-love. As I began reaching for the woman I wanted to be, I realized that I deserve to shine.

To this day, I focus on my self-talk and alter each negative thought with its positive scenario, I write myself love letters, lipstick “you are beautiful and fierce” on my bathroom mirror, and wear intention bracelets that give me the courage and strength I need to believe in myself.

You are here to be powerful, fierce, and uniquely you. Do not fear this power, but run to it and embrace it with open arms.

Remember, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?”

Go get ‘em, you warrior!

Photo by Camdiluv

About Ashley Johns

Ashley Johns is a Personal Trainer, Writer, Entrepreneur and Founder of Fierce Forward.  She created Limitless Bracelets made of African Trade Beads to empower you to set goals. Visit her on Facebook,  Twitter, Etsy, and at her website.

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