How I trained my brain to care less (except about gastro and serious garden tool injuries)


Fear is a funny thing. Not funny-ha-ha-side-splitting-hilarious.


Fear is nothing.

It doesn’t exist in its own right. It’s not a thing.

It’s something that we experience as a result of something else.

There are some fears that are very common.

Some of you will know from my constant Twitterly blatheringsthat in one of my other lives I’m a freelance trainer and facilitator. This means I make my living standing up in front of strangers  and talking. And falling over equipment. And spilling things. OK so they don’t pay me for those bits; I throw them in for free because I am a clumsy idiot like to be entertaining. Cough.

The comedian Jerry Seinfeld said (and I’m quoting very roughly here) that at a funeral, most of the audience would rather be in the coffin than up giving the eulogy, such is the general fear of public speaking.

I learned to not fear it many years ago. In fact, I revel in it.

I must be batshit crazy, right?*

Especially when you consider I also have bouts of Anxiety Disorder.

I must be nuts.

It’s true that being an extrovert helps me do my job.

I like the limelight, I’m an attention hog and I like to talk.**

When I was a kid I was cripplingly shy***. Sure I wanted to be out there performing but I was too terrified to do it. What if something went wrong? What would people think? WHAT IF?!

So I was a shy extrovert, desperate to be centre stage but unable to even get up there to cower behind the curtain.

I’m still that shy kid on the inside.

I still feel anxious.

I’m still extremely hung-up delicate obsessive sensitive about how other people receive me and my work.

I just don’t let that sensitivity stop me, because I know fear is nothing. It isn’t real.

I’ve taught myself to care less.

It takes practice.

Caring less requires small steps.

Of course, being the clumsy, accident-prone arsehat that I am helps. Nothing cures you of being precious about yourself like some of the dumber shit I’ve done.****

Now I can stand up in front of as many people as you can throw at me, and talk. Tell stories, joke, share, make myself vulnerable.

Because I care less.

I’m still that scared 14 year old on the inside. I’ve just developed MAD SKILLZ that allow me to put myself out there and not give a shit.

You know all those super-confident, socially-adept, amazingly successful people you admire?

They’re all scared 14 year olds on the inside too. They just hide theirs behind mad confident socially-adept skillz.

The journey from shy child to where I am now took a long time and I had to humiliate myself many times to get here. Here’s a snapshot of the things I tell my brain to help me care less:


In a week, will what happens today matter? In a month? A year? No? Then why care now? Stop giving so much of a shit.


Will anyone die if something goes wrong? No? Then why do you give a fuck? Relax and jump in.


The anticipation of an event is usually far worse than the event itself. Unless you’re talking about a bad bout of gastro, or chain sawing off your own foot, in which case YEAH BE SCARED AND WHY THE HELL ARE CUTTING OFF YOUR FOOT, DUDE?!


Sharing a little of your own vulnerability gives permission to other people to do the same and magic happens when people are open and vulnerable. Go on, take the risk. It’ll be worth it.


Nobody can see that scared 14 year old inside you. Only you know how terrified you are. Sooner or later what you do you become so go do! 


Cup of concrete and a straw, baby. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t matter. The world will keep turning.

Don’t let fear rob you of your joy and hold you back. I trained my brain to care less, and you can too.

Are there things you’re scared to do?
What’s stopping you?

* OK no need to answer that.

** A common comment on my school reports. PRESCIENT TEACHERS, PEOPLE!

*** Being shy shouldn’t be confused with being introverted, although there may be a natural correlation. Introverts prefer to not be “out there” socially. Being shy or confident can apply to either style of social style.

**** Read a random sample of my blog if you need to see evidence.

A chat with a blogging conference virgin (AKA my niche is swearing, what’s yours?)

Frog:   “Hey there. Sweary grumpy frog here. How the fuck are ya?”

BCV*:  “Mmm phmmmhhh.”

Frog:   “What was that?”

BCV:   “I’m shitting myself because Problogger is only 4 days away.”

Frog:   “You’re right! Excuse me while I do a little froggy happy dance.”

Pause while frog dances.

BCV:   “That’s a nice dance. You’re being a bit insensitive though.”

Frog:   “Oh. So is this your first blogging conference?”

BCV:   “Yes. I’m not sure what to expect, or even if I should be there”

Frog:   “Relax. You’ll be fine. Bloggers – including the Blogerati – are normal, nice people.”

BCV raises an eyebrow.

Frog:   “OK normal might be overstating it. Bloggers are all rational sane oh who am I kidding friendly welcomingoh fuckety. Bloggers are PEOPLE. And frogs. And as people (and frogs), bloggers cover a broad spectrum of… well… everything.

           Lots of bloggers will be just like you. Wondering how many changes of underwear they’re going to need while gathering up the courage to go say a squealy querulous hello to Mrs Woog, Eden or Kerri Sackville.

           My advice – and this covers life in general, not just blogging conferences – just jump the hell in.”

BCV:    “But so many things could go wrong!”

Frog:   “This was me before my first blogging conference:”

           “And I did OK. Even though I’m the frog that broke her ankle the morning after, outside the hotel, in a city far from home. I was half of the scary pair that brought you spoon porn. You’re welcome.

           My blog is about bodily functions (repeatedly), fame, stupidity, sarcasm, dungeons, spelling mistakes, homicidal marine creatures, nasal beauty, world peace and painful breakups.

           So basically, totally silly bullshit nothing and everything. Looking for common themes, I think my niche might be swearing.”

Frog makes a note of her niche.

BCV:    “But I’m not a pro. I’m not sure I’ll fit in.”

Frog:   “I’ve not made a single dollar from my blog. I have less than 400 Twitter followers. Less than 300 unique visitors to my blog each month. And I’m going to Problogger 2012 with my froggy head held high, because I know I belong there. Because I’m a blogger.

           Although, I am feeling a bit low now that I’ve looked at my stats.”
BCV and Frog share a moment to mourn the state of their stats.
Frog:    “Feel better now?”
BCV:    “Yes thanks.”
Frog:    “Everything will be fine because nobody expects anything of you (except  you). That’s called freedom.”

BCV:   “You know, you’re right!”

Frog:   “Fake it till you make it, baby. See you at #pbevent. I’ll be the one trying not to break any bones.”


Do you expect too much of yourself?**

*BCV = Blogging Conference Virgin

**Yes? Stop it right now or there will be consequences.

PS If you can’t attend the Problogger Training Event 2012, you can get access to recordings of all the sessions by clicking hereto purchase a virtual ticket…