Quick! What comes to mind? Going for an advanced degree? Diving off the high dive? Learn to speak French? Ask that cute boy out? Wear that dress in that bold color? Quit that soul-killing job?

When I see people frozen in their anxiety I often ask this question. I usually get one of these reactions:  “OMG I never though of that!”, “I’d do this! I’d definitively do this.” or “I don’t know!”


If it’s the first, ‘OMG, I never thought of that’, we then brain storm ideas. I’ll bet you have some good ones filed away in the back closet of your brain. What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

  • I’d take a trip by myself to Spain. I’d stop waiting for when it’s convenient for other people. I’d make a plan and go.
  • I’d ask for a raise.
  • I’d file for divorce.
  • I’d open a shop.
  • I’d write a book.

Then we take the next step. The idea is good, exciting, wonderful! But is it reasonable?

Afraid or Reasonable?

Deciding if it’s reasonable or not isn’t the same as putting up excuses not to do it. Do I have the money to go to Spain? How can I look after my safety? How much of a raise do I ask for? Can I afford a lawyer? All these things are challenges, problems to be solved along the way. Don’t confuse obstacles in the path for signs that the path itself is wrong. Too often we stop cold in the path toward our goal rather than just say to ourselves, “Hm, there’s a wall in my way. What do I need to get around it, through it, over it or under it, so that I can get on my path again?”

If I wasn’t afraid…

On the other hand, there may be ideas in our “If I weren’t afraid” bucket list that aren’t so reasonable for all kinds of reasons. If I weren’t afraid I would run and jump my horse over a three foot fence! That’s not going to happen. It’s unreasonable. The physical limitations of my middle-aged mare not to mention my middle-aged self, make such an idea truly unreasonable! I’m afraid of jumping fences right now, and you know what? That’s totally reasonable!

Once it’s determined to be a reasonable idea we can challenge ourselves to do that thing we’ve been afraid to do. We get busy putting our idea into action. This may be the hardest part but it’s also the most rewarding. It’s like breaking out of a cage. No matter what the results are, success, failure, falling flat on your face, soaring high with the eagles or somewhere in between – no matter what the result, we can be proud we didn’t let fear get in our way.

Publishing a book has been on my personal “If I weren’t afraid” bucket list. For years I worked on my draft of “7 Rules For Living Well With Chronic Illness” until a few weeks ago a reasonable little voice whispered, “Done is better than perfect. It’s done!”

Writing the book was the easy part. OK, that’s a lie! Writing a book is not easy but it is private and hidden and, therefore, kind of “safe”. Putting it out for public view is what freaks me out.

Today is my birthday! For a birthday present I actually took my own advice. I got an ISBN number, and uploaded the manuscript for pre-orders! While I’m kind of hyperventilating here, I realize it’s because I am doing something I’ve been afraid of, so of course, I’m nervous. And proud. And excited!

Join me! You can do this, too!

Not afraid to take a vacation inducing photo by Brooke Lark

Not afraid to write about being afraid by

Elvira G. Aletta, PhD, Founder & CEO

Executive & Personal Coaching, Individual & Relationship Counseling

Life gave Dr. Aletta the opportunity to know what it’s like to hurt physically and emotionally. After an episode of serious depression in her mid-twenties, Dr. Aletta was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease that relapsed throughout her adulthood. While treatable, the cure was often as hard to bear as the disease. Later she was diagnosed with scleroderma, another chronic illness.

Throughout, Dr. Aletta battled with anxiety. Despite all this, Dr. Aletta wants you to know, you can learn to engage in life again on your terms.

Good therapy helped Dr. Aletta. She knows good therapy can help you. That’s why she created Explore What’s Next.

Today Dr. Aletta enjoys mentoring the EWN therapists, focusing on coaching and psychotherapy clients, writing and speaking. She is proud and confident that Explore What’s Next can provide you with therapists who will help you regain a sense of safety, control and joy.

716.308.6683 | draletta@explorewhatsnext.com

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