Face Your Fears, Take Risks

by Sharon S. Esonis, Ph.D.

“I am not afraid of storms for I am learning to sail my ship.”

Louisa May Alcott

Courage is a towering strength, one that has the revered status of a virtue throughout the ages and worldwide. To many people it represents something quite daunting, but in reality, it is not nearly as elusive as many believe.

Psychological courage propels a person from powerless to robust and increases exponentially the ability to transform an impossible dream into a mission accomplished. Walt Disney, the great dream maker, believes that, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”

I love watching the 150 watt light bulb go on during a person’s journey forward, experiencing the epiphany that facing your fears and refusing to be helpless makes you a mighty force for enacting your vision and ensuring the quest to become the best you can be. The process of learning to take risks and act boldly is truly an awesome one, the gift that keeps on giving. This is a gift you give yourself and the one you offer to others by your example.

What do you gain by becoming psychologically courageous? You gain yourself. There is a wonderful freedom that comes from being brave and facing your fears. Unchallenged fear is a prison that progressively depletes your world of choices as you comply repeatedly with its dictates. Avoidance leads to more avoidance, soon leading to a debilitating detour from a fulfilling, fruitful life. Anais Nin, the French author, contends, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

Just as avoidance leads to more avoidance, courageous thoughts and actions lead to more courageous thoughts and actions. As a psychologist, I have worked with so many people whose lives were tied up in knots by their uncontested fears and by the difficulties of not knowing how to manage the stressors in their lives. It is truly a joy to help them unlock the door. There are coaching strategies that can be instrumental in evolving from a fear-based approach to a proactive, self-confident march forward.

In the coaching relationship, I can help you develop the following:

• Managing fear instead of letting it manage you
• Making difficult/bold choices and taking risks
• Being ready, willing and able to face conflict
• Developing a proactive attitude toward difficulties in life
• Ending unhealthy personal relationships
• Making important habit changes
• Making change your ally instead of your adversary
• Becoming the person you want to be by pursuing your goals and dreams

If you’d like more in-depth information on ways to build and maintain Courage in your life, go to

Author's Bio: 

Sharon Esonis has spent the better part of three decades helping individuals live their dreams through her work as a licensed psychologist, life coach and author. An expert in human behavior and motivation, Dr. Esonis specializes in the burgeoning field of Positive Psychology, the scientific study of optimal human functioning and the core strengths that can lead to the achievement of one’s personally-defined goals – what we call “the good life.”

Dr. Esonis earned her bachelor and masters degrees at Ohio University and her doctoral degree at Boston College. While at BC, she studied under a preeminent psychologist who was renowned in the field of Cognitive Behavior Therapy and was an early proponent of the Positive Psychology movement.

Dr. Esonis is licensed in psychology in Arizona and Massachusetts, and in addition to her many years of private practice as a clinician and coach, she supervised masters and doctoral students in their clinical work at Arizona State University. She has served as a hospital staff psychologist and has lectured on topics ranging from stress management, meditation and relaxation training to assertiveness and sleep management. Today, her private practice in San Diego is dedicated exclusively to personal and professional coaching.

Dr. Esonis is a member of the American Psychological Association (APA), the Association for Behavior and Cognitive Therapy (ABCT), the San Diego Professionals Coaches Alliance (SDPCA) and is a Founding Member of the Centre for Applied Positive Psychology (CAPP).