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Feeding Paper Tigers

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“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure , the process is its own reward.” ~Amelia Earhart

So, I invited the “paper tiger” into my life this past weekend while driving home from Indianapolis. I’ve always had an extreme fear of being between two semis while on the highway…hell, who wouldn’t. Because of this, I usually avoid that situation like a diabolical dictator with a vial of anthrax.  I wanted to feel it this time. I wanted to feel the fear and know that I could navigate through the situation if it ever showed up unexpectedly. Right there in front of me was Pandora’s Box ripe for the opening: Two semis on either side of me. It menaced for a few seconds, as I contemplated my strategy for getting through the ominous tunnel the moving metal created. “Just go for it, Kellie,” I said to myself loud enough to conquer the Pink song on the radio.

Seconds seemed like minutes during my self-test. I stayed in the center of my lane and hoped they did the same. Then the “thoughts” came. Oh, shit! What if they swerve? What if they don’t see me? What if I sneeze? What if…? What if…?


I wanted to see and understand what this type of fear does to me and how I react while in it. I suddenly and so emphatically got the “aha” moment I sought! Fear is a paper tiger that we feed with equally transparent and lifeless scraps of paper. So, instead of being really super cautious and slowing down, I sped up and moved past the metal death trap faster. Hmmmm…another epiphanic point poked my ass. We want to move through pain, fear, and discomfort faster even if it doesn’t seem the smartest thing to do. Occasionally, however, intelligence and Wisdom have a need to separate during times of threat. “If I drive faster, I will be clear faster.” Seemed like wisdom to me… Hey, at least I didn’t close my eyes.

Fear is a paper tiger that we feed with equally transparent and lifeless scraps of paper. Click To Tweet

As soon as got past the semis, I started to recite all the reasons I will continually make it through tough and scary situations.

I am resourceful.

I am smart.

I am strong.

I am excellent.

I am creative.

Wow, that felt so much better than reciting the “What ifs” from before. The thing is, we have to encourage ourselves to move past the fear and doubt before it chokes the living shit out of us. And if we find ourselves in difficult or uncomfortable situations, we can use our resources (skills, wisdom, savvy) to move out of them safely (fast or slowly, depending on the acute need) and with our heads held high.

We have to encourage ourselves to move past the fear and doubt before it chokes the living shit out of us. Click To Tweet

Just so you know, I didn’t do this little extremely dangerous experiment just for the hell of it. It had purpose. Sometimes we have to feel the fear to understand it. I get it now. We are human and fragile, but we are also intensely more capable than we think we are most of the time. Those changes you want to make in your life…you know, the ones that feel like nooses around your neck or a spider crawling up your leg? Paper tigers, my friend. Just paper tigers.


All those avoided “situations” are the very ones that change you, that make you see who you really are and what you are made of. They build you up not tear you down. Those paper tigers want to be ripped to shreds and thrown up into the air like celebratory confetti. Change that you are ready for will happen fast. Just warning you…it can feel like a bullet train. I’ve experienced this lately.  If you are just stepping into this zone and need some time to acclimate, then take it. Your time will come if you keep purposely driving between the semis of your life. Oh, and BTW, don’t Google the phrase “between 2 semis.” And don’t go and really drive between two semis unless that situation presents itself to you and you don’t have a choice. Mine sort of showed up at the right time for me to overcome my fear. I don’t have to worry about it anymore. My extreme was a lesson for me. Your lessons are your own.

Change that you are ready for will happen fast. Just warning you...it can feel like a bullet train. Click To Tweet

What “scary” situations have you experienced that ended up being catalysts for the life change you needed and wanted? Please do tell…

About Kellie R. Stone

"I make no excuses for my diverse roles as a Rock Your Feminine Type Coach™ and Branding Expert, best-selling author, and crime thriller novelist. Yes, I do still chuckle a bit at the irony. I kick ass as a women’s biz coach by day and kill off vulnerable fiction characters at night. What the hell, it makes for some interesting dreams. I believe that everyone should pursue their passions no matter how out there they seem to be. One of those pure heart-fluttering passions for me has always been writing. Since I did, indeed, chase my dream of being a writer, I've published two non-fiction books in the self-development genre, co-authored an international best seller, and now I'm finally pushing my much-too-old-to-be-in-the-nest novel out the door and into the world. My whole world is empowering and I adore showing others how to live life unfiltered, whether I do that through the written word or my coaching work. I love my job!" ~Kellie R. Stone

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  1. Kellie,
    Loved the message and the imagery! I love the idea of doing what you’re afraid of from an observational point of view…definitely going to try that the next time something comes up.

  2. Brandy Schuster

    An absolutely perfect example of feeling the fear and doing it anyways! Your affirmations are powerful and I said them out loud for extra oomph while reading them! Thanks for the dose of courage and empowerment today! Gaining self-knowledge by observing is an important tool and you illustrated it well 🙂

  3. Such a great article, Kellie. It needs to be shared—so I will!

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