Episode 133 |

Dancing With Your Fears with Kristen Ulmer

Big mountain skier Kristen Ulmer @kristenulmer shares how fighting fear was killing her soul. Don’t miss her story on @OptimizedGeek Click To Tweet


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This Week’s Guest:

How can you become bold and truly fearless? The traditional narrative suggests that the only productive way to address fear is to defeat it. Believe it or not, that’s not actually true. Instead of trying to win a battle against your fear, a far healthier approach is to lean into the fear. You need to fully feel it, accept it, and stop resisting it. In other words, instead of doing things in spite of your fear, do things because of your fear. Once you leave your comfort zone and live in your fear, you have room to grow.


In this transformational conversation with Kristen Ulmer, you’ll learn how to dance with your fears. You’ll learn how to talk to your feelings of fear in a way that honors yourself instead of rejecting part of yourself. Kristen is a true expert on fear. She was recognized as the best female big mountain extreme skier in the world for twelve years and was voted the most fearless woman athlete in North America. As you’ll learn, though, she isn’t fearless. Instead, she knows how to appreciate fear in a healthy, productive way.


Find Out More About Kristen Here:

Kristen Ulmer on Facebook
Kristen Ulmer on Instagram


In This Episode:

  • [02:17] – What was Kristen’s impetus to write about fear? She answers, then addresses how she balances fear and flow.
  • [06:18] – Kristen addresses the question of what unraveled for her after ten years of ignoring fear.
  • [10:33] – “Whatever you won’t look at is the key to freedom,” Kristen explains as she discusses what she did after having her revelation about fear.
  • [11:54] – What’s the process for repairing your relationship with fear? In her answer, she lists four distinctly different ways that people deal with fear.
  • [16:14] – Kristen discusses what she would say to someone who argues that lots of what we fear will never come to pass, so fear is a waste of energy.
  • [18:53] – We hear more about the significance of Kristen’s analogy of fear being locked away in the basement.
  • [21:15] – Whatever fear feels, you feel, Kristen points out. Whatever you feel toward fear, you also feel toward yourself.
  • [24:14] – Kristen gives an example of how she tries to talk to fear now, instead of telling it that she hates it and wants it gone.
  • [25:58] – Stephan takes a moment to share his experience with tapping and how it allowed him to do things that he had previously felt too much fear about.
  • [28:00] – Tapping is great and successful for getting you through a difficult moment, Kristen explains. She then offers a healthier alternative that doesn’t suppress fear or push it off to deal with later.
  • [33:28] – Stephan shares his reactions to the tool or strategy that Kristen has just suggested, comparing it to the concept of letting the tiger devour you.
  • [35:44] – Our language is important in how we look at fear, Kristen explains.
  • [38:48] – Is Susan Jeffers’ message about “feel the fear and do it anyway” is in conflict with what Kristen is saying, or is it part of the same message?
  • [39:50] – Kristen explains why it’s important to feel your fear instead of think about your fear, or even think about feeling your fear.
  • [44:29] – Most people who come across as fearless, or who are doing big things in their lives, are blocking out their fear. Kristen reiterates that this only works for about ten years.
  • [47:03] – Kristen points out that fear lies behind many different shadow voices, such as guilt, unworthiness, and shame.
  • [49:19] – What are some exercises that Kristen would recommend to help people stay meta-aware when it comes to fear?
  • [52:03] – Fear isn’t what holds you back; it’s your resistance to fear, or your unwillingness to feel it, that holds you back. Stephan then shares his own experience with the power of words.
  • [55:09] – In response to Stephan’s story about his stem cell procedure, Kristen shares the only experience with doing the procedure without anesthesia.
  • [58:53] – How can listeners learn more about Kristen or work with her directly?


Links and Resources:


Your Checklist of Actions to Take:

☑ View fear as a motivator. Having the presence of fear makes and keeps us alive.

☑ Don’t resist or bottle up my feelings. It’s okay to be afraid, ashamed or vulnerable.

☑ Keep my thoughts rational and positive when I feel fear and anxiety.

☑ Find an outlet for Zen such as meditation or any form of spiritual nourishment. Peace of mind is important to my well-being.

☑ Learn how to shift my thoughts without therapy. This will help me have a strong presence of mind when I feel scared.

☑ Stop doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome. Find ways to get out of situations when I feel stuck.

☑ Step out of my comfort zone. Whenever I get too comfortable, find something to do to keep my adrenaline rushing.

☑ Validate others feelings when they say they’re afraid. Motivate them to face their fears rather than telling them to not be scared.

☑ Read Kristen’s book, The Art of Fear, to learn more about embracing fear to lead a successful life.



S: In this episode number 133, you’re gonna learn how to face your fears. Well, actually, more like dance with your fears because your fear isn’t something to be loathe, ignored, or conquered but appreciated. Fear keeps you alive. We first covered fear in episode 73 with Ravé Mehta, and in that episode you learned how to hack fear. We’re not gonna hack it in this episode. We’re gonna befriend it, we’re gonna dance with it, we’re gonna love it, and it’s going to become our best friend. Who better to teach us this than Kristen Ulmer, who’s the author of the book, The Art of Fear: Why Conquering Fear Won’t Work and What to Do Instead. Kristen was recognized as being the best woman big mountain extreme skier in the world for 12 years and was also voted the most fearless woman athlete in North America. This combined with 15 years of studying zen and working with thousands of clients and her recent book, The Art of Fear, has radically changed the existing norms about what to do about fear and anxiety. Kristen, it’s great to have you on the show.


K: Stephan, it’s great to be here.


S: Let’s talk about fear because that is what your book is about, The Art of Fear, and what you talk on stages about quite a lot. I heard you speak at the Bulletproof Biohacking conference, you did a great job, and I’m so glad that we’re getting the chat now about some of the stuff I learned in your session. Let’s start with what was the impetus for you to write a book about fear? There are a lot of books about fear already written.


K: Well, my background was fear. I’m not a psychologist, I’m not a scientist, I’m not a doctor, I’m not a self-help guru. I instead have 30 years of practical, real world, in the dirt experience, dealing with a tremendous amount of fear, and then trying to figure out what to do with it.

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