Do you feel like you’re being held back from accomplishing your goals? Do you know exactly what you need to do to make your dreams come true, yet find that you lack the determination to take the necessary steps?

Welcome to another episode of The Art of Extraordinary Confidence, where today, we’re going to be discussing how you can break through your fears and tear down the walls that stand between you and everything you want to do in life!

The root of the problem that we need to address today is fear.

Whether you’re feeling doubt, shyness, insecurity, or discomfort, the compelling force behind the negative emotions that hold you back in life is fear.

Many people who have read my book, Not Nice, have expressed concern that it feels weird to be less “nice” out in the world. This is, in part, because of conditioning.

Over a period of many years, we consistently allow ourselves to stray away from anything that makes us uncomfortable. Over the course of an entire lifetime, you might choose to actively avoid discomfort millions of times. This sort of reinforcement totally engrains that response into our nervous system to the point where we don’t even realize we’re doing it.

So how do we change that conditioning?

To begin with, you must admit this tendency and make a commitment to confronting your fears. In this pursuit, you must accept that you have complete control over your circumstances—the words “I can’t” must never enter your mind.

It’s this simple: you can either avoid conflict or confront it—those are the only two options.

Every single one of us is scared of something. When we imagine confronting that one thing, we imagine all of the things that we believe will go terribly wrong in doing so. That mindset is not helping us.

Think about it this way: if you do or don’t start taking bold action and confronting your fears starting now, what will your life look like in five years? Sure, confronting your fears might result in failure or discomfort to some degree . . . but doing and changing nothing will result in failure and ongoing disappointment for certain.

Take a moment and really let this idea sink in: really picture what your life will look like in five years if you do nothing; picture how it will feel to be stuck in the same place; picture what it will feel like to see others around you moving forward while you stagnate.

Hopefully, this is starting to snap you out of the hypnotic belief that everything will somehow magically fix itself for you even if you do nothing.

The only way to truly see change in your life is to take action and make it happen yourself.

But how do we get ourselves to take that leap?

Well, if the problem is faulty conditioning, then the solution is to recondition ourselves with a new pattern of thought. Let’s say, for example, that you want to develop your ability to start conversations with strangers. That is going to take work in terms of developing our discomfort tolerance in social situations.

The good news? Discomfort tolerance is transferrable.

Each one of us has one area of our live in which we’re comfortable pushing ourselves: we can look a problem in the face in these situations, and we are able to make ourselves act despite our discomfort.

A great example of this is people who are able to push themselves physically. These people aren’t magical unicorns who somehow feel less discomfort than anyone else when running a marathon or lifting 300 lbs—they’re just able to look discomfort in the eye and act without hesitation when their minds say “Go!”

All you have to realize is that the discomfort you feel in intimidating areas of your life can be overcome just as easily as the areas in which you feel completely secure.

One highly effective way of doing this is to expose ourselves to discomfort intentionally.

While working with Dutch athlete, Wim Hof, I picked up on this method inadvertently. One of his training techniques involves exposure to cold, so I chose to engage in this practice to see how it would affect me. The results were quite surprising.

At first, I responded to the cold exposure with great fear and apprehension: my stress responses were in high gear and I felt like I was about to be attacked. Within just a week of doing it, however, it became no big deal.

For me, this clear example of discomfort exposure was so effective that I was easily able to translate it to other areas of my life—I believe the same is possible for you.

To begin to reprogram yourself through this simple and powerful practice, all you have to do is add 30 seconds of cold water to the end of your shower every day. You can stay in the warm water for as long as you like, but when you’re ready to get out, you must first turn the water as cold as it will go and stay in it for just 30 seconds.

Sound a little zany? Try it.

Not only is this a widely studied practice that has shown myriad health benefits (including increased cardiovascular performance), but it is also strangely empowering. In addition, it directly mirrors the mental choice you have to make in order to force yourself out of the habit of giving in to your fears in other areas of your life.

Maybe right now, you’re thinking that this sounds stupid and probably won’t help you. That is your fear talking.

I’m not going to lie: the first time is not pleasant. After you realize that 30 seconds is a short time, though, and you accept that you have already overcome the obstacle once, you remove a huge portion of the fear you face the next time you do it.

With each exposure, it just gets easier and easier, and that’s exactly how it is with facing discomfort in social situations.

If you could commit to this one practice for at least seven days, think about what you could accomplish in other areas of your life! All you have to do is say “Go!” and follow through.

Through this process, you will likely face all of the typical pitfalls of avoidance: bargaining, self-doubt, procrastination—I know I did. But what you will find is that by working through those pitfalls, you will better prepare yourself to do the same when facing your fear and discomfort out in the real world.

Over time, this work will become easier and more natural until you reach the point that you no longer need to focus on it: when you say “Go!” you will simply listen to yourself without hesitation. You will have a sense of power and control over your life, and it will be the result of your own bold action!

Start this practice today and share your experiences below! How has it changed your perspective in discomfort? What actions can you commit to in an effort to fuel accomplishment in other areas? How has discomfort exposure translated to other areas of your life? You have the power to begin making changes starting today, so make the commitment and get going now!

Until we speak again, may you have the courage to be who you are and to know on a deep level that you’re awesome.


Dr. Aziz