Fear Is the Mind-Killer

Leadership Educator

Tara Sophia Mohr is a writer, life coach and personal growth teacher. Her work focuses on helping individuals create more authentic, fulfilled lives. With an MBA from Stanford University and her undergraduate degree in English literature from Yale, Tara takes a unique approach to personal growth work that blends mind and heart, intellectual rigor and intuitive wisdom. 

Tara has a deep commitment to amplifying women's voices. She is the creator of the global Playing Big leadership program for women and the co-editor of two anthologies of contemporary women's writings, The Women's Seder Sourcebook and The Women's Passover Companion. Her "10 Rules for Brilliant Women" have struck a chord with tens of thousands of women around the world. In 2010, Tara was honored as a Girl Champion by the Girl Effect organization, which supports girls' education in the developing world. 
Tara is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and her writing on leadership and well-being has been featured in USA Today, the International Business Times, Ode Magazine, Forbes, and numerous other publications. She is also a poet, and the author of The Real Life: Poems for Wise Living. Visit www.taramohr.com to learn more. 


  • Transcript


How can you overcome fear?

Tara Sophia Mohr: Fear.  It's scary to be your authentic self.  That idea seems true because often, right, when you’ve thought about going for your dreams or really being more authentic in your work or your life a kind of fear comes up. 

And I used to think of it that way, too, and then I read a teaching by the late Rabbi Alan Lew, and it really changed my view on the situation.  Rabbi Lew talked about how in Hebrew there are actually many words for fear, and he talked about two words in particular.  One is pachad and pachad is a fear of projected or imagined things.  In our contemporary terms, this is what we talk about as the fear of the irrational lizard brain, right, it’s that over-reactive fear that sees asking someone out on a date as a possible life-threatening danger, or that sees sending your poem to a journal as a cause for incredible panic.  That’s pachad, the fear of imagined worst-case scenarios or consequences, kind of delusional fear that we’re all hardwired to have.

But here's the fascinating part: there's a second word in Hebrew for fear, and that word is yirah.  And yirah is . . . the closest translation in our language would be "awe," but it’s not exactly "awe."  Rabbi Lew defines yirah as the fear that comes upon us when we inhabit a space that is larger than we’re used to inhabiting, when we are in the presence of something sacred or divine.  And when I heard that I understood differently what I've experienced, what my clients experience, what you’ve experienced when you touch an authentic dream for your life.  There's some pachad in there - "Oh, my God, what is going to happen?" - but there's also a lot of yirah.  There's that sacred, trembling feeling of being in the presence of something really mysterious and other worldly. 

What kind of fear are you experiencing?

Tara Sophia Mohr: What's so powerful is that if you can realize that what you’re feeling is not just fear, but yirah, you can actually feel the sacredness of that feeling and you can welcome it.  You can live in a more peaceful way with that kind of butterflies in your stomach feeling that comes up when you think about going for your big dreams because it’s not big scary terror and fear.  It’s just yirah and it actually signals the sacredness of what you’re touching.

How can you overcome fear?
Evaluate the feeling and change your mindset.

Directed / Produced by
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd