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Overcoming Fear

by Lisa Cybaniak

Shari Vandermolen is sharing her secrets to overcoming fear every single time she faces it. Don't let fear stop you from experiencing life like you mean it!

How many times do you think you turn things down out of fear – whether it’s a fear of the unknown, fear of failure, or even fear of success? On some level, we’ve all been guilty of this. But what if instead of letting your fear get the best of you only to be disappointed later for not giving “it” a try, you could use your fear as a motivator?

Today we’re talking about the coping strategies you can adopt in the face of fear, so that you never again lose out on something you really do want to experience.

Shari Vandermolen is an international vocalist and performer who’s debut album, Quarter to Nine, released in 2015. Shari has performed at historic Broussard’s in New Orleans, as part of the International Jazz Safari to Cuba, and at several Festivals.

She also founded Jazz in the Sanctuary, a monthly concert series featuring music artists from my hometown, Hamilton. Shari is also one of my nearest and dearest friends, although no longer geographically speaking!

Meet Shari Vandermolen

In a pivotal moment in her life, when battling bone cancer, Shari decided that life’s too short. During her battle, she lost a promising career and her fiancé, not to mention her health. But she also gained something incredibly valuable – the desire to ensure fear never again stopped her from doing something she enjoys doing.

You see, Shari was plagued with stage fright all through her younger years. And for a while, she allowed that fear to influence her decisions on her career. She wanted to be a singer, but stage fright left her believing this was impossible.

The cancer made her realise that this was an experience she wasn’t willing to go without. So, she developed a mantra: “If I’m afraid of it, I have to do it!”

She’s lived by those words ever since and created her singing career.

And now she’s here to share with you all the steps she takes, even to this day, despite all her success, to combat fear when it raises its head.

So, let’s dive right in!

It’s all in your head

When you face anxiety, your brain is designed to feed you those messages you’re all too familiar with. You know, the ones that sound like, “You’re not good enough”, “Why are you thinking of doing that?”, “You can’t do that!”  and “You’re not capable”.

Yeah, THAT voice is saying those words to stop you in order to keep you safe – that’s one of the major jobs of your brain, isn’t it? I mean, you feel fear, so that must mean you’re in danger!

Shari recommends realising that it’s not really you saying that to yourself but an auto response from deep within your brain, programmed to keep you safe from harm.

If you pay attention to it and recognise it when it happens, then you’re achieving self-awareness. And that will allow you determine if the response to the fear is warranted. Is this a life-or-death situation or a keep-your-ego intact situation?

Speak louder

One of Shari’s best tactics is to make sure she responds to the fear, and the voice that follows, by speaking louder than the voice. She describes it as putting those words into a manhole and using your voice, the louder one, to act as the cover over that hole. For her, this simple act allows her to at least get up off the chair.

Shari doesn’t just use this with the negative mantra that tries to play up, but with all the excuses she hears herself making. She gives a great example of being at a show in New Orleans, while on holiday, and wanting to get up on stage to sing with the band. Shari knows the band so all she had to do was get up during their break and go over and say hello.

But, Shari caught herself starting to make excuses as the band got closer to their break. She didn’t really need to sing with them, did she? Her voice wasn’t in as good a shape as usual, so she could just pass. She could sit back and just enjoy the show, right?

Luckily, she recognised the excuses for what they were – her brain trying to keep her safe, and she used her mantra, shouting it in her head as loud as she could: “I’m afraid of this so I MUST do it!” And that got her up off her chair and over to the band. The rest is history.

Build your confidence

Back in my days in Canada, I had an expression I used All. The. Time. “Fake it ‘til you make it!”

Shari believes in this as well. It’s the idea of acting like you are confident in order to become confident. And there are a couple ways you can do this.


If you’re talking to someone and feel a lack of confidence, use jargon and language that you are familiar and confident with that allow you express yourself effectively.

Even if you’re talking to yourself, shift your language into a list of all your strengths rather than all the reasons why you can’t, or shouldn’t, be doing this.

Body language

If you remember back to a time when you felt confident, close your eyes and allow yourself to really experience that moment again. I bet you’ve noticed your body posture changed. You can also do this by adopting the wonder woman pose – fists on hips, shoulders back and down, chin tilted slightly upward.

When you stand confidently, and/or use language you’re confident with, then you’re not only sending out a message to others than you’re confident, but your own brain is getting the message as well!

Recognise your progress

Shari’s been experimenting with these strategies for years now. It didn’t happen overnight, and because of that, it’s vital that you allow yourself to recognise and celebrate your progress.

Could it be that you notice you’re recognising the voice when it arises and are able to understand that it’s fear triggering your brain to protect you? Or perhaps you’ve noticed you can let go when you make mistakes – that the need for perfection has diminished.

Whatever it is, honour it!

More from this episode

Shari and I talk about so much more in this episode including the importance of knowing your outcome when fear strikes. Is this an experience you really want? Can you facilitate this for others? What are they getting from what you’re doing? Will you regret not doing it?

We also talk in detail about what happens after the event. You know, when you convince yourself to give the presentation at work, or in Shari’s case get on stage and perform, only to allow yourself to focus on nothing but the negative afterwards, depriving yourself of the pride and exhilaration of working past your fear?

One great take away from this episode is to make a list of mantras you can use in the face of fear!

Press play on the episode above – you don’t want to miss this!

You can get more information on Shari Vandermolen’s performances and get links to her music right off her Quarter to Nine website, as well as her SwingLine website. Want to follow Shari on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram? You can find her music on iTunes, Spotify, Deezer, GooglePlay and more!

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Music credit: I dunno by grapes (c) copyright 2008 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. Ft: J Lang, Morusque

Voice over credit: Shari Vandermolen. Shari is offering a free download of one of her songs to the fans of the Life Like You Mean It podcast!  Just visit and tell her where to send it. Shari’s debut album is available for streaming on all the major platforms including Spotify and iTunes.

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By Lisa Cybaniak

I am Lisa Cybaniak, Reiki Master Teacher, High Priestess, Author, Founder of Life, like you mean it, and survivor of 10 years of child abuse. I am doing my part to aid in the evolution of the Earth, and mankind by providing Reiki treatments and training. This, along with Massage Therapy and my monthly Full Moon Women's Circles, offers gentle, yet effective healing.