Be Fearless

Change Your Life in 28 Days


By Jonathan Alpert

With Alisa Bowman

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Psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert shares his revolutionary five-step program that teaches readers to get rid of their fears — large and small — and find true happiness and success.

Most people have something that gnaws at them at night, a mess or unrealized dream somewhere in their lives that causes them to feel stuck, out of control, overwhelmed, incomplete, and dissatisfied. They want to run away, back away, and ignore what they fear — whether it’s a demanding boss, unsatisfying sex life, or distant love interest, but they can’t. The fear finds them anyway. It’s always there, and it’s the source of all of their unhappiness. It’s what lies behind every problem, and it’s what stands between them and the lives they were meant to live.

Psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert wants readers to know one thing: you can face your fear and create your ultimate life-and you can do it quickly. You can find your dream job. You can end that dead end relationship and get the love you want and deserve. You can overcome perfectionism, procrastination, panic, worry, rejection, failure, excuses and even the people in your life who keep telling you that you can’t. You can turn your dreams into reality. You can find happiness, success and love. And you don’t need years of therapy or even medications to do it.

Be Fearless is a 5 step plan that is guaranteed to transform the fearful into fearless. It’s based on a revolutionary formula developed by Jonathan Alpert, and it’s worked on countless patients whose amazing stories are told throughout the book.

In as few as 3 weeks readers will transform their lives using the 5 step program:

  1. Define Your Dream Life
  2. Break Your Fear Pattern
  3. Rewrite Your Inner Narrative
  4. Eliminate Your Fear Response
  5. Live Your Dream

By teaching readers to use fear to their advantage and take important risks BE FEARLESS will make the impossible possible.


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Table of Contents

Copyright Page

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Imagine your life one year from now. If it's the same as it is right now, are you okay with that?

I've posed this question to countless clients, friends, and colleagues. Most ponder, shake their heads, and give a firm "No."

I then ask, "What are you doing to change your life?" Most stare blankly and softly mutter, "Nothing."

They feel stuck, as if there's nothing they can do about their futures. They want to change their lives, but they don't know how.

I'm guessing you feel the same. Maybe you are sick of your job, a dysfunctional relationship, or a group of toxic friends or family members. Or perhaps you've always wanted to do something—go back to school, change careers, travel the world, or run a marathon. Or you may have wanted to walk away from a bad habit—to stop smoking, for instance.

It's possible that you've wanted to change your life for some time—for weeks, months, or possibly even years.

But something keeps stopping you.

That something is fear.

Fear is what makes you think that dream of yours is just out of reach. It's what causes you to obsess about that mess in your life—the one that makes you feel out of control, overwhelmed, and dissatisfied—but do nothing about it. It's what keeps you up at night, tossing and turning because you have a vague feeling that your life isn't all it could be. It's what holds you back from advancing in your career, creating fulfilling relationships, and getting what you want in life.

Indeed, fear is the epicenter of all unhappiness. It's what lies behind every problem, and it's what is keeping you stuck.

Why do some people stay in jobs or relationships they find unfulfilling? They do it because they are afraid they won't be able to find anything better. Why do some people shy away from public speaking and other types of presentations? It's because they are afraid people will roll their eyes or laugh at them. Why don't people ask for what they really want? They are afraid they won't get it. Think about what you keep putting off in your life. What is the fear that is keeping you stuck?

Because of your fear, you might believe that the following dreams are impossible:

  • Reaching the top of your profession
  • Starting your own business
  • Going back to school to start a new career
  • Finding "the one"
  • Traveling somewhere you've always wanted to go
  • Giving a toast at a wedding
  • Overcoming panic, anxiety, depression, or phobias

But all of those dreams—and many more—are possible. They are not out of reach. They only seem impossible because of your fear.

Like you, many of my clients initially thought their dreams were impossible. Then they realized that there was only one thing standing between them and what they really wanted. It wasn't luck. It wasn't a trust fund. And it wasn't circumstance.

It was fear. With my help, they learned how to overcome it. They realized that the difference between the unfulfilled and the fulfilled wasn't the presence or the absence of fear. It was what they did with it. The unfulfilled feel fear and give up. The fulfilled feel it and use it to their advantage. I've worked with countless clients to help them face one fear after another. They have gone on to turn their dreams into reality and live fearless lives.

You can do the same.

You can live a fearless life. You can turn your dreams into reality. You can have all that you want. You can overcome the barriers that are standing between you and success, happiness, and love.

You can create the life that you were meant to live. Be Fearless will show you how. All it takes is your willingness to try.

My Promise to You

I wrote this book out of a deep desire to help others. Like you, I was once filled with fear—fear that caused me to get stuck and miss out on what I really wanted out of life. Most of my clients have struggled with fear. We've all been where you are right now.

I also wrote this book out of my frustration with what didn't work. Countless clients had told me about the years they'd already spent in therapy—therapy that had only caused them to become more fearful rather than less. It was the same with various books and programs that they had tried. Nothing had worked, and it was a shame. It wasn't their fault. Way too often clients complained about that clichéd line therapists say: "How does that make you feel?" These therapists were using it as a crutch, and it was frustrating. My clients told me they found that one question maddening and even offensive.

They deserved better. With my help, they got better, and they did so quickly. You will do the same.

I want you to know that my approach isn't like that of other therapists or like that of many self-help books. Some of the BE FEARLESS prescriptions are counterintuitive and paradoxical. Quite a few are controversial, too.

But they work.

I've used these paradoxical yet practical prescriptions on countless clients, all of whom have used the five-step BE FEARLESS plan to conquer many types of fears, including fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of change, fear of public speaking, and even fear of not pleasing their partners in bed. They've found the courage to pursue their passions and become what they've always wanted to become—chefs, teachers, attorneys, doctors, actors, and more. They've been able to get out of dead-end jobs and relationships. They've found true love, and they have become highly successful.

They are creating and living their ultimate lives.

You can emulate them and go on to create your ultimate life too.

Based on the amount of time it has taken my clients to see results, I can assure you that:

  • Within just 24 hours, you will already be creating the life you want to live.
  • In as soon as 7 days, you will have broken the fearful patterns that have held you hostage for so long, and you will be feeling triumphant as a result.
  • In approximately 2 weeks, you will be practicing the art of fearlessness and will already feel more in control and optimistic about your life.
  • In as little as 28 days, you will have crossed a goal off your "Dream List" and you will have proven the following to yourself: It's easier to move forward than it is to stay stuck. You will also realize that your goals are not only worth attempting, they really are possible.

You will achieve success. The BE FEARLESS program will help you to reach the many life goals you've been putting off. You'll learn how your thoughts, beliefs, medications, desire to please others, expectations, self-talk, and even your therapist might be holding you back. You'll rewrite your inner narrative, calm your nerves, and take small but confident steps toward your goal. And you'll become just as fearless and successful as many of my clients have become, and as I have become too.

What Doesn't Work

Why is change so elusive? Why have you been stuck for so long? It's quite possible that you've been looking for a shortcut—a way to get what you want without facing your fear. Perhaps you have resorted to:

Waiting. Rather than being proactive and taking the initiative, perhaps you have spent time hoping that the right person will magically walk into your life, that the job promotion will just materialize, or that your spouse will suddenly start behaving in a less irritating way. If you wait for your dreams to unfold, your dreams will remain just that. If you take action, you'll turn your dreams into a reality. The BE FEARLESS program will help you find the courage to take that initiative.

Wishing. I am not a fan of The Secret and the so-called Law of Attraction on which it is based. I can't tell you how many clients came to me after they wished and wished and wished for better lives—only for their lives to continually get worse. The BE FEARLESS program teaches you how to stop wishing and start living.

Blaming. Have you blamed others for your problems? Perhaps you've gotten angry at your boss, your spouse, or someone else for making your life miserable. The BE FEARLESS program will teach you how to stop focusing on what you can't control and, instead, to put your energy into all of the things you can control. You can control what you say and do. It's not as easy to control what other people say and do.

Waiting, wishing, and blaming will not lead you to the life you really want. What will? The BE FEARLESS program.

Five Steps to the Rest of Your Life

The BE FEARLESS program will help you to live to your ultimate potential so you can find true love, happiness, and success. Here's a preview.

Step 1: Define your dream life. To find the passion and motivation you need to face your fear, you'll create your Dream List. On it, you'll write everything you would do if you didn't feel limited by fear (stress, discomfort, the unknown, change, and so on). You will dig deep, get honest with yourself, and define what you truly want. In the roughly three hours it will take you to complete the five simple yet powerful exercises in this step, you will have developed the courage to change your life. You will no longer feel stuck, and your goals and dreams will finally feel within reach.

Step 2: Break your fear pattern. Many people don't realize how they are being limited by fear. In this step you will diagnose, understand, and counter your personal fear pattern, the one that has been keeping you stuck in an unfulfilling life. In the short one to three hours it will take to complete the four short exercises here, you will finally understand what has stood in your way. More important, you'll know how to overcome your barriers to success.

Step 3: Rewrite your inner narrative. You'll complete five exercises over the course of one week that will revolutionize the way you think about change. You'll overcome the negativity and self-doubt that has held you back. You'll develop an inner voice that is positive and encouraging. You'll learn how to become your own greatest fan.

Step 4: Eliminate your fear response. In just two hours, you'll gain the skills you need to deal with nerves, anxiety, worry, stress, and panic. These sensations—racing heart rate, sweaty palms, dry mouth, and clouded thinking—can feel even scarier than your dream. To overcome them, you'll complete six life-changing exercises that will help you to transform fear into a strength.

Step 5: Live your dream. By creating and embarking on a Fearless Action Plan, you will finally change your life and you will do it quickly. You will make one small change at a time, each one leading to the next. In this way you will fearlessly progress toward your goal. Each change will bring you success—success that reinforces your fearlessness and paves the road to happiness.

By following the BE FEARLESS program, you will:
  • Find the courage to be who you really are, rather than the person you think others want you to be.
  • Overcome the sting of criticism or the need to continually seek approval from others.
  • Take strategic action at home, in career, and in relationships so you can reach your true potential.
  • Achieve what you once thought impossible, such as confront a spouse or coworker, network with grace, deliver a presentation, build a career you love, or be yourself on a date.
  • Gain a sense of control amid seemingly uncontrollable situations that range from job loss to romantic disappointments.

You will feel complete, and you will have cleaned up the mess that has been keeping you up at night. You will go to bed happy, you will sleep soundly, and you will wake up ready to fearlessly face the day.


Prepare to BE FEARLESS

Chapter One

How I Became Fearless—and How You Will Too!

You've probably tried to overcome your fear and do something about your problems. Maybe you've spent months sitting on a therapist's couch. Or perhaps you are no stranger to the self-help section of the bookstore. Yet nothing seems to work.

Why am I so confident that I have the winning formula that will help you change your life when other experts, books, and programs have already failed you? I'm confident because the BE FEARLESS five-step plan grew out of my personal experience. You see, I might seem fearless now, but I haven't always been this way.

Like you I was once held back by my fear, and I missed out on life because I was too scared to take a chance. By overcoming my own fears, I was able to become a highly competent therapist and better understand my fearful clients. I know, for instance, exactly why my clients struggle with change and uncertainty because I've struggled with change and uncertainty too. I am able to draw from what I've learned in overcoming my own fear so I can lead my clients to the same fearless place I've already found for myself.

Some of my clients spent years mired in therapy before coming to see me. They tried to change their lives so many times. Many told me, during the first appointment, that they had little hope. They doubted I could help them. You can probably imagine how gratifying it was for me to watch them conquer their fears and change their lives so quickly. Usually by the end of that very first appointment, they were already feeling more positive. For most, it took only a few appointments—less than a month—before they found the courage to make the first of several changes in their lives. Nearly all of them—no matter how lofty their dreams or seemingly impossible their goals—graduated from therapy in just a few months.

Their goals and fears differed, but the process for changing their lives did not. I soon realized that my clients were able to face their fears and change their lives by progressing through the same five steps. Those steps have become the BE FEARLESS program.

I'd like to tell you the story of how I used my fear to help others. It's my hope that by sharing this story, you will be able to see that a similar transformation is just as possible for you.

The Girl I Never Kissed

My fearful-to-fearless story starts in early childhood. As a toddler I wore Forrest Gump leg braces. In elementary school I spoke funny, couldn't pronounce certain words, and had to attend speech class. Until seventh grade I was at least several inches taller than my classmates.

Through my high school years I was terribly shy and so fearful of attention that I avoided parties, dances, football games, and social gatherings. While my classmates were at the prom, I was by myself, aimlessly driving my parents' Oldsmobile station wagon—yes, the kind with the fake wood siding.

I was especially fearful of girls. In my mind, they were big, bad monsters. They would never go for a tall, skinny, awkward boy like me. They would laugh at me. I was sure of it. Still, there was this one girl I really liked. Her name was Katie. She was popular, had lots of friends, and sat next to me in class, but only because our last names both started with the letter A.

I'm embarrassed to admit that to get Katie's attention, I tried all sorts of dysfunctional and ineffective tactics. Yes, I was one of those suckers who, out of desperation, fell for an advertisement in the back of a magazine for a pheromone spray called "Attractant 10." The spray was supposed to render me "irresistible to women." Interestingly, the product is still around today.

I ordered and began using the product right away. I put it on just before class. Yet Katie seemed unaffected. One day I managed to time things so that we walked out of school at the same moment. Here she was, right next to me! We were walking in the same direction. No one else was around. It was just us.

I managed to mutter an awkward hello and chat a little bit. Then she turned to go in another direction. It was now or never. If I was going to ask her out, this was my only chance.

"See you tomorrow," she said.

"Yeah, see you," I said.

She walked away. I'd blown it.

I was eighteen years old before I was brave enough to even kiss someone and well into my twenties before I dated regularly. I eventually overcame my fear, however, and developed the courage to ask women out with confidence. I went on to face and overcome many other fears, ranging from fear of failure to fear of criticism. Each time I faced my fear, I realized I emerged stronger and more confident. Over time, I began to see that fear was not something to hide from. It wasn't a reason to abandon my goals or dreams either. It was merely a temporary stressor. If I pushed through the short-term stress, I was able to move past the fear and get to any long-term goal I set for myself. This realization helped me to get through graduate school, develop my own practice, and deliver a style of therapy that is highly effective, innovative, and even gutsy at times.

BE FEARLESS: Change is scary and often causes temporary stress. That's why our natural reaction is to withdraw and hide. Yet this short-term stress is worth the long-term gain of greater happiness and peace of mind.

Daring to Be Me

I became a psychotherapist because I've always been fascinated with human behavior and psychology. Even as a shy kid, I gravitated toward people who had been ostracized because of their psychological challenges. Later, as a teen, I had a date with the famed sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer every Sunday night, when I listened to her radio show on my Sony Walkman when I probably should have been sleeping. I not only learned from her, I aspired to eventually grow up and become the male version of her. I wanted to be in a career that allowed me to help people and make a difference, and I wanted to reach the masses. Like Dr. Ruth, I wanted to use the media as a tool to help hundreds and even thousands of other people. I wanted to help people overcome their psychological challenges and go on to achieve greatness, and I wanted to do this in a big way.

Soon after I became a psychotherapist, however, I realized that I could not be the type of psychotherapist my schooling had trained me to become. In graduate school, I had been taught to help clients come to realizations by simply asking insightful questions. My schooling had warned against injecting my opinion into a therapy session. Rather than telling clients what to do, I was supposed to sit, listen, and ask what has now become a clichéd and frustrating question: "How does that make you feel?"

I just couldn't do it.

Rather than simply listening as clients vented, I found myself continually injecting my opinion, offering advice, and creating structured action plans for them.

For instance, one of my early clients came to me because he was living a lie and as a result was depressed. I'll call him Rick. Rick was married, and he was going to porn shops and having indiscriminate sex with other men.

As I listened to him tell me about his escapades, I kept thinking about his poor wife back at home. Not only was he exposing himself and her to sexually transmitted diseases, he was also forcing her to live a lie. He was a closeted homosexual who was masquerading as a happily married man. I imagined that she probably felt inadequate in the bedroom, wondering why she could not please her husband and why he didn't seem attracted to her.

How could I not say something to Rick? How could I just nod my head and listen as he told me about his infidelity? How could I just sit back and ask, "How does that make you feel?"

I couldn't.

I flat out told him, "This is wrong. It's disgusting." He was shocked. He said, "I've been to eight other therapists and not one of them has ever told me that it was wrong." Rick initially was annoyed with my honesty, but he ended up coming back to see me. He attempted to curb his porn shop visits and sex with strangers while he worked on finding the courage to come out of the closet and develop a healthy sexual relationship.

But his revelation about his previous therapists angered and frustrated me. Eight different therapists had all sat, listened, and said nothing as Rick had told them about what he was doing?

And he wasn't the only one.

I counseled additional clients who told me about past therapists who had dozed off during sessions or called them by the wrong name. They complained, at times, that they felt as if they had been helping their therapists more than their therapists had been helping them. How does that make you feel? was a phrase they made fun of. It was generic and it was useless. They admitted to spinning their wheels for years and not getting anywhere.

One of them had been in therapy for a decade! She had gone week after week and paid bill after bill even though she wasn't getting better. I asked her, "What were you gaining from these therapy sessions?" She looked at me and answered, "Good question."

I was disgusted with my profession, and I could see that the listening-only approach just wasn't helping people to get better. It only frustrated people. They would come to me and complain, "I've been to a dozen therapists. They just sat there and listened and didn't tell me what to do. I hope you'll be different." I soon found myself constantly explaining that I was not "one of those therapists."

BE FEARLESS: You overcome fear not by avoiding it, but by facing it. The more you face your fear, the more fearless you will become.

I thought back to the lessons I'd learned from my parents. My parents had taught me to give it my best and always do a good job. They were hardworking and often held second jobs. They encouraged me to work and, from a young age, I did. I delivered newspapers, tended to the locker room at a health club, and even worked as a cleaning person at a motel. They'd said over and over again, "If people are paying you, you give them what they came for. Give them what they need." With that in mind, I knew I wanted to deliver the best service possible, and I would.

Nodding my head and listening was not delivering that service. People were coming to me because they wanted to get better and they wanted to be told how to do that. I eventually decided to abandon the established norms of my field and I set out to help people get better the way I knew how: giving advice.

Therapy in the Real World

Not only did I decide to give advice and tell people what to do, I also decided to counsel them in the real world—in the very places where they felt fearful. Rather than keep them on a couch indoors where they felt safe and did not have to test their limits, I began taking socially anxious people to the park and asking them to walk up and introduce themselves to strangers. I accompanied clients with a fear of heights to rooftops and those who were afraid of elevators to elevators. I met them at their fear.

I told clients that we'd spend a session or two in the office, but most of our therapy would take place in parks, shopping centers, cafés, rooftops, and other locations. "This will allow you to practice important skills," I said. "Therapy in an office is safe. There's the comfortable couch, the quiet room. But will that allow you to face what causes you so much anxiety? You can work on your problems in the real world where they actually occur."

To my delight, nearly all of my potential clients were willing to try this new approach. David was one of them.

Facing your fear might feel nearly impossible to you right now. You might think that it's daunting. I understand that. I know that impossible feeling because I've felt it too. So have many of my clients. That's why I'm going to ask you to think about a question:

If I gave you a million dollars, could you find a way to overcome your fear?

I think you could. BE FEARLESS will get you there.

Fear of Approaching the Opposite Sex

David told me that he wanted to overcome shyness and anxiety, so I suggested that we meet at Central Park.

We sat together on a bench. I learned that David was a successful lawyer, but he was terrible with the ladies. If a woman looked at him, he would withdraw and look the other way. He was in his thirties, and he had convinced himself that he'd be living in his Manhattan apartment alone forever.

I couldn't help but notice that David suffered from a similar fear that I'd once had so many years before.

BE FEARLESS: Being fearless isn't something that some people are born with, and it's not found in a magical pill either. What separates the fearless from the fearful isn't the absence or the presence of fear. Rather, it's what they do with it.

I asked David to tell me more about his anxiety: when it occurred, what triggered it, how long he'd had it, what he'd already tried to deal with it, and what thoughts led to it. Much like me, David had suffered from anxiety and shyness since his teenage years. Social situations triggered a panic response. Simply going into a bar led to heavy breathing, heart palpitations, and rigidity. Some of this fear had been brought on by social failures. For instance, he'd read some books on how to score with the ladies. Then he'd embarrassed himself by using some really cheesy lines from these books on women he'd met at bars. They'd laughed in his face.

This handsome, educated, and successful guy thought of himself as an unattractive failure. He focused on any minor perceived flaw and magnified it to the point where he had nothing positive to think or say about himself.


  • Praise for BE FEARLESS:

    "A powerful book that will change your life."

    ---Stephen R. Covey, author, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • "BE FEARLESS offers a clear, practical, and empowering way to overcome negative thoughts, defeat your fear demons, and find your true strengths."

    ---Ira M. Sacker, M.D., coauthor of the bestselling Dying to Be Thin and author of Regaining Your Self
  • "In BE FEARLESS, Alpert shows you not only how to overcome your fear of failure, but also how to eliminate any negative forces that have been preventing you from achieving any goal you've ever set or any dream you've ever had."

    ---Dan Jansen, Olympic gold medalist, speed skater
  • "Jumpstart any aspect of your life with this concrete action plan. In a world filled with an endless stream of opportunities to connect with others, Jonathan Alpert provides readers with an invaluable opportunity to tune out the noise and tune in to themselves."

    ---Ian Kerner, Ph.D., New York Times bestselling author of Sex Recharge
  • "I don't usually like books with lots of steps and exercises and promises to change your life in a certain number of days. But in this case, Alpert got it right. Because you can't think your way out of fear, you have to act your way through it. Don't be afraid to read this book."

    ---Peter Bregman, author of 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done

On Sale
Jan 8, 2019
Page Count
304 pages
Center Street

Jonathan Alpert

Jonathan Alpert

About the Author

Jonathan Alpert is one of Manhattan’s most successful and accomplished psychotherapists. He appeared in the Oscar-winning documentary Inside Job, and is interviewed regularly on television and in print for such media outlets as Today, CNN, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Time and Ladies Home Journal.

Writer Alisa Bowman has been the collaborator on seven New York Times Bestsellers and her books have sold over two million copies.

Learn more about this author