Breaking Through Fear With Lynda Sunshine West

Penny ZenkerTake Back Time Podcast

Take Back Time | Lynda Sunshine West | Fear


We all face different kinds of fear. Some are rooted in our earliest childhood, and others are caused by our failures in life. Whatever it may be, fear is one of the reasons why we hold ourselves back from achieving our goals and unleashing our authentic selves. Penny Zenker chats with author Lynda Sunshine West about what it takes to break through fear using her very own seven-step method. They discuss how to courageously face abusive experiences and eliminate the unhealthy habit of procrastination. Lynda also shares the vital role of faith and a reliable support system in addressing your biggest fears.

Listen to the podcast here


Breaking Through Fear With Lynda Sunshine West

On this show, we are looking to help you work smarter, to help you stay focused on what’s most important, and to challenge yourself and learn some new things from our guests who have expertise in a variety of different areas. I’m super excited to have an old friend. We haven’t connected, so this is a great reconnection for us to get connected. Lynda Sunshine West is on.

She is going to be talking about breaking through your fears and how she did it and what she’s up to now is incredible. She ran away from home at five years old, and she was gone for an entire week, which is crazy to me. I was gone for about five minutes. She came home riddled with fears and in turn, she became a people pleaser.

At 51, she decided to break through that fear every day for a year. It was like her year of fears. In doing so, she gained an exorbitant amount of confidence that helped her now to share her story. Her mission is to empower 5 million women and men to write their stories to make a greater impact on the planet.

She is the Founder and CEO of Action Takers Publishing, a bestselling book publishing expert, speaker, and a 38-time number one international bestselling author, contributing writer at Entrepreneur Magazine, senior level executive contributing writer at Brains Magazine, executive film producer, and red carpet interviewer. You guys are all jealous of all that she’s done, but you can do it too. Let’s learn a little bit more about her journey. Lynda, welcome.

Thanks so much, Penny, and of course, as always, it’s great to see you again. You were at the very beginning of that journey of breaking through those fears. I’m glad that I was breaking through fears that I could meet you because otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have met you.

Looking Back

We met each other at a great forum called CEO Space. Did you join that organization so that you could start this journey? Was that it or you just thought, “I don’t know, I got to get here and that’ll take me to wherever it goes next?” Is that what happened?

It was the opposite of that. In 2015, I decided to break through a fear every single day because I realized that fear was stopping me from living my life. Anytime something was scary, I just wouldn’t do it. That was how I lived for 51 years. Having that epiphany that fear was stopping me, I decided to break through a fear every day.

In March of that year, we’re about two and a half months into breaking through fears, I was attending an event called Secret Knock, and the founder of CEO Space was a speaker there. He invited us all to attend the CEO Space. I broke out my credit card and I plunked down that money. It was a scary moment for me because I think at that time it was $7,500, which was, “Some room on my credit card. I’ll just put it on that.” I didn’t know what was going to come of it. I had no idea what was going to happen.

That’s a bold move.

Yes, it was and it was a fear that I was breaking through in that moment to invest in myself. A $7,500 investment in myself is what it was. I didn’t know anything about what would happen when I got there, or who I would meet, but I’ll share this with you. I got to the CEO Space event, which is just for those who don’t know.

It starts on a Monday and runs through a Friday, but on the Saturday and Sunday before, they do something called Capital class, where they teach you how to raise capital for your business. I had no idea what that was all about, but I was going to go early. I’m going to learn everything I possibly can during this event.

I got to the venue on Friday and they were hosting a happy hour and I didn’t show up to the happy hour, Penny, because I had driven there and I was tired. Saturday morning comes and Capital class is happening and I decided not to go down. Sunday comes and Capital class is happening. I decided not to go down. I stayed in my hotel room for two and a half days because I had a fear of going down there.

My imposter syndrome started showing up like fireworks. It was like, “I don’t belong here. Who do I think I am? I’m not a real CEO.” At the time, it was just me and my business. I’m like a fake CEO. I don’t belong here. These people are smart. I’m comparing myself to what I believe was going to be in that room. I was doubting myself. When I showed up Monday morning, I didn’t show up until 11:00 because I almost didn’t go Monday also.

I looked at myself in the mirror in my room, where I had been in my room for two and a half days, and ordered room service. I didn’t even go outside of my room. I looked at myself in the mirror and I said, “Get your clothes on and get down there. Go take a shower.” I hadn’t even taken a shower. “Get yourself down there like you own the place.” I finally made myself get down there. I’m so glad I did that because Penny, I can’t even explain, but that was the most growth I ever had in my entire life during that one week.

I believe it. It’s an incredible group of people. I was there. We met at this event. I thought that was a special event. Sometimes there’s just a little bit of magic, and there always is there, but I don’t know. For that particular session, I felt like there was a little bit of magic.

I hunted you out, by the way, because Penny was one of the speakers at the event. After you spoke about time at that event, the speakers always had a table where you could go sit at their table and learn from them during your lunch breaks and dinner breaks. I searched out your table, Penny. I have got to learn about time because I was terrible at time management. I just wanted to absorb whatever I could from you during that one hour of lunch. That was the start of it. That was the actual start of my doing something like that, and I said, “I’m going to go talk to this woman.”

Do you remember what it was that was that you took away from that?

I do. You had us do an exercise. I might not be able to say it properly, but you can correct me. You had us do an exercise where we wrote down what we did and I think it was a week. It might have been a day or a week. I don’t remember.

It was a week.

After that, you had us add it all up. I recognize that I do not live 37 hours a day in my mind, everything that I do equals 37 hours. That was a huge aha moment for me that I don’t have any idea of what I’m doing with my time.

I made some changes a little bit, but a similar exercise. I think everybody who’s reading starts there. It is just to figure out where you are spending your time and where you need to be spending your time. You can do that with a simple time audit or with a simple little exercise like that. It can make all the difference. It’s silly, but just getting it down on paper and seeing it in one overview can be powerful.

What was funny for me about it is when you had us do that exercise, I said, “I got this.” Too much confidence in what I was doing and how I was spending my time. That’s why I was like, “I don’t know what I’m doing.”

I think a lot of people feel that way. They even know they don’t know what they’re doing. They know, but they don’t know how to get out of it. I also think about your experience around fear and imposter syndrome. I’m not looking to minimize it or anything, but I think a lot of people experience that.

It’s very common.

You being so open and talking about it can be helpful for people to see where there are opportunities that they’re missing. You staying in your room, if you didn’t come out, you would have you would have missed all the people that you met and all the doors that opened because of those people that you met.

Yes, that’s one thing I talk about in my most recent book. It’s called Do It Because You’re Scared. Exactly what you said is that oftentimes, if we allow our fear to stop us from taking that step, that action, what are we missing on the other side? If we think about how many fears we break through, when you do break through that fear, what do you experience on the other side?

Take Back Time | Lynda Sunshine West | Fear

Do It BECAUSE You’re Scared: Opening Doors to Conquer Fear and Embrace Unforeseen Opportunities

Maybe you’re proud of yourself, you’re glad you did it, you met somebody that you wouldn’t otherwise have met, a door was open that you didn’t even know was closed. After that, you’re like, “That was amazing. I’m so glad I did it.” Think about it from this perspective. If that’s the case, and if what I learned was 99% of the fears that I broke through, I got a great result.

If that’s the case, why am I depriving myself of that great result? Yes, do it because you’re scared. Do not do it despite the fear because that’s disempowering. When you say, “This is fear, I’m going to do this because I’m scared.” You are now empowering yourself with the fear. It totally transformed my life, and I am just living in that one philosophy right there.

Breaking Through Fear

Give us a short overview of what doors opened up and where you are now.

Every single thing I’m doing today is a result of me breaking through those fears every day for a year. You don’t have to break through them every day for a year like I did. This was just a commitment that I made to myself. Why did I choose a year? I don’t know. It was random. It was completely 100%. I woke up on January 1st, 2015 and I said, “I’m going to break through a fear every day this year.” It was random.

And you stuck to it. That’s pretty incredible right there. That’s a feat in itself, considering that over 50% of people don’t follow through with their New Year’s resolutions.

The difference there. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I made New Year’s commitments, and that was a commitment to myself and to growth. The doors that have opened. That entire list of accolades that you mentioned there, all of that happened as a result of me meeting one person on that journey.

As you mentioned about doors opening, I met one person, his name is Greg Reed. He’s one of my mentors. I ended up meeting him in January 2015. I’m twenty days into it. I ended up meeting him. He’s hosting this event and invited us all to come, but it was too expensive. I was not going to go. I said that I’m not going to pay that money. I think it was $1,500.

At that time, I was accustomed to paying $25 for a networking event because I thought it was just like this big old networking event. My life coach was with me when he spoke at the event we were at. She said, “Are you going to go to the Secret Knock? I’m going.” I looked at her and said, “I’m not paying that money.” She stared me in the face. She got close and she said, “You don’t understand. You have to be there.”

I was like, “Okay, I’m going.” My life coach opened up my mind to who I am and I knew one thing I learned about her is that she saw in me what I couldn’t see in myself. At that moment, I said, “There’s something that she sees that I need to be there. I’m going to go.” It was that one yes to myself. That was my first financial yes to myself.

That one door was like a door to the entire world. It’s like when Dorothy she opened Oz. She lands in Oz and the doors just open and it’s all this beautiful color. That was when my life was opening up, and I didn’t even know what it was opening up to. It’s been absolutely like interviewing stars on the red carpet and having private one-on-ones with Jack Canfield and Les Brown.

Those are two of my favorites and becoming whatever I am, executive producer for a film, these different things. I’m becoming a book publisher and, 30-something times, number one international bestselling author. I was never into reading and never into writing. I was the most unlikely person to become a publisher because I had no interest in either.

I’m a movie watcher. I care about reading and all that stuff, but as I started my entrepreneurial journey, I started learning about books and I started learning about self-help books and books have opened my eyes to so many more things. I stepped into the publishing and that was fun. I wasn’t doing it as a publisher. I just did it for fun because my mentor does book publishing. I decided that I’d just follow in his footsteps. The next thing I know, I’m just pushing these books out, and everything is aligning perfectly. It’s been incredible.

That’s when you just keep stepping forward and stepping into it. I wrote something down here in my notes that it sounds to me like your eagerness to learn is stronger than your fear. It allows you to keep stepping through that. Is that a fair statement?

100% and I remember during that year that I was breaking through those fears, my life coach said something to me that stuck and she said, “You know what I love about you? You have this childlike wonder.” That’s what it is. It’s more like my desire to learn and grow. I desire to see what is out there. There’s so much in this world that we don’t know about.

Yes, it’s like that, “Woo, I’m so excited.” That’s great.

It is and every day has become that. It was interesting as I grew up in a very volatile, abusive, alcoholic household. When I came back home, I was just at the neighbor’s house when I was gone that week by the way, but something happened that week that locked tight inside of me. Nobody came to get me and since nobody came to get me, my belief as a five-year-old was, “They didn’t come to get me because they don’t want me around and they don’t love me.”

The reality is my mom knew where I was and she was in communication with a neighbor every day, but my belief was I didn’t know that. When I did come home, the reality was that I couldn’t escape this abusive environment and I just became fearful. I would hide in my room. When I would meet new people, I didn’t even look them in the eyes. I walked down with my head bent down all the time. I wouldn’t look people in the eyes until I was 51 years old because I had so much fear.

That’s got to be hard. Those are hard habits to break. They dig deep to get past habits that they have been there for, even if they’re there 20 years, which is enough, but 50 years for sure.

Here at CEO Space and all these environments I’m in now, a lot of people have just so much love pouring out of them. They’re giving and giving and I love that environment. I had to learn how to be that. I had to learn how to accept a hug. I had to learn how to accept somebody saying something nice about me. I had to learn these things because I didn’t live in that world. One of the things I say is I didn’t even know I was in the darkness until I became in the light because I’d lived 51 years of darkness.

I think that’s true for a lot of people. I think they don’t know until they experience it and because that’s your every day of what you live in. It feels like that’s normal. That’s what everybody else has experienced. Not that it isn’t normal, it’s your normal, but not that there isn’t another opportunity or something beyond that.

One of the reasons I love talking about this is that people can see that it doesn’t matter how old you are. I was 51. You can teach an old dog new tricks. To me, 51 isn’t old, though. For somebody reading, I have met people who, in their 40s, say, “I’m too old to do that.” Stop it. Bob Moogart, “Stop it.” You’re here to live.

Take Back Time | Lynda Sunshine West | Fear

Fear: Stop thinking that you are too old to learn something new. You are here to live your life.


Seven Steps

Sometimes people need to be shaken a little bit and that’s why I think sometimes we do need to. That’s why people hit rock bottom and then that’s when they change their lives. Sometimes we need a kick in the behind or something to push us into that space and recognize that life is here to be lived. If you’re not living it, it can also be taken away. What would you say for people who have maybe no big fears or debilitating fears, maybe procrastination?

Let’s just start with that. I think that there’s plenty of it’s just sort of resistance instead of the fear. How would you advise people? Cause I’m sure you get that as well. I’m sure, and you can correct me if I’m wrong, that some of these things still pop up again, and you must constantly work at it. Tips on how people can push themselves through when they’re feeling that angst of procrastination.

Procrastination is a great one. The imposter syndrome, perfectionism, all these things. One thing I learned during that year is that the vast majority of my fears, at least I can only speak to myself, but the vast majority of my fears were surrounded, centered on the fear of judgment. Oftentimes procrastination is because maybe we’re too perfect.

We want everything to be perfect, but mostly, it’s not our perfection because we’re perfectionists. A lot of times, it’s because we have this fear that if somebody sees what we did and it wasn’t perfect, then they will judge us. Goes back to the judgment. There’s a saying that more people are scared of speaking on stage than they are dying and that’s not true.

Our perfectionist mindset is typically caused by the fear of getting judged by other people. Share on X

The truth is that more people are scared of the judgment they may receive on stage than they are dying because you can speak on stage if nobody is around. It’s not about the stage. The number one thing that I learned is to recognize that I’m experiencing fear. First of all, that’s the very first thing, like having this awareness of what’s happening.

Is it something that you’re feeling in your body or what is the experience? How do you recognize it so that somebody understands how they might recognize it?

Yes, my hands could be sweaty, like my palms could be sweaty or shaking, my knees could be shaking, my stomach could be tossing and turning. I could get a lump in my throat. Maybe I’m getting a little bit of perspiration on my forehead. There are so many different ways that anxiety and fear show up. Recognizing that something’s going on inside of my body. What is it? Then figuring out what that is.

When you can figure out what that is, then that’s when you can take your next step. I created this. I’ll just share it as quickly. It is seven simple steps to break through fears every single time, and as you’ve been doing it for a year, I had to come up with a system of writing that wasn’t going to make this so hard for me. I came up with these seven simple steps, which I’ll share with you.

What you do is you take your fears. Let’s say you’ve been invited to a networking event. I used to go to networking events, but I kid you not, Penny. I would sign up for these networking events because I was told you need to go to networking events if you want to be a successful business owner. I signed up for these networking events. I would drive there, and when I got there, I would sit in my car. I would get on Facebook and never go inside because I had a fear of showing up.

When I did go inside, I would go to the back of the room and then I would sit on my phone and not talk to anybody. Now, my phone doesn’t even come out of my purse, because I have gotten over that aspect of that fear. Anyway, we’ll use the networking event as an example because that’s where Penny and I met, is a huge networking event.

You just ask yourself a simple question and the question is, “If I attend the networking event today, will it adversely affect my life one year from today?” In reality, you’re like, “A year, no way, this isn’t going to adversely, in a bad way affect my life.” You say, “No, it won’t.” Then what you do is you go to the next step and you say the same thing, “If I attend this networking event today, will it adversely affect my life six months from today?”

What we’re doing is we’re stepping down and we just step down through the process and we say, one month, one week, one day, one hour, and right now. “If I attend this networking event today, will it adversely affect my life tomorrow?” The reason that the word adversely is there, you can’t say, will it affect my life because, yes, it can affect your life in a very positive way.  The question is really important to use that word adversely and then you have to go through the whole question each time and answer it because our brain needs to be able to process that we’ve asked it a question.

What this did for me is that it brought me from that anxiety into logic. When I used logic, I was like, “No, this is not going to adversely affect my life at all.” It could positively affect my life. This means I need to do it because I’m scared. Everything I do today. I feel fear because I still feel it. I got to do this because I’m scared.

Faith Erases Anxious Reactions

I love it. There are so many more things that we would open up for us if we just did it anyway. That’s amazing. Is there anything else that I didn’t ask you yet that you think is important to share with the readers?

One thing I do is we’re talking about fear today. This is about time as well. Another thing I discovered during that year is that there are a bunch of acronyms out there, False Evidence Appearing Real, Face Everything And Run, Face Everything And Rise, for fear. I came up with my own acronym because one day, I was brushing my teeth and I was like, False Evidence Appearing Real. There’s nothing false about my fears at all.

They don’t appear real. They are real to me, and no matter how big or small a fear may seem to somebody else, it’s astronomical to us. It doesn’t matter what the fear is. It is fear. Fear is fear. I realized that one of the reasons I wasn’t breaking through or stepping through those fears was because I didn’t have faith in myself.

I didn’t have faith that I could do this. Sometimes, I needed outward approval or people to help me through this, to encourage me, cheerlead me on the way, what have you. I came up with my acronym for fear and that’s Faith Erases Anxious Reactions. When our fear is strong, it means we’re in that anxiety state and our faith is weak.

What this means is we need to switch it. We need to have our faith strong so that our fear will be weak. It might not disappear, but it will weaken when you have faith. This is faith in yourself. This is having faith in your mentors, your coaches, and those who can help you along the way. This is having faith that I believe in God. Having faith in God that He’s there for me and he’s going to take me across the finish line.

Tapping into your faith is something that will help you also to break through those fears. Just remember that there are people out there who want to support you. If you’re having people in your life who aren’t supportive, find people who will support you. That’s what CEO Space was all about. It was all about support and everything.

I think it’s a great point. If you’re in the wrong circle, that’s how you’re in the wrong circle. If you don’t have people who are eager to support you and you support them to be in a relationship, then it’s time for a new set of friends and a new set of colleagues or business associates or whatever level you want to call them. I think that’s a really good way to look at it.

Yes, it was interesting you say that because when I started this whole thing, this whole entrepreneurial journey, I had no idea what was going to happen and how my life was going to shift, but as I started growing and moving in different circles, as you mentioned, my old circle started disappearing. I remember the day I realized I hadn’t heard from one of my friends in nine months.

We used to talk every week for years, decades. I haven’t heard from her in nine months and I’m okay with that because I was growing and moving in a different direction and she was the same moving in her own direction. We drifted apart, and the reason I was okay with that was because my life was so much better.

It wasn’t about her; it was about my life being better because I was surrounded by people like you who were supportive, motivating, and uplifting. I needed to be around those kinds of people so that I could become supportive, motivated, and inspirational. I had to become that because I wasn’t that for so many years of my life. That’s not who I surrounded myself with. I made a conscious choice to be like, “You know what? I’m okay with that, and I’m going to keep moving and growing.”

I think that’s what growth is. It is constantly looking for people who are doing what you want to do. If you’re not doing it yet, it’s showing up in the way that you want to show up all of that. It’s not just about having it. It’s just about the nature and spirit of it as well.

Building Connections

One last thing, Penny. I think this is something that was an epiphany I had just recently. That’s why I’d love to share it as we’re going through life and business and we have time. I’m going to talk about time right here. There are so many things that maybe you want to do in life and you’re not doing them because you’re not sure how you don’t know how to take that next step, who to get the support from or what have you.

One thing I love to share with people is that right now, I’m doing this thing where I not only interview stars on the red carpet but also work with celebrities to publish their books. How did I get into that? I’m going to share with you how I did that so you can apply it to what it is that you’re doing in your life. I found out where those people were and I started hanging out there. It’s really that simple.

I found out that I could be part of an event. I do these gifting suites for celebrities for different events. There, I’m going to be surrounded by 60 to 70 celebrities. If I want to connect with one celebrity, I’m much more likely to connect with one when I’m around 60, than if I’m going on the internet and trying to find them one at a time. Wherever it is that you want to be, be there now.

Don’t try to figure out how to get there. Just get there. Just get there. Surround yourself with the right people who can get you there. That’s what I’ve done. I have surrounded myself with those who are in these areas, these circles, so that I can get into that circle. It’s amazing what unfolds when you just take those steps to get yourself out there. Don’t let your fear stop you because then you’re going to be delayed.

Wherever it is that you want to be, be there now. Do not try to figure out how to get there. Just get there. Surround yourself with the right people who can help you get there. Share on X

Yes, for sure. I want to point something out, though, that many people may not. So you put yourself in those places, but you’re also genuine. There’s a difference when somebody gets in those places, but they’re not genuine, and then they may not make those connections or it’s not received. I think the reason that you’re having that success is you put yourself in that place, but you’re also being genuine. You’re not trying to pull one over on someone or get them to do something for you. You want to learn you have that type of approach. I think that matters as well.

That’s true. Part of that self-discovery journey when I started working with my life coach was learning who I am so that I could be genuine. One thing I discovered during that year is that we can’t be authentic until we know who we are. I grew up as a people pleaser because, with my dad, the volatility, I always wanted him to be happy. I did what I could to make him happy and wanted to please him, carried over into the rest of my life.

As a people pleaser, I didn’t even know who I was. If you liked it, I liked it. If you hated it, I hated it because I wanted you to like me. I operated my whole life based on, “I just want people to like me.” Once I started to dive in and ask, “Who am I really?” That’s when I was able to show who I really am. It’s been hard. It’s been hard showing up and taking a risk that somebody might not like me. They might decide they don’t want to be around me anymore.

It’s a risk, but the results have been way outweighed the risk that it was big time. It’s been incredible. Just like you said, when I show up at these events, people feel this connection with me because I’m showing up as me. I’m not here to take anything from anybody. I love to create win-win-win situations. It’s been an incredible journey.

Closing Words

Thank you so much for being here. How can people find out more about you?

They can find us on and we’re all over the socials. We are on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram as Action Takers Publishing.

Thank you so much for being here.

Thanks, Penny. I appreciate it.

Thank you all for being here. I hope that you are walking away thinking where are you holding yourself back. Where there is an opportunity for you to say yes, that you’ve been saying no to because of fear or anxiety, and step through it. Ask yourself. As Lynda said, “Is this going to have an adverse effect in one year, in six months, and tomorrow?” No. If not, and you know that it’s only going to be an upside, then just do it and take it one step at a time.

I hope this is going to lead to bolder, bigger moves for you. I’m bringing it back to the time element that’s going to create you to be able to take back time. It’s going to give you more fulfillment and meaning in your life. That in itself is what time is all about. Thank you for being here. I’ll see you in the next episode.                                      


Important Links


About Lynda Sunshine West

Take Back Time | Lynda Sunshine West | FearShe ran away at 5 years old and was gone an entire week, came home riddled with fears and, in turn, became a people-pleaser. At age 51, she decided to break through one fear every day for a year and, in doing so, she gained an exorbitant amount of confidence to share her story. Her mission is to empower 5 million women and men to write their stories to make a greater impact on the planet. Lynda Sunshine West is the Founder and CEO of Action Takers Publishing, a Bestseller Book Publishing Expert, Speaker, 38 Time #1 International Bestselling Author, Contributing Writer at Entrepreneur Magazine, Senior Level Executive Contributing Writer at Brainz Magazine, Executive Film Producer, and Red Carpet Interviewer.


Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!