The Dare Response Review: Worth the Read?

Leestijd: 6 minuten

I read the DARE Response from Barry McDonagh when I was at the peak of my anxiety. But is the book worth the read or is it overhyped?

In this article I’m giving a short summary of the book and in the end my opinion about if it is worth the read or not.

But first a summary of the DARE Response…

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Summary of the DARE Response

The book consists of 15 chapters. And the first chapters of the book are focussed on helping you to believe in your own ability to heal yourself.

They are called:

  1. You’re the cure
  2. The DARE Response
  3. The DARE Response for Panic Attacks
  4. Give up Thinking You’re Normal
  5. Give up Saying No to Anxiety

These chapters explain in depth how recovering from anxiety works and what your recovery looks like when you start using the DARE Response.

One major insight I got from the first 2 chapters was the following sentence:

“The speed of your recovery is determined by your willingness to experience your anxiety in the right way.”

It opened my eyes about how I was fighting my anxiety all the time and how that behaviour kept me stuck in the cycle of anxiety. Well, after I read these chapters, I started to work on becoming more comfortable with feeling anxiety.

It is the first principle I teach people in my FREE Masterclass about overcoming anxiety. You can sign up down below before it expires.

So, after I read the first chapters, I no longer freaked out when I felt anxious. Now I stayed calm.

Why? Because my pounding heart was actually no longer a sign of danger, but simply a pounding heart.

Nothing scary!

Then the author explains in depth how the DARE Response works and why it is so important to use it. But what is the DARE Response? The DARE Response is a framework to respond to your anxiety in the right way.

Barry explains that we are never in control of our anxiety, like the waves of the ocean. But what we are in control of, is how we respond to those waves. And your response determines if you are tossed away by the waves… or can surf!

And we want to surf, right?

surfing min

You quickly learn when anxiety becomes a problem. And according to Barry this happens when you respond to your anxiety and the sensations in the wrong way: with frustration and anger.

Well, the DARE Response gives you the framework to respond in the right way. Because the longer you respond to your anxiety in the right way, the more your body will heal itself and bring itself back to its natural balance.

The DARE Response has 4 steps:

  1. Defuse
  2. Allow
  3. Run Toward
  4. Engage
Dare Response Steps

Let’s start with…


When you have thoughts or anxious sensations, respond to them with “So-What!”. For example:

“What if I get claustrophobic in the elevator?”

So what?

“I will just feel uncomfortable for a few minutes… that’s it!”

When you do this and also add some humour, you quickly calm your anxiety and take off the scary edge.


The second step is allowing the anxiety to manifest itself in whatever way it wants. When you resist or fight your anxiety, you create tension. Tension creates stress and stress creates more anxiety.

But by simply allowing the anxiety to be there in whatever way it wants, you drop much of the tension, which results in less anxiety.

Barry explains that it is not the anxiety itself that keeps you trapped, but your fear of anxiety that creates the problem. So the goal is to be comfortable with your anxious discomfort.

Getting comfortable will happen when you respond to your anxiety with the DARE Response. And doing this will quickly get your anxiety from a 10/10 to a 6-7/10 and then over time your general level of anxiety will decrease as well.

But there are 2 more steps you need to know…

Run Toward

When you are in a state of panic or high anxiety, you are experiencing a lot of fear from your sensations.

Now the goal is to have less fear of your sensation. Therefore, you want to do something counterintuitive: you ask your mind for more of the anxious sensations.

If you are at a party and feel your heart pounding you say:

“Hey anxiety, can you make my heart pound even faster!”

Scary right? I mean… why would you want more?

You do this because it shows your brain that you are not scared of the sensations anymore. This is how you shift from panic to power.

And now you train your brain that if you were in real danger, you would be too busy dealing with the threat, instead of demanding for more sensations. And this results in a decrease of the anxious sensations.

Don’t worry if it sounds vague… in the book there is a whole chapter about this step.


And the last step is to engage in some activity, so your anxious mind doesn’t get back in the driver’s seat.

I found it hard to learn this approach at first, because I was used to fighting my anxiety, but after using it week after week it got easier. And as a result, my anxiety got less intense.

The rest of the book focuses on the general hurdles anxious people deal with. Think about ending your fear of the anxious sensations: like a pounding heart, shortness of breath or lightheadedness.

But also how you can and should use the DARE Response in certain situations: like when you are scared of leaving your home, morning anxiety or even anxiety when you are on vacation.

The situation may change, but the principle stays the same. Whenever you feel anxious: use the DARE Response.

And the chapters are called:

  1. Give up Fearing These Sensations
  2. Give up Fearing These Situations
  3. Give up Fearing Anxious Thoughts
  4. Give up Your Safe Zone
  5. Give up Being So Hard on Yourself

Then the last part of the book is all about “being more nice” towards yourself. We anxious people blame ourselves for our anxiety and are frustrated that we are anxious about things other people are not. But Barry explains how compassion towards ourselves helps you to supercharge our recovery.

These chapters are called:

  1. Give up It Will Last Forever
  2. Give up Seeing This as a Curse
  3. Give up Your Crutches
  4. Supercharge Your Recovery
  5. Conclusion

And as a bonus he explains how you can further speed up your recovery, by changing your diet and adding exercise for example.

And last… he mentions that anxiety can enable you to grow and develop in ways that may not have been possible before. And that once a person really faces their anxiety or panic, they develop an inner strength that the average person never gets to develop.

My Honest Review: worth the read?

But here comes the important question: is the DARE Response worth the read?

There are certain books on anxiety that I definitely don’t recommend. But the DARE Response is definitely not one of them.

In the book you learn so much about what anxiety is, what makes it worse, but also what reduces it.

You learn about the things you shouldn’t do, why you feel stuck, but also the way out.

When I struggled with severe anxiety, I had days where I completely freaked out, because I couldn’t handle the anxious feelings anymore. But after reading the DARE Response, my anxiety decreased quickly.

It didn’t go away, but it went from a 10/10 to a 7/10 after reading the book… until over time it became less and less until it was at a minimum.

Was there also something I didn’t like about the book?

Normally I have a few things I didn’t like about the books I read… but this time I had none.

The DARE Response helped me tremendously with healing my anxiety. And right after I finished the book I saw tangible results.

Therefore, if you’re struggling with anxiety, I highly recommend you read this book. It will help you respond in the right way to anxiety, help you stop fearing your sensations and help you supercharge your recovery.

It will literally show you the door to freeing yourself from anxiety: the door that has always been hidden from you.


But do you want to know which 8 tips from the DARE Response helped me the most to supercharge my recovery?

Then read this article here, where I explain them in depth.

Thank you for reading and see you there!

Wouter Manders Coach

Over Wouter

Wouter is een Nederlandse mindset coach. Voor enkele jaren heeft hij geworsteld met angst, paniek en depressie. Dit was zijn motivatie om anderen te helpen om ook angstgevoelens te overwinnen. Met meer dan 6000 blog bezoekers per maand helpt hij veel mensen in Nederland om van angstgevoelens af te komen.

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