Book review : Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway
One-sentence summary of “Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway”: In our lives we’ve all at one time or another been confronted by “the fear”: fear of taking a decision, fear of losing a loved one, or launching a new project. In “Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway: What stops you from being the person you want to be and live the life you dream of? Susan Jeffers uses examples from her own life and shows us how to conquer our fears and how to finally live the life we have only ever dreamt of. She provides different methods in order to get there, in a clear and accessible language for all.
By Susan Jeffers 2007, 223 pages
Note: this guest chronicle is by Linette from the “Lire en Nuisette” blog, which motivates debutants to launch themselves on the web and look at work differently.
Chronicle and summary of “Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway”
Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway has sold millions of copies and has been translated all over the world, resulting in international acclaim. Its author, Susan Jeffers, holds a degree in psychology. Apart from having written more than a dozen books, she is also a popular conference speaker overseas. She is well known for being able to talk to everyone; everyone can relate to her anecdotes, young, old, on completely different subjects. It’s clear that her message is universal.
INTRODUCTION : Open the door !
In this introduction, Susan Jeffers explains how the idea of “Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway” came to her. It starts with a simple observation: fear is everywhere. Every one of us lives through it, and is either able, or not, to overcome it. Some people have so little confidence in themselves that their fears stop them from progressing. Susan Jeffers, via this little guidebook, offers advice and tricks on how to get on and take control of our lives.
The first step is simply to accept life’s imponderables, the decisions that it forces upon us, which means there is always the temptation of fear. It’s when Susan Jeffers first understood this that she took herself in hand. So she decided to help all those men and women that were fearful and decided to do it with a seminar called “Feel the fear and overcome it”. This book that Linette chronicles, is essentially a condensation of the seminar.
CHAPTER 1 : What are you afraid of ?
This first chapter reminds us that we are not alone in being afraid. It affects everyone, young, old, men, women, regardless of social standing; we all regularly have to face our fears.
The goal of this first chapter is also to help us identify our fears. To this end, we learn that there are 3 levels of fear:
1st level — the fears that we all have, like ageing, death, losing a loved one, etc.
2nd level — this is about our deeper self: the fear of exclusion, failure, underestimation of oneself, etc. These fears can have serious consequences on how our lives play out.
3rd level — this last level of fear is about a lack of self-confidence and not being able to “cope”.
To admit the truth and to develop one’s confidence are the two principal methods that allow us to face our fears.
CHAPTER 2 : Fear does not go away
Whatever we decide, we will always have to face fear. In fact, even the slightest change will create anxiety, a fear of failure. So we need to completely reform the way we think, because we have developed reflexes that imprison us in a sense of failure. The only way to change once and for all is to act and surpass oneself, as this is how we progress towards greater self-confidence.
It is essential to have good self-esteem; autosuggestion can help persuade ourselves that we are not so ‘rubbish’ and to do what it takes to feel better…
It is somewhat comforting to know that everyone has fear, even the proudest person in the world.
It is all about training your mind to react differently over time, so that slowly but surely fear no longer paralyses us. There is nothing worse than being locked away in our fears, to not dare to do anything.
CHAPTER 3 : From suffering to power
The real problem is how we experience fear and the effect it has on us.
In fact, when fear isn’t overcome it generates suffering, whereas when we do overcome it, we feel a real, overwhelming sense of “power” over oneself.
So as to chart the progress on a graph that starts with the word SUFFERING towards the word POWER, the simplest thing to do is to draw it on a large sheet of paper. After establishing your current position, regularly chart the progress you are planning on. Doing this is just one of the numerous tricks that Susan Jeffers provides, in order to visualise progress but above all to condition yourself to move forward, towards “power”.
The vocabulary that we use must also be chosen carefully as it translates our state of mind: this way, instead of saying to yourself that there is problem perhaps we should rather think “this is an opportunity”. It’s little key phrases like this that Susan Jeffers gives us, so that every day, hour and minute, we force ourselves to use positive terminology, which will influence our mind set.
Elimination of negative expressions like this, means we create a better image of oneself, which also projects a less pessimistic one for others.
A final goal is also to find ways to exceed our limits: this helps us regain self-confidence as we end up taking more risks and achieving things that make us even more proud.
CHAPTER 4 : Take responsibility !
Susan Jeffers revisits the notion of “responsibility” in this chapter. What exactly is “taking on ones responsibilities”? Is someone who spends their time complaining about other people, really responsible?
Well no! If you cast yourself as the victim you are not taking responsibility for your part in what happens to you.
Susan Jeffers suggests 7 complementary definitions that demonstrate what “being responsible” is, like: Taking responsibility is never thinking that what you have become or what you are experiencing is someone else’s fault or due to some external factor. — Taking responsibility is also about never criticising yourself.
Accept that you are no longer a victim. It is about growing up and feeling like an adult, strong in the face of adversity.
Then there are 6 small exercises designed to take all this onboard and become master of oneself. For instance, one exercise consists of being able to go a full week without any criticism or complaints about anyone. In another, we write down a list of reasons that we come up with in order not to progress towards our goals.
CHAPTER 5 : Be PO-SI-TI-VE !
This chapter is about positive thought.
Given the fact that 90% of our fears are baseless, what’s the use of being down in the dumps and being pessimistic? By constantly living in fear we create our own reality. So we have everything to gain by believing we are going to succeed, thinking positively and re-affirming it. We already know the power of words. But positive thinking isn’t that easy and requires constant attention as well as daily execution. Susan Jeffers shows us how to do this, and suggests for instance that we listen to auto-suggestion “cassettes”, read books, listen to soft music, put up positive messages around us.
At the end she gives us “an intensive programme of positive thinking for beginners” and guarantees this: we will experience a real renaissance if we follow her advice. However we should temper our words and not use positive thinking as an excuse to avoid reality. It is simply about making sure we bear in mind that there are solutions, even when we feel that things couldn’t be worse.
CHAPTER 6 : The obstacles to you fulfilment
There are many obstacles to our fulfilment but they mostly come from others, particularly close family.
In the very first instance they come from our partners, who love us for who we are, but not necessarily for who we could become. Sometimes this results in a break-up, but sometimes a rediscovery of the other person and a wish to accompany them on their voyage of self-fulfilment. An example to underline the theory: Susan Jeffers talks about an obese young girl who decides to take back control of her body in order to slim down. Her husband needed quite some time to get used to her and her new body and his jealousy went as far as leaving chocolates and treats lying around, to tempt his now very seductive wife.
Susan Jeffers then shows us what to do when family resist changes that we try to put in place.
To join us on the path to success, it is also a good idea to find a guide and to surround ourselves with what Susan Jeffers calls “rare pearls”. These are people who seem so much more fulfilled that us, more positive and who have so much to give us!
A sure sign that we are already evolving is what Susan Jeffers calls “the pendulum effect”: our mind-set alternates between periods of passivity, self-mastery and aggression. This aggression transforms our will to hang on and avoid falling back into the complacency that previous stopped our progress.
We are provided with a few remedies to avoid this “pendulum syndrome”. Essentially it’s about being diplomatic with our critics; so instead of replying “none of your business” to a worried mum, rather display self-belief and help her understand that we want support from her, not words that drive us further into self-doubt. The conclusion of this chapter reminds us that above all, we need to be our best friend.
CHAPTER 7 : The winner choice
One of Susan Jeffers’ central thoughts is the concept of the “winner choice”. Rather than think of life in terms of “good” and “bad” choices, we should convince ourselves that all choices are always “winner choices” and that they will deliver, whatever the outcome. From childhood we are taught to “be careful”, our perpetual quest for perfection means we flee any possibility of failure which in turn means we are deprived of experiences that instead could be enrich us.
Working on the basis that all our choices are winner ones, is a great way to conquer our fears and it allows us to take control, safe in the knowledge that come what may, we will achieve our goals.
As a result, we discover a decision-making method that allows us to apply the concept of the winner choice. After making the decision, we have to stay realistic and adjust things, as we will always face unforeseeable circumstances, which always crop up.
The conclusion of this chapter is that, by always making a winner choice it is then impossible for us to make mistakes, because what others see as errors, we view as opportunities. With this approach, all mistakes are beneficial. At the end we are given a few exercises to put the theory into practice! For instance, it’s important to keep saying to oneself “nothing is that important”. It’s a phrase worth repetition every time we have to make a decision, even if at first glance it’s a seemingly pointless question like “what shall I wear today?”. We are able to minimise those questions that we consider so crucial, when we reduce the importance of each of our choices.
CHAPTER 8 : What is “everything” to you ?
In this chapter, Susan Jeffers reminds us how good we are at locking ourselves away in our own dependencies, principally that of work.
This is because for many of us, work is the central activity of our lives. For others (and especially for women) it’s a loving relationship that at the centre of everything.
As a result, when “everything”is lost, we feel helpless.
One solution is to reduce our dependency on just one thing, have more than one interest and commit 100% to each one. This way, when one of them falls away, we can latch onto the others, even if the loss is painful.
If we find it difficult to engage with one particular aspect of our life, the solution is to “proceed as if” this thing is essential. We are given the example of Sandrine: she is stuck in a temp job and can’t wait for it to finish. Once she “proceeded as if” this work was the most important thing for her and she applied Susan Jeffers’ tips, she ended up entirely fulfilled in her role and loving her job.
The chapter concludes with an exercise that allows us to implement this chapter’s advice and to build up our life components in a way that nothing is “everything”. It’s actually about drawing a square, compartmentalised into 9 boxes: in each one, write down something you love and would like to do. “Family”, “ Love interest”, “Friends”, “Passion”: this allows you to write down in black and white, what really makes you tick, and truly take on board that if one of these disappeared, there will always be others to fill up your life.
CHAPTER 9 : Say “YES”!
To master our fears, it is all about “saying yes to the universe”.
It means we need to accept our life’s progress, whatever the imponderables are.
We also have to accept sufferance, as it is unavoidable. As such it is a “necessary evil”, from which we can learn.
To refuse sufferance is destructive and locks us into situations which stop us from progression and living our lives.
In conclusion, Susan Jeffers emphasises that you must accept that everything is about daily practice and training: it requires a lot of patience. The very first step starts with saying “yes to oneself”.
CHAPTER 10 : Give !
Are we generous? This is the question posed at the beginning of this chapter. Are we sure? This is the crunch of the matter. It’s rare that people actually give without the expectation of something in return.
So, to feel better, it’s important to know how to give and be altruistic. What stops us from really giving is once again fear, the fear of not getting something in return, the fear of our own needs not being met.
To know how to give is also to know how to say to thank you to people, even to those who have “hurt us”, it’s about shared understanding, spending the time, even handing over money.
One last exercise that is suggested at the end of this chapter, makes us realise how rich we really are with many things, not necessarily material, but all positive. All you need to do is write down in a notebook every positive event that could happen, or that has already happened: this way, we will be the only ones to realise just how rich our life is.
CHAPTER 11 : Cultivate the “Superior self”
The “superior self” is a concept addressed in this chapter. This is a notion around transpersonal psychology, which suggests that we lose touch with one’s sense of SELF when we are too preoccupied with external factors.
Therefore we must recenter ourselves and be aware of our spirituality. Our ‘Superior self’ expresses itself via our subconscious and has positive ideas only. It is the source of love, goodwill, affluence, etc. We could even say that trusting our intuition is really about listening to our Superior self.
Our subconscious translates this Superior self through a connection to the Universe’s energy, without which the world would not exist.
Other psychological themes are addressed at the end of this chapter like psychosynthesis or the technique of guided visualisation, which are other tools used in the fight against a lack of self-confidence. Psychosynthesis suggests techniques to resolve internal conflicts; guided visualisation suggests creating mental images designed to reveal negative aspects of our personality that we do everything we can to hide. Becoming aware of these is another step towards a better self.
CHAPTER 12 : Looking ahead
This chapter is the conclusion. It reminds us that in order to overcome our fears, we have to constantly learn, knuckle down, be patient and take our time. Impatience is a source of stress, dissatisfaction and ultimately, fear. A parallel is drawn with a mountain climb: the angle is steep, there are many obstacles, but bit by bit we can see a wider and more beautiful view. This is how we need to take ourselves in hand, to fear no more, but to dare!
Review of “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway”, by Linette from the “Lire en Nuisette” blog :
I discovered Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by accident when I was looking for material about self-confidence on the internet. At the time I was in a period of my life when everything was upside down: loss of my job, the birth of my first child. I knew what I didn’t want any more but wasn’t able to choose a new direction, and went on “without a goal”. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway is one of the books that changed my life and allowed me to take control of my future. It’s a real concentration of positive ideas and concrete proposals that provide hope, make you want to take the plunge and no longer fear failure.
This is how I decided to jump in and create my own blog.
You don’t have to do all the exercises to understand the beneficial effects: a simple read of it reveals a lot.
However I did find that the end was merely a rehash of what we had learnt beforehand, especially positive thinking, which we had covered in “Say Yes”. Many ideas are redundant and reappear throughout the book; this is probably on purpose as repetition is one of the tools Susan Jeffers suggests in order to mentally re-educate ourselves. Nevertheless, it feels like going around in circles. I also didn’t think chapter 11 was necessary, which made it very clear that Susan Jeffers is a trained psychologist. I didn’t think the psychological ideas put forward here, delivered much; the author could just as well have suggested a list of books that cover these other psychological notions, and concentrate rather on themes that the reader is more receptive to.
That said, this book is a must for those who want to regain self-confidence. For me personally, it finally woke me up and got me to do things.
- Lots of methods and small practical exercises
- Concrete examples that we can relate to
- Easy to read as Susan Jeffers talks to us directly and avoids uncivilised terminology. She knows how to teach.
- Repeats, rehashes on the theme of positive thinking which feels like going around in circles
- A rather complicated chapter 11 which doesn’t deliver anything new for the reader.
My rating :
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