Book Review: Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, by Susan Jeffers

We all feel fear in many different situations, some more than others. In the book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, Susan Jeffers discusses fear, how to deal with it, and eventually how to overcome them.

The book is from 1987 and I found my copy on a flea market a while ago. Either someone had not valued it enough to keep it, or then the owner just had wished to spread the knowledge further. Although the book is a bestseller and considered a classic, I didn’t find it too valuable, so maybe I’ll be giving it away too at some point. In my case, I already knew most of what the book had to offer, but some of the stuff was still good to repeat. Really good books should be read many times, the kind of books that have changed your life. These would mainly be some sort of self-development books, where its impossible to remember all the information and great quotes. From the books I read last year, these are at least the ones I’m going to read again: How to Win Friends and Influence People, Think and Grow Rich and Thinking Fast and Slow. My point being, this book doesn’t deserve a reread for me, but someone else could find it more valuable than I did.

Although the book didn’t make a lasting mark on me, it did contain som good stuff despite that. ”If you knew you could handle anything that came your way, what would you possibly have to fear? The answer is: nothing!” I can relate to this on many levels. The first example that comes to my mind are presentations. My fear of presentations comes deep down from the fact that I don’t understand the topic fully even myself. That makes it pretty hard to give a presentation about it. In contrast, if the subject was about some of my hobbies for example, I could talk for 30 minutes freely without needing any notes. In order to get rid of fear, you must get more trust in your ability to handle anything that comes your way.

Confronting your fears is less frightening than living with the fear of helplessness. In general, you will regret the things you didn’t do more, than the things you did. The ”what if?” mentality will paralyze you if you let it take over. The only way to get rid of a fear of doing something is going out and do it. ”Ships in harbor are safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” The quote is from John Shedd, and fits really well in the book. But, if you have seen Forrest Gump, you know what can happen to boats that stay in harbor too… For me a current fear, is the fear of rejection from women. I will be discussing it more in a future article, but until then, remember, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

Cold showers have been great practice for me in overcoming fear. People that live in warm places can’t really grasp what a cold shower means, before you’ve tried one in the northern winter. The water is so cold you start hyperventilating, and the agony before turning on the shower is crushing, but after the shower you feel like a beast. This has made me stress less about daily problems and stuff that earlier used to fear me. One example is talking to strangers, especially women. Nowadays I feel like nothing can make me fear anymore, that’s how scary cold showers are in the Finnish winter.

When you start to overcome you fears, take risks and grow, you are going to get resistance from people in your life. ”When you rock the boat, someone will tell you to sit back down.” This is one way to see who your real friends are. Those who don’t want to see you grow and succeed, don’t deserve to be your friends. They are just jealous they don’t have the same courage as you do. This is why its important to surround yourself with positive people. My problem with overly positive people is their incapability of taking critique, and accepting things as they are. I consider myself to be a realist, and I get frustrated when someone says I’m being negative when I’m just stating the objective truth. Be positive, but not a delusional optimist, that’s my advice.

On your journey of overcoming your fears, you will also encounter step backs. But remember, you did not fail, you just learned how to not do something. In the grand scheme of things, nothing is really as important as you think it is, while your thinking about it. If that one flew over your head, read it again, grasping this will spare you a lot of energy in life.

The last thing that resonated with me was a chapter about love and trust. The second half of the book didn’t really match the first half, and I felt it consisted of many different bits of life advice, that didn’t really add up. The link was that if all your giving away is about getting, you become fearful you won’t get enough back. This is a sad way to live life, but I know there are many who succumb to this. ”The trick in life is not figuring out what you can get, but what you can give.” Unfortunately, everybody aren’t in a position to give, and that’s why it’s so important to help others if you can. I am thankful for the fact that I have been enlightened to at least get to a position where I can make a choice, whether to give or not. This is a topic I definitely want to discuss further in an upcoming article.

As a conclusion, facing your fears is better than avoiding them, and by improving your ability to perform a specific thing you fear, you will see how the fear will suddenly go away. It’s better to take risks than living with the thought; what if? Facing your fears will also make you more confident and thus more attractive. If the fear feels too big to overcome, take an ice-cold shower and see what you think about it afterwards, it may be the fear doesn’t seem so hard to overcome anymore.

Good luck, I’m cheering for you!

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