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Feel the Fear . . . and Do It Anyway Paperback – December 26, 2006
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From School Library Journal
Jeffers discusses the crippling effects of fear in her personal life and explains how she formulated a course of action for conquering it. Her answers are simple, her course of action difficult only because it requires courage. She explains how fear is based on the uncertainty of change and the lack of positive self image. She avoids psychological lingo, and includes many case studies about careers and changes in personal life both of which are beginning to cause anxiety in many teens. Her message is reassuring: choices are not opportunities to make mistakes, but valid paths to growth, whichever path we take. She addresses the fundamental cause of fear the belief that ``I can't handle it!'' Feel the Fear is an important book, for while some young people are more crippled by insecurity that others, many do believe that the path to adulthood is fraught with dangers. Fear is doubtlessly a handicap with which they must learn to cope. Jennifer John Reavis, Episcopal High School, Bellaire
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Susan Jeffers was an American psychologist and author of Opening Our Hearts to Men and Dare to Connect.
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If you think that everything happens for a reason, that you really can't make a mistake, because whatever you chose to do had potential "goodies" (Jeffers' word)attached to your decision, that if things don't work out, you then have an opportunity to make another good decision, then this book is for you. It wasn't for me. Then again, I'm not a fearful person.
I would advise anyone who reads this, not to read it to the end. It was offensive to hear Jeffers describe Viktor Frankl's experience of being in a concentration camp, while maintaining his dignity, as saying "Yes to his universe".
If you are seriously phobic (or just extremely anxious) about something, bullying your way through it might not be the smartest approach. Consider your fears, talk to a professional, and then consider again before following the methods in this book.
After an accident, I became fearful of driving. I talked to a therapist, who told me I should "get right back on the horse." I told her that I wasn't just afraid of another serious accident -- I was concerned because when in a car, I felt confused and light-headed. She dismissed the physical factors and gave me a copy of this book. Five days later I was driving (feeling confused and experiencing some pain), and woke up in the ER. I'd had a minor heart attack, apparently brought on by the panic I'd felt while driving.
So please be cautious when jumping into a technique like the one laid out in this book. Your life could depend on your decision.
If it only were that simple. We all have fears but most of us don't understand why we have those fears and we need to understand the underlying reasons behind them so we can then "feel the fear and do it anyway." You will get none of that advice here.
Beyond that, this book becomes weird and painful to read starting at chapter nine when it turns to the metaphysical and it uses words like the "universe" and "higher self." I didn't get what was going on in chapters nine till the end and then it ended abruptly.
The beginning chapters didn't have any metaphysical stuff but they were just common sense and did not offer any good information regarding fear. I mean the author states stuff like: "...The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it." "...get out of your comfort zone." and "...be a Pollyanna." If it were that easy then I wouldn't waste the time or money on this book. Obviously it is not that easy and the way to get around your fears is to understand them so you can try to eliminate them. I did not understand how to get around my fears after reading this book and I got nothing but common sense advice and a bunch of platitudes.
On a positive note, the author doesn't talk about medications or anything like that. Honestly I would never buy a book that recommends medication to get over fear or depression. I believe that, as humans, we are strong enough and have all the power within ourselves to beat our fears and worries without the use of prescription drugs.
The book deals with everyday fears not fears for which you would probably need a therapists help.
I will demonstrate two areas where this book falls short:
Personally, I'm an overall positive person but I have a paralyzing fear of rejection. In chapter seven, the author suggests I use a "no-lose" model of decision making; suggesting that I look at the positive aspects of either outcome of any given decision. If you fear rejection, you can't do this properly because the fear of rejection will prevent you from even venturing out to make those decisions in the first place! It's nice advice and rather obvious but the book does not get to the root of the problem. It's very easy to just tell someone to be positive, it's more difficult to tell them why.
Secondly, I have a lot of things in my life that I am happy about and there are a few disappointments or areas that can be improved. Unfortunately these disappointments are the results of my fears and worries and they prevent me from fully enjoying my life and considering it "whole" or complete. In chapter eight, the author suggests that I construct a "whole-life" box. You basically separate this box into a nine square grid (more or less if you wish). You put one aspect of your life into each of the squares and then when one part fails you, is no longer a part of, or is taken from you, you just say to yourself "look!!, I have all these other things in my life so I remain happy and fulfilled! because that one aspect of my life does not represent the whole box." This is simply crazy. Whether you like it or not, there will always be something in your life that is just worth more to you than anything else. To say that you can simply compensate with other aspects of your life and be fulfilled and happy is ludicrous. If fear in your life happens to be caused by being lonely or the ending of a relationship, than there is no way that the other boxes titled "hobbies," "work," "leisure," "friends," "personal growth," etc., will compensate if they don't mean as much to you. The author tells you that you should make them mean as much to you but she never tells you how. This book could have been a home run if it could explain that.
Obviously I wouldn't recommend the book because while it does have a good message in telling you just to "feel the fear and do it anyway," it doesn't even scratch the surface of telling you the why and how. I'm a big fan of positive psychology but I am disappointed by the many books out there, like this one, that just leave you hanging. After you read enough pop psychology, a lot of the stuff begins to sound the same.
I don't know of a similar book to recommend, but I would think any title that discusses confidence is the place to start. After all, fear is inversely related to how much confidence you have.