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Mastering Fear Kindle Edition
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I would have wanted to see a more substantiative review before buying this book so I decided to write one for future people looking at it.
The main idea of the book can be summarized as the following:
1. Fear is good - it's your body's natural response to stimuli and it's normal to be afraid. In fact, most people who are missing normal fear response don't do well in life. Fear is there to help you. This is very well presented in the book and worth reading just to convince yourself to change your response to it.
2. Modern response to fear is that something is wrong with you when you are afraid and this needs to be re-framed. If you don't welcome fear as a normal thing that happens and have secondary emotional reactions to it, that's when you get stuck in anxiety, depression, worry, etc. Also, I didn't know this, but Maurer presents that your body can't be in fight or flight at the same time as eating, so he posits that this is where many instances of "eating your feelings" / using eating as coping mechanism comes from. Interesting.
3. The healthy way to deal with fear is to reach out and get support from others. We are social animals and it's very important that we have a support network of other people that we can reach out to in times of fear / stress. He does a good job of describing different support types that we may need and how it may be necessary to get them from different people.
4. The next section of the book breaks down how healthy support networks are so important for success in work and creative endeavors. There are a lot of examples in this section of successful people (CEO's, leaders, etc) having strong support networks and how they credit them with their success. These examples, in my opinion, read a bit like filler as they don't add that much to the central idea and don't really provide any actionable advice. By this time, you're pretty bought in to the idea so it feels like the author is beating a dead horse. Although the examples are interesting in their own right, they don't give you advice on, for example, how you should go about building a good support network to deal with the fear you experience in your life. This is where the book feels more like a business book with many stories of how companies relied on collaboration and teamwork for their success.
5. Relationships and fear. The author does a good job of explaining how attachment styles from early childhood influence later fear response for adults. He also explains how the brain is involved and how we fall into relationship patterns that may not be helpful. Not the best book I've seen to break through this but it's a good overview of what is underneath. Several examples of how even some semblance of support is important for good outcomes.
6. Ending chapters discuss how and why people choose the wrong path to deal with fear and what you can do about it. Reframing internal dialogues was a helpful part here, as well as a list of recommended next steps beyond the book.
I have eagerly awaited this book due to the importance of this particular topic and because Dr. Maurer's work is so important to the fields of Positive Psychology and Peak Performance. Mastering Fear proposes that stress doesn't actually exist--that stress is simply a term we use for our (often unhealthy) response to the very natural phenomenon of fear in our lives. The book makes the case, through great research, storytelling, examples, and exercises, that we can create a much healthier relationship with fear, and thereby favorably and measurably impact our work, relationships, health, and other areas of our life. By identifying the fear triggering an emotional response and engaging in healthier, more productive ways of dealing with that fear (e.g., the simple but often overlooked act of reaching out for support), we can not only create better outcomes in all of those areas of our lives (and more), but also have a better experience emotionally and in practical ways as we navigate the many unexpected things that occur in our lives.
I was struck by the research basis for the book, which clearly points to how resilience can be cultivated and how we can take simple but powerful steps to make a positive difference in our own lives, and in the life experiences of our partners, children, teams, and communities. I was particularly interested in his discussion of "the drama triangle," which gives great insight into what happens during interpersonal conflict and the options we have for addressing some of the root causes of that conflict that are either sparked by or fueled by fear. I am on my second reading of this book and have already identified additional points that are making a difference in my personal life and in my professional life as an author and speaker on the topics of Positive Psychology.
I cannot recommend this book (and Dr. Maurer's previous two books) highly enough. It will be a trusted resource in my library for many years to come.