I’m so excited to do this book review of Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers because it is one of my all time favourite books. One everyone should read! Especially people who are scared of change and embracing the new.
Susan Jeffers (1938-2012) was an American best-selling author and sought-after public speaker. She appeared on many radio and television shows internationally. She saw herself as someone meant to do something in addition to raising a family. And boy did she, even thought at the time it was against society’s expectations.
When her children were young she attained a BA, Master’s Degree, and Doctorate in Psychology. She then became the Executive Director of The Floating Hospital, New York’s Ship of Health.
She survived a divorce, a mastectomy and a decade as a single working parent. She is a true example of someone who felt the fear but did it anyway.
She helped millions of people throughout the world overcome their fears, heal their relationships, and move forward in life with confidence and love.
You only have to look at her recommended reading list to get a feeling for her and what she was all about. Here are some of the books from that list:
Susan explains how fear seems to be everywhere in our lives. We ‘fear beginnings and we fear endings’! We also fear:
I see fear of these on a regular basis in my Hypnotherapy practice. People who want help getting through a job interview, exam or driving test have fear.
People who are ready to change their lives but are scared. People who have had enough are scared of what their lives have become and will continue to be.
Scared of not being about to lose the weight…scared of what they will do instead of smoking….. and anxiety is full of fear of course.
Teenagers who are scared of bullies or being themselves. I would say people are even scared to fully relax sometimes. And there is definitely fear around what others think.
But when you remove fear. You get better things in its place. You get power, energy and excitement.
Fear can be a useful response because it warns us of perceived danger and gives us a ‘boost’ to avoid getting hurt. Very useful for cavemen who had to avoid wild animals and also useful for that run you do to get out of the way of a car. But not always useful for some of life.
Susan lists fears are those that just happen like getting old, being alone or not having enough money.
And then fears that need action like changing career, losing weight or stating or ending relationships.
I would just like to make the point that fears do not need to be ‘big’ to feel big. The fear someone feels is not related to society’s perceived view of whether that is a justified fear. Fears that cause extreme fear are called phobias.
These kind of fears are around your sense of sense and often difficult to understand on your own. They seep into all areas of your life and cause problems. This is what the self-help industry is built on. An of course, as a therapist, I help many clients with this sort of thing.
These fears are ‘major’ and will probably hold you back. They include feeling like you can’t handle:
The good news is that Susan’s work aims to impart the knowledge and feelings which she poses as this question:
Question – If you knew you could handle anything that came your way, what would you possible have to fear?
Answer – NOTHING!
By lessening or removing your fear you gain more trust in the knowledge that you can handle anything that comes you way 🙂 Sounds great doesn’t it? As you continue to read the book (or listen to it as I did on a very long car journey!) you will feel this amazing sense that you can handle whatever comes your way. It is so empowering.
Our brains don’t know the difference between fact and fiction. So if you tell yourself good things, you will feel good. It is such a simple concept and one to teach your children for sure.
As Susan says in the book. We tell our children to be ‘careful’. This is giving messages that the world is full of danger. We say this because we don’t want them to hurt themselves and we will hurt too if anything happens to them. We are projecting our own fear onto them.
Can you imagine if Richard Branson had been fearful. Things would be very different.
If everyone had been to scared to go into space?
Or Columbus had been scared of sailing?
There are many strategies for pushing through fear. Susan’s approach is to push through one fear, into the next! She sees the growth that this gives. I was looking at Amy Porterfield’s webpage recently and saw she has 250,000 Facebook fans! She does webinars to help people with their websites and stuff and I thought, I bet she felt nervous on her first webinar! But she has pushed through the fear each time.
Another example of pushing through fear is when people hold spiders to get rid of their fear of spiders. This can have some bad consequences (I know because I have had clients in my Hypnotherapy practice that I have had to sort out because they have done this). But for many people, this works!
Overcoming fears makes you feel good!
It is natural to feel fear when you have to do something you haven’t done before. Whether that’s having a baby or a job interview!
One of the truest things I feel Susan says in her book is ‘pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the constant fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness’. How true this is!
Your mind is amazingly powerful, brilliant and creative and as much as it comes up with wonderful ideas that are helpful, it can also really go to down with feeling fearful, catastrophising and making you dread things that could be wonderful and exciting for you.
One of the best uses of Hypnotherapy is overcoming fear. Phobias are far more common than many people realise. It is estimated that more than 11% of the population have some kind of irrational fear. Here are some of the common fears I help people overcome:
Fear can stop you living the life you want to and doing things that you would enjoy or flourish at.
I am ready and waiting to help you.
When I feel nervous about something I always think of that saying ‘it’s the things you didn’t do that you regret, not the things you did’.
Talk about Hypnotic suggestion. Every time I picked up the book, I knew I was reading ‘rest’ and I felt ‘rested’ as a result!
Alex opens the book by explaining how we see rest as the absence of work and not something in its own right. I think this is the case for many people. How about you?
He goes on to say that if you put so much of yourself into you work then when you cease to work, you cease to exist. This is a strong statement! We have all heard stories of people retiring and passing away shortly afterwards and this being put down to them ‘missing work’ and being without purpose’. But without the evidence, this statement lacks truth for me.
He does say that work can be as emotionally fulfilling as being in love. Can you relate to that?
However the book is focused on the principle that many extraordinary leaders, scientists, philosophers and creatives valued the importance of rest and worked better as a result of the way they practiced rest.
The right rest restores the mysterious part of the mind and we underestimate how much good as serious rest can do us. I call this ‘mysterious’ part of the mind the subconscious 🙂
He gives us confidence to allow ourselves to rest by explaining that we need to allow ourselves to rest and remove the guilt for doing it. ‘You have to take rest and protect it from a world that is intent on taking it’.
Ok then. We will 🙂
If you work at 110% all the time, how much will you give when extra is required? Or will you lack the energy to give it more? By balancing your energy levels you will have the fuel in the tank that you need to put the pedal to the metal!
But it’s more than that. When you rest, you access a different part of your brain even though you are resting, your brain is almost as active as when you are working hard on a problem. When you become active again, that ‘different’ part of your brain turns off again.
I would call this part of the brain the subconscious mind. Alex explains how walks, art and music can wake ideas that are ‘slumbering’ there. Because when he talks about ‘rest’. He doesn’t mean lying down doing nothing, although that’s a pretty good way to rest!
He talks about rest being things that
No this isn’t a kit-kat advert. In his book, Alex mentions many tests to prove how breaks improve performance at work. He says ‘part of your mind is writing the next sentence, and the next paragraph, considering and discarding a thousand plot twists without you ever being aware of them’. For me this totally sums up the awesomeness that is our subconscious mind. It works away doing all kind of amazing things for us which we are never even aware of!
Alex talks about the importance of learning to monitor your attention and energy as this is a life skill that will serve you well.
Churchill took naps. Kennedy and Einstein too. But why? In case you didn’t know, a 20 minute nap can restore depleted energy and a nap of more than an hour takes you into REM state sleep and will help you remember more.
Cambridge mathematician John Littlewood said even for people whose mind naturally gravitate towards work, having clear boundaries between periods of work and rest allows them to get more from each. ‘It is too easy when tired to fritter a whole day but never getting properly down to it. You get nothing done and get no rest or relaxation’. Is that ringing any bells for you?
I didn’t expect walking to be in a book about rest but it totally makes sense. Danish Philosopher Soven Kierkegaard said ‘I have walked my way into my best thoughts’. Have you ever had that experience?
Some companies have walking meetings now which are said to be good for solving problems, discussing, bouncing ideas and eliminating distractions. Steve Jobs did it. There is evidence that your mind becomes calmer when walking through parks and green spaces. In tests 81% of students did better in tests when walking.
Plus walking in autumn is absolutely glorious, So let’s get out there!
I’ve long had a view that the Corporate work place is outdated. Many organisations are proud of themselves for offering flexible working. But the whole concept of work needs to be rethought out if we want to continue to evolve as a forward thinking society. By understanding how our minds work at their best and how to exploit our energy to be our very best selves, productivity and mental health will be much healthier.
No wonder so many corporate workers are so stressed. The way that they are working is not allowing them to rest or flourish. ‘Workers with little control feel more stress because controlling your time is liberating and restorative’.
And let’s not forget the 2 million entrepreneurs that are beavering away and want to succeed and so don’t take rest seriously for fear of missing an opportunity. Many entrepreneurs that I know are so passionate about their business they love working!
As someone who has suffered from fatigue in the past, I rate energy very high in my list of priorities and try to manage it wisely. I really enjoyed this book as it had the right balance of brain talk, stats and common sense for my liking.
I would love to hear your thoughts or tips on how you achieve good rest in the comments if you have time. Do you rest or are you pushing yourself too hard?
Sending you restful vibes.