Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway is a self-help classic. Published in 1987, it’s sold 15 million copies in 100 countries – not bad for a book that was dismissed by countless publishers, including one who said ‘Lady Di could be bicycling down the street giving away this book and nobody would read it.’
Written by psychologist Susan Jeffers, it argues that fear is part and parcel of life and that we need to accept it and carry on regardless. Jeffers says that if we sit around waiting for the day we feel brave enough, pretty enough, clever enough or strong enough to do the things we want to do, we’ll never do anything.
The secret of successful people is not that they get less scared by things, but that they Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. She says that actually we should all be scared every day because it’s a sign that we’re pushing ourselves and moving forward.
She identifies five basic ‘Fear Truths’:
The fear will never go away as long as I continue to grow. In fact, fear is a sign that you’re living life well – you’re stretching yourself, growing, trying new things. It’s a time to keep going, not a time to stop.
The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it. When you face your fear often enough it will stop holding any kind of power.
The only way to feel better about myself is to go out and do it. The more risks you take, the stronger you will feel in yourself, knowing that you can handle anything.
Not only am I going to experience fear when I’m on unfamiliar territory, but so is everyone else. Successful people don’t feel less fear than the rest of us – they feel exactly the same fears, the difference is they don’t let the fear stop them. You are not alone.
Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness. You might think that you’re protecting yourself by staying in your comfort zone – but really you’re not. You’re making yourself helpless, which is more frightening than anything else.
Fear is a green light Instead of using fear as a signal it’s time to stop, treat it as confirmation that you’re growing and living a full life.
You’ll handle it Jeffers says that the biggest fear driving all our fears is the belief that we will not be able to handle what life throws at us. For example, we won’t be able to handle it if we end our unhappy relationship, make a fool of ourselves public speaking, or if our new business fails. Her message is: ‘YOU’LL HANDLE IT’.
Positive thinking In the same way we have to exercise regularly to stay fit, so we need to practice positive thinking every single day. Jeffers recommends building reading inspirational books and audiotapes and read them/listen to them daily. Write out your favourite inspirational quotes and keep them next to your computer, in your car and in your bed…
No lose decisions Instead of being paralysed what’s the right or wrong thing to do – accept that whatever decision you’ll make will end up in a learning experience.
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes To use an American analogy – Jeffers says that even the best baseball hitters miss six out of ten times. Lighten up about your mistakes and be happy that you’ve had the experience.
Say ‘Yes’ to the Universe Even if things are going wrong or not to plan – accept and make the most of what’s happening. Say ‘Yes to the universe’ and everything becomes a learning opportunity. Good things can come out of the most dire circumstances.
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