We all have that one influential book that changed our lives, and for me, it’s Feel the Fear And Do It Anyway by Dr Susan Jeffers.

This book does what it says on the tin. During a time when I suffered debilitating bouts of anxiety while at university, this book completely changed the game for me. I haven’t come across another ‘self-help’ book that compares since (and I’ve read a lot). In fact, I have lost count of how many people I’ve recommended it to. 

As we are in January, and many of us will be looking to implement positive changes in our lives, I thought there would be no better time than now to distil the key takeaway points from this book (and encourage you to get a copy). If you’re someone who sometimes experiences anxiety, indecision or self-doubt then this one is for you. 

I call upon some of the pearls of wisdom from this book on a daily basis, so hopefully there might be something that resonates with you too.

Deconstructing fear 

The quickest way to disarm fear is to simply understand it. The book explains that “at the bottom of every fear is the underlying fear that you can’t handle whatever life may bring you”. 

This really resonated with me. There’s more to our fears than what meets the eye. Usually, it isn’t the ‘thing’ that we fear so much, it’s more the repercussions, consequences and knock-on effects, and whether we would be able to cope with them. These feelings often come from a lack of trust and belief in ourselves. 

“If you knew you could handle anything that came your way, what would you possibly have to fear? The answer is nothing”.

Instead of resisting fear, one of the overarching themes of this book is to embrace it, keeping it front of mind that it’s a perfectly normal human reaction. That fear should be seen as a green light to go, not a signal to retreat. That as long as we continue to grow and push ourselves out of our comfort zone, we will always feel some level of fear. That it never really entirely goes away.

“The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it”.

It’s a way of reclaiming your power, to push through fear, rather than sitting back helpless and paralysed. Pushing through fear helps us to build our sense of self-confidence and trust in ourselves, which in turn, diminishes the fear. Acknowledging that everyone else (to varying degrees) also feels fear provides a bit of relief. It’s all part of the human condition. 

Feel the fear and do it anyway

Just say YES 

We are hardwired to want predictability and control. It’s human nature. Relinquishing a bit of that need for control can release a lot of unnecessary burden and pressure. We really never have as much control over things as we would like to think. This looks like saying “yes” to what life hands us. 

“We can’t control the world around us but we can control our reaction to it”.  

That certainly doesn’t mean sitting back and taking no action. It simply means trying our best in any given moment and acting from the ‘best-self’, then seeing what happens. Many of us will agree that life works in mysterious ways. What seems like a tragedy today may be redirecting you to something amazing in the future. It’s a case of trusting in the process and having a sense of hope and belief that things always work out.   

“When we have tried our best, all will happen perfectly”. 

The ‘no-lose’ model

To be able to say “yes” to the ‘universe’ and really mean it requires a ‘no-lose’ way of thinking. That life either brings us a blessing or a lesson. Either way, it’s a win-win situation. Unfavourable things happen and we all make mistakes, these things are an unavoidable part of living. But there is gold in the form of lessons to be mined from life’s trying times. And we must always embrace every opportunity to grow in life. To become better, wiser and stronger. Our lessons are just as important and valuable as our blessings, tough though they may sometimes be. This way of thinking can make a bitter pill much more palatable to swallow, by finding something to be grateful for in a given circumstance.

This also teaches us to take life a little less seriously and let go of outcomes (which are often completely out of our control anyway). When we can see situations as being win-win, this gives us the ability to take risks in life and to lean into our intuition a bit more.

Feel the fear and do it anyway

Acting from the ‘higher self’

Acting from the ‘higher self’, as described in the book, means to endeavour to act from the best part of who you are. To aim to take the highest moral action at any given moment. (Though of course, we’ll never have a 100% success rate – we’re only human after all.) I personally believe that this puts you in the best position and aligns you with the mysterious ways of the universe. That when your actions come from a good place, you’ll attract good things into your life. (Whether you believe in such a thing or not, or perhaps think it’s all in the mind, to me it seems like a better way of operating, to endeavour see life though a lens positivity and morality, than the alternative.)

What’s more, doing the right thing or treating others with kindness and consideration makes us feel better about ourselves. It makes us feel good to make someone else feel good. It boosts our self-worth when we can boost someone else’s. It instils a sense of confidence and belonging when we notice that our actions do matter and make a difference, and that we can do our little bit to set the world in the right direction.

I’ve illustrated this blogpost with photos from Penn-Y-Fan, Wales, from last summer (if you were wondering where it is). 

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