Saturday, January 31, 2015

Book: Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers

The first three quarters of this classic self-help book is pretty good (four and a half stars, maybe five) but the final quarter is so shockingly bad that it almost made me feel queasy with a case of New Age nausea (no stars).

The overall message is one of taking action and saying yes to both your internal self and also to the external world, and the opportunities it present. It is quite uplifting and ties well to my existentialist believes with respect to personal responsibility and taking control of your own life. Jeffers does well to constantly emphasise the value of 'doing' first and not living in a state of 'if' and 'when'. There is a strong urging to step out of your comfort zone and do lots of small things to push and expand your limits. The important point to make is that doing this is a skill in itself, one that improves with practice.

As for the terrible last section, well, this is best ignored by rational minds. Topics mentioned include searching and listening to the 'divine inner self' (did you know that when you are far from your Higher Self you are suffering Divine Homesickness and that the power to lift a car comes from this Higher Self?), metaphysical laws of attraction, universal energies, and listening to impulses from a sixth sense of intuition and the subconscious mind. This section is god awful.

Now for the quotes and notes from the good bits:

- Fear seems to be seems epidemic in our society. We fear beginnings; we fear endings. We fear changing; we fear staying stuck. We fear success; we fear failure. We fear living; we fear dying.

- An ancient sage once said, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear."

- The common denominator is ... that fear is keeping all of them from experiencing life they want to experience it.

- Jeffers categorises fears in to:

Level 1 Fears
Those that Happen
Becoming disabled
Being alone
Children leaving home
Natural disasters
Loss of financial security

Those Requiring Action
Going back to school
Making decisions
Making friends
Changing careers
Asserting oneself
Being interviewed

Public speaking
Making a mistake
Using the telephone
Ending or beginning a relationship

Level 2 Fears (relate to inner states of mind)
Being vulnerable
Being conned
Loss of image

- Never let these three little words out of your mind - possibly the most important three words you'll ever hear: I'LL HANDLE IT!

- Five Truths About Fear:
1) The fear will never go away as long as I continue to grow.
2) The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out ... and do it.
3) The only way to feel better about myself is to go out ... and do it.
4) Not only am I going to experience fear whenever I am in unfamiliar territory, but so is everyone else.
5) Pushing through the fear is less frightening than living with the underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness.

- Jeffers notes that the issue is to do with how we hold fear, noting that the secret is to move from a position of PAIN (which produces helplessness, depression and paralysis) to POWER (which instead produces choice, excitement and action). Much of the trick to moving from pain to power is taking action. ACTION IS VERY POWERFUL!

Your life may look exactly the same to the outside world, but it is your own sense of internal peace and growth that determines where you are on the chart. It is totally a feeling within. Moving from Pain to Power involves a movement in your internal vocabulary from "I can't", "I should", "Life's a struggle", What will I do?" to "I won't", "I could", "Life's an adventure", "I know I can handle it". Your subconscious believes only what it hears, not what is true.

- Each time you find yourself in better control of your life you are moving to a position of power, which will ultimately reduce your fear level.

- Not only does your sense of self change with a more powerful vocabulary, so does your presence in the world. People who display an inner strength are treated differently to those who come across as weak.

- I suggest that each day you do something that widens that space for you. Call someone you are intimidated to call, buy a pair of shoes that costs more than you would ever pay in the past, ask someone for something that you have been too frightened to ask for before. ...Even if it doesn't work out the way you wanted it to, at least you've tried.

- As your power builds, so does your confidence, so that stretching your comfort zone becomes easier and easier, despite any fears you may be experiencing. ...You will be expanding...opening up...becoming bigger...but all at your own pace. As long as you take those risks - no matter how small - you are moving yourself to the right on the Pain to Power chart.

- If you know you can create your own misery, it stands to reason that you can also create your own joy.

- The point to remember is that when you blame any outside force for any experience of your life, you are literally giving away all your power...

- Taking responsibility means not blaming yourself. ...You're simply on a path toward greater self-fulfillment and it is a lengthy process of trial and error.

- Fully taking responsibility for your experience of life is a long process that requires much practice.

- List all the payoffs you get from staying stuck in some aspect of your life. What don' you have to face? What don't you have to do? What comfort do you get? What image do you get to hold on to?

- Be aware of all the options you have during the course of a given day.

- Start noticing what you say in conversations with friends.

- In a notebook, list the many choices available to you that can change presently upsetting experiences into positive ones.

- Determine what you want in life and act on it. Stop waiting for someone to give it to you. You'll be waiting a long time.

- Use inspirational quotes on index cards and affirmations, etc. Positive thinking needs daily practice.

- Do not use positive thinking as a means of denial. "Positive thinking in its most constructive form does not deny the pain and suffering that exist in the world". ... "The key is to know that you can lead a productive and meaningful life no matter what the circumstances are."

- The most important thing is for you to be your own best friend. Whatever you are doing - don't put yourself down. Slowly begin to discover which, for you, is the path of the heart. Which path will make you grow? That is the path to take. You might be surprised when your loved ones ultimately come to understand and respect that. If not, your new strength will allow you to break unhealthy ties and establish new, healthier ones.

- Living in the no-lose world: each path is strewn with opportunities -  despite the outcome.

- Finding out what you don't like is, paradoxically, as valuable as finding out what you do like.

- Also, consider, it feels better to come from a no-lose position? Why continue to feel pain, paralysis and depression?

- The knowledge that you can handle anything that comes your way is they key to allowing yourself to take risks.

- You're not a failure if you don't make it. You're a success because you try.

- Establish your priorities. This will require some soul searching. Give yourself time to really think about what you want out of life. This is a very difficult thing to discover for most of us ...

- Start thinking about yourself as  a lifetime student at a large university. Your curriculum is your total relationship with the world you live in, from the moment you're born to the moment you die.

 - An upset in your life is beneficial, in that it tells you you are off course in some way and you need to find your way back to your particular path of clarity once again.

- You are not going to succeed in everything you attempt in life. That's guaranteed. In fact, the more you do in life, the more chance there is not to succeed in some things. Look at how rich your life can be, however, from your many adventures.

- Create a grid, with the size of the squares representing the relative importance of different aspects e.g. relationship, work, friends, leisure, hobby, alone time, family, contribution, personal growth, etc. Is one box overly dominant? Think about how you would like to change the grid. Pick a box, close your eyes and imagine how you would like it to be ... how would you feel? Remember ACTION IS THE KEY TO YOUR SUCCESS. Set goals for different areas to become more balanced. This exercise is important - you are thinking about the basic structure of your life vs "If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always got." Have one box called the Higher Self, which informs and influences the other boxes.

- Say "yes" more often = positive action.  Herein lies the antidote to our fear.

- Acknowledgement of pain is very important. Denial is deadly.

- Saying yes means getting up and acting on our your belief that you can create meaning and purpose in whatever life hands you.

- Get into the 'flow'. This means consciously accepting what is happening in our life.

1. Create awareness that you can choose to say yes or no.
2. Nod your head - say yes.
3. Relax you body.
4. Adopt an attitude of 'Let's see what good will come from the situation'.
5. Be patient with yourself. It takes time to adopt a 'yes' approach to life. Say yes to you!

- If all your 'giving' is about 'getting' think how fearful you will become.

- Be the kind of person you want to surround yourself with.

- Jeffers does well to emphasise that courses, books and tapes are quick sources of tools and information but they are to be used and mastered throughout a lifetime.

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