Do you fear an upcoming event? A new relationship? A career switch? A “new” you? Every person encounters fear in his or her life. This book will help you out by providing several strategies for dealing with fear. The main message is : Feel the fear, and do it anyway.
2. The Chapters Explained
Chapter 1: What are you afraid of and why?
According to Susan Jeffers, there are 3 levels of fear. They all come down to the essence level, which you should aim to address.
- The surface level: The fears on this level involve an ‘external situation’. Examples are: going back to school, public speaking, entering a new relationship, changing a career, etc.
- The ego level: The fears on this level involve our ego. They have to do with our inner state of mind. Examples are: rejection, failure, dissaproval, loss of image, etc.
- The essence level: This is the essence of all our fears. This fear can be described in one sentence: “I can’t handle it”. As Jeffers mentions: all our fears come down to the fear that you can’t handle whatever life will bring you. THIS is the fear we have to address.
To say it with a quote from the book:
“ All you have to do to diminish your fear is to develop more trust in your ability to handle whatever comes your way in life.”
So keep repeating to yourself: “Whatever happens to me, given any situation, I CAN HANDLE IT!”
Chapter 2: Can’t you make it go away?
Take a piece of paper and a pencil, and write down these 5 universal truths about fear.
Make them visible: hang them out in your room. Reading these on a daily basis will help you dealing with fear. Here they are:
- My fear will never go away as long as I continue to grow.
- The only way to get rid of my fear of doing something is to go out and do it.
- The only way to feel better about myself is to go out… and do it.
- Not only am I going to experience fear whenever I’m on unfamiliar territory, but so is everyone else.
- Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness.
Chapter 3: from Pain to Power
To deal effectively with our fears, Susan Jeffers wants us to move from a position of pain towards a position of power.
In a position of pain we feel helpless, depressed and eventually paralyzed, not able to take action.
In a position of power, we feel like we have a choice. This feeling makes us excited to take action.
So how do we make this switch?
- Switch from ‘pain’ to ‘power’ vocabulary: Our vocabulary detemines our actions. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Pain vocabulary involves: “I can’t, I should, It’s not my fault, It’s a problem, Life is a struggle, I hope, If only, It’s terrible.” Power vocablary involves: “I won’t, I could, I’m responsible, It’s an opportunity, I know, Next time, I will, etc.”
- Expand your comfort zone each day: Try to do something every day that makes you uncomfortable. Take a small risk every day. For example, call someone who you look up to or intimidates you. When you do this, your comfort zone will expand and you will feel more powerful. Plan the risk you’re going to take the day before. Visualize yourself doing it.
Chapter 4: whether you want it or not … It’s yours.
Reclaiming our power means taking our responsibility. We are responsible for our actions, feelings and emotions.
Susan Jeffers lists 7 ways to reclaiming our power:
- Avoid casting blame on an external force for your bad feelings about life. Nothing outside yourself can control your thinking or your actions.
- Avoid blaming yourself for not being in control. You are doing the best you can and you are on the way to reclaiming your power.
- Be aware of when and where you are playing the victim role. Learn the clues that tell you that you are not being responsible for what you are being, having, doing or feeling.
- Familiarize yourself with your biggest enemy – your Chatterbox. Make your chattering mind a loving internal friend.
- Figure out the payoffs that keep you ‘stuck’. Paradoxically, once you find them, you will probably be able to become ‘unstuck’.
- Determine what you want out of life and act on it. Stop waiting for someone to give it to you. You’ll be waiting a long time.
- Be aware of the many choices you have – in both actions and feelings – in any situation that comes your way.
Chapter 5: Pollyanna rides again
“Pollyanna?”, you might ask.
Well, Pollyanna is a delightful story about a young girl who made a game of finding ‘something to be glad about’ in anything negative that came into her life.
Read the following words very attentively:
“It is reported that 90% of what we worry about never happens. That means that our negative worries have less than a 10% chance of being incorrect.”
Does it make sense then, to worry and be pessimistic about things?
NOT AT ALL.
The best thing we can do is to stop feeding ourselves negative thoughts and instead use positivity.
Here are some ways to do that. (NOTE: These can be best done in the morning, as soon as you wake up)
- Listen to positive audiotapes or CDs. These can include affirmation, relaxation, meditation, motivation, visualization or inspirational audios and CDs.
- Read positive books that inspire and motivate.
- Read and surround yourself with positive quotes, index cards or Post-it notes on a daily basis.
- Feed your mind with positive sayings like : “I love myself”, “I relax, I know I can handle it all”, “I peacefully allow my life to unfold”, “I’m powerful and I am loving and I have nothing to fear.” The more you say these words, the more your inner self will start to believe them. Eventually, it will become a habit.
Chapter 6: When “they” don’t want you to grow
As you start to grow and become more powerful, you will get resistance from other people in your life.
Why is this?
Because those people – whether it’s family, friends or other acquaintances – have become used to a certain type of interacting with you. When that pattern of interaction is broken, they feel threatened and they react. It’s often their way to defend their security and justify their own behaviour.
Become aware of this, and stop trying to get everyone’s approval. The less we are dependent on approval, the more we can actually give to the persons around us.
Susan Jeffers recommends that – as we grow in life – it is very important to surround ourselves with like-minded and positive people. As she quotes:
“It is amazingly important to have the support of a strong, motivated and inspirational group of people.”
Where can you find these people?
Self-improvement classes, seminars or workshops. Make it a habit to network with people that are a bit ‘smarter’, ‘richer’ and more ‘positive’ than you. Find your mentors and learn from them!
Chapter 7: How to make a No-Lose Decision
I personally liked the idea of this chapter a lot. The idea is the following:
In life, there are no “win-lose” decisions. A lot of people get stuck in making important decisions because they feel like they are going to ‘lose’ something: status, friends, money,etc. The result is often that they feel paralyzed, not being able to take action.
Susan Jeffers came up with a “no-lose” decision model. This means that there is nothing to lose. Each decision will eventually bring you opportunities to experience life in a new way, to learn and grow, to find out who you really are and what you would like to do.
After you have made a no-lose decision, there are some important rules to consider:
- Throw away your picture: let go of all the expectations you created before making the decision. Since you can’t control the future, that picture might bring unhappiness in your life.
- Accept total responsibility for your decision: Don’t blame other people if your decision doesn’t bring you the expected results. You are responsible, period.
- Don’t protect, correct: Commit 100% to the decision you made; however, if it doesn’t work out, correct it. Change your path!
Chapter 8: How Whole is your ‘Whole Life’?
All the above words represent a “whole” life. When you put all your focus on one specific area – let’s say relationships – and you lose it, your life will feel empty.Putting your focus on one area will make you feel needy towards it. The fear of losing it will always be there.
As Susan Jeffers mentions, life is about finding a balance between all those areas. So if you lose something in one area, your life is still great because of all the other developed areas.
It is important to commit fully – that is 100% – to each of the life areas above. For example, if you’re with friends be fully with them. If you’re working, work full out. This will increase the quality of your life. A good exercise to do is to pick a box which you think is not enough developed yet and work on it every day. You can even set specific goals of what you want to accomplish for each area. Just try to find a good balance and between all the areas.
Chapter 9: Just nod your head – Say “Yes”
Our ability to cope effectively with our lives corresponds greatly with our ability to say “yes” to the universe.
What does that mean?
It simply means to let go of any resistance in the moment of unexpected events and to let go of any fear in anticipating those events. Everything in life happens with a reason. Learn to accept it and say “yes”.
As Susan Jeffers argues:
‘In saying “yes” lies the antidote to our fear.”
How to say “yes” more? There are a few steps:
- Create awareness that you can choose to say yes or no to any situation or event.
- Nod your head – and just say “yes”.
- Relax your body.
- Adopt an attitude of “It’s all happening perfectly. Let’s see what good I can create from this situation.”
- Be patient with yourself. It takes tome to adopt a “yes” approach to life.
Chapter 10: Choosing Love and Trust
In this chapter, Susan Jeffers talks about the difficulty that many people face in “genuine giving”. Most people give to get something in return: money, appreciation, status, etc. But if all your ‘giving’ is about “getting”, think of how fearful you will eventually become.
You will always fear that you will receive nothing in return. The solution is learn how to give genuinely.
Read the following quotes attentively:
“Genuine giving is not only altruistic; it also makes us feel better”.
“When we give from a place of love, rather than from a place of expectation, more usually comes back to us than we could ever have imagined.”
Give away thanks, information, praise, time, money, love, etc. As long as it comes from a genuine and sincere place, giving is the best thing you can do. Realize that your life is abundant. Make it a life purpose to give; you will soon realize that there is nothing to fear.
Chapter 11: Filling the inner void
Happiness does not come from external factors such as a new mate, house, job, etc. It is derived from within.
A lot of people try to fill an internal void with something that exists outside of them.
As Susan Jeffers mentions, all of us are really searching for one thing in life: the divine essence within ourselves, often called our ‘Higher Self’.
This Higher Self is a place within that is loving, abundant, joyful, kind and centered. It is not fearful at all. It is a source of positive thoughts and positive energy.
As human beings, we therefore have to tap into this spiritual part of ourselves. Each day, spend some time to be quiet and focus on that Higher Self. You can use tools I described earlier: meditation, positive affirmations, inspirational audios or whatever works best for you.
Chapter 12: There is plenty of time
Along your journey to a fear-free and fulfilling life, show patience.
To quote it from the book:
“The biggest pitfall as you make your way through life is impatience. Remember that being impatient is simply a way of punishing yourself. It creates stress, dissatisfaction and fear. Whenever your Chatterbox is making you feel impatient, ask it, “What’s the rush? It’s all happening perfectly. Don’t worry. When I am ready to move forward, I will.”
Say ‘yes’ to the universe and trust that it will all happen perfectly!