Book Review by Raymond M. Wong
Jeffers, Susan. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. New York. Ballantine Books, 1987, 2007. Print.
Susan Jeffers believes people can overcome their fears and this book shows how to do it. She defines fear in three stages. Level 1: things that happen to people such as dying, earthquakes, and accidents and actions such as asking for a raise, learning to drive a car, and public speaking. Level 2: inner fears: rejection, failure, vulnerability. Level 3: the culprit that drives all other fears – the inability to cope with a situation.
Her remedy for fear is simple: develop a trust in one’s ability to handle any situation. The premise: fear is immobilizing. The solution: take action despite the fear. She says that life is about growth and new experiences. When we face new situations, it’s inevitably going to raise fears and doubts. This is normal and universal. The way to overcome a fear is to do the thing we’re afraid of. Jeffers never said it would be easy, but she definitely believes it is possible and uses examples from her own life to illustrate. When she received a cruel rejection letter from a publisher: “Lady Di could be cycling nude down the street giving this book away, nobody would read it,” Jeffers did shelve her manuscript for years, but she pushed through her fear and eventually found a publisher.
One of Jeffers’s key ideas is that tackling a fear is always more productive than wallowing in helplessness and remaining stuck in an untenable situation: an abusive relationship, a boring job, or disrespectful friendships because we’re afraid of what might happen if we change or that we won’t be able to handle the change. Action is empowering. Paralysis due to fear makes us feel like victims.
Jeffers doesn’t just offer theory and concepts, she provides practical tools: a pain to power chart with corresponding vocabulary, a comfort zone diagram to outline risks taken, use of affirmations, guided imagery, and visualizations, steps to forgiveness, a process to make decisions without worrying about outcomes, a grid to prioritize the important areas of our lives for action steps, and embracing a higher power versus the negative thoughts constantly coursing through our minds.
Her book is straight-forward, practical, and offers wisdom and guidance to help people tackle their fears. Jeffers doesn’t get mired down in theory and explanations. She isn’t talking to the academician or researcher. Instead, she encourages people to take action against their fears and provides the path.