Title: Psychologist Susan Jeffers’s self-help classic, Feel the Fear … and Do It Anyway (1987, 2006.)
Idea for Impact: “You can drop an awful lot of excess baggage if you learn to play with life instead of fight it.”
Central Premise: You’re often held back by a “Grand Canyon” of fear. You’re wasting far too much time trying to perfect your mental state and seeking to feel happier, confident, and motivated.
Thought-Provoking Snippet: “It is reported that more than 90% of what we worry about never happens. That means that our negative worries have less than a 10% chance of being correct. If this is so, isn’t being positive more realistic than being negative? … If you think about it, the important issue is not which is more realistic, but rather, “Why be miserable when you can be happy?””
Mindset Change: Recognize the limited control you have over your emotions. Accept fear as a natural part of your mental development and learn how to live alongside your fears and self-doubts. Use positive affirmations—e.g., replace “It’s gonna be terrible!” with “I can handle it … it’ll be a learning experience!”
Caution: Don’t overdo affirmations. Cheery slogans such as “I Am Powerful and I Love it!” may lift your mood. But repeating them “at least twenty-five times each morning, noon, and night,” as Jeffers suggests, could make you feel worse by evoking the peevish internal counterargument that you’re not and you don’t.
Action Plan: Get on with the things you want to do. The momentum of positive emotions builds up as soon as you start taking action. “Every time you encounter something that forces you to “handle it,” your self-esteem is raised considerably. You learn to trust that you will survive, no matter what happens. And in this way your fears are diminished immeasurably.”
Why Read: An insightful prescription for why and how to get over your “urgh.”