“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.” ―
Susan Jeffers, Ph.D. (1938-2012) was a force to be reckoned with… especially with regard to her work surrounding fear. And let’s face it, folks, there is no better time to visit the subject of FEAR than right at this moment. Agree?
Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway is from the 1980s, just like many (most?) of my self-help books. I was a voracious reader, gobbling up any and all self-help tomes. Some were excellent, some were crap-on-a-stick. This one? Excellent. <<< So, let’s get that out of the way first, shall we?
Jeffers was a prolific writer, with 17 books to her credit but this one is – in my opinion – the most famous work. Its title has been oft-quoted … by me and about a bazillion other folks … beginning back in the ’80s through today. As in: TODAY. I’ve said it so often to myself as a person with health anxiety: Okay, Sher, it’s “whateever physical test time.” I know it scares you (the results, not the test itself). Just make that appointment (or get in the car / drive on over / walk to the building / walk inside / talk to the receptionist / go to the exam room). It really is broken down into those steps… baby steps… (nod to Bill Murray in What About Bob). But I digress.
Jeffers knew the bottom-line most important thing to remember and it’s the title itself: Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. Feel the fear… okay… feel it… go ahead… shake, freak out, cry if you have to… and DO IT ANYWAY. Genius.
The next thing that jumped out at me was found early in the book on page 33. I ask you to read the bit in the middle in capital letters:
Pure gold. What does it mean? According to Jeffers: EVERYTHING. It’s all about how you hold the fear.
And honest to God, people, we could stop right there, couldn’t we? But of course, Jeffer’s doesn’t want you to stop… and you shouldn’t. But you could. Just sayin’.
The rest of the book is filled with great info, exercises and ideas to get over the hump of fear. And in some cases, it can be a very large boulder, indeed.
For example: Take the Covid-19 virus. Please. (Insert drumroll and nervous giggle.)
It seems like we have two groups of people:
- Those who are taking this outbreak very seriously and are afraid for the health of their loved ones and themselves
- Those who are not taking the outbreak seriously and believe it’s simply another form of the usual flu, perhaps worse or not, nothing to worry about
Who is really afraid here? Of course, you’re going to say it’s the first group. I can’t disagree.
But what if I suggested to you that the second group is also afraid… but of a different thing?
Like what? You may ask.
Well, lemme tell ya: I believe this second group is afraid of losing their freedom to choose what is best for themselves and their families (and it could be argued: church parishioners and operation of state and local governments i.e. voters/ residents). Would you agree?
Fear is everywhere and it’s rampant. And why not? This is an unprecedented situation.
So, how does a book like this help? I think it helps in one big, over-all way!
- ACCEPT THAT YOU’RE AFRAID.
- TAKE THE NECESSARY PRECAUTIONS.
- DO WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE.
If you need food, make a choice about whether you’ll order from online or go to the market in person. If you’re going in person, bring hand sanitizer, wear a mask, stay away from others (at least 6′), be prepared to stand in line.
Check-in with family and friends through technology and maybe one of you can go and deliver groceries to the others after. You know, like carpooling for groceries. One goes, three others stay safe at home – especially those most vulnerable.
I am no diseases expert and that’s not the point, anyway. The point is this:
These times are scary. It’s normal to be afraid. But there are things that must be done. Do those things. But take precautions.
This crisis will be in history books for students all over the world for the rest of time. It is – as if we were fighting- a war. Treat it that way.
A word to those congregating and hanging out as if this is holiday time where you get to stay home and do nothing all day – like some folks in my neighborhood – don’t be idiots. If you don’t believe “the science”, believe doctors. Believe those who are ill. Believe those who have died. Please.