Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway (Susan Jeffers Phd.)

Originally written in 1987 this is a wonderful book by Susan Jeffers about fear. It was her desire to deal effectively with her own fear that lead her to study fear and write her dissertation on fear. Even though this book is almost 40 years old I have never found another quite like it. I have found that when my clients read it and try the exercises they make faster progress in therapy.

She discovered that everyone feels fear when they try something new and that the only way to get rid of the fear was to move forward and go through it.
Feeling the fear is actually a sign that you are growing.
The only way to feel better about yourself is to go out and do the thing you are afraid of. Actually pushing through the fear will create confidence in your ability to handle more situations.

Life will always present you with new challenges.  That is life’s part in this drama called life. Your part is deciding how you will handle the situations and opportunities life bring’s your way.

One of the choices that we have is our attitude about the things that happen to us.  Do we see the things that happen in our lives as problems or opportunities for growth?

Many things happen to us that are beyond our power to  control.  Sometimes the only freedom that we are left with is the freedom to choose what our response will be.  Our response can make all the difference in what kind of life we will live.

When Susan Jeffers first wrote her book it was turned down by several publishers.  The book lay in a drawer for 3 years.  Then one day she took it out of the drawer and set it to publishers again.  This time it was published.  Her life was changed by that decision!

What do you say to yourself?

What we say to ourselves is really important. Negative self talk can increase depressive symptoms and heighten feelings of anxiety.  Often the negative self talk is a replay of what others have said to us.  Very often people are unaware of their self talk because they are doing it automatically.  They are upset and just not that aware of what they are saying to themselves.  This negative self-talk is based on past situations that formed the negative core beliefs that they have about themselves now.  They may not even remember the situations that caused the formation of these core negative beliefs.

Once when I was still working as a nurse, a unit clerk had made a mistake and said to herself; “Oh  (her name)  you stupid idiot.”  This went on as she corrected her mistake.  Finally I stopped her and said ” We all make mistakes.  Its OK thats why 2 of us check the orders.  You need to stop calling yourself names.”  She seemed surprised when I said that to her.  Then she said: “Well I am an idiot.”   No she wasn’t,  but that was how she saw herself.  She believed a lie.  I can only imagine how that affected the rest of her life.  She was a nice, lovely person and great to work with but I doubt that she saw herself that way…….

Life is not easy……..It can be difficult don’t so make it any harder for yourself with negative self talk.  We would never say the things to our best friend that we say to ourselves.  Start noticing what you say to yourself and ask yourself if its really true?  How do you know its true?  Take a piece of paper and write down the evidence for and against it.  My guess it that you will find out its a lie.  Replace it with the truth.  With the situation above she may have been trying to take the orders off too fast or her mind was on something else.  So the mistake was really a call for  her to slow down and focus.


Blocking Beliefs or The Elephant Story

Beliefs are powerful

Beliefs are indeed powerful.  Some serve us well and some don’t.  Some block our attempts to change and progress.  If you believe that you can’t do something then it’s almost certain that you won’t.  Negative self beliefs stunt personal growth and block creativity.  You are unable to see the opportunities and possibilities in front of you.  Only the darkness of discouragement which blocks out the light of creativity and hope.  When people are discouraged they tend give up.

A Conditioned Belief 

Years ago I heard a story told by Tom Hopkins a Motivational Speaker.  The story went like this.  This man had taken his son to a zoo and felt a little uncomfortable about a huge elephant enclosed behind a small fence for its size. He noticed that the elephant had only a small rope around his ankle. He asked the man in charge what would keep the elephant from crashing through the barrier and the man told him nothing…except the elephant believes that it can’t and so it won’t.  He told him that when the elephant was a baby a very heavy chain was placed around his ankle.  The elephant tried and tried but could not break free.  As time goes on the chains become less heavy and then a rope is all that is needed.  By this time the elephant is totally conditioned to believe he can’t break free.  He is stuck.  What the elephant believes is a lie.  He could with his enormous strength and size easily break free of the small rope.  That’s the reality, but because of his conditioning he is unable to see the possibilities in front of him.  He is convinced that he can’t break free and so he does not.

People Get Stuck And Discouraged Too

People become stuck in a similar way.  Things happen to them especially in childhood  that they don’t have the ability to fully understand nor are they able to control their circumstances.  They make decisions about themselves,  others  and the world around them based on what little knowledge  and understanding that they have at the time. Those decisions can become blocking negative beliefs that keep them stuck and unable to achieve their full potential.  Two examples of this would be the belief I am not good enough and I cannot succeed. Just like the elephant they are trapped by their negatives beliefs and  unable to see the  possibilities and  opportunities in front of them.

There Is Hope

Negative beliefs can be changed.  When you change your negative beliefs you change your life.  Change is possible.  I have helped other break through limiting negative beliefs  and I can help you.  No.  it’s not easy but if you are willing to do the work  you can  silence the critical inner critic who tells you that you can’t and keeps you stuck.

As Carl Jung said “I am not what has happened to me,  I am who I chose to become.” I have helped others and I will help you too.

I will help you change the blocking beliefs that keep you stuck.  I invite you to call me at 408-832-6172


Mothers Day

There is nothing more helpless than the human new born infant.  Other animals are able to do more for themselves after birth.  For example a new born calf stands up and finds mom and nurses.  Kittens although unable to see will find their way to mom to nurse.  None of us would be here today if a caregiver hadn’t held us and fed us. Usually that caregiver is our mother.  She carries us in her body for 9 months.  Without her we would not be here.  She literally gives us the gift of our lives.

Mother-And-Child-smallToday I spent an hour on the phone with my son and had breakfast with my daughter.  I am blessed.  As I sit here this evening I can’t help but think of a young woman who stayed with me many years ago.  She had just given her new born up for adoption and was going back home to the mid west.  She felt incredibly sad.  Her family would never know.  She had been adopted and did not want to hurt her adoptive mom.  She had chosen to give her child the gift of life knowing she would not be able to keep it.  That’s got to be a painful and difficult choice.

I don’t know why someone I met so long ago is on my mind tonight.

I started out to write about difficult mother-child relationships.  What I realized is that  Mother’s  Day is not just about the mothers who raised their  biological and adoptive children but also the mothers who were unable to keep the children they had.

Since writing this page a year ago I have responses from readers who felt that there had to be more to the story than there is.  There really is not.  The woman I  wrote about returned to her family in the mid-west. I heard from her once then I left Hawaii and we lost touch.