Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway (1987) explains how to avoid letting our fear hold us back from living the life we want and how to begin leading a committed and empowered life instead. It argues that the way we choose to perceive the world and our lives largely determines our reality, and suggests that taking responsibility for our situation and happiness can lead us to find total fulfillment.
It’s hard not to feel envious when we see apparently fearless people, even when those people are actually fictional characters like superheroes or action movie stars. If only we, too, could overcome our fears and rise to any occasion!
The good news is that we can learn how to handle our fears. But to do this, we first have to understand why we have fear at all.
Originally, fear functioned to warn us of potential danger. If, for example, a wild animal approached you, your fear alerted you to the imminent danger and prompted you to either flee or prepare to fight. In this case, the role of both responses is to protect you from harm.
On the other hand, if your fear of strangers holds you back from attending a party, that fear isn’t protecting you but is instead an obstacle to living your life as you’d truly like – in this case, as an actively social person.
One reason for the presence of such debilitating fear in adults is that we’ve been conditioned as children to be afraid. From a very young age, our parents remind us continually of the threats and dangers of the “world outside,” and teach us that we must take care to remain safe from harm.
Fortunately, it’s possible for us to learn about our specific fears and the basic truths of human fear in general and to develop certain methods to control them.
If, say, you’re nervous about your first day at a new job, you could examine the nature of that particular fear. In doing so, you’ll likely find reassurance as you come to the realization that nearly everyone is nervous in such situations. And you can probably even come up with examples of people who successfully overcame a similar fear.
As you can see, fear is something we all feel and that all of us can learn to cope with – if we just learn some effective techniques.