What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid? Book Summary - What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid? Book explained in key points
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What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid? summary

Michal Oshman

Discover a Life Filled with Purpose and Joy Through the Secrets of Jewish Wisdom

4.3 (202 ratings)
17 mins

Brief summary

"What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid?" by Michal Oshman explores the barriers that hold us back from achieving our dreams and offers strategies to overcome fear and take action towards a fulfilling life.

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    What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid?
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    Jewish wisdom helped the author find answers to her ongoing anxiety and depression.

    If you’ve ever been to a therapist, there’s a good chance you told them about your childhood. Certainly, the author, Michal Oshman, did. For much of her life, she has experienced anxiety; and she’s also been through bouts of depression. So she sought help in psychotherapy. But time and time again, the focus was on her childhood and her parents.

    Oshman knew that the issue wasn’t her upbringing, even though her childhood wasn’t exactly typical: Her father was a forensic pathologist, so his job was all about examining dead bodies. Other family members had survived concentration camps during the holocaust – and still bore the trauma.

    As Oshman was growing up, corpses and pictures of dead bodies were not uncommon. But she talked to her parents and made peace with that. Childhood was not the issue: Oshman knew that there was something else behind her anxiety and depression. And yet, all therapists could do was push her back in time. 

    The key message here is: Jewish wisdom helped the author find answers to her ongoing anxiety and depression.

    Oshman grew up in a secular Jewish household, so it wasn’t until later in life that she became familiar with lessons from the Torah and Jewish spirituality. 

    Her journey toward these time-honored concepts began when she was already an adult. One day, Oshman read the book Man’s Search For Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankl. Frankl was a psychiatrist and a neurologist who’d survived Nazi death camps and used his experience to reach a deeper understanding of the human condition.

    A significant part of Frankl’s philosophy is what he calls meaning. In fact, he developed a form of psychotherapy called logotherapy, which stands for therapy of meaning. As Oshman researched it, she felt that she was now getting something other therapists couldn’t give her. She was nearing real answers.

    Shortly after reading Frankl’s book, Oshman heard a talk given by Facebook executive, Lady Nicola Mendelsohn. Mendelsohn spoke about her main priorities in life. Those were – family, her four children, and her observance of Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest.

    Oshman was amazed. Here was a top female executive who was, simultaneously, achieving professional success, embracing her role as a mother, and also observing the demands of her religion. 

    And then Oshman met Kate Miriam Loewenthal, a Jewish professor of psychology. When Oshamn told her about her anxiety and depression, Loewenthal recommended taking a class in spiritual texts. It was Oshman’s first step toward a new life. 

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    What is What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid? about?

    What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid? (2021) tells the story of how the author learned to cope with her feelings of anxiety and depression by getting in touch with her Jewish roots. The author shares what she’s learned and shows how anyone can benefit from the insights of Jewish wisdom. 

    Best quote from What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid?

    Whats most important is to be deeply honest with yourself and to understand that, as Albert Einstein said, If you change nothing, nothing will change.

    —Michal Oshman
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    Who should read What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid??

    • Anyone coping with depression and anxiety
    • Parents looking for guidance
    • People who want to be better leaders

    About the Author

    Michal Oshman holds university degrees in sociology, anthropology, and psychodynamic and systemic thinking. She spent years as an HR expert and management consultant before joining Facebook’s London office, where she was put in charge of international leadership and team development. She is now Head of Company Culture, Diversity and Inclusion at TikTok Europe.

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