In 1987, Susan Jeffers published her book, Feel the fear and do it anyway. Such a good title. Indeed, such a good title that you don’t really need to read the book: it is wholly encapsulated in the title.
Except that it is not about fear.
It’s about anxiety, and fear and anxiety aren’t the same thing.
Fear is an instinct. An instinct is an innate predisposition to behave in certain ways following certain stimuli. By “innate” I mean it seems to be “prewired”: we appear to be born with it and, in particular, it isn’t learnt. By “predisposition” I mean that the given response, in this case fear, is necessarily going to to be displayed.
Anxiety is a feeling, a feeling propelled by the behaviour called worry. We worry that something might be the case, for example that people will find us boring at networking events, and this worry gives rise to a feeling of anxiety.
If we see a lion bounding towards us, its open jaws slavering and aimed straight at our throat, we feel fear. The fear instinct compels us to run away, or climb a lamppost—it works at entirely an unconscious level.
If we are strolling down a street in England, worried that a lion might bound towards us, its open jaws slavering etc, then we are experiencing anxiety.
Because anxiety is a feeling, we can consciously do something about it. That’s the point, and the point of Jeffers’ book. Jeffers meant, Feel the anxiety and do it anyway.
We can choose to believe that the thing we worry will happen is highly unlikely to happen.
We can choose to believe that, even if it did happen (eg people will find us boring at networking events), we can cope with it—which we can.
So, because we are talking about a feeling, not an instinct, we can choose to feel something else.
© 2015 Jeremy Marchant Limited . by Jeremy Marchant . uploaded 21 may 2015 . image: Free images