There are no big or small tasks. All are equally important.
– Shinzaemon Shimada – 13 assassins
I don’t remember how I came to read this book, but there’s something very enticing about that title.
Fear is something I’ve pondered before. There are different ways of viewing fear, or perhaps one could say there are different categories of fear. While there are many damaging and limiting fears that people can hold, I generally view fear as a useful tool to make me aware of either danger or my limits. To put it another way, it lets me know when I’m crossing the line I call my edge.
For example, with rock climbing, I started with very narrow limits, and a fear of putting my trust in the rope, but as I’ve learned to trust the rope and the person holding it, I’ve gone from tentatively putting my body weight on the rope to fearlessly throwing myself off the climbing wall, knowing that I’d be caught. At first I had a healthy fear of letting go of the holds as I perceived a chance of falling and hitting the ground, but as I learned the necessary trust, and I pushed through the fear, it subsided, and I was able to do more.
Similarly, when tree climbing without the safety of a rope, I was at first tentative, again being limited by safety fears, but as my climbing abilities increased, the fear receded, and my edge was pushed further away so I could make more apparently dangerous moves, opening up more possibilities for me.
And so it goes with the main principle in this book.
Jeffers talks of fear that stops us doing what we want, that keeps us from moving forward, or away from unhealthy relationships or jobs. She says that you will always feel fear, and if you’re not feeling fear it means you’re not growing as a person. She adds that the fear of trying new things and challenging yourself is smaller than the fear of being stuck and motionless.
She suggests some ways of dealing with this fear, such as understanding that whatever happens “I can handle it”, or realising that every choice will have a positive outcome, regardless of whether your initial goal is achieved. She justifies this by saying you’ll always learn from the choice, and the outcome you had envisaged may not happen, or even be desirable, as over time events will occur that make the outcome unlikely, and that will change your motives so that your end goal may change.
She describes how to have a balanced or “whole” life. By this she means we shouldn’t build our life around just one relationship or just our job. You become dependent on that thing / person and if it goes then it’s pretty hard to recover. So she discusses a balance between work, family, friends, hobbies, alone time, leisure, etc. She also valuably describes putting in 100% to each of these and, in each area, understanding that you are valuable, to “act as if you really count”.
Jeffers moves on to talking about giving from a place of love and trust, so not giving with an expectation of receiving something of equal value back. If you’re always expecting something back you’ll be disappointed and fearful. If you give with no expectation of receiving then in fact you’ll receive “so much richness back in return” anyway. She defines giving as giving thanks, information, praise, money and time.
She gets a bit weird in the penultimate chapter talking about getting with the vibe of the universe, but what she’s saying makes sense, and I guess she just hasn’t figured that bit out properly so resorts to a more ‘magical’ description as too many people do. She talks of saying “yes to your universe”, i.e. accepting what is. This is a key theme in just about any book of this kind, and is a prerequisite to enacting change.
She covered her bases well: when I had a question or an objection to what Jeffers was saying, she’d usually cover my issue in the following paragraph.
Yes, it’s essentially one of many American self-help books, however that’s no reason to be put off, because it’s a very practical book to help you live a more fulfilled, happy, positive and enriching life. Can’t complain about that. I’ve put in to practice what I’ve read to my benefit, and I’ve bought it for several friends one of which told me that it’s one of the best they’ve read.