I’m a big believer in the power of the written word. I’ve been helped time and time again by the words of wisdom left in written form over the years by many people and reading is one of the ways that I’ve been able to grow and learn in my life (of course, along with personal experience).
I’ve been thinking about the top books that helped me learn how to hug fear in my life and I came up with 9 books that made the most difference. If you’re in need of a good book to help you move through your fears, maybe one of these will be just what you were looking for! As a disclosure, the links to the books mentioned here are affiliate links, which means that if you follow the link and decide to buy, I will get a small commission on the sale (it’ll cost you nothing extra). I will only do this for books that I’ve read or from those read by people I trust and if you like this blog, it’s a nice way to support the mission.
I feel a bit like a broken record by mentioning this book again, but it really was the first book to start me on my journey of hugging the fear in my life. Dr. Jeffers’ 5 Fear Truths were paradigm shifting:
1. The fear will never go away as long as I continue to grow.
2. The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out…and do it.
3. The only way to feel better about myself is to go out…and do it.
4. Not only am I going to experience fear whenever I’m on unfamiliar territory, but so is everyone else.
5. Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness
Besides the fear truths, Dr. Jeffers also shares lots of helpful tips and exercises for pushing through fear in your life in all areas of your life.
Throughout my journey through fear, one of the things I had a hard time getting a handle on was the physical symptoms of fear. Often I would be so bothered by them that I would panic. Reading this book was an integral part of learning how to accept and understand what was going on in my own body which is really what hugging your fear is all about. It also helps that Dr. Weekes’ style of writing and explaining things is so comforting. If you struggle at all with the physical symptoms of fear and anxiety, this book is a must read.
One of the hopeful passages of the book about acceptance: “Provided you make up your mind to accept the strange feelings although still afraid of them, you will gradually lose your fear, because decision to accept releases a certain tension and so reduces the intensity of your symptoms. This brings a little hope, and you begin to gain confidence in recovery. Loss of fear eventually follows.”
The subtitle of this book is Rising Above Anxiety, Fear, and Shame to Be Your Best and Bravest Self and that perfectly explains what this book teaches. Like Dr. Weekes’ book, Dr. Lerner has a very kind and sympathetic style of writing and I felt very comforted while reading it.
One passage that I liked so much I put a big star next to it was, “The more you try to make fear go away (an impossible dream), rather than learning to function with it, the worse you will feel about yourself. You will let fear stop you from doing what you need to do. You will mistakenly see yourself as a weak and impaired individual, rather than a strong, competent person who happens to have an overactive fear response.” I love that! You aren’t weak or impaired if you struggle with fear, you are a strong and competent person who happens to struggle with fear.
This book isn’t about fear specifically, but I’ve turned to it time and again and I find that it can help with fear. The book presents cognitive therapy techniques to treat depression. Cognitive therapy deals with questioning the thoughts that might be in the way of you living an emotionally healthy life. The reason I’m mentioning this book is because Dr. Burns shares many exercises to help remove cognitive distortions and I find that people who struggle with fear, although they might not also struggle with depression, often struggle with cognitive distortions. Here are a couple of cognitive distortions and examples that relate to someone who is afraid to do something.
Emotional reasoning: When you believe that how you feel is representative of what is happening. Example: I feel afraid to write this book and that means that I can’t write it. Not true! “Feelings aren’t facts.”
The Fortune Teller Error: You believe that things won’t work out and think that your belief is fact. Example: I’m supposed to present my idea to these investors and I’m so nervous that I’m going to flub it and they’re just going to laugh in my face. Not true! You have no idea what the outcome will be or how you will do, just prepare as best as you can and let the investors react how they’ll react.
Disqualifying the Positive: You discount the positive as not counting. Example: Even though I was afraid to ask that sales person to correct a price and I still did it, it doesn’t really count because it wasn’t a big enough test. Not true! Every step counts, even little ones. Pat yourself on the back for overcoming that small fear and move onto something a little bit bigger next time.
Paul Jarvis’ main vocation is designing awesome websites, but I found him through his blog and his writing style is honest and straightforward. In Everything I Know, Paul shares some of the insights he gleaned working for himself and as you can imagine, he’s no stranger to fear.
One of the tactics that Paul uses that inspired me was moving through his fears progressively. He says, “I start small at first, with small pushes. I know that being afraid and moving forward don’t have to be mutually exclusive. I work up to medium pushes. Fear still can’t do anything if I don’t give it any power. Then I push harder. Don’t worry; fear can take it, and fear can’t fight back.”
Again, it’s comforting and inspiring to see people you admire share that when they started out, they were afraid and they just took it one step at a time. This is another comforting read and if you’ve ever considered working for yourself, it’s an inspirational push too.
Wayne Dyer’s book is all about how to avoid being a victim in your life. If you’ve ever been afraid to be who you are and to stick up for yourself in your life and with others, this book is a good read.
Wayne shares lots of tips for developing freedom in your life. He says, “The freest people in the world are those who have senses of inner peace about themselves: They simply refuse to be swayed by the whims of others, and are quietly effective at the running of their own lives.” To run your own life in this way, you need to learn how to move through your fear and Wayne spends some time explaining that experience is an “antidote to fear.”
His tone in this book is a bit more authoritative than warm and fuzzy, but if you’ve ever felt like a pushover and been afraid to assert yourself in your life and with other people, this book might be a big eye-opener and help inspire you to take more self-respecting behavior.
This was such a beautiful book all about helping you move forward if you were stuck. As you can imagine, fear plays a huge role in keeping many of us stuck. It’s a part of a series of “If the Buddha…” books and you don’t have to be Buddhist to benefit from it.
I read it at a time when I was feeling stuck and it gave me such comfort and inspiration. I fully recommend it and will share a passage that has helped me move forward time and again: “In relation to getting unstuck, we need to explore how fear often stops forward motion or taking the next step. ‘Oh, I can’t do that, I’m afraid.’ That’s where we need to bring our concerns into current reality – is there really any serious danger of starving, dying, or being injured? – if not we need to take the next step, fear and all. To move with life is to penetrate these fears, observe them, and step through them. Usually nothing terrible happens no matter what the outcome.
Betsey Talbot is one half of the blog Married with Luggage and co-writer of the book Dream, Save, Do. Strip Off Your Fear is geared toward helping women who have been “good girls” – those who are afraid to be, do or have what they want – learn how to move through fear and become confident.
It’s a fun read, especially with the way that Betsey lays the book out with chapter titles and themes that move you through the process of getting undressed. For example, in the “Get a Leg Up” chapter, Betsey uses a woman’s legs to make a point about confidence. “Your confidence exists within you. It is just like your legs, ready to take you wherever you want to go, but waiting on you to give the direction. Your confidence is dying to run, leap and climb, to build her muscles through use and activity, and by adding physical use and actions to your emotional desires, you can teach yourself to expose a more confident you.”
This is another beautiful book. The subtitle of this book is Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. One of the main fears we often come across is the fear of not being enough and Dr. Brown shares what she’s learned through her study on what she calls Wholehearted living which is all about living “from a place of worthiness.”
Dr. Brown describes it best here: “Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.” Reading this book opened my eyes to how important this type of living is and also how much of fear comes from not believing that we are worthy exactly as we are.
Those are the 9 top books that have helped me learn how to hug fear in my life. Please share which books are in your top list. I’m always looking for suggestions!
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