Feeling it and doing it anyway! – (3 books that genuinely changed my life, PART 2)

I experienced a powerful period of growth, success and self-development during my late thirties and early forties.  As I said in my last blog, this was largely due to putting into action the practices and philosophy of Steven Covey’s ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’.  It’s an excellent work and I refer back to it often, along with Covey’s other masterpieces – particularly ‘First Things First’. which is his book on time management.

Something went seriously wrong in my 40s. Call it midlife crisis, or maybe  I was in a rut.  I was certainly in a place of increasing unhappiness and dissatisfaction with my life. I began to feel a disconnect between my moral compass and the life I was living and at the time I could not see a way out. I did some very foolish things and caused a lot of unnecessary hurt to myself and others.

I was very lucky to have had the love and support of some very good friends who could see the crisis I was going through and strove to support me without telling me what to do.

Susan Jeffers’ ‘Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway‘ was the book I was reading, among others at this time. It was the anchor on an ocean of confusion, despair and loneliness.  I have to be honest with myself and say that there was nothing in what I was experiencing that wasn’t of my own making.  That much I learned from Covey.  We are response-‘able’, We can choose our response to the world around us.

At that time though I was not consciously choosing.  I was struggling with decisions.

One of the things that Feel the Fear did was to help me deal with the fear and self-doubt that was making me so unhappy. It taught me how to make a decision and how to let go of that decision once it is made.  It taught me in a simple way how to regain my positivity afterwards ( I had sunk in severe depression during this period).

Even more than that it taught me how to live again and how to have a more fulfilled and balanced life.  Nothing in this book contradicted what I had learned from Steven Covey before, rather it complemented it and enhanced it.

It is a gentle book.  A caring, loving, sincere book.  I would have to say that it felt ‘feminine’. In the sense that it was a soft hand on my shoulder. It allowed me to forgive myself a little, even though I did not feel very forgiveable. It also gave me the courage I needed to move forward after a while into an amazing relationship with a wonderful woman who is now my wife.

The ‘Pain to Power Continuum’

One thing Susan Jeffers taught me was to move my vocabulary from ‘pain to power’.  By changing the words you use from words that limit and control you – like ‘I can’t’, to words that put you in the position of choice – like ‘I won’t’ – by using words that show that you are making the decisions and choices in your life, even when you are not aware of it, you increase your power to change.  Here is a list of some of those phrases from her book:

  • I cant/I won’t
  • I should/I could
  • It’s not my fault/I’m totally responsible
  • ‘It’s a problem/It’s an opportunity
  • I’m never satisfied/I want to learn and grow
  • Life’s a struggle/Life’s and adventure
  • I hope/I know
  • If only/Next time
  • What will I do?/I know I can handle it
  • It’s terrible/It’s a learning experience

I encourage you to try this as an exercise. Just notice the words you use to describe your situation and try substituting a word or phrase that puts you more in control on the ‘pain to power’ continuum.  For example you may say, without thinking, ‘If only I had not said those words to my friend, we could still be having good times together’. Instead try ‘Next time I feel like saying something critical to a friend I will take more time to reflect and maybe wait until I am feeling less emotional’.  You have turned a feeling of regret about the past, into a learning experience for the future.

For me this exercise was a taste of things to come in the next great book to influence my life – Anthony Robbins’ “Awaken the Giant Within‘.

I’ll tell you more about that next time.

Other books to be covered in this series:

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway – Susan Jeffers

Awaken the Giant Within – Anthony Robbins

The Four Hour Work Week – Tim Ferriss

Covered previously:

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey

The first part of this blog can be found here:

3 books that genuinely changed my life (and one that probably will do it again). PART 1.

Robert Sanders is a therapist and life coach, supporting people in their present and helping them create their future.

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