Synopses & Reviews
Bestselling author Harriet Lerner is at her provocative best in this examination of fear as the key motivating force in our lives.
Often unrecognised, fear and shame drive our choices and attitudes in ways that most of us never figure out. As Lerner explains, fear is not an amorphous unknown to be transcended or overcome but an emotion to be recognized, explored, decoded and embraced. Once we befriend fear, it can actually help us achieve calm, clarity and fundamental peace.
Lerner teaches us the best ways to deal with fear: to expect, allow, and accept its presence in our lives, to mindfully observe and attend to how it feels in our bodies and, ultimately to own it. We can become experts on our personal triggers of anxiety, learning when fear signals real danger and when it's best to plough through it because it comes with the territory of making necessary changes. The very worst thing we can do in the face of fear is to run from it or try to avoid it. Fear is not something to be conquered or eliminatedandndash;andndash;or even tackled, for that matter. Instead, we need to pay close attention to the message it is trying to convey.
Using her wonderfully rich and inviting therapeutic voice along with personal memories and examples drawn from her practice, Lerner gives fear its due. We needn't let anxiety, fear, and shame silence our authentic voice, close our hearts to the different voices of others, or stop us from acting with dignity, integrity and brio. We need to harness fear and put it in service to our best selves.
"'No one is immune to the grip of anxiety, fear and shame the 'big three' that muck up our lives,' observes Lerner (The Dance of Deception; The Dance of Anger). But such emotions shouldn't be crippling, she says. Instead, the psychologist and relationship expert suggests studying the pros and cons of these inevitable feelings. For example, anxiety over hurting a friend's feelings can keep us from bluntly offering unsolicited advice, or, at the other extreme, keep us from speaking up about something we feel passionate about. In conversational and often witty prose, amply dotted with personal anecdotes, Lerner advises readers how to achieve a balance between healthy and life-consuming fears over rejection, public speaking, body image and physical suffering, among others. In a chapter devoted entirely to 'Your Anxious Workplace,' the author shares her pain on discovering that her co-workers considered her a 'problem' her personnel file was fat with complaints about her attitude toward paperwork and tense relationship with other psychologists. Breaking down the office 'system,' she realized that she was an 'underfunctioning' part, adding stress and creating opportunities for 'overfunctioning' staff to both save and resent her. To confront fears, Lerner suggests stepping back and taking responsibility, thoughtfully considering the issue and engaging rather than disconnecting with the surrounding world. Readers looking for a 'quick fix' will not find it here (Lerner purposely sidesteps any oversimplified solutions to conquering fear); rather, they will find a mindful and highly readable meditation." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Readers looking for a 'quick fix' will not find it here (Lerner purposely sidesteps any oversimplified solutions to conquering fear); rather, they will find a mindful and highly readable meditation." Publishers Weekly
Using her rich and inviting therapeutic voice, Lerner shares advice on how to be our best and bravest selves, even when our hearts are filled with fear and the shaming messages of others.
Unhappiness, says bestselling author Harriet Lerner, is fueled by three key emotions: anxiety, fear, and shame. They are the uninvited guests in our lives. When tragedy or hardship hits, they may become our constant companions.
Anxiety can wash over us like a tidal wave or operate as a silent thrum under the surface of our daily lives. With stories that are sometimes hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking, Lerner takes us from "fear lite" to the most difficult lessons the universe sends us. We learn:
- how a man was "cured in a day" of the fear of rejection -- and what we can learn from his story
- how the author overcame her dread of public speaking when her worst fears were realized
- how to deal with the fear of not being good enough, and with the shame of feeling essentially flawed and inadequate
- how to stay calm and clear in an anxious, crazy workplace
- how to manage fear and despair when life sends a crash course in illness, vulnerability, and loss
- how "positive thinking" helps -- and harms
- how to be our best and bravest selves, even when we are terrified and have internalized the shaming messages of others
No one signs up for anxiety, fear, and shame, but we cant avoid them either. As we learn to respond to these three key emotions in new ways, we can live more fully in the present and move into the future with courage, clarity, humor, and hope. Fear and Other Uninvited Guests shows us how.
About the Author
Harriet Lerner, Ph.D., is one of our nations most loved and respected relationship experts. Renowned for her work on the psychology of women and family relationships, she served as a staff psychologist at the Menninger Clinic for more than two decades. A distinguished lecturer, workshop leader, and psychotherapist, she is the author of The Dance of Anger and other bestselling books. She is also, with her sister, an award-winning children's book writer. She and her husband are therapists in Lawrence, Kansas, and have two sons.