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 storyhow the author overcame her dread of public speaking when her worst fears were realizedhow to deal with the fear of not being good enough, and with the shame of feeling essentially flawed and inadequatehow to stay calm and clear in an anxious, crazy workplacehow to manage fear and despair when life sends a crash course in illness, vulnerability, and losshow "positive thinking" helps -- and harmshow 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 can’t 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.
"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.