Fear and Other Uninvited Guests: Tackling the Anxiety, Fear, and Shame That Keep Us from Optimal Living and Loving
Harriet Goldhor Lerner / Author HarperCollins Publishers $23.9
""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.
Reviewed on: 05/01/2004