Few books caught my attention from the first page as did Fearing Nothing by Michael O’Brien. Michael opens the book by telling his personal story of how he won bodybuilding competitions and participated in another book when he had his first panic attack that made him rush out of the hall. Wow! I thought. Do you mean that even bodybuilders have anxiety attacks and suffer from fear and depression? And that was just the beginning for Michael. He found himself inexplicably having to get out of a car and run three miles in his shoes, had to run from the restaurant while eating lunch with his brother, and then could not drive or even leave the house. Too often people with anxiety and fear issues keep quiet and try to hide their problems from others, so I want to say, “Michael, thank you for sharing your story because it makes the rest of us realize we are not alone and it gives us the courage to share ours.”
We all have stress in our lives, but sometimes, the stress becomes almost unmanageable. Although I never had a panic attack, sometimes I thought I was on the threshold and often had anxiety during the work day so I could relate to much of what Michael said, and found the tools he found suggested to be a helpful transition.
After sharing his story, Michael goes on to divide the book into three parts. The first is about the stressors that lead to anxiety, fear, depression and other phobias. He uses the word STRESSORS as an acronym for each of the nine major stressors that cause anxiety and fear, including self-esteem and sensitivity issues. Some of these pressures seem obvious, but others are surprising, including the first: smart. I was surprised and pleased with this first stress – it turns out I have anxiety because I am intelligent. As Michael points out, intelligent people analyze and as a result think about what can go wrong, what causes them stress. So anxiety is a side effect of what else is an asset I have. Who thought? Michael explains it this way:
For every symptom you have experienced and experienced, you have been in a position to create his or her previous thoughts or create these ideas. Like it or not, you are probably above average when it comes to IQ. You are probably smarter than you. You do not have to be a doctor or a lawyer to be considered “Wise. There are a lot of smart people in the world who work in big companies and small companies; smart people work as gardeners, teachers and mechanics; they work in salons, salons, everywhere and everywhere.”
He goes on to explain that because people with anxiety are intelligent, they are actually terrorizing themselves: “You must know that it is not happening to you. It is happening inside you. No external factor is doing it to you. Nothing is attacking you. It is all created by you, but It’s also refreshing to know it can be cured. “Michael also describes how we can use our intelligence to tell ourselves new stories that don’t so weaken us.
The second part of the book is REST, also an acronym that discusses methods or activities that people need to use to overcome their anxiety and fear. The R represents relaxation. Michael offers many helpful techniques on how to relax your body, and he advocates that you do these simple and short activities several times a day to teach your body how to relax and get used to being relaxed. The T represents tools. This is the longest chapter in the book because Michael has ten wonderful tools you can use. Again, some may be as obvious as breathing, but there are others that are very surprising like “stretching”. You’ll have to read about it yourself because it’s hard to explain, but Michael shares his personal story of how he discovered this amazing tool, and it reminds me of other things I know, like the importance of release or surrender to a solution. Situation.
The last part is YOU, an acronym for how you are the solution to a problem. This section also included practical advice on ways to improve your situation. The book ends with a final note and then appendices that include lists of Bible verses on fear and anxiety that provide comfort and also a series of affirmations that you can use to feel better.
One last thing I really appreciated was Michael’s point of view on the futility of trying to determine the causes of anxiety and all the other fears and symptoms associated with it. This book is not about psychoanalysis. Michael, in fact, focuses solely on overcoming the problem instead of trying to dig into the past. He states that he has tried for years to understand the causes of his issues, and eventually came to the conclusion that:
“There is nothing to discover. There is no solution for two reasons: 1) you have a wonderful and creative mind where millions of thoughts are created, and 2) everyone in the world has the same wild and crazy thoughts as well… Yes, it’s true; they just react differently “So they never pay much attention to these thoughts at all. They release the thoughts in an instant and move on. Just like you would with time.”
Most importantly, Michael supports the reader doing what he did – and has stopped hiding your situation from the world. Michael states:
“You’re hiding. It’s time to stop hiding. When an alcoholic faces the fact that he’s an alcoholic, one of the first steps to improving himself is to admit that he is, in fact, an alcoholic.
“Well, you may not be an alcoholic, but you’re someone hiding from society. So much so that you do not admit what you are dealing with. You bring further suffering. You contribute to fear. The fear that someone will find out. The fear that someone will think you are weird. The fear of not being accepted. The fear of what people will think? Today is the day you end it. Let the world know.
“I promise you will find solace in knowing that people will still love you. You will find solace in people loving you more lovingly. You will find that more people are experiencing the same situation than you ever thought possible.”
I took to heart much of the advice in this book, and although I have not tried all the tools yet, I believe people will find much in this book to help them – they can take what suits them and leave the rest because no one suits everyone. Fortunately, however, these pages have many parts to solve, and I am sure you will find something useful here that will make your life less frightened, more normal, and hopefully even happier and fuller of joy.