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What Are You Afraid Of?: A Body/Mind Guide to Courageous Living

Overview

Fear is not just in our heads-it's also in our bodies. What Are You Afraid Of? shows how our bodily postures and habits trigger the anxieties that crimp our daily lives, and provides simple, eye-opening exercises to free us from fear's grip.

W e often think of fear as something based in our minds. But equally true-and rarely understood-is that fear is based in our bodies.

The ordinary manner in which we carry ourselves physically, our automatic...

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Overview

Fear is not just in our heads-it's also in our bodies. What Are You Afraid Of? shows how our bodily postures and habits trigger the anxieties that crimp our daily lives, and provides simple, eye-opening exercises to free us from fear's grip.

W e often think of fear as something based in our minds. But equally true-and rarely understood-is that fear is based in our bodies.

The ordinary manner in which we carry ourselves physically, our automatic gestures, and the accustomed comforts of our bodily habits often perpetuate the grip that fear has on our lives. This is true whether we're thinking of asking our boss for a raise, frightened of diving into a swimming pool, or experiencing sleepless anxiety. The good news is that our fears arise from physical/mental triggers that have been learned over the course of our early lives-and can be unlearned.

In What Are You Afraid Of?, Lavinia Plonka provides step-by-step exercises and informative, engaging lessons to help readers identify the sources of their fears and work with their bodies to move beyond them. Plonka reveals a simple, new paradigm for understanding our fears: They are not intractable psychological demons. Instead, as she demonstrates, they often revolve around repetitive body/mind cues. By teaching the body new habits, the habit of fear can be broken.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
All of these books deal with that primal four-letter word, fear. Journalist Clarkson (Intelligent Fear: How To Make Fear Work for You) recognizes that emotion is essential to our survival instincts, but he also knows it can get out of hand. His cogent and convincing book presents balanced, reasonable advice for coping with 100 fears, from general stresses like romantic tiffs to specific phobias such as anthrophobia. Though Clarkson acknowledges that medical attention may be required for certain conditions like acute anxiety, he believes that much fear is either a throwback to caveman times or is learned from "things that have hurt or shaken" us; therefore, they can be conquered. Fears are topically arranged (e.g., at work, at school), each receiving a two-page discussion that includes coping strategies and tactics. Clear writing, solid references, and an attractive price make this a real bargain. (Index not seen.) Plonka, who conducts classes in the Feldenkrais Method (which uses body movement to improve self-awareness), notes that fears often fuel people's direction in life, so that they only do something "when the payoff is more valuable than comfort." Though her individual concepts are promising (e.g., we are all, to some extent, addicted to fear), her narrative as a whole is disjointed and lacks momentum. The result is an often senseless jumble: interesting mind/body exercises fail to relate back to larger concepts. One such drill pinpoints tension, then vaguely directs readers to "let that part go." Psychologist Lerner (The Dance of Anger) shrewdly characterizes fear, anxiety, and shame-termed the big three-as ubiquitous and permanent; instead of trying to make them go away, we need to embrace them warily as potentially wise guides. With characteristic intimacy, Lerner encourages a dialog of sorts with frequent, effective questions and anecdotes, filling the book with superb insights (e.g., "Women have long been shamed for growing older"). Given Lerner's reasonable approach-and the connection she fosters and sustains with readers-it is easy to forget that she offers little how-to. Instead, she illuminates the big three's impact on important areas of life like change, sex drive, rejection, and illness. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/03.] Although breezy and readable, the text by therapist Webb (It's Not About the Horse: It's About Overcoming Fear and Self-Doubt) relies too much on pointless, albeit heartfelt, anecdotes about conquering his own demons (i.e., a cycle of vulnerability, pain, shame, and rage) by climbing a 30-foot pole. His revelations are just too personal; he fails to explain what he has learned, which leaves readers in the dark about how to handle their own fears and makes the author appear self-congratulatory. Worse, there's not enough method to salvage the remaining material. Webb's titular five steps-e.g., acknowledge fear and self-doubt, imagine the worst-case scenario-would have been better presented in a series of articles. Pass on both Plonka's and Webb's books; instead, libraries can safely rely on Spencer Johnson's Who Moved My Cheese? and Steven Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Clarkson is recommended for most public libraries. Demand will be deservedly high for Lerner, given her high media profile, so heads up, public libraries. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781585422852
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 4/12/2004
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.88 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

As a former artist-in-residence at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, Lavinia Plonka created several landmark projects teaching literacy and self-esteem to at-risk children. Plonka maintains a successful practice teaching the Feldenkrais Method, and conducts workshops around the country that explore issues such as fear, creativity, mythology, and body language.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Me? Afraid? 1
Part I. The Roots of Fear
1. Addicted to Fear 9
2. Symptoms of Fear 18
3. So, What Are You Afraid Of? 29
Part II. Facing Your Fear
4. Fear of Injury or Death 45
5. Fear of Failure/Success 72
6. Phobias 94
7. Fear of Abandonment 108
8. Unavowed Dreams 128
Part III. Tools and Activities
9. Moving into the World 143
10. Resources 155
Conclusions: Love Is Being in the Present 162
Appendix What Is the Feldenkrais Method? 165
Further Reading 167
Index 169
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