Are you confident? – Introduction to the How To Be Books Podcast

One of the things that has held me back from pursuing my dreams for many years is fear of failure … and the lack of self-confidence that I needed to overcome that fear.

It’s something we all face, to some degree, I think. The key question: how do you overcome that fear?

Thanks to the following guests for participating:

Kunal Dutta, Senior External Relations Advisor at Shell

Dennis Relojo-Howell, founder of blogsite PsychReg

Here are some of the resources from the show:

Mel Robbins’ Five Second Rule Ted Talk:

Jenn Sincero speaks with the Beach Body coaches:

Books looked at this week:

Mel Robbins: The 5 Second Rule

Dr Susan Jeffers: Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway: How to Turn Your Fear and Indecision into Confidence and Action

Jenn Sincero: You Are A Badass: How to Stop Doubting your Greatness and Start Living An Awesome Life

PS. I do not receive commission for reviewing books and talks.


Exploring how we can master ourselves by looking at how experts say it is possible with your host Suswati Basu.

Intro music

Confidence clips

That was Kunal Dutta, former journalist and now Senior External Relations Advisor at Shell and…

Welcome to the first episode of How To Be…with me Suswati as your timid presenter, guiding you through life’s tricky skills by taking this learning journey with you.

Have you ever been made to speak in public and all that came out was this?

Hesitation clip

One of the things that has held me back from pursuing my dreams for many years is fear of failure … and the lack of self-confidence that I needed to overcome that fear.

It’s something we all face, to some degree, I think. The key question: how do you overcome that fear?

Well, right now I’ve got to be honest I’m still on that journey so I’m testing the waters with some of the top books to see if some of these methods really work.

And just to prove my point, I’m reading this speech from a screen. Let’s hope this will be a different picture in weeks to come.

So the first book we’re exploring is Mel Robbins’ 5 Second Rule. Written in 2017, it is reportedly a transformative guidebook to taking action, changing your behaviour, and living life with less fear and more courage.

Apparently it’s for worriers who feel stuck, those who procrastinate and anyone who needs a kick in the butt. And here’s a bit about the author – she is a television host and contributing editor for Success magazine.

Back to the book.

Robbins realized something that every person needs to realize — we spend too much time thinking, and too little time actually acting on our thoughts.

In studying human behaviour, she noticed how critical the first 5 seconds are when it comes to decision making.

If we act in the first 5 seconds, the more motivated we will be. But every second after those first 5 seconds, our motivation and likelihood of acting slowly disappear.

Here’s the author herself speaking at a Ted Talk in 2014.

Mel Robbins

And she’s right. So I remember a line from “We Bought A Zoo”, where Matt Damon plays Benjamin Mee, a journalist turned zookeeper which followed along the same lines.

Matt Damon clip

This is clearly a lot shorter so perhaps it’s doable? So I tested it out by doing this podcast. Just before I started, I counted down 5,4,3,2,1 and then began to speak despite my heart thumping and being afraid I would fumble over my words.

Which brings me to the next book. If you haven’t heard of this pioneering book from 1987, then I suggest you read up on it just for your interest.

American psychologist Dr. Susan Jeffers was ahead of her field releasing a self-help guide in the 80’s that had a more feminist twist to it. With the release of Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway, she sold an estimated 15 million copies in 100 countries, despite it initially being a flop.

Her motto was “I can handle it”. Her belief stemmed from the notion that at the bottom of all of our fears is one thing we’re truly afraid of… And that is that whatever comes our way we won’t be able to handle it.

Her five truths about fear were:

It will never go away

The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something – is to do it

The only way to feel better about yourself is to go and do it,

Everyone, whether they tell you or not, experiences fear in unfamiliar situations.

Pushing through your fears is less frightening then living a life of being paralyzed by fear and the associated helplessness that comes with it.

So using the affirmation “I can handle it”, Dr Jeffers suggests that our brains can be rewired to be able to fake it until we can make it, due to the brain’s ability to adapt to different circumstances.

Here’s what some of the reviewers say:


I can see how affirmations in general can help, although it may not work for everyone especially if you have a constant spiral of negative thoughts.

Affirmations generally work as a tool for shifting your mindset and achieving your goals, but they’re not a magic bullet for instant success or healing.

However, according to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, affirmations act as a kind of emotional buffer to any painful, negative, or threatening information that follows.

So let’s try it. I can handle it. I can handle it. I can handle it. Everyday for the next week.

Final book we’re looking into is American success coach Jenn Sincero’s You Are A Badass: How to Stop Doubting your Greatness and Start Living An Awesome Life. Now that sounds wonderful of course but it also sounds completely far fetched. But given it held the No 3 spot on the New York Times bestseller list, after 121 weeks on the chart in 2018, other people certainly do believe in the hype.

The premise of the book begins with this:

“Find out what kind of life makes you happy, create it for yourself, and open yourself up to new opportunities.”

She also suggests the following whilst talking with the Beach Body coaches:


While I totally understand the sentiment and there isn’t any groundbreaking guidance, and it’s when she starts talking about “thinking of that higher power as the energy that fills the universe’, that I start backing away.

However, she does have a point when it comes to life being too short and approaching new activities with a “why not?” attitude.

Personally, it’s a bit wishy washy for me. There isn’t one piece of concrete advice to takeaway apart from grab life by the…NOISE

So to sum up:

5 seconds is about taking action in five seconds to stop procrastination

Feel the fear is using the affirmation: I can handle it to fight through the butterflies

And You’re A Badass is all about just going for it.

I am going to try out the top two. How about you?

Before I go, I want to leave you with Dennis Relojo-Howell, founder of blogsite PsychRej, whose own inspiring story began in slums of Manila, Philippines, to now running his own business and studying a PhD in psychology in order to help others. He kindly sent me these words. And if you enjoyed this, please hit subscribe!



Published by suswatibasu

Suswati Basu is a writer, journalist, producer and feminist activist residing in London. She has written for the Guardian, Huffington Post and the F-Word blogs, and has worked for various media outlets such as the BBC, Channel 4 and for ITV News/ITN. She currently works as a senior intelligence expert.

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