Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Help Yourself to Some Self-Help: Part 1

Because my degree revolved around interpersonal issues, I love self help books.  Any book that helps me to better understand myself or loved ones enthralls me.  I thought I would share with you some of my favorites in a multi-part post (look for more later!).  These three that I'll share today have in common an offering of positive, powerful solutions for dealing with negative emotions, as well as my respect for each of the amazing authors and their research. 

I know a book has helped me if I find myself returning to it over and over - usually a direct result of the amount of practical information inside - and this is one that I have read a few times and will read again.  Obviously, this book is intended for married couples.  However, I could see it applying easily to any male-female committed relationship, whether in turmoil or not.  It gave me powerful insight into how emotionally-charged misunderstandings can crop up based on issues not even related to the conflict at hand.  More specifically, the different ways men and women tend to process similar information, their respective sensitivities, where those tendencies come from, and better ways of handling the conflict that so often arises from all of the above.

This is a newer book that I know I will come back to again and again.  It, too, goes back to the root of many problems that we have in common as humans.  I love that Breggin takes apart each emotion - guilt, shame, and anxiety - to make a helpful framework of them from childhood (and evolution, which I had to skim over and/or mentally convert into creationism to get through).  He creates that foundation of understanding and then goes on to show how we can choose to overcome negative emotions through relationship and love rather than medication and "numbing" - both of which Breggin shows to be quite harmful.  I found Guilt, Shame and Anxiety very compelling and motivating, and highly recommend it for anyone who wants to better relate to themselves and others.

This one is definitely more well known, although harder to describe because of its totally unique subject matter.  Brown draws from her research on shame to distill ten "guideposts" for an authentic, shame-resilient life.  Epiphanies for me included that play and rest are vital, and that actually regularly using one's own creativity is essential to living an authentic (and therefore much happier, healthier) life.  A fascinating and extremely practical read that I would recommend to anybody pursuing more self-awareness and peace.

I'd love to hear of your own favorites in the comments - any life changing self help out there?  Also, if you've read any of these already, it would be great to hear what you thought.  One of our favorite things as library professionals is discussing books with people!

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