Literature

Self-Help Books that Changed my Perspective on Life

Artwork by Maja Metera.

by Maja Metera

“It can’t be that simple… – she thought to herself”  – self-help books that changed my perspective on life

If it was up to me – I would probably send every single person for at least few therapy sessions as we do not live in a vacuum without influencing each other’s lives. In my opinion, psychotherapy helps not only understand ourselves better but also enables us to communicated and actively listen to what other people say. Unfortunately, however, not everyone can afford such luxury – and one therapist cannot possibly solve all the problems one can have because it’s not how therapy types work. Nonetheless, I think  we can all agree on how much we do need to work on those aforementioned things.

I am so tired of unnecessary conflicts arising from misunderstandings, of using language as a weapon that hurts more than a paper cut. I am tired of dating people who make me feel like I am losing my mind – in a bad way. So I started reading – a LOT, and here are few books that have helped me untangle some of my deep hidden emotional troubles and changed my perspective.

1.Breaking Negative Thinking Patterns. A Schema Therapy Self-Help and Support Book. by G. Jacob, H. van Genderen and L. Seebauer

Everything starts in childhood. We might change over time, develop into an unreplaceable individual but our primary instincts are still those which we gained before adulthood. And our most important role models before we hit adolescence and start to question everything they say – are our parents, caregivers. So what schema therapy is base upon are the archetypes of children (Sensitive, Spoiled, Angry, Happy) and Parents (Demanding, Punishing, Making you feel guilty). All of them manifest somehow in our behaviour – remember that one time you cried because the dinner you had made was not so good? Or when someone yelled at you? That was your Sensitive Child asking you to take care of it.

Authors in a very empathetic manner show methods you would learn in therapy – like behavioural experiment, to help you understand your daily behaviour patterns, habits. Those schemes are what makes you think that the world is out to get you – stop you from feeling excited to explore it and smile as if you saw it for the first time. It also proves my point that society is a bunch of imaginary rules – who said that we should get involved in a storyline of a cartoon anymore?

Then, when we are able to work with our emotions and understand our thoughts – we can express ourselves and be guides for people in our lives.

2. Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment And How It Can Help You Find, and Keep – Love by A. Levine and R. Heller

For the longest time I have been wondering why I calm up to the point I start considering someone to be potentially suitable to enter a romantic relationship with. Despite general fears – I believe that my friends and family genuinely care about me. So why not believe when I hear it from a significant other? Well, turns out that there are three main attachment styles – anxious, avoidant and secure, which define the way we create lasting bonds, react to intimacy and solve conflicts with our partners. Again – our style is a result of child-parent relationship and traumatic or significant in other way first experiences from teenage years. 

After a short introduction, you take a test to find out your style and gather observations about your partner’s – current, past or future. In consequence, you have a base to assess and help your compatibility. In a very simple way, this book explains the attachment theory and describes typical behaviours for individuals and couple of certain styles without claiming any of them to be worse or devilish. Then, armed with those tools, it provides the reader with methods and practical examples on how to live with and love someone who does not match your desire’s for closeness and safety levels. Some of the advice sound ridiculously simple – but are effective and to people with anxious or avoidant attachment styles will not be 100% natural.

3. Non-violent Communication by M. Rosenberg

One of the methods mentioned by Levine and Heller is compassionate listening and open communication – basically another way of saying nonviolent communication. It has been popularised by Mark Rosenberg at the end of 20th century. It is a walk through the world of emotions and expression helping us name them and understand that every feeling is connected to a (un)fulfilled need. Moreover, he traces the reasons why we refuse to take care of ourselves – especially women – to being conditioned this way by society. His words are very feminist in nature – with a sprinkle of strong realist opinions on top. He teaches how to take responsibility for our own feelings, actions and intentions with empathy towards other people’s emotions but claiming to be responsible for them. Each of four components of NVC is explained in depth. It is definitely a process to learn how to express emotions boiling inside but in a way that would not hurt the receiver of them.

I believe that this is the best order to read those books as they very much correspond with one other. First, you think back to your childhood, great your inner Child and make peace with your Parent to become a Healthy Adult. Then from the relationship within the family, you can branch out to understand yourself in romantic relationship and then learn about making yourself and your partner(s) secured and understood.

You can get them in an ebook (epub and mobi) format as well as in paperback e.g. on bookdepository.com. I would advise you to designate a notebook to write down answers and work your way – slowly I might add, no need to hurry – through exercises included in all of them so that you can apply the theory in practise. Each of those books is around 200 pages long, written in a simple manner – without big words and redundant psychiatric or sociologic basics making this knowledge attainable to everyone, because we all deserve tranquillity and love.

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