Sincere, solid advice for rising above self-limiting behaviors.

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The Underdog Curse

THE CAUSE, THE CURE, YOUR ROAD TO SUCCESS

A chiropractor and life coach offers tips and insights into moving beyond low self-esteem and a “people pleasing” mindset in this debut self-empowerment guide.

For MacDonald, a friend’s courageous response to a diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s disease made him “start to look at myself in a new light....There were other things I wanted to do, but the underdog curse had kept me from doing them. ‘What if I fail?’ ” The author outlines how to recognize what he calls the “saboteurs,” such as being a people pleaser, which he says usually lead to repressed resentment and stress, with negative consequences for one’s health; using “softeners,” or reasons not to take action; and not developing enough “power bonds,” or relationships with people who will support one’s desire for change. He discusses how to transition from “defense to growth,” including how to strive for “dynamic communication” that considers the needs and values of others and expresses and supports one’s own. He also encourages taking time to set goals and to “shorten the refractory period” of retreating after failures. Overall, MacDonald has crafted a persuasive wake-up call by showing how you can be your own worst enemy when trying to achieve personal growth. Specifically, his stories of his own mishaps as a people pleaser—such as when he agreed to dance with a girl he wasn’t interested in because he was too shy to approach the girl he truly desired—are relatable, illuminating examples of the damaging potential of such behavior. Although this self-help book doesn’t break new ground (MacDonald acknowledges, as well as recaps, some of Tony Robbins’ concepts, for example), it’s nevertheless an effective, thought-provoking manifesto.

Sincere, solid advice for rising above self-limiting behaviors.

Pub Date: June 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5333-8458-4

Page Count: 278

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2016

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

MASTERY

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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