This debut self-help book by a psychotherapist explores the human experience of suffering and how readers may mitigate it to experience more joy and peace.
The author notes that she has master’s degrees in mental health nursing and divinity and a private psychotherapy practice, as well as more than 39 years of psychology experience. She alludes to an extensive knowledge of Buddhism, which resonates with many of her book’s premises, but she also strongly encourages readers to draw their own conclusions and seek their own paths. After an introduction that sheds light on the author’s personal journey with suffering, she presents its central question, which she’s often addressed with clients: “What the hell is going on?” The word “hell,” she says, expresses intense, unpleasant feelings in response to a life experience. She suggests using the phrase’s acronym, “WHIGO,” as a way to mentally soften the response to confusion and inject a positive spin that acknowledges the universal quest to make sense of it all. Once the WHIGO mantra is established, the book goes on to explore the notion of “secret” feelings, thoughts, and behaviors—that is, ingrained patterns that require real reflection. For example, one section (“We all think there’s something wrong with us, that we’re incomplete”) contains examples of people who, despite unquestionable success, still experience ongoing distress. The book highlights a common, correctable misstep, which underlies much of the content here: seeking fulfillment from outer, rather than inner, sources. In some parts of the book, the author jumps ahead, alluding too often to what’s coming in future chapters. However, the central metaphor of “hard drives” (basic, biologic operating systems) and “software” (changeable “programs” arising from experiences) works well, as do intermittent “Let’s stop for a minute” interjections. These pauses direct readers to think about a preceding section, apply it to an example, and finally, to a personal experience—an approach that allows for genuine self-reflection and problem-solving.
A heartfelt, thoughtfully constructed read that explores practical, self-driven solutions to common challenges and habits.