Part workbook, part memoir, this self-help guide offers a plan for getting beyond trauma-induced pain to enjoy a better quality of life.
According to this manual, honoring “your journey” involves finding a way to make peace with the hand you’ve been dealt in life. A first step is recognizing choices, and how individuals may use “detours” like drugs, self-pity, and depression to blunt the effects of psychic wounds. This first-person narrative contains tools for overcoming mental distress, beginning with how to reframe terrible experiences to let go of damaging emotions like anger and resentment. Other topics include how to build self-esteem and establish boundaries, the value of identifying personal strengths and weaknesses, and the need to express compassion for oneself and others. Special attention is given to the subject of regrets, and how to manage and minimize them to make it possible to move forward in the aftermath of a trauma. To reinforce the content, exercises and questions for self-examination are listed at the end of each chapter. In this book, Gilbert (You Can’t Un-Ring the Bell, 2016), a clinical psychologist, includes personal anecdotes to illustrate her hard-won insights. Though at times she overuses clichés like “be all you can be,” it’s evident she’s carried the burden of treating some of society’s mentally sickest people, including criminally violent offenders and their innocent victims, causing her to suffer from “vicarious post-traumatic stress.” Her outlook is often bleak in spite of the positive message she’s trying to convey; she’s clearly seen the dark side of humanity: “I have actually looked into the eyes of evil on more than one occasion and I’ll never forget it.” Countering her despair is the hope she derives from her strong Christian faith, which she distinguishes from organized religion. Though the book flows well, the organization is loose with occasional repetitions. Still, the author’s sincerity and credibility shine through every section.
An impassioned, if at times unfocused, plea for making the world a better place by identifying and addressing the impediments to good mental health.