An illuminating primer to unearthing and managing one’s damaging stories.

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Shedding the Myths We Grew Up With

A therapist discusses how to recognize and release oneself from negative self-images in this debut psychology and self-help guide.

St. John Smith, a Vancouver, British Columbia–based therapist, opens this book with her own discovery that she’d led her life with the incorrect belief, formed and reinforced throughout her childhood, that she wasn’t intelligent. She then segues into a discussion of personal “myths”: “every single person has their own set of stories about themselves,” she says. She aims her book at readers “who carry negative and limiting myths…and, as a result, lead lives that aren’t nearly as enriching as they could be.” She outlines how such negative stories lead to patterns of shame, fear, and anxiety and how they reinforce negative coping styles, such as surrendering, avoiding, or overcompensating. She maps out what she deems the 10 most common myths (“I’m not attractive enough,” “I’m not successful enough,” and so on) and shares 27 case studies, loosely based on her own patients’ experiences, to uncover these myths and develop action plans for positive change. She provides worksheets so that readers may do similar awareness and self-development work, and later, she notes that forgiving others for their parts in myth creation may be hard, but it’s a way to regain one’s personal power. She concludes by warning that myths’ impacts never fade away completely, but by using her methods, she says, “we can find ways to manage the thoughts and feelings that arise.” St. John Smith (Willy Earns His Wings, 2015), the author of a previous children’s book, here offers a helpful book for adults looking to become more cognizant of their own developmental influences and take conscious steps to control their own lives. Her case studies, in particular, clarify and reinforce her therapeutic ideas, and her inclusion of her own struggles makes her a relatable and authoritative guide. Although readers may wish that St. John Smith had explored more than 10 myths, she’s still created a valuable springboard that will let readers begin to question and tackle any type of negative personal belief.

An illuminating primer to unearthing and managing one’s damaging stories.

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5193-1903-6

Page Count: 212

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 20, 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 Books

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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