A small selection of books have changed my emotional landscape decidedly for the better. I often find myself citing them to others so decided to get them on paper for easy access and sharing.
Changing your relationship with yourself
- The Happiness Trap — Russ Harris
Drawing on the Buddhist tradition, mindfulness develops the ‘observer self’. From this position you stand apart from your thoughts and feelings and can observe them. The ability to not take your thoughts and feelings too literally is at the core of psychological flexibility and therefore the key to kickstarting change.
2. Buddhify OR Headspace— App
To get the best of mindfulness you need to practice meditation. Guided audio meditations are the easiest way into this.
3. The Compassionate Mind — Paul Gilbert
This book advocates a change in the tone you use to speak to yourself. In the same way we might comfort a close friend, Paul explains that we can comfort ourselves. We must learn to turn down the self-critical voice and replace it with a kind, warm and fair one.
4. Overcoming Depression — Paul Gilbert OR Reinventing Your Life — Jeffrey E. Young, Klosko and Beck
Although these two books are based on different schools of therapy (CBT and Schema Therapy) I think they play a similar role. Each asks you to think about the underlying stories or core beliefs you might have about yourself. Learning to recognise how your behaviour repeatedly reinforces these self-fulfilling prophecies can be life-changing.
Changing your relationships with others
4. Daring Greatly: How The Courage To Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent And Lead — Brené Brown
Vulnerability is the only way to thrive in close relationships. If you can’t learn to be honest about your worst fears, impulses and regrets then you severely hamper other people’s ability to look after you. And you do need looking after!
5. Boundaries — Henry Cloud and John Townsend
However, not everyone is safe to be vulnerable around. This book will assist you in working out when that may or may not be the case. Indeed, even our most trusting and loving relationships require constant vigilance regarding boundary slippage. This book will teach you how to stick up for yourself in a caring way.
6. Where Should We Begin? with Esther Perel — Podcast
Listen to Esther Perel counsel real couples through every relationship problem imaginable. Her intense style leaves you in no doubt as to what she thinks about each situation. The more you listen, the more you’ll start to think like her. And that will do wonders for your relationships.