Bookshelf Additions- Summer 2017

As I completed this post I realized how much I’ve been reading this season, as well as last.  To me summer = reading, which can be a challenge while managing other responsibilities.  But I did get a nice variety of great books in-

I Thought it was Just Me, Brene Brown

I finally got around to reading Brown’s first book, after loving the 3 I’ve read before.  This one didn’t disappoint.  Her desire is to “give voice to the voiceless and give ears to the earless…Courage gives us a voice and compassion gives us an ear.”  In it she dives into ordinary courage, which is the courage to tell our story from the heart.

“Shame is all about fear…the fear of disconnection, and of being exposed or revealed that would jeopardize our connection and our worthiness of acceptance.”

“Harriet Lerner said ‘We cannot survive when our identity is defined by or limited to our worst behavior.  Every human must be able to view the self as complex and multidimensional.  When this fact is obscured, people will wrap themselves in layers of denial in order to survive.  How can we apologize for something we are, rather than something we did?’”

4 elements of shame resilience:

  1. Recognizing shame and understanding triggers
  2. Practicing critical awareness- understand issues in their social, political, and economic contexts
  3. Reaching out- Relational-Cultural Theory says we heal through our connections with others; “Regardless of who we are,…all of us fight hidden, silent battles against not beign good enough, not having enough, and not belonging enough.”
  4. Speaking shame

We are charged with hard but important work of:

  1. Practicing courage in a culture of fear (choose growth over perfection!)
  2. Practicing compassion in a culture of blame
  3. Practicing connection in a culture of disconnection.

 

Narrative Therapy, Stephen Madigan

I enjoyed the fresh ideas gleamed from this book that I think will be helpful in working with clients.  I believe that the stories that we tell ourselves, particularly about ourselves and our problems, are hugely powerful…and that by re-writing some of those stories we can get unstuck and make steps toward health and happiness.

“We are multistoried…there are always multiple stories about what and who persons and problems might be.”

“People and problems are not fixed or fossilized.”

“NT places the site of the problem within the relational action of the person/culture/discourse/power, not inside the person’s body.”

“NT is based on the notion that people organize their lives through stories.  People make meaning in the world about who they are.”

  • Uncover biases underlying authority for knowledge: “Who has the storytelling rights to the story being told?”
  • Spotting and undermining the life support systems of problems
  • Turning pathology into valor, courage, intrigue
  • Encouraging celebrations, awards, diplomas, and parties to commemorate achievements
  • Re-storying: re-authoring conversations- assists people out of the constraints of problem-saturated stories of passivity, shame, less-than worthiness; “do you think this feeling of ___ is a final description of yourself?”;  “Whose word is ‘depressed’ or _____?”; “Is there someplace else you’d rather be?”…opens space for other possibilities and undermines problem’s saturation
  • Unique outcomes- a neglected part/event that’s an “in”- a starting point for reauthoring…therapist can build scaffolding around this emerging subordinate story. As they’re id’d, therapist plot them into an alternative (preferred) storyline about their lived experiences.  Find stories outside the dominant problem and give them a thicker description.

Types of questions/ conversations:

  • Reauthoring conversations- take full accounting of who was involved in the creation of the problem story, how client came to know self in problematic way, the life support of the problem, losses in relation to the problem
  • Relative influence questions- maps the influence of the problem on the person, encourages persons to map their own and other’s influence in the life of the problem, begins to map out unique outcomes.
  • Unique Outcomes questions- that exclude the problem, even if only briefly
  • Unique Accounts questions- Use grammar of agency, link to resistance to the problem
  • Unique redescription questions- invite to re-describe self
  • Unique possibility questions- next step questions; let client speculate
  • Unique circulation questions- to include others; “who will be most pleased?”
  • Experience of experience questions- be an audience to own story through eyes of others; “what do you think I’m appreciating as I hear…”
  • Preference questions- do you see this as a good or bad thing?
  • Consulting your consultants questions- given your expertise is problem, what would you want to warn others about?
  • Counterviewing questions-

8 internalized conversation problem habits:

  1. Self surveillance/ audience
  2. Illegitimacy
  3. Fear
  4. Negative imagination/ invidious comparison
  5. Internalized bickering
  6. Guilt
  7. Hopelessness
  8. perfection

Therapeutic Letter Writing campaigns- to remember lost aspects of self, secure subordinate stories, recap appreciation and survival, and ask more questions about knowledges and alternative stories the client gained

 

Mating in Captivity, Esther Perel

“We all share a fundamental need for security, which propels us toward committed relationships in the first place; but we have an equally strong need for adventure and excitement….It’s hard to generate excitements, anticipation, and lust with the same person you look to for comfort and stability, but it’s not impossible.”

“…love and desire are not mutually exclusive, they just don’t always take place at the same time.”

“Love enjoys knowing everything about you; desire needs mystery. Love likes to shrink the distance that exists between me and you, while desire is energized by it.  If intimacy grows through repetition and familiarity, eroticism is numbed by repetition.  It thrives on the mysterious, the novel, and the unexpected.  Love is about having; desire is about wanting.  An expression of longing, desire requires ongoing elusiveness.  It is less concerned with where it has already been than passionate about where it can still go.  But too often, as couples settle into the comforts of love, they cease to fan the flame of desire.  They forget that fire needs air.”

 

Tribes, Sebastian Junger

“…we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty and belonging and the eternal human quest for meaning…for many people-war feels better than peace and hardship can turn out to be a great blessing and disasters are sometimes remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations.  Humans don’t mind hardship, in fact they thrive on it; what they mind is not feeling necessary.  Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary.”

“…modern society has gravely disrupted the social bonds that have always characterized the human experience, and that disasters thrust people back into a more ancient, organic way of relating.  Disasters…create a ‘community of sufferers’ that allows individuals to experience an immensely reassuring connection to others.  As people come together to face an existential threat…class differences are temporarily erased, income disparities become irrelevant, race is overlooked, and individuals are assessed simply by what they are willing to do for the group.  It is a kind of fleeting social utopia that…is enormously gratifying to the average person and downright therapeutic to people suffering from mental illness.”

After such a time, people talk about “how much they longed for those days.  More precisely, they longed for who they’d been back then.”

“…during disasters there is a net gain in well-being.  Most primates, including humans, are intensely social, and there are very few instances of lone primates surviving in the wild.  A modern soldier returning from combat- or a survivor of Sarajevo- goes from the kind of close-knit group that humans evolved for, back into a society where most people work outside the home, children are educated by strangers, families are isolated from wider communities, and personal gain almost completely eclipses collective good.  Even if he or she is part of a family, that is not the same as belonging to a group that shares resources and experiences almost everything collectively.  Whatever the technological advances of modern society- and they’re nearly miraculous- the individualized lifestyles that those technologies spawn seem to be deeply brutalizing to the human spirit.”

One “definition of community- of tribe- would be the group of people that you would both help feed and help defend.  A society that doesn’t offer its members the chance to act selflessly in these ways isn’t a society in any tribal sense of the word; it’s just a political entity that, lacking enemies, will probably fall apart on its own.

“This fundamental lack of connectedness allows people to act in trivial but incredibly selfish ways….littering as the perfect example of an everyday symbol of disunity in society.  ‘It’s a horrible thing to see because it sort of encapsulates this idea that you’re in it alone, that there isn’t a shared ethos of trying to protect something shared…’ In this sense, littering is an exceedingly petty version of claiming a billion-dollar bank bailout or fraudulently claiming disability payments.  When you throw trash on the ground, you apparently don’t see yourself as truly belonging to the world that you’re walking around in.  And when you fraudulently claim money from the government, you’re ultimately stealing you’re your friends, family, or neighbors…that diminishes you morally far more than it diminishes your country financially.”

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*@!, Mark Manson

I enjoyed this easy and funny read, and I took away from it encouragement to be deliberate about the things that I care about, and to stop caring about other things.

The Bright Hour, a Memoir of Living and Dying, Nina Riggs

This beautiful book was written by a beautiful soul who went to school with a good friend of mine.  It was moving, thought-provoking, and very funny at times.  Just beautiful.  I read it on the beach, and couldn’t wait to get home to my kiddos afterwards.

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