Doing Better

Ms. Angelou has lots of wonderful words of inspiration, but this quote has been swimming around in my head a lot lately.  Always interested in being the best human being I can be, I’ve read a lot of self-help books.  In nearly every case, I’ve grown because of them, and learned to “do better” in my life.

I’m going to share some of the ones that have led to the biggest improvements.

The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman

This was the first self-help book I remember reading.  It might not technically be considered a self-help book, but so much of what was said in there spoke to me in profound ways.  Through this book, I learned about many Zen teachings, and how to accept that the body that is Alyx Morgan is completely separate from the energy (or soul, or whatever ethereal word you want to use) that’s currently living in it.  That helped me to not fear death or to become too attached to things in this life . . . it’s been SO freeing!

Shortly after a major breakup in my late 20s, I read a series of relationship-based self-help books that also helped me learn things about myself:

Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus by John Gray, Ph.D.

I found so much of what Dr. Gray says in this book helped me to understand the reasons for my emotional needs, but also to not expect my future mate to know exactly what I wanted or needed from him . . . I needed to be able to speak up and make my needs known.  Before this book, I used to think that if someone “really loved me” they would automatically read my mind and give me what I needed . . . how wrong I was.

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

This book was such a HUGE eye opener for me.  I’d never before considered that people spoke different “languages” of love, but he spelled it out in such a way that I could easily see which love languages I speak.  This added on to Dr. Gray’s book so that I knew how best to phrase my needs to my potential mate.

The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz

Aahhhhh, this lovely little book.  While this book is technically a relationship-based book, it’s SO much more.  It’s not just about our relationship with other people, it’s more about the relationship we have with ourselves, and how to love yourself enough that you don’t feel the desperate need for love from others (something I’d done most of my life).

There’s one self-help book that I haven’t read all the way through yet:

The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford

I’ve started reading this book several times, but have never finished it, so maybe I’m still not ready for all of the lessons in its pages.  But the biggest takeaway I’ve gotten from this book is to embrace my “bad” traits as well as my “good” ones.  That there are times it’s perfectly okay to be a “bitch,” or “needy,” or “angry.”  Every human being is made up of multiple facets, and as long as we don’t judge them, we can see where they are useful.  For instance, if I feel someone is trying to take advantage of me, that’s the perfect opportunity for me to let out my anger and/or inner bitch, to let whoever know that I won’t be taken advantage of.  Yes, eventually I’ll learn how to do that without the aggression, but there’s still nothing wrong with said aggression.  Accepting all facets of myself has been extremely helpful in not beating myself up.

As for the last book I’ll discuss in today’s blog . . .

Codependent No More by Melody Beattie

I’m currently reading this book and it’s answering SO many of the remaining questions I’ve had as to many of my behavioral characteristics.  I had suspected that my relationship with my mother was codependent to some extent, but reading this book I can see just how pervasive my codependency is.  In the book, I’ve found several keys for releasing myself from the chains that have held me for such a long time, and I feel like I’ll be able to work through most of the rest of my issues with the lessons I’m learning here.  I’ve been noticing the places where I’m acting in a codependent manner, and have already begun making different choices in my actions and reactions to situations and people.  I had originally checked this book out of our local library, but it will be owned and sitting on our bookshelf very soon.

These books have helped me grow over the years, and I’m forever grateful to them.  Are there any books you’ve read that have taught you things, or helped you to “know better,” and subsequently “do better?”  Please let me know, and maybe I can add them to my bookshelf, too.  😉

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