When I was younger I would walk past self help book sections in bookstores and libraries and laugh. I thought they were ridiculous. How is a stranger going to tell me, tell anyone how to be a better version of themselves, I would think. I couldn’t fathom how a book was supposed to change someone’s life. As much as I always have loved reading, I could not get down with self-help books. In fact it wasn’t until just a few years ago that I actually really got into them. I kept hearing people talking about the same few books and finally, I gave in. Upon further introspection I realized I had actually read and owned a “self help” book since I was young. My uncle gifted me with the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People when I was in high school and it’s been one of my all time favorite books since. So I guess I’ll tell you the other two books that are helping me so much in my growth, one is, You Are a Badass How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life and the other is, The Four Agreements. Have you read them? If so they probably blew you away as they did and are constantly doing me. Here are a few ways I am utlizing what I’ve learned in these books to better myself.
1. Realizing it’s not always about me
In You are a Badass, the author, Jen Sincero gives an anecdote about someone texting a friend and inviting her to a dinner, the friend responds by saying, it’s her birthday, the other person responds with a sad face…and then a Happy Birthday! Which gets no response. This sends the other person down a rabbit hole of emotions. They go from blaming the other person for taking their birthday too seriously, to feeling bad for not having known it was their birthday and assuming that the friend is mad at them, when in reality the friend had dropped their phone in the toilet right after their last message. This little anecdote was powerful for me because I use to be that person. I read energies very well but I also have a habit of assuming what other people are thinking when I don’t really know for sure. I am such an emotional person and other peoples emotions affect me to the max. In reading this I’ve started actively working to stop myself from assuming the worst. What if they are just busy? What if they are going through a personal crisis, what if they are sleep? There are so many what ifs you can go down the line with that have absolutely nothing to do with why a person is not responding to you. In the instant gratification time we are living in it’s easy to feel personally attacked when a person is not responding to you how you would like but one thing that has helped me is remembering it’s not always about me and allowing people the time they need as I would want the same in return. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz also has a chapter about not making assumptions which ties into the same principal of believing we are right when we don’t know the truth behind others actions or feelings.
2. Keeping my promises
In the Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz talks about being impeccable with your word. In being impeccable with your word you are basically owning up to the things you say and keeping your promises. How often do we say we’re going to go to the gym, eat healthy, stop talking to that guy, and never do it. We break promises to ourselves and to others so often. We tell our mom we’re going to call more, our best friends we are going to hold them accountable to working out and our partners that we will watch the game with them and never do it. By being impeccable with our word/keeping our promises to ourselves we show that we have integrity. We restore faith in our friends and loved ones as well as ourselves. By following up with the things we say we are going to do we brainwash ourselves into believing that we are capable of doing the things we say and our word becomes super powerful. I have a bad habit of not holding up to my word with those closest to me and have made it a point to no longer say I’m going to do things if i’m not 99% sure I can do them, there’s always that 1 percent for catastrophes out of my control. I don’t want to let myself or my friends down so I make sure to be impeccable with my word and stand by the things I say.
3. Seek First to Understand then to be Understood
This is a chapter in Stephen R. Covey’s, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In this chapter Covey talks about our natural want to typically first seek to be understood before we try to understand. In life how many times have you gotten into an argument and you are rattling your brain trying to think of ways for the other person to understand what they did wrong, why you are upset, why this can never happen again. It’s so easy for us to relate to our own needs in fact we often are thinking of responses to the other persons argument while they are speaking instead of truly listening. In seeking to understand, you are being empathatic. You are proving to yourself and the other person that their wants and needs are just as important as yours. You are gaining another perspective. This goes beyond merely active listening. When you seek first to understand, you are eliminating the need to be in a constant defense mode. Instead you are actively seeking to understand which could ultimately lead to avoiding an argument altogether and gaining a sense of understanding of the other person you may have not had before.
These are just a few of the many books I’ve read over the years and a few lessons of hundreds I am constantly reminding myself the importance of. The next time your own amazon, in a bookstore, your book nerd friends apartment, check out these books, you will definitely gain a new perspective and possibly a new favorite book!
Love & light