In January our book club reads a self- help or life improvement book of some sort. If the book is an easier read we may throw in an extra, just to keep us plowing through the month. Most of us read everything assigned, and such was the case this month.
Our first pick was an energy profiling book (which the author says is not to be confused with a personality test) designed to help you see the driving force between different energy types. It is called "It's Just My Nature" by Carol Tuttle.
In the book she basically introduces 4 energy types that tend to be motivating factors in a person's life. There is upward and fun energy Type 1, connecting and subtle Type 2, active and accomplishing Type 3, and the perfecting and fine tuning energy of a Type 4 (very basic nutshell, there!). The author herself is a Type 3, so we had to laugh when our own Type 3 member Peggy showed up in an outfit already hanging in her closet.
The book made for an interesting discussion (and a special guest who has taken courses from Tuttle came to help us decipher our questions) as we probed the idea of what drives us. Tuttle also explains how not living true to your driving force (for instance trying to be active and finish projects for everyone when your true type is to be more subtle and detailed) can bring a lot of confusion to your life and even trigger anxiety and depression. This is a wake-up call to be true to your inner self and quit apologizing for your tendencies.
For some of us, that is exactly what we didn't like about the book...a few of our readers feel we should always be growing and changing and working on ourselves. The other half (I felt we were split on this book) loved the idea of embracing your natural energy and allowing the space for others to be themselves. I personally have found this book to be an eye-opener in my marriage and my husband and I have loved the insight we got in understanding each other.
Some of really struggled with the author's style. She tends to write and speak in a way to trigger reactions (mission accomplished) and is blunt and even harsh in her words sometimes. A few of our readers didn't love her example stories from her own life, as her personality tends to be a little 'in your face' (comparable to a Dr. Laura phone call).
Overall, however, there is a lot to be learned from this book and freeing yourself to wake up every day and be who you were born to be. For a group of women (even employees) it is a great tool to dig into each other's minds. Recommended for people who like figuring out what makes people tick.
Our second pick was "I Don't Have to Make Everything All Better" by Gary and Joy Lundberg
Again, we were sort of split on this book in it's entirety.
What we LOVED about this book is the idea that we need to stop trying to fix each other's lives. How many times do you just want to vent to someone, and they rush in with a million fixes? They have all sorts of ideas for you with "You should have done this....." or "I would have done that....." these 'suggestions' can sometimes make people feel misunderstood or even pressured to measure up. In reality, most of us just want to be heard, and deep down we really know what we should do in most situations, anyway. This book really walks you through the steps of being more of a sympathetic ear, and letting your relationship do the supporting- not your advice.
As a whole, our book club loved that idea. We all agreed this could be a strengthening concept, even a relief in some cases, and it is easy to see how hard it can be to give people room to shift through the emotions of their own experiences. It works in all relationships, from your children and spouses, to your best friends, and even your co-workers.
What we didn't like was the length of the book. It is very repetitive and could be edited down to about half it's own length. The same thing is said so many ways, it gets a little tiresome. For me personally, I think there is a time and place to sometimes give a tip or two- probably because I have so many clients that are seeking advice- and these authors make you feel like you should never offer your opinion. On top of that I do think sometimes repeating back sympathetic phrases or mirroring in conversation can feel condescending. The trick is to carefully choose when you are truly being sought after for advice and trying to give it with a sympathetic heart. The take away from this book is a valuable one.
Overall we enjoyed this book and it's ideas, and recommend it to readers who appreciate an easier self-help read that encourages you to be more listening and open and less 'fix everything' when relating to others.