Reading is not, in my opinion, a luxury, but a necessity. When we are young, it is our gateway to everything we are about to learn during our school days. As we reach our teens, it often becomes an escape from the schedules and demands. Then we ‘grow up’ and time takes over, life becomes so busy and reading slides down the to-do list faster than that first glass of Chardonnay on a Friday night.
For many people, this isn’t the case, and reading is still a huge part of their lives. I am one of these people. Not having a book in my hand is unthinkable. But a few years ago I couldn’t find any comfort in reading. Stress and anxiety had its hold over me, and I couldn’t sit still long enough to focus on the words.
Many of my clients, who suffered from depression, told me how impossible it was for them to read. They couldn’t concentrate on the written word. They would get jittery if sitting still. Trying to concentrate for a period of time, on anything at all was exhausting. Fortunately, with the help of their GP, many of them have been able to control their symptoms and return to reading for pleasure.
Walking away from a physically and emotionally abusive marriage left me with a host of health issues and I spent many years on the road to recovery. It was a long journey, but I knew I had the strength to see it through. I was the sole carer of three young children, and they needed me.
Reading had always been a comfort to me - and an escape. My passion for fantasy and science fiction was never more present than when I was trying to forget my pain. But when I needed to heal it was another genre that I turned to – Mind, Body and Spirit.
There are thousands of self-help books out there, on numerous topics. When I needed guidance, I would let my hand trail across the shelves and pick the book that pulled at me. Without fail, I would choose the perfect title for how I was feeling at that moment.
The books listed below are some of the titles that helped me to shape my new life, change my thought patterns and grow in strength. I have read each of them over and over, whenever I needed a boost or some motivation. I recommend them to everyone I meet, and I am honoured to be able to write for this genre myself. Adding my lessons and hopefully helping others just as I was helped. The list is in no particular order:
Feel the Fear and do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers
Some self-help books are full of long words and complicated terms; this isn’t one of them. Susan has a talent for telling it how it is in a very level-headed manner. This book looks at why we feel the way we do and how to use certain tools to cope with these feelings. My copy is littered with notes I’ve written in the margin. Insights and quotes that Susan shares throughout are displayed on my noticeboard and in my diary. When you suffer from anxiety, the smallest thing can be overwhelming. Susan understands this and includes simple exercises to help us cope with our fears, however big or small.
How To Do Everything And Be Happy by Peter Jones
A book for ordinary people, with ordinary lives. When I read anything by Peter, I feel like I’m chatting with an old friend. He has an incredible talent for making you feel as if you can do anything – even be happy! The easy exercises in this book are simple to adopt and can how a profound impact on your life. Peter recommends giving yourself a ‘Boxing Day’, one day when you get to do anything you want – but there are rules. The beauty of the idea is to give yourself permission to have some ‘me-time’. I call my day a ‘Re-Boot Day’ because this is how I feel after. Just as your computer is quicker and more productive after a re-boot, this is how I feel when I’ve done Peter’s Boxing Day. I recommend this book the most, to my friends and clients, as I know how much it helped me. You can read my interview with Peter Jones here.
How To Be A Money Magnet by Marie-Claire Carlyle
Marie-Claire wrote this book after the success of her Money Magnet workshops. It is another easy to follow book that uses seven steps in overcoming your mindset over finances. I was hopeless with money and could spend it before I’d earned it, so the title was what attracted me initially. Suddenly finding myself as a single mum to three children and having a much smaller family income meant that I needed to learn how to manage my money. It’s not a budgeting book, or a how-to make millions. Marie-Claire guides you to re-think how you feel about money and unblock any limiting beliefs. By mid-way through this book I had adopted several of the recommendations and noticed an increase in my income stream. I’ve bought this book about four times because I keep lending it out to people and never getting it back – hmm another lesson I need to learn.
Ice and a Slice by Della Galton
This book isn’t self-help. You can’t find it in the MBS section of any bookshop, but I’ve included it here because it had such a huge impact on my life. Ice and a Slice is a fiction book, a beautiful story about SJ who likes to have a drink. She overindulges once too often, and the story evolves as her life falls apart. She has to reclaim who she once was without the crutch of alcohol. As I read this book, I honestly believed that Della could see into my mind. I knew that I used alcohol to mask my insecurities, and I knew deep down that it wasn’t good for me. After reading this book I gave up drinking – I’ve been tee-total for sixteen months now.
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
For me, this wasn’t the easiest book to read, probably because it jumps from author to author, but it was powerful nonetheless. I had to re-read most of the chapters to ‘get it’, but it taught me a great deal about how my thoughts shaped who I was. It also introduced me to Mike Dooley and Bob Proctor whose quotes still inspire me today – especially, ‘Thoughts Become Things, Pick Good Ones.’ The Secret still tops the charts in MBS, and I can understand why.
Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston
De-cluttering has to be one of my favourite things to do, and it’s all because of Karen. I have always been a bit of a hoarder, clinging to keepsakes because of a misplaced loyalty. It was when I read this book that I understood how much harm I was doing to my life by holding onto the past. The masses of ‘stuff’ that occupied my home where stagnating my energy, and this was contributing to my feelings of being overwhelmed and out of control. Once I started working through the exercises Karen suggests, I began to notice huge shifts in how I felt, what I was doing and what I was attracting into my life.
How I Changed My Life in a Year by Shelley Wilson (me!)
Yes, I’ve snuck my book in at the end! I didn’t do this as a sales pitch but as an honest account of what it meant to produce this book. Starting my blog and embarking on the twelve challenges I set myself, was only possible because of the strength and motivation I took from each of the books I’ve listed. There have been many more self-help books that taught me valuable lessons, but for fear of boring my readers I’ve kept the list short – I will add other titles in another post. I had to re-build my life and start over. This was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it made me who I am today. Writing this book was my way of showing others how anything is possible if you believe in yourself.
I would love to hear about a book that motivated you, or one that changed your life. Please share your thoughts in the comments below or join us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/resolutionchallenge