6 Self-Help Books to Change Your Life

The New Year is here –and it’s a time for the new. New resolutions, new ways of thinking, new ways of dreaming, new workout routines–whatever the case, this time of year feels like a new beginning. And with all that’s sure to be headed our way during 2017, I wanted to pass along six self-help books that have changed my life–or rather, they’ve helped me change my life. All are written by women, so take a gander and see what calls out to you.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: they all address different issues but with the same common theme: everything that you’ve been looking for, and looking to be, is right inside of you. It’s not always easy to find it–but it’s there. They know because they’ve done the messy work of finding it in themselves–and they keep doing it everyday.

Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person By Shonda Rhimes

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“I am not lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard. Don’t call me lucky. Call me a badass.”

Shonda Rhimes IS a badass, she’s funny beyond measure and this book is real as hell. In Year of Yes, Shonda details a year of her life (well into her television success) where she made herself say “yes” to everything that she was afraid to do (including saying yes to saying NO). She’s upfront about the crippling reality of impostor syndrome, being an introverted writer producing for extroverted network heads, being a “successful”single mother, and what personal empowerment looks and feels like. 

 

Rising Strong: The Reckoning, The Rumble, the Revolution by Brené Brown

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“The middle is messy–but that’s also where the magic happens.”

Brené Brown is a researcher and storyteller. Her main topic of study? Shame. Brené has a LMSW, a PhD., and of her many books Rising Strong is by far my favorite. Rising Strong deals with themes of vulnerability and shame, how they affect our daily lives in ways we may or may not realize. In short: Brené gets real about how we need to get real with ourselves.

  • Step One: The Reckoning: when we realize what scenarios trigger us into shutting down, denying vulnerability and openness for fear of shame.
  • Step Two: The Rumble: when we’re staring straight into the face of that which scares us, where we can choose to be open, or we can choose to retreat.
  • Step Three, The Revolution: the amazing transformation that happens when we choose to be open and vulnerable despite our fears–both in little ways, and in big ways

And in her conclusion Brené demonstrates, yet again, that in our vulnerability lies our greatest strength.

 

Tears to Triumph: The Spiritual Journey from Suffering to Enlightenment by Marianne Williamson

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“We’re not without hope; we just haven’t been seeing it. We’re not without power; we just haven’t been claiming it. We’re not without love; we just haven’t been living it.”

This book changed my life and Marianne Williamson changed my worldview. A world renowned spiritual teacher and leader, Marianne has a singularly unique writing and speaking style that resounds so firmly in truth and compassion that it moves the soul. In, Tears to Triumph, Marianne deals gently, and sincerely, with the reality of depression, grief,overwhelming anxiety and helplessness that is so common among so many of us. Through the book, Marianne offers comfort and insight into sitting within one’s grief, reconciling the ever difficult task of being true to our emotions and continuing on with our daily lives. I personally came across this book just months after the death of a beloved family member, and the comfort it brought me was, and continues to be, unmatched. As someone who has dealt with depression, anxiety, and other serious mental health concerns, I found this book to be an unparalleled comfort.  

 

Money: A Love Story by Kate Northrup.

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“The things we hold onto in order to keep us safe are often the things that are preventing us from claiming our freedom…”

In this amazing (and I believe, revolutionary) approach to reconciling money issues, Kate Northrup shows how deeply our financial state is connected to our sense of self worth–and how our relationship with money can, and should, be understood as its own unique journey through self care. Money: a Love Story is littered with writing exercises, dialogues between Kate and yourself, all of which are meant to empower you to take control of your financial woes. Having worked her way out of thousands of dollars of debt herself, Kate is no stranger the weight of “owing”and she encourages us time and again to realize that it’s never just about the money. She offers unique ways of changing your phrasing (renaming bills as “invoices for blessings already received” and replacing “I can’t afford that” with “I am choosing not to spend my money on that right now”) to help to help pinpoint and extricate bad money habits. You deserve all the abundance in the world–and Kate Northrup is determined to help you get there

 

Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

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“I have accepted another one of life’s dangerous invitations: the invitation to feel.”

Now this? This is a book that resonated with me at the core of my being. An astoundingly, devastatingly accurate and aware book, Love Warrior is Glennon Doyle Melton’s memoir deals with the reality of eating disorders, of growing up, of the trials of relationships, of drug addiction, of motherhood, of prejudice, of living and breathing as a woman in this world.  Glennon knows the agony that it is to breathe at times–which she details with gut wrenching candidness. She lets us know that loving each other despite and through our own issues and neurosis and insecurities and fears? That is one of the bravest thing one can do. But perhaps even more importantly, she affirms how loving yourself can be the hardest, messiest, bravest thing you can possibly do. And loving each other despite and through our own issues and neuroses and insecurities and fears? That too, is the absolutely bravest thing you can do. This book is a gift, because it reminds you that, despite it all, or perhaps even because of it all, you are a gift too.

 

Anything We Love Can Be Saved by Alice Walker

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“The world in its suffering and confusion needs you desperately.”

This memoir of Alice Walker’s is a powerful collection of essays that detail her time in activism both in the United States and abroad. As a feminist icon and extraordinary literary figure, the words and the stories are gripping and moving. And, despite its earlier publication date, there is much of this book that feels relevant now more than ever. She says “It has become a common feeling, I believe…that our own small stone of activism, which might not seem to measure up to the rugged boulder of heroism we have so admired, is a paltry offering toward the building of hope. Many who believe this choose to without their offerings out of shame. This is the tragedy of our world” (xxiii).


So let us pick ourselves up to move through this next year of our lives, working through our grief and vulnerability, our insecurities and our shames. Let us practice saying YES and saying NO as loudly as we can, let us free ourselves spiritually, monetarily, and emotionally. Let us pledge to do the work day in and day out.

Let us take up the mantle. Let us fight the good fight. Let us use these books and books like these to help us navigate the ever perilous road to claim our power, to raise our voice, and to shine as brightly as we possibly can.

Let radical self love be the backbone of our revolution.

 

Olivia Howard

Olivia Howard

Olivia is a somewhat single twenty something living in New York City (ok, Brooklyn) and fresh off of completing her Master’s Degree in English Literature at NYU. She is the oldest of four and a Navy Brat. An Austen, Bronte, and Morrison devotee, you can most likely find her procrastinating by reading Harry Potter or trying to become motivated by channeling her inner Lorelai Gilmore (aka drinking too much coffee). Olivia prides herself on the simple fact that she cares a lot. About everything. All the time. And is currently trying to come to terms with the fact that being an adult is hard, Trump is President, and that racism is still a thing. Let's do what we can to make the world a little brighter friends. Thanks for reading.
Olivia Howard
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