What self help workbooks would you recommend for me?
June 30, 2016 5:54 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for a book that will help me work through issues with intimacy and being emotionally distant, anxiety surrounding myself and my life, self esteem issues, getting in touch with my emotions, and just dealing with a lot of latent frustration. Overall, a book on tools to develop emotional maturity is what I need. If anyone knows of a workbook with exercises that would be best since they tend to keep my attention, but if not a regular self help book would be awesome.

For some maybe relevant background, I just got out of a tumultuous relationship where a lot of my personal emotional issues were exposed, and I'd like to use my newly found single-dom to try to work through some of them. Off the bat, therapy is not an option because of insurance and an all consuming work schedule, although hopefully this will change in the next 6 months. I'm hoping a self help book will help me in the short term.
posted by tomtheblackbear to Human Relations (9 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
My go-to for this is the short, simple, direct "How To Be An Adult" by David Richo. A friend who was doing a contemplative psychology degree recommended it to me years ago and I've been recommending it to others ever since. She called it the 'handbook for life' that we were never given - and I'd agree. Richo has a few free texts on his site, including this one which you might want to look through to get a sense of the material. He also writes a bunch of explicitly religious stuff which I've never bothered with.

Basically though I'd ignore everything else of his and just find a cheap copy of this, it's short and to the point and I've seen it help profoundly in exactly your situation.
posted by jardinier at 6:03 PM on June 30, 2016 [4 favorites]

I know a psychologist who uses mind and emotions as a work book with clients.
posted by smoke at 2:33 AM on July 1, 2016

Good for you for deciding to tackle your issues. This stuff really can be changed with some effort and guidance. I think you will like Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life by Steven C. Hayes. It's based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which is scientifically sound. The self-help workbook is not a genre that I'm impressed with overall, but this workbook is really solid and the exercises are meaningful and not cheesy, in my opinion. This bit of the back-cover blurb sounds like what you're looking for:

"ACT is not about fighting your pain; it's about developing a willingness to embrace every experience life has to offer. It's not about resisting your emotions; it's about feeling them completely and yet not turning your choices over to them."
posted by Frenchy67 at 5:03 AM on July 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

Nthing Frenchy67. "Get Out Of Your Mind..." is a seriously good book. But you it is a workbook. You can't just read it and set it aside.
And I always recommend "When Things Fall Apart" I read it once a month
posted by jtexman1 at 8:31 AM on July 1, 2016

Following up on Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life, another good ACT book is The Happiness Trap by Russell Harris.
posted by obliterati at 8:41 AM on July 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

First: Sorry to hear about this--glad you got out of a relationship like that. But the rest is no fun at all.

I looked back at some entries under your profile to get a general idea where you're coming from. Based on this question and your previous posts you remind me of the intuitive-introvert autodidact type. Do you know if you are an INTJ in terms of Meyers-Briggs type? In Big Five that would be type RCOEI; in the Enneagram that would probably be a type 4 or 5.

The reason I bring up personality type is that it usually delivers very specific-to-your-type advice rather than blanket advice.

As an example, INTJs sometimes receive feedback that they are broken because they do not wield emotionality in the deft way that some others do. However, getting in touch with emotions is not usually as rewarding for INTJ growth as e.g. being decisive, attacking the need for information about the problem head-on (aka posting to Ask MeFi), or getting organized. Emotionality is more of a black and white function for them; the decisive, etc. action highlights their strengths and feels really great in use. By relying on the latter, they can often minimize problems with emotionality enough that it is no longer an issue.

Online tests:
Human Metrics Jung Typology Test
Big Five

Books about personality type--I highly recommend all of these:
- Was that Really Me? by Naomi Quenk
- 8 Keys to Self-leadership by Dario Nardi (This book has exercises around all kinds of personality functions, including those we think of as more emotional. I recommend starting with the exercises for your primary and secondary functions.)
- The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Riso and Hudson
posted by circular at 10:14 AM on July 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

Zen teacher Cheri Huber has a book called Be the Person You Want to Find: Relationship and Self-Discovery. From the description:
This guide to self-discovery through intimate relationships offers a spiritual perspective on healing childhood wounds and destructive patterns that are learned early on and later cause relationship dysfunction in adulthood.
Her book How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be might also be helpful.
This book tells you precisely how to examine an issue that is causing you difficulty, how to discover the source of the problem, and how to free yourself from the suffering that was created.
posted by Lexica at 1:37 PM on July 1, 2016

FWIW, I'm an INTJ and have found getting in touch with my emotions life changing in a really positive way. Ten sessions of therapy put me on the right track, it's not always a long process.

Maybe off base, but Codependent No More by Melanie Beatty was helpful for me in addressing the things you want to work on. It's not just a problem for people involved with alcoholics.
posted by momus_window at 7:14 PM on July 1, 2016

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