My Top 10 Inspiring and Insightful Books

For anyone that knows me, they know that I usually have at least 5 books on the go at any one point. I pick up different books depending on what I’m feeling that day. While it means I have a lot of unfinished books, I also have many that I have read cover to cover, again and again. These are some of those books.

Women Who Run With Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

This book has been deeply influential in reaching that soul place within, a place we don’t visit as much as we could. It holds a power in its own existence and gives women permission to rest and not tame their intensity. I treat this book like a bible of sorts, as a reference book of spirituality and living true to oneself.

“What is homing? It is the instinct to return, to go to the place we remember. It is the ability to find, whether in dark or in daylight, one’s home place. We all know how to return home. No matter how long its been, we find our way. We go through the night, over strange land, through tribes of strangers, without maps and asking of the odd personages we meet along the road, ‘what is the way?’ The exact answer to ‘where is home?’ is more complex… but in some way it is an internal place, a place somewhere in time rather than space, where a woman feels of one piece. Home is where a thought or feeling can be sustained instead of being interrupted or torn away from us because something else is demanding our time and attention. And through the ages women have found myriad ways to have this, make this for themselves, even when their duties and chores were endless” – p.283

The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk

Arguably the most influential book in trauma research and digestibility of how trauma is stored in the body. A fantastic and very readable tool for self study and understanding regarding being a human being and how things affect us.

“Trauma robs you of the feeling that you are in charge of yourself. The challenge of recovery is to reestablish ownership of your body and your mind- of your self. This means feeling free to know what you know and feel what you feel without becoming overwhelmed, enraged, ashamed, or collapsed” – p.205

Guilt Is The Teacher, Love is the Lesson by Joan Borysenko

This is one of those books that you will feel drawn to or you won’t and that is how you know. I read this book back in early undergrad days, and it spoke truths for me I didn’t know how to verbalize. Joan talks about self esteem, shame, healthy vs. unhealthy guilt, and learned childhood experiences as shaping how we interact with people today and who we believe ourselves to be based on past experiences.

“We stand in the midst of an almost infinite network of relationships: to other people, to things, to the universe. And yet, at three o’ clock in the morning, when we are alone with ourselves, we are aware that the most intimate and powerful of all relationships and the one we can never escape is the relationship to ourselves. No significant aspect of our thinking, motivation, feelings, or behavior is unaffected by our self-evaluation. We are organisms who are not only conscious but self-conscious. That is our glory and at times, our burden” – p.46

You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay

I remember reading this book for the first time. I read it in two days, and I cried on the train back home from University immersed in the words of Louise Hay. A beautiful book that speaks to our inner child. It highlights how light life can feel if we allow it to be so.

“Almost all of our programming, both negative and positive, was accepted by us by the time we were three years old. Our experiences since then are based upon what we accepted and believed about ourselves and about life at that time. The way we were treated when we were very little is usually the way we treat ourselves now. The person you are scolding is the three year old child within you” – p.79

Life Lessons: Two Experts on Death and Dying Teach Us About The Mysteries of Life and Living by Elizabeth Kubler Ross and David Kessler

I am a big believer in acknowledging death as a motivator to truly live. This is a compilation of client and therapist’s stories of loss, love, grief and what it means to be human.

“As I thought about the lessons of love, I thought about myself and my own life. Naturally, that I’m still alive means I still have lessons to learn. I, like everyone else I’ve ever worked with, need to learn how to love myself more. One would assume that if you are loved by so many, you would love yourself. But this is not always true. It’s not true for most of us. I’ve seen it in hundreds of lives and deaths, and now I see it in myself. Love has to come from within, if it is to come at all. And I’m still not there.” – p.27

I Am Her Tribe by Danielle Doby

Danielle Doby brilliantly captures a sense of being instantly understood as a sensitive human through her poetry. She highlights the struggles we all can relate to such as relationships, getting through hard times, and connecting to ourselves.

“The light in me cannot always see and honor the light in you. And its because of this. The love of the process. The love of this journey. I keep showing up to practice. For me, its all yoga. Finding steady breath in the unknown. The rhythmic flow when words fall off my tongue and down onto paper. Granting myself permission to say no- without apology. Grounding my feet into the space that was created after he left me. All is not right. Nor wrong. It just is.” -p.57

Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships by John Welwood

While I would love to just quote this whole book right here, I’ll have to hold myself back and let you explore the power of it yourself. Single or Taken, this book is essential reading for anyone who loves.

“Thus, apart from a few biochemical imbalances and neurological disorders, the diagnositc manual for psychological afflictions known as the DSM might as well begin: ‘herein are described all the wretched ways people feel and behave when they do not know that they are loved’… When people do not know they are loved, a cold black hole forms in the psyche, where they start to harbor beliefs that they’re insignificant, unimportant, or lacking in beauty and goodness. This icy place of fear is what gives rise to terrorist attacks of all kinds – not just in the form of bombs going off, but also in the emotional assaults that go on within ourselves and our relationships” – p.12

I Need Your Love- Is That True? by Byron Katie

Questioning the stories that we tell ourselves right off the bat, Byron Katie sings a different tune to the ones we typically hear. She has a beautiful way of encouraging you to ask yourself different questions and interrupt the typical loop of thinking your mind goes into. One of my favorite quotes by her is “stress is caused by not accepting reality”

“The thought that kicks you out of heaven could be ‘I’d be a little more comfortable if I had a pillow’ or it could be ‘I’d be happier if my partner were here’. Without that thought, you’re in heaven- just sitting in your chair, being supported and being breathed. When you believe the thought that something is missing, what do you experience? The immediate effect may be subtle- only a slight restlessness as your attention moves away from what you already have. But with that shift of attention, you give up the peace you have as you sit in your chair. Seeking comfort, you give yourself discomfort” – p.9

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

Love me some Brene Brown. Her warmth and genuineness shine through in her writing about shame and vulnerability. She is the queen of letting us know that we are not alone in our suffering, and normalizes the experience of shame. Brene helps facilitate self acceptance through her kind words and research.

“Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.”

“When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated. This is why we sometimes attack who they are, which is far more hurtful than addressing a behavior or a choice.”

Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth

If I had to choose one book for the rest of my life, which would be incredible painful, but this would be the one I would hold on to. This book taught me a lot about filling voids and the impact of childhood relationships with caretakers and how that translates to our relationship to food and other sources of nourishment. Despite the title, anyone who doesn’t identify as a woman can benefit from this.

Of this I am certain: something happens every time I stop fighting with the way things are. Something happens to every one of my students when they stop running their familiar programs about fear and deficiency and emptiness. I don’t know what to call this turn of events or the freshness that follows it, but I know what it feels like: it feels like relief. It feels like infinite goodness. Like a distillation of every sweet fragrance, every heartstopping beauty, every haunting melody you’ve ever heard. It feels like the essence of tenderness, compassion, joy, peace. Like love itself. And in the moment you feel it you recognize that you are it and that you’ve been here all alone, waiting for your return” -p.74

Boundaries by Anne Katherine

Breaking down what boundaries are, how they get violated and how to set them, this book is gold. It is easy to get through and deeply impactful. A must read for anyone who struggles to say no, feels angry at others actions toward them, people pleasers, or those that feel guilty for doing things for themselves.

“In every one of your relationships, you are on a continuum between intimacy and separation. You stand on a slide that tilts you toward either intimacy or separateness. Exactly where you stand at any given moment is the result of your decisions, your feelings, how you handle situations, and the way you and the other person communicate.”

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Psychology Today Profile:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/therapists/amanda-bowers-vancouver-bc/730673

This website and blog are not a substitution for therapy or therapeutic advice. Please see a mental health practitioner or therapist for individualized therapy.

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