Thursday, January 24, 2019
13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don't Do by Amy Morin
13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don't Do by Amy Morin is the kind of book I don't usually read. I decided a long time ago that most self-help books just don't work for me. Either the advice doesn't quite fit my needs or it doesn't stick. I've got a few favorites that I reread on occasion (mostly from the "positive thinking" end of the spectrum) but I stopped buying self-help years ago. So, it's kind of surprising that I decided to read 13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don't Do. Maybe the backwards nature of the title appealed to me -- instead of 13 Things Mentally Strong Women Should Do, its opposite? I can't say. All I can tell you is that I was seeing the book everywhere and it had already piqued my interest when I got an offer to review the book.
I started reading 13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don't Do the day it arrived. I really was that excited about it. Subtitled "Own Your Power, Channel Your Confidence, and Find Your Authentic Voice for a Life of Meaning and Joy," this is actually the third in a series of books about things people who are mentally strong avoid and the first directed specifically at women and their unique challenges. I have not read the others and, in fact, had not heard of them.
A brief note on the challenges that are unique to women: Morin talks about how we're treated as children -- the origin of those challenges that are very specific to women -- impact us. She talks, for example, about research into how teachers respond to boys vs. girls:
[. . . ] teachers were more likely to give boys effort-based feedback when they fail and ability-based feedback when they succeed. So if a boy fails, a teacher may be more likely to say, "You need to study harder next time." But when a boy succeeds, the teacher is more likely to say, "You are smart."
Girls, however, are more likely to receive feedback that their failures stem from their lack of ability while their successes are due to good behavior. So a teacher is more likely to tell a girl, "Math comes hard to you," when she fails and is more likely to say, "You do well on tests because you pay attention in class," when she succeeds.
The first few chapters of the book went quickly. 13 Things is an easy, breezy read with plenty of examples from the author's work as a clinical psychologist (a talk therapist). She describes each particular thing women don't do if they're mentally healthy, for example: Chapter 1: They Don't Compare Themselves to Other People. In Chapter 1, Morin describes how many women compare their looks to models and wonder, "Why can't I look like Christie Brinkley?" or whoever, and make themselves miserable by feeling too short, too fat, too un-blonde, etc. Morin then will talk about a specific patient and how she was comparing herself to someone else, why it was causing her problems, what the doctor suggested, and how she applied those suggestions or came up with something similar (sometimes, patients do come up with their own ideas after hearing that of the psychologist) to stop the mentally unhealthy behavior.
One thing that's great about this book: You won't just learn what you're doing wrong but what you're doing right. I don't compare myself to anyone else, for example. Instead, if I'm feeling fat or ugly or whatever, I tend to ponder what I can do to change myself to be the best me instead of longing to be something that is, in fact, physically impossible. So, you could say Chapter 1 doesn't apply to me at all. But I still found it an enjoyable and helpful read because it's encouraging to discover and ponder those areas in which you're mentally strong, rather than just reading about the weak areas. And, if you don't feel like you want or need to read about what you're doing right, you can always skim the chapters that don't apply to your needs. Only 2 of the chapters seemed to apply to my specific needs.
But, wow, those two chapters hit me hard. One was about something that I've known to be a challenge my entire adult life. Thinking about how it applied to me was painful. And, I think I'll probably need to reread those two chapters repeatedly in order to really work on not doing those particular things that are harmful to myself. But, I'm definitely glad I own a copy of the book so I can read those two chapters repeatedly.
Highly recommended - While only a couple of the chapters in this book applied to me personally, I found 13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don't Do both fascinating and helpful, and it's such an easy read that you can't possibly feel like you're wasting the time reading (or skimming) the chapters that don't apply. That's because those that do really make you evaluate your challenges and how to conquer them while the rest make you feel good about yourself.
I received a copy of 13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don't Do from HarperCollins in exchange for an unbiased review. My thanks to HarperCollins!
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