Lit Clinic: Being Your True Self

In the book The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George, one of the main characters hands out book prescriptions, which are lists of books that he feels would help a particular person with a particular problem. This last weekend I spent time with two wonderful friends, and a lot of our discussion was about how to be your true self. I decided to put a “treatment plan” together for this particular issue, and figured I’d share it here. It’s got non-fiction, biography, and fiction, so there should be something for everyone.  The fiction books ARE specifically targeted at those who know themselves to be bigger on the inside than they act on the outside; if you’d like me to do a list targeted at those who want to embrace their quieter introversion, just let me know.

(Note, all links are Amazon Affiliate links, which means if you click through to Amazon and end up buying something I get a little kickback.)

Phase 1: Who Am I?

Please Understand Me and Please Understand Me 2 by David Keirsey are the end all be all when it comes to the Meyers Briggs Personality Assessment. Are you an introvert, or an extrovert? Do you make decisions based on information you collect, or how you feel?Answer a set of questions, and find out why you think the things you think and why you do the things you do.

How You’ll Do Everything Based on Your Personality Type  and The Comprehensive ENFP Survival Guide by Heidi Priebe also break down the Meyers Briggs Types, with a more cognitive processing bent. She only has comprehensive guides for ENFP and INFP types, but any others should be covered in the first book. None of her books include the Meyers Briggs test.

Stepping away from Meyers Briggs, The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Susanne Stabile works you through the Enneagram, a set of 9 types that make up the whole of humanity. It’s a totally different approach from Meyers Briggs and will show you a different side of yourself.

The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin takes a look at our motivations. Everyone, she claims, is motivated by one of 4 things; keeping the rules, meeting their own expectations, meeting others’ expectations, or rebelling against expectations. Discovering which motivates you can help you achieve the things you want to achieve.

Phase 2: Some Fictional Examples to Follow

When 88 year old Lady Slane’s husband dies, everyone assumes that she will quietly and properly fade into the background in the same way that she’s lived her life. But as All Passion Spent by Vita Sackville-West shows, sometimes youthful ambitions come back and you realize that it’s never too late to live the life you always wanted.

Based on the real life of Mary Shelley, The Determined Heart tells the story of the creator of Frankenstein. From her elopement with a married man as a teenager (is it technically eloping if you can’t get married because he’s already married?) to her writing career, Shelley lived the life she wanted, as she wanted. While I don’t suggest following her example in adultery, there’s definitely inspiration to be gleaned from her gutsiness.

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. Two magical beings find themselves in New York at the turn of the century, and have to come to terms with what it means to be themselves when various factors keep them from being able to truly embrace their identities and powers.

When it comes to living loud and large, Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher  is the poster child. She’s an Brit living in Australia in the 1920s, with her own money, her own ideas, and her own way of doing things. And she solves murders. Even if you’ve seen the TV show (which you should), the books have different characters and extra storylines.

Embracing your inner power is at the core of The Witches of New York by Ami McKay. Adelaide and Eleanor run the teashop Tea and Sympathy, where magic is on the menu as well as delicious tea and sweets. When 17 year old Beatrice answers their ad for a new employee, she comes face to face with her own not insubstantial abilities.

The Ghost Network by Catie Disabato and Mr Penumbras 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloane are both about the magic (not witchy magic) that happens when you follow your passions no matter how far they take you. Whether it’s the subway system in Chicago or obscure typesetting, everything can be fascinating if you’re curious.

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson isn’t fiction, but my goodness it feels like some of it has to be. It’s the most hilarious book I think I’ve ever read, and is full of Lawson living her life fully as her (self admittedly) crazy self. She’s not afraid to be who she is, and who she is is dang funny. (She does swear, a lot. So know that going in.)

Phase 3: I’m Inspired, Now What?

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is one of my favorite books of all time. I’ve read it at least 3 times, and I’m sure I’ll read it many more. This is a book about creativity and art, but really it’s about trusting yourself and your ideas.

A Million Little Ways Uncover the Art You Were Meant to Live by Emily P. Freeman is similar, as it talks about ways to live intentionally, and bring authenticity to your choices.

You’re Already Amazing by Holley Gerth is a Christian based cheerleader of a book. Gerth gives some great insight into how to embrace who you are and live how you genuinely want to live. There’s also a workbook that goes along with it.

Seated With Christ Living Freely in a Culture of Comparison by Heather Holleman is also a Christian book, and it’s one of the best I’ve read this year. By truly defining who you are in relation to Christ, she opens up understanding that will have you celebrating your unique self and not comparing yourself to others.

This was fun; hopefully it’s the right treatment plan for someone. If you have an issue you’d like a Lit Clinic for, let me know in the comments!


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