Literary Wellness To Pass The Time

For those aspiring toward self-betterment, or those simply looking to cope with mental illness: keep reading. When I moved to the ‘big’ city, I left my therapist behind. After switching companies twice and health insurance three times, I never found a new one. Maybe it’s social anxiety, maybe it’s laziness. Who knows. Instead, during an especially desperate, depression-spiral induced shopping trip to Barnes & Noble two years ago, I started buying self-help books. These are the ones I’ve found and what I’ve learned from them.


First, We Make The Beast Beautiful: A New Journey Through Anxiety by Sarah Wilson

This was the first self-help book that I purchased in my shopping trip of desperation and it’s also the one that’s been the most impactful. This book helped me reframe my depression and anxiety – my beast – into something that wasn’t so intense and scary. Wilson uses her own life for the spine of the story, sharing what’s worked and what hasn’t in her experience. But most importantly, anxiety and depression isn’t showcased as some supernatural horrific, plague-like thing. It’s just a part of you, something that can be made livable, or even beautiful.



Unf*ck Your Brain by Faith G. Harper, PhD, LPC-S, ACS, ACN

This book was a secondary purchase just in case the FWMTBB:ANJTA didn’t work out. Unf*ck Your Brain looks at what causes our brains to go ‘chemically batshit’ which results in anxiety, depression, you name it. If you prefer hard facts, straight to the point, no bullshit formatting over personal storytelling, then you should try this book out. I felt like this book gave me a good foundational knowledge on the ‘why’ behind the feelings, which is just as necessary as knowing how to work through them.


Emotional Detox: 7 Steps to Release Toxicity and Energize Joy by Sherianna Boyle

I purchased this book on a whim without reading the back – I thought the front cover looked interesting enough. I only started reading it after realizing that a friends’ emotions were causing sleepless nights and emotional stress for myself. This quick read is packed with useful information as well as a C.L.E.A.N.S.E. method for working through your emotions. Boyle, the author, was in an extremely emotional and traumatic point in her life when she began writing the book which made it easier to relate to. I think that it’s never too late to learn how to cope or deal with emotions.


Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans

This book is a part of the design-thinking phenomena created by Burnett and Evans at Stanford. Formatted around the idea of ‘reframing’ your thinking to create a life you enjoy and like, it’s a good tool for those who may be more apt towards ‘workbook’ type learning. There are small prompts, check-in dashboards and more to help you stay on track towards creating a better life. While I’m ultimately not a fan of ‘feel good’ books like this, it was an interesting read and did help reframe some destructive thought patterns. I think that creating physical dashboards for love, health, play and work can help to keep you focused on your goals.


What’s your favorite feel good book?

“I’m Sorry” Sucks

I have a weird relationship with the phrase, “I’m sorry.” Whenever I’m told to say it, or it feels “necessary” to say it… I don’t want to and a lot of times I flat out won’t (guess my zodiac sign.) The times I typically can be found saying sorry are when it’s unnecessary – i.e. when it makes no sense and adds zero quality points to a conversation or interaction.

But I’ve been on a mission for the last couple of years to evolve the whole “I’m sorry” phrase out of my vocab.

thorned rose : Want to get out of here? Mommy needs a drink....

Me to me:

Examples of some unnecessary “I’m sorry” phrases:

  • “I’m sorry for the delay!” -> try: “Thank you for your patience!”
  • “I’m sorry, but this isn’t what I ordered…” -> try: “Unfortunately, this isn’t what I ordered…”
  • “I’m sorry, but I was wondering…” -> try: “Excuse me, quick question…”
  • “So sorry I’m late!” -> try: “I seriously appreciate you waiting on me!”

Examples of necessary times to say “I’m sorry”:

  • Never -> If you did something wrong, figure out a better way to apologize. “I’m sorry” doesn’t cut it.

“I’m sorry” is a weak phrase.

It’s just a surface scratcher to something deeper and, to put it simply, a way to deflect. There is always something way better to be said in place of an “I’m sorry.” I mean, how many times has someone used that phrase and you actually felt better or you felt like it promoted a more positive tone to the environment? Saying, “I’m sorry” is a reactional “oof” to a situation. It conveys how uncomfortable you are and even your distress… in turn, causing you to lose your power.

I’m not sure how one activates cancel culture but can we just get “I’m sorry” cancelled already?

Sure, this article might indeed be coming from a stubborn Taurus who will go above and beyond to avoid saying “I’m sorry,” but let’s seriously think about this. When has a simple sorry fixed anything? When has saying, “I’m sorry, I have a question” shown confidence?

The best apologies that change a situation are ones that come from the heart and are followed with action. And in turn, an aimless “I’m sorry” in email correspondence or for running late, etc. is useless. It’s useless because you’ve probably said “I’m sorry” so many times before that it has lost any and all sincerity it could have (maybe) once possessed. A little secret – the chronic apologizing also creates this weird mini pity party for yourself where the person on the receiving end feels the need to say, “Oh, no worries!” or some other response in an effort to try to make you feel better… and that’s kind of messed up.

As I mentioned earlier, I have a weird history with “I’m sorry.” I hate using it when I’ve done something that calls for an apology, usually getting away with an “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Which yeah, is not a real apology, but didn’t we already agree that “I’m sorry” is fake anyway you strew it? I’m a tragic half-assed verbal apologizer, but my real apology lies in my actions that follow the confrontation. (I know there should be a balance, but I’m working on it okay?!)

Now, in terms of the weird history I have of the “I’m sorry” overuse, I am still training myself out of over apologizing. I have come a long way, but there are still times when I’m writing up an email and have to actively catch myself and rephrase. Not to mention during face-to-face interactions, I’ll find myself at times biting my tongue to catch an “I’m sorry” and quickly rephrase what I had planned to say.

Deciding to change a behavior and actively implementing the change is an uphill battle, but it’s a gratifying one.

Blake Lively in “A Simple Favor”

Talkin’ to You, Talkin’ to Me

I’m a sucker for cliches that can blanket statement a situation. I find that cliches have the same function as supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, except a bit more practical. For instance, something’s happened and you don’t know what to say, just give a sympathetic shrug and throw in, “All that glitters isn’t gold,” “What goes around, comes around,” or “Don’t cry over spilled milk.” But while I dig a good cliche, I also fully acknowledge that some are trash.

Like hold the phone, sticks and stones… I’m sorry, what?

If you ever think about saying “Sticks and stones…” to someone, of any age, just stop. Don’t even think of finishing the sentence. All this stupid sentence does is dismiss the feelings of the person you’re speaking to. I’ll say it right now, words hurt, and they can hurt bad.

Imagine you’re in a situation getting bullied, maybe it’s about something like the size of your nose or ears, your skin color, or maybe even the clothes on your back. Imagine getting bullied relentlessly by shit kids, imagine experiencing this, and the only thing you’re told on how to deal is either, “Oh, they’re just mean because they have a crush on you!” or the god awful cliche mentioned above about stupid sticks and stones.

It’s just wrong, it’s so wrong. Words have power, we should stop gaslighting people into believing otherwise. I wish I was taught at a younger age to call people out when they said hurtful things instead of being taught to just ignore them. Can you imagine what kind of place the world could be if we started calling out the haters earlier on in life?

Oof, gives me chills just thinking about a society that beholds fruitful communication.

Everyone and their brother has said this, but I’ll say it again – communication is so important. It’s vital to understand that when someone tells you that something you said hurt them, don’t fight them on this, just don’t. You cannot control the feelings and emotions of others. All you can do is accept their feelings at face value and try to earnestly understand where they’re coming from.

I’m over this whole, “They’re just words, we were only kidding!” thing, it’s not cute. Dismissing the feelings of others, essentially calling their emotions invalid… it’s not a good look.

When someone confides in you, opens up and tells you that your words hurt… embrace that dialogue. Ask them what exactly was said that hurt, and if after finding out you still don’t understand why it hurt them – be honest and ask them how you can do better. This is good communication, and trust me I get it, deep communication is hard and a lot of people suck at it – myself included!! But when you have the conversation and acknowledge the feelings of others as valid, you’re on a higher path, a higher frequency, of basic human decency.

It can be so groundbreaking once you fully acknowledge that words hold power, they can hurt, and you’re not being too sensitive. In fact, stop putting the word “too” in front of “sensitive”, your feelings are not too much, nor are they too little – they just simply are. What can also be groundbreaking is to not only accept the negative and toxic power of word, but to simultaneously embrace the positive uplifting power it has too. It’s clear that other people’s words can hurt you and that their love and compliments can lift you… but what about your own words? Do you realize that how you talk to yourself also has a great impact your mental health?

In a book I’m currently reading*, the author writes on self-talk and the importance of acknowledging your “inner-child.” This term, inner-child, is rooted deep into psychology and associated with a person’s potential, creativity, and expression – all of which are aspects influenced from their childhood. It’s also the idea that the child version of yourself lives on in your psyche and still has influence over your day to day life within your emotions and where you find your common comforts.

That above passage from the book really hit home, it had me thinking not only how I would talk to my younger self, but in a more tangible sense I thought, “Would I say the things I tell myself to my kid sister?” and before I could even complete that thought, I already knew the answer. The way I talk to myself sometimes can be so intense and so hurtful, not only would I never talk to my little sister that way… I wouldn’t even talk to burnt popcorn that way.

Food for thought: If we wouldn’t talk to others a certain way, why in the world should we talk to ourselves in such a manner?

Just like we need to wear a mask, just like we need to vote… we need to be kind to ourselves. There is only one person we are with at all hours of the day and night, there is only one person we can’t escape from, there is only one person we can’t ever shut out… and that’s ourselves.

So guys, this is a friendly reminder to treat yourself with the love and respect you deserve, it’s your birthright.

*SOURCE: The Witch’s Book of Self-Care: Magical Ways to Pamper, Soothe, and Care for Your Body and Spirit by Arin Murphy-Hiscock