I've gotten this question enough now that I want to make a post about it. The question is one of my sources, what girds my understanding of relationships and the way things are.
Here is a limited list that will absolutely change your life if you give it the opportunity.
Loving What Is by Byron Katie
--This book is like CBT combined with a deeply spiritual acceptance of reality. This book helped me do shadow work, integrate my work, and create an understanding of my own holistic self-interest. It's funny, irreverent, and focused in on truth, on reality as it is. It's full of the stories of real people doing what Byron Katie calls "The Work." This gave me the tools to understand my projections and how they shape my every experience. Despite being an entirely cognitive framework, this is, IMO, the best introduction to embodiment as it lands us back in the present moment over and over again. She's also on a lot of podcasts talking about "The Work" and has a bunch of workshops on Youtube.
Non-Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenburg
This communication framework will anchor your understanding of CBT in actions, in relationships, in real-time. NVC helped me sort out feelings from thoughts, and helped me take down my tendency to demand instead of request. This work is foundational to my ability to relate from desire rather than obligation. This work is largely free on Youtube, and the website has further resources.
The Tao Te Ching by Ursula Leguin and Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life by Wayne Dyer
The Tao Te Ching is a beautiful ancient Chinese text of 81 verses that both of these authors have modernized and made palatable to the current moment. Ursula LeGuin's rendition is my absolute favorite because she really GETS the feminine aspect of it. The way the Tao is information about the world, not instruction for how to be good or right in the world. Wayne Dyer's version is tragically titled but a very sweet, grandfatherly, if a little directive, exposition of this work that includes a personal essay from him each day. This text is the foundation of my understanding of energetic law. I refer to it daily.
Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss
This book is an absolute communication and negotiation game changer. When I first listened to this book, I quickly recognized the techniques within the material from my time working in Juvenile Corrections. These communication techniques and strategies miraculously produce goodwill in the midst of conflict. Written by an FBI hostage negotiator, this book is full of information on how to get ALL of what you want--not just a win, but a win with a solid relationship attached. I practiced these techniques for three years and they changed my life. Then I found this book and I have listened through the entire thing at least 7 times. I continue to consult it often and just bask in the beautiful messages. This book is key to empathetic expression.
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
This one is a little embarrassing to me, I'm not sure why, but I want to call that out. This was my introduction to the personal development world. I think it worked very well for me because I was moving through a massive grief when I was listening to it, and I wasn't capable of using the techniques to bypass such a large emotional experience. That is my warning to anyone who seeks to use The Secret--you need to keep your own balance within it. If you can, it will show you shadows by the way it only shines light. If you can't seek the shadows, you might get blinded by the light. This is a one-dimensional understanding of energetic law, so make sure to allow that to highlight the other dimensions within you, rather than taking the book alone as the whole truth. That being said, most of us can benefit from a wholesale dip into positive psychology now and then. I trust you with it. It helped me to be empowered to take responsibility for EVERY experience in my life.
The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
Ok, these are fantasy books. Worse than that, they're the first two parts of an unfinished trilogy and we have been waiting for over a decade for the third one. These books will break your heart in many ways, including that one, but they're fun, I love the magic in them, and I love the cultures within them. I just keep reading them over and over again and they never let me down. Patrick Rothfuss points to a great many truths in these books. I hope you enjoy.
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