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3 out of 4 stars
Review by Tanaya
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The author was raised in the 1950’s by a father with a militaristic parenting style and a mother who felt powerless. Through examples from her own life, Kugler helps us to learn both from her mistakes and her successes in life. She challenges readers to pay attention to their bodies, thoughts, and feelings: a lesson she learned after ignoring the nervousness she felt when getting married young. She cautions us to observe how we make decisions, to listen to our inner voice, to do what’s in our best interest, and to become more comfortable with who we are. She shares her struggles with depression, sleep problems, sexual abuse, divorce, stress, and troubled relationships. Her focus is less on these issues and more so on her reaction to them, as she shares practical advice that helped her to overcome them. Kugler explains how she took control of her life and how we can do the same, with steps to get there. The book includes good principles for having a healthy relationship with oneself and with others.
Going along with the title, the book includes twelve main chapters, such as “Listen to Your Inner Voice,” “Don’t Make Decisions Based on Fear,” and “Look for Your Blessings.” The chapters are brief, typically ranging from 6-10 pages long. Most of the chapters begin with the author speaking of a personal experience. Then she poses questions to the reader, such as: “Has there been a time in your life, or many times, when you didn’t stand up for yourself? Are you facing this now?” This is a means to transition into a series of exercises for self-reflection. For the most part, these exercises instruct the reader to create lists. Sometimes these lists can be done right then and there. One of the long-term exercises is a practical guide to self-forgiveness in which you write why you think you can’t forgive yourself, pick one reason per day, and decide how you can overcome it.
One of the things I liked most about the book is the author’s attitude, which can best be highlighted with this quote: “It was not my fault that I was molested as a child. It was, however, my responsibility and need as an adult to do everything I could to face and conquer this demon.” She’s very open, with a concise writing style. One can tell that she has spent a lot of time working on herself. Her questions and exercises are very direct. She instructs the reader to create a list of people he or she admires and then asks: “Did you list yourself? If not, why not? Why don’t you feel as if your opinions and thoughts are as important as someone else’s?” She makes great observations and suggestions. One gem includes why adults don’t play in the sandbox with their kids. Parents can have fun, too. Another great suggestion is to record and play back your voice to get used to hearing it.
The book isn’t totally original. There is some generic self-help advice, like chasing after your dreams and appreciating the small things. It’s not that this isn’t good advice, but she didn’t add anything new to these common notions. I was also slightly confused by her views about not doing something out of fear. Earlier in the book, she teaches that we should listen to our bodies, such as if we’re nervous. If we’re nervous, then that should be a factor in our decisions. It could be a signal not to do something. Later, she seems to change gears by condemning making decisions based on fear. I would suggest drawing a connection and making a distinction between the lessons found in chapter 1 and chapter 4 to clear up this confusion.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. It is filled with a lifetime’s worth of wisdom. I took off a star because it’s not totally original. Some chapters were too short and generic. They would have benefitted from her elaborating appropriately on her personal life. I also experienced a major point of confusion between two chapters. Besides that, just from reading the book, you can tell Kugler is a strong woman who has been through her share of troubles in life and has emerged victorious. She shares her life for the sake of helping others, and the book is a noble endeavor. I would recommend this book to anyone who may be struggling and wants to take action. This is the kind of book where you’ll get as much out of it as you are willing to put into it.
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