Much of the work I do with people is to help them look at their story in addition to the non-stop experience of looking through it. This wouldn’t be especially helpful unless we had the ability to change our stories. Luckily, we do, although they are stubborn.
This doesn’t make us morally superior people. It means that our felt disparity between who we are and what we do pushes us onward. Our disillusionment with the cost-benefit analysis of our success spurs us to ask more questions, experiment beyond current comfort zones and seek a more expansive perspective. The bits of us that have been compressed or stifled demand attention.
Nothing needs to be different from how it is right now for us to be okay. There is no problem with the way things are in this or any moment. This understanding can yield a deep relaxation in which personal ups and downs unfold.
Tift is a gifted therapist and practicing Buddhist. He helps us understand that we needn’t pathologise disturbing experience. We organise our lives around personal discomforts that seem unbearable, but we have capacities our child-selves didn’t, and we can now work with all experience.
A former therapist, Feldman Barrett is now a neuroscientist challenging outdated views of the brain and mind. The brain’s predictions create our world, based on socially-inherited concepts. But we can update our conceptual library and re-cognise our reality.
Ruiz is a Toltec sage who gives an ancient ‘Western’ take on Eastern wisdom and spiritual growth. When we see our own dream (or story), fear loses its grip on us. When we love ourselves as we are, our relationships are no longer a search for what we already have.
Deutsch is a physicist and computational scientist who places learning above knowledge. His ‘Many Worlds’ interpretation is our best explanation of quantum theory. I love his view of our ever-growing mastery barely scratching life’s mystery.
O’Malley goes beyond Stoicism to show how what’s in the way is The Way. She shows how a few powerful assumptions, which she calls spells, shape the story through which reality arrives for us, and she invites us to use our bodies to overcome those spells.
Part philosopher, part entertainer, Watts is my favourite guide to the spiritual journey. He translated the East for us and integrated it with Western thought. I most appreciate his Taoist writings and his invitation to insecurity.