Author: Ronald Richardson
Info: Copyright 2008: Minneapolis Augsburg Books.
Where acquired: Gift from my mentor.
Rating (on a scale of 1-4 stars): ✮✭✭✭
What it's about: Clinical Psychologist and Pastoral Counselor, Ronald Richardson, explores the Bowen Family Systems Theory of emotional development. This theory asserts that an individual's emotional maturity is developed or stifled within the emotional context of ones family of origin. He offers six areas of improvement to establish mental solidity within oneself, which in turn, results in solid interpersonal relationships. He gives various examples through personal stories, the accounts of his clients' experiences, and the writings of Jane Austen.
"The point of feelings is primarily to provide us with information about ourselves within our emotional context. But this should then lead us to think about how we want to behave with others." p. 30
"This is part of what I mean by goodness or emotional maturity; it is the ability to remain true to our principles in the midst of anxious experiences without needing to react inappropriately to the possible threat." pp. 34-35
"Anxiety is the primary complicating Factor affecting our level of emotional maturity." p. 35
"We have a responsibility to protect and look out for ourselves. We will be no good to anyone if we don't maintain our own life and integrity. Jesus said we are to love others as we love ourselves. This command assumes a natural love of self that looks out for our own well-being. We are asked, however, to be invested in looking out for the well-being of others as we are for ourselves. It takes an emotionally mature person to be able to do this. p. 36
"Also the more mature we are, the less we are affected by the anxiety of others. We can go about doing what needs to be done, rather than being caught up in, or reacting to, their anxiety....The emotional maturity of having a more solid, less threatened self allows us to tolerate the normal anxiety we feel in the occasional emergencies of life and in the difficult relationships we may have, while not being guided by that anxiety. We can maintain the functional stability to deal with 'what is' rather than being caught up in fears of what might be, or as Austin says, 'the most alarming ideas.'" pp. 52-53
"If we wait for permission and approval from important others before we do what makes sense to us, we will never become our true selves." p. 146
What I Liked:
- While Richardson explores emotional maturity through analysis of the family of origin, this isn't a "this is all my parents' fault" book. Quite the opposite; he leads the reader to discover truths about his family of origin, but the responsibility to mature is on the reader. In other words, we are not navel gazing here; we are taking personal accountability.
- Part of my first 101 in 1001 list (for those interested, I'm working on a new one) included reading a Jane Austen novel. I got seven chapters into Pride and Prejudice and quit reading. For some reason, I couldn't get into it. However, with all the examples Richardson uses from her novels, I'm now intrigued by her writings and ready to revisit them.
- There are points of reflection within the chapters along with discussion questions in the back of the book.
- The theme of this book seems to be "this is what's wrong with you and this is how you should be." However, the author doesn't give a lot of "how." It's freeing to learn what needs to be changed, but frustrating to not have much guidance on how to change. This book is touted as a self-help book, but in reality it isn't. Most books in this genre worth anything aren't truly "self help." They, like this volume, require a mentor as a guide through the process. Fortunately, I have that. If not, I would be up the creek without a paddle.
- The section of personal reflection on the chapters are stuck in the middle of a chapter, rather than the logical location at the end of the chapter.
- The "aside box" is used.