[This is Part 1 of a two-part series on the very best personal development resources I discovered—and was changed by—in 2018.]
On a sleepless night a few weeks back, I realized that 2018 has brought me more variety in personal development resources than any year prior. Some of them arrived serendipitously, while I sought out others explicitly in order to better help my clients.
As I lay there in the dark, counting meaningful resources instead of sheep, I came up with seven that I'd like to share with you. And I don’t just want to give you a list of links to check out—I want to tell you the why behind these picks—why I was drawn to them, why I recommend many of them to my clients, and why you might want to explore them for yourself.
If you’re familiar with any of these, leave a comment below and share with us your experience of it. Too, if this post encourages you to seek out any of these resources for yourself, circle back here and let us know how it landed afterward. I’d love to get some conversations going.
I read several fabulous personal development books this year, but this one’s easily head and shoulders above the rest:
1. Michael Neill’s The Inside-Out Revolution: The Only Thing You Need to Know to Change Your Life Forever is a book I’ve recommended more times than I can count this year. I just can’t think of a single person who wouldn’t benefit from learning about how thought works—and how we can transform our experience in a matter of moments, just by understanding what’s happening inside our minds. Its brevity (124 pages) is deceptive, however; you’ll read it once, then you’ll need to let it sink in for a bit before immediately returning to the beginning to take it all in again. In plain language, Michael points to three simple principles that explain where our feelings come from and what our experience of life is truly composed of. Spoiler alert:
No matter how scary or oppressive or insecure your experience of life may be, once you realize that it’s only your own thinking that you’re experiencing, that thinking loses much of its hold over you. You may still feel uncomfortable feelings, but because you know that what’s causing them isn’t outside you, you don’t feel compelled to change the world in order to change the way you feel, any more than you would go to your television set to try to convince the characters on your favorite soap opera to change their foolish ways.
I can’t say it more emphatically: Read this book.
A YOUTUBE CHANNEL
I’m continually bowled over by just how much punch is packed into these 12ish-minute videos:
2. Dr. Amy Johnson’s Ask Amy series is composed of a weekly video that answers real viewers’ questions about how thought works in specific situations. Topics range from “I’m afraid to drive on the highway. How can I get my freedom back?” to “How do I deal with envy and inadequacy now that my ex is in a new relationship?”, and everything in-between. I’d recommend pairing the Ask Amy videos with Michael Neill’s The Inside Out Revolution (as mentioned above). Amy’s work showcases a really practical application of the principles that Michael covers—so, if you’re slowly starting to wrap your head around the nature of thought, but you’re not quite there yet, poking around in the Ask Amy archives will no doubt round out the concepts for you, using real-life scenarios. If the specific example that Amy’s speaking to doesn’t apply to you and your life, give it a chance anyway; I’ve found that it’s really helpful to have proof that no matter how exceptional a situation might feel, the same principles hold true each and every time.
AN INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT
As with the personal development books I read this year, wonderful Instagram accounts abounded—and I discovered many that I adore. However, one in particular brought me a tremendous insight:
3. Keitha Young, @thepeacefulseed, is a new mother in New Zealand who writes with exquisite candor about trauma integration and resilience medicine. I found her late in her pregnancy, shortly after she’d had emergency surgery to remove her entire large intestine and install an ileostomy, when she’d begun sharing about the experience of almost losing her life. Keitha’s writing brought me new insight this year. She’s actively fighting the impulse to overcome her past traumas, which is something many of us struggle to do (but believe it’s the only way forward), myself included; instead, she’s working to integrate them into who she is now. How? By feeling them, allowing them to exist, processing them, sharing them, receiving counseling for them. It’s her belief (and now mine) that if we can actually move through our griefs (versus getting over them), if we can fully assimilate those exceptionally difficult life experiences, we’re ultimately more whole and empowered. Keitha is actively working on this—she’s not reporting to us from some several-steps-ahead place where she’s already got it all figured out—and this is what makes her writing and sharing all the more compelling to me.
Early this year, I was surprised to learn that in the realm of personal development, really powerful answers can sometimes arrive in the form of questions:
4. Teal Swan’s “The Great Shortcut to Enlightenment” was brought to my attention by a dear friend. Although I was at first skeptical of this new-agey woman who appeared before me on my laptop screen, I was really taken with her simple process for cultivating unconditional self-love. The process takes a full calendar year (which is long, but hey, it’s still a total shortcut when you consider the topic of enlightenment!) and it involves asking yourself one specific question any time you have to make a decision—and then living your life according to the answer that emerges in response. What’s the question? “What would someone who loves themselves do?” (The sloppy grammar irks me, but I’ll live.) Admittedly, I didn’t engage in this process over the course of an entire year (more like a few days, as an experiment), but I absolutely see the value in doing so and would encourage anyone who’s actively struggling with unconditional self-love to take this on as her one assignment for 2019.
Stay tuned for part two of this series, next week.