Restoring My Soul: A Workbook for Finding and Living the Authentic Self Paperback – 15 Mar 2007
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From the Author
To a greater or lesser degree we have all been taught to wear the particular mask and costume that fit in with our families of origin or our primary caregivers. They subtly and overtly demanded it, and we unconsciously agreed to it--mostly for two reasons: 1) when we are at our most vulnerable early ages we are looking for mirrors, and we believe that our environments provide them, and 2) we fear that if we don't fit in here, we will be abandoned. Even if no one ever threatened abandonment, we still fear it at that vulnerable and dependent age. And so we don the mask and costume that both provides us with an identity that fits in with our family, and assures that we will not be abandoned.
But these masks, costumes and roles were not meant to last forever. Eventually we were supposed to begin to live out of the Authentic Self. But we didn't know this and instead identified more and more with the mask and costume, until eventually we really think it's who we are. But our crises have a way of reminding us that these masks and costumes are not natural at all, that in fact, they may now have become the albatross around our necks as we walk the planks laid out for us by these assigned roles. Our crises bring us to this most important existential question: "Who am I really?"
This question is usually presented by uncomfortable feelings and reactions to life events. One example of many: You might be someone whose mask, costume and role demands that you always be there for others and never ask for anything of your own. You feel responsible for their well-being and you wonder why no one ever seems to feel responsible for you. You most probably put this mask and costume on because your family members perceived your gift for empathy and because they were not dealing consciously with their own issues, you felt the pressure to take them on. That became your habit and here you are, years later, feeling resentful and lonely, and sometimes wondering if anyone would ever really love you if you just were true to yourself. Those feelings are challenging you to ask the right question. The right question isn't, "How can I get others to do what I need them to do?" The right question is, "What am I doing, feeling and thinking that has put me in this predicamen!
What you are doing is being untrue to your genuine heart. You are most probably filling your life with shoulds instead of desires, and living from duty and obligation rather than true compassion. Though you may truly care deeply for others, what you do comes from fear of feeling guilty later, rather than from your truest compassion. Why is this? You are wearing the mask and costume that fit when you were a child, but no longer fits today. So, now the right question is, "Who am I really?" If you are asking that question now, this book is for you, for within its pages you are the writer, seeking and finding your own Authentic Self.
From the Back Cover
As infants who only understood oneness with mother, we were surrounded by people, attitudes, traumas, relationship dynamics, and all manner of unresolved and projected parental "stuff" with which we identified. As we grew we hung our name tags on what we absorbed, through a kind of emotional osmosis. In certain prescribed ways we formed an identity meant especially for us. Though we were mistaken in donning the masks and costumes laid out for us, this mistake kept us attached to our caregivers, and helped us survive sometimes horrendous childhoods.
But our survival technique has now become the albatross around our necks, while we walk the planks laid out for us by the roles we play. Do we imagine that our problems are really the result of some external force? Again, we are mistaken. Most of the problems that we have today have come about as a result of the role we play, its script, and the choices we have made out of that identity. The solution lies in finding the Authentic Self.
And yet, our world teaches us that finding the Authentic Self is, at best, a well-guarded, secret passage of mythical proportions, and at worst, a waste of time and effort, for it simply cannot be done. If we believe that, we are mistaken yet again. Not only is it possible to find and begin to live out of our authenticity, but it is the most hopeful journey we will ever take. It offers us the potential of a lasting peace, and yes, even joy. Working the pages of this book offers a practical yet deeply spiritual guide to finding and living the Authentic Self.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
therapy and worked hard on all my issues. I wish I had had a copy of this
thought provoking yet easy to read book to guide me through my own process
of self-discovery. Simply the best, most practical self-help book I've
ever read written by debuting writer Andrea Mathews. Mathews, a practicing
psychotherapist, uses the method of finding the Authentic Self in her
practice. This involves reaching beyond the roles we developed for
ourselves as children to keep us safe and help us fit in to our families
and society at large. These roles may have kept us attached to our
caregivers or to survive less than perfect childhoods, but as we become
adults these roles begin to stifle us. Like ill-fitting, outgrown clothing
this façade we've created now hampers our growth and creates a plethora of
problems we imagine are the result of outside forces. But actually most of
the problems we experience today come as a result of the mask and script
we have created, and the roles we play.
The solution is in finding the Authentic Self. Mathews has written a
simple to use text, full of self-tests, and detailed analysis of the most common roles people take on to survive their childhoods. Not only can this book help you discover the roles you've been playing, it helps you recognize the things that are authentic to you. Working the pages of this book offers a practical yet deeply spiritual guide to finding and living the Authentic Self. Forget about therapy.........buy this book and start living AUTHENTICALLY!
Mathews' book is designed like a specific step-by-step workbook in order to help people begin the healing process of finding and living their Authentic Self, first from within, and then in their personal and professional relationships. The classic challenge that we all have is playing roles in our lives (the masks and costumes) that were based on the past and are no longer relevant, healthy, or empowering to the soul. Instead these roles keep us locked into behaviors and fear-based emotions that we no longer want to experience in our lives and serve us no good.
I especially like how the process involves raising the awareness of who we are from within by creating unique images that resonate within each of us. This involves several fun exercises, from Mathews' now almost 30 year counseling experience, which are designed to put readers in touch with their younger and freer true self. I like how she breaks down her process into simple chunks that almost anyone can do with ease like drawing stretches, writing poems, and using our imaginations.
The process of discovery and healing continues from here to defining roles, making critical distinctions, breaking down barriers to living the Authentic Self, and then trusting, living, and celebration the rediscovered essential you.
Other observations of mine include:
* The actual concept of the authentic self is largely underappreciated by the masses, but that's starting to change as more people are discovering the joy that comes from simply being ourselves.
* The definition of the roles we play will help men and women alike in discovering the false self (masks & costumes), which keeps them locked into undesired emotional habits & unhealthy relationships.
* The Authentic Self is the true voice of wisdom within each individual and is the basis of self-confidence, personal power, and life fulfillment.
* This book contains both psychological and spiritual concepts, which combine to create deeper understanding and instant resonance with the truth of our individual sense of the Divine.
* One should use this book to work and then rework the exercises so that the images of our true selves become clearer and more real.
* Beyond the exercises found throughout the book, this book is also filled with real examples that clearly explain how both the role and the Authentic Self operate in our lives.
While the casual observer may get the impression that this book is more clinical or therapeutic in nature, the bottom line is that Restoring My Soul may, if readers do the work, lead them to a spiritual understanding of who they really are. Without this knowing, we can spend the rest of our lives chasing our tails without a sense of direction or purpose.
Restoring My Soul is much more than a helpful book with a positive message. It is a workbook that actively engages the reader in the process of self-discovery. Remarkably, Mathews' focus is not on conveying her message or teaching her belief - her focus is on the reader's experience while exploring the book. Her personable and accessible writing make Restoring My Soul not only useful and informative, but enjoyable.
Restoring My Soul explores the often confusing and baffling process of self-discovery. Mathews' wit, humor, and charm make a journey into personal development reassuring, exciting, and enjoyable. She goes far beyond self-discovery and understanding, encouraging and teaching the reader how to promote self-development. This book is about much more than teaching the reader how to understand themselves. It puts a much-needed emphasis on the reader developing and becoming themselves.
Restoring My Soul is bursting with valuable information, insightful observations, and thought-provoking questions. Beyond this, it is an effortlessly enjoyable read. Mathews' deliberate and mature writing assures the reader that they are in capable and knowledgeable hands. Examples and metaphors abound, and are almost always perfectly-timed - appearing just when the reader needs them most. There are very few moments of confusion and misunderstanding. Mathews is clearly writing from a position of expertise and experience.
Restoring My Soul is so much more effective than reading a regular self help book because it's a workbook, where you have to stop frequently and really dig into your own stuff before continuing. Its like 2 years of psychotherapy packed into a book you can work through in a week, and then return again and again to the things that are the keys to your freedom. Truly an invaluable resource. Incredibly grateful to have stumbled upon it.