Category Archives: Self-help review

With so many resources available to you how do you know which ones are worth reading? I provide an overview of some self-help books demonstrating how it does/not link to psychological theory.

Book Review on Grief: Mending the Torn Fabric

Mending The Torn Fabric (Sarah Braband) is a self-help book for individuals who wish to engage in grief work. The metaphor beautifully describes how loss can be experienced as a tear in the fabric of our lives. Whether you are working through a recent, or long avoided loss, this easy to read book provides stories and tips to help you mend the tear(s) in your fabric. Continue reading Book Review on Grief: Mending the Torn Fabric

Relational Wisdom Resource Review


Ken Sande

Ken Sande and his team present a fabulous paradigm called “Relational Wisdom.” This post is dedicated to review this free resource. In particular, I would like to show you how you could benefit from this resource if you are not religiously minded.


Discover your personal values

Firstly, discover your personal values. The “God” section of the RW360 wheel refers to the guiding principles in your life. Perhaps you could try to identify your top five values from this values worksheet.

The amygdala hijack principle

I would also likAmygdala Hijack Principlee to recommend that you explore his website and pay special attention to his teaching on the “amygdala hijack” principle. He explains the science behind why it is a good idea to slow down: think before you react. It holds many benefits to your relationships (not to mention minimizes the guilt and regret you feel after a rash word).

The value of soft skills

The relational wisdom equation is an apt way to describe the value of soft skills. Ken Sande describes that the value that a person contributes to the group is not the sum of his hard and soft skills. Rather it is a multiplication of effect.

For example:


  • Person 1 has 7 hard skills and 2 soft skills
  • Person 2 has 4 hard skills and 4 soft skills

If you had to count it together Person 1 has more skills than person 2:

  • Person 1: 7 + 2 = 9
  • Person 2: 4 + 4 = 8

But using the multiplication effect, you can see that Person 1 contributes less value to the group than Person 2:

  • Person 1: 7 x 2 = 14
  • Person 2: 4 x 4 = 16

Discover for yourself

Sign up for weekly Relational Wisdom ( blogs to learn the nuances of applying the RW360 principles in every day life. Or download the free self-study manual. The principles are extremely valuable for your interpersonal relationships whether you are religious or not.

Toxic childhood: Book review

A few years ago I stumbled upon a book that speaks to adult children. Entitled Toxic Parents (Forward, 1989) it describes various situations where scared/powerless children are stuck inside adult bodies still trying to please their parents. Chapters cover a range of topics (below) and end with recommendations on reclaiming your life (and not repeating your parents’ mistakes). A short summary of this book review:

  • Myth of the perfect parent: realizing that parents make mistakes and it is necessary to take them down from their pedestals)
  • Inadequate parents: where children are triangulated to provide a parent emotional support, invisible children and the vanishing parent, co-dependency, hurt by the things the parent didn’t do
  • Controllers: pretty obvious
  • Alcoholics: the secrets, discussion around the buddy system
  • Verbal abusers: competitive or perfectionistic parents
  • Physical abusers: confusing abuse and love
  • Sexual abusers: the many faces of coercion, insane jealousy

I am by no means a parent basher and realize that all experiences need to be understood in a comprehensive framework addressing the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual causes and solutions for the problem.

Although I do not concur with all the author has to say, I do find that it is useful reading material to aid one in verbalizing or conceptualizing their family dynamics. Especially if you find yourself saying something like “I had a normal childhood – I wasn’t abused, I had good parents. So why do I feel so angry.”

You can order the book on Amazon or try to locate it at your local library.

Book review: Addicted to helping?

“When helping you is hurting me” provides a fascinating read – useful for per wellness for those in the helping/social professions as well as persons experiencing difficulties with assertiveness.

Carmen Renee Berry writes that two powerful (and common) belief systems causes the Messiah Trap.

  1. If I don’t do it nobody else will (grandiosity).
  2. Other people are more important than me (worthlessness).

Combining these two beliefs drives us to outshine others in our helping compulsion. This is a powerfully destructive

Messiahs hurt when they help others. Love is not the motivation for helping: rather inadequacy, powerlessness, obligation, rage. They use other people to work out their own inner pain. They need to feel other people’s pain in order to feel their own. In sum, they do good things for wrong reasons.

She writes that these “messiahs” can come in many different formats: Pleaser, Rescuer, Giver, Counselor, Protector, Teacher, Crusader. They tend to give others what they desperately need to receive themselves.

In a society that worships its heroes, it’s not unlikely that you could be in the Messiah Trap yourself! Have a look at the clues below:

  • Pleaser: Can’t say no to requests
  • Rescuer: Seems to always attract people in crisis
  • Giver: Constantly gives beyond their ability
  • Counsellor: Recruits people who need to talk
  • Protector: Makes choices for people
  • Teacher: Hides behind the adoration of the group
  • Crusader: Gets frustrated when they can’t bring about change at their desired speed

Berry provides useful tools to assist persons to scape the messiah trap including acknowledging that you are caught in the trap, asking for help, and taking the risk of healing.

Take a look in your library or find it on Amazon. The important bit is that it doesn’t stop on your side table: ask for help. Confess your dilemma to a trusted friend or book an appointment with a counsellor. Let’s be part of a society that helps others for the right reasons.

The rhino and the porcupine: Dealing with conflict

Aristotle said:

Anybody can become angry – that is easy. To be angry with the right person and at the right time and for the right purpose and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.

How do you manage conflict?

I agree that it is hard to manage your anger wisely, but firmly believe that anybody can learn to get better handles on their anger. Broadly put, people are often comfortable with the role of rhinoceros or porcupine during conflict. To illustrate I made up an example:

Rhinoceros: I can’t believe you made us late again! (Slams the car door)

Porcupine: I wanted to make sure the house is ready when your mother comes to visit...

Rhinoceros: Could you not have done it earlier? (Interrupts, exasperated)

Porcupine: (Rolls eyes. Sighs)

Rhinoceros: You know how important it is to me! Why are you so inconsiderate!?

Porcupine: (Looks out the car window, clenches fists)

Rhinoceros: What, now you are not talking to me?

Porcupine: (Becomes tearful)

Rhinoceros or porcupine

The rhinoceros is typically loud and confrontational when angry, while the porcupine withdraws and sends out hurtful barbs. While it is pretty obvious that rhinos can be hurtful during conflict, porcupines often fail to recognize their contribution to the escalating conflict. Porcupines may believe that their noble silence places them on a moral high ground, but Shannon Alder puts it so well:

“Be leery of silence. It doesn’t mean you won the argument. Often, people are just busy reloading their guns.”

Assertive middle ground
Slippery slope of conflict

But there is a wise intermediary between aggressive and passive behaviour: Assertiveness. As described in Ken Sande’s Peacemaker website, there are a number of useful things you can do to resolve conflict. In particular I want to highlight the PAUSE principle:

  1. Prepare: This means that you need to take time out to calm down and think straight!
  2. Affirm relationship: What is the point in resolving conflict if the relationship is not important to you. Remember why you want peace in your relationship.
  3. Understand interests: It’s not all about you. Use this break time to empathetically consider the other person’s needs, limitations, and desires
  4. Search for creative solutions: Return to the situation with potential solutions for discussion. Don’t make it their problem to fix it all on their own.
  5. Evaluate options: This is not an opportunity for a new fight (or to say those great comebacks you only thought of later), rather a collaboration toward restoration

So next time you feel the anger bubbling inside of you and you want to storm (rhinoceros) or withdraw (porcupine), I challenge you to take a time out and apply the PAUSE principle.