Books to Read When You Don't Have the Patience to Ease People's Emotional Problems

A few years ago, in the midst of one of my semi-regular career crises, I thought about training as a therapist. I'm fascinated by the ways in which people think and behave and develop over time - and what could be a better job than helping people to seek and sometimes achieve contentment?

I looked into courses and everything.

Then I realised that I was playing a fantasy in my head in which each of my client sessions went like this:

ME: So, what seems to be the problem?

CLIENT: I feel sad/anxious/other unpleasant emotion and I don't know what to do about it.

ME: Oh, that's easy. [Explains best course of action in three to five sentences]

CLIENT: Oh, wow! I feel so much better now! Thanks so much! I'm fixed!

And I realised that that's not how therapy goes. It's not a chance for the therapist to prove how smart they are - it's a chance for the client to talk about the same issues over and over and over again until they finally reach some resolution.

I don't have the patience for that.

But I do still have a fascination with how and why people think and behave the way they (we) do. And I love books which sum those things up quickly.

Here are two I've read recently which I've particularly enjoyed: The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves by Stephen Grosz, which is a fascinating look at typical forms of troubled thinking written by a psychoanalyst, and Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Someone Who's Been There by Cheryl Strayed, which is a collection of advice columns which I didn't always 100% agree with but which did all make me pause and consider my own beliefs.

That's it. That's all I'm going to tell you. Because you're either the sort of person who loves these books or you're not. And if you are: just take my word for it and read them.

And if you are: I'd love some recommendations of your own.

P.S. Those are Amazon affiliate links. I really should update my T&Cs to make that clear...

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