I’m a voracious reader. Perhaps even manic. I routinely read five books at a time. I can be pretty fickle too, not always finishing books. I guess I’m always in search of that new idea, that game changing insight. Some of my biggest personal breakthroughs have come through reading, whether it’s being moved by a fictional piece or experiencing a profound shift of perspective that shakes my foundation. So, I thought I’d share some of what’s been inspiring me lately, and what I recommend avoiding. Below, check out books that will:

  • Teach You How to Live with Someone who Triggers You
  • Distract You From the Real World
  • Create a Better Reality
  • Plow Through Any Challenge
  • Understand What Makes You Tick

How to Live with Someone who Triggers You

Relationship Breakthrough by Cloé Madanes

Cloé Madanes is a badass. She’s got a sort of no-nonsense coaching style.  She refuses to let us be the victims of our thinking. This can be a challenging stance, especially in today’s culture. A lot of conventional wisdom almost encourages the victim mentality, but Madanes directs us back to our own personal responsibility, and this is the place that leverage lives.

Madanes takes a dynamic perspective on relationships. I mean, it takes two to tango, right? When we are caught up in believing that the other person needs to change in order for us to be happy, we are blinding ourselves from seeing our own role in creating the problem. As Madanes puts it: It’s likely you created the problem you are trying to solve. That can be tough to hear, annoying even. But it’s good news because it puts the ability to change the situation right back at your feet, where you can actually do something about it.

Madanes’ philosophy is rooted in her understanding of the Six Human Needs, a system which she articulated and that Tony Robbins’ draws upon heavily. Each of us has a need for: Comfort, Uncertainty/Variety, Significance, Contribution, Love, and Growth. The way that we prioritize these needs will differ, as will the strategies that we use to meet these needs. Developing an appreciation of these dynamics gives powerful insight into how to improve the quality of our relationships. You can identify your top Human Needs with this free test.

I highly recommend this work if you want to improve how you relate to others.

Distraction from the Real World

The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey (Fiction)

I’m not much of a sci-fi fan, but this one came as a recommendation from a friend that I trust, so I checked it out. The book is set in the future, at a time when not only the moon and Mars have been colonized, but so have many parts of our solar system. While it is science fiction in genre, it is also a sociological/anthropological/political study of the inhabitants of the various planets, moons, and rocks. It’s a sort of post-racial environment where prejudice is based on what kind of gravity you grew up in. The Belters are people who grew up outside of Earth/Mars/Luna. They are the solar system’s second class citizens, in a society dominated by the management of scarce resources, like water and air. The series also offers a surprising amount of character development, as we follow the exploits of the small crew of the Rocinante, a spaceship that freelances on missions across the universe.

I’m on book 5 and so far every book has involved some kind of cataclysm. I have to admit that current events make some of the crew’s trials and tribulations feel quaint. They don’t seem to be worried about toilet paper. They are still touching their faces. But, it’s also a highly entertaining form of escapism.

The Expanse is also available as a series on Amazon Prime, though I haven’t started watching it yet.

Highly Recommended

Creating a Better Reality

Spirit Hacking by Shaman Durek

This one blew my mind. There is so much juicy material in this book that I hardly know where to start. Shaman Durek uses a colorful and original vocabulary to describe the human evolution that is opening up for us and the ways in which we may lay claim to it. His words are so fresh, he needed a glossary to help us understand.

Here’s an excerpt:

“The matrix (which Durek defines as: a system put into place by the darkness that generates rules and regulations people must follow to support the system) exists to make you forget that you are a quantum creator by keeping you operating in survival mode, and making you a slave to the system, which sustains itself by stifling your life force, and dumbing you down by: pumping you up with sugar, jacking you up on caffeine, dulling you down with fluoride, poisoning your body with pills, programming your consciousness with fear and lies and celebrity gossip, and whacking you so far out that you don’t even notice when things are imbalanced and out of alignment.”

Some more terms from the glossary:

GLAMOUR: a class of energies geared to distract you away from yourself by hijacking your attention with sparkle, and glitter, and glitz

JUNKERY: discordant energy frequencies the shadow holds on to for us until we are ready to take responsibility for them

KEEPING IT ON BLAZE: being so empowered in who you are that nothing can get in your way

What I love about this book, (it’s a theme that I keep running across and that I really resonate with) is the idea of personal responsibility. We create our realities. Durek calls us forth to be the most powerful creators we can be and illuminates for us the ways in which we are probably not taking responsibility. I found it a challenging wake up call.

Highly Recommended

Plow Through Any Challenge

Everything is Figureoutable by Maria Forleo

You’ve probably noticed Everything is Figureoutable out there. The founder of B-School has a mighty marketing campaign behind her book. But I did not find it inspiring. It champions a kind of energy that personally I’m trying to get away from: that striving, pushing kind of energy that to me feels out of step with flow.

Now, full disclosure: I gave up at 16% (as a Kindle reader, I no longer know what page I’m on!) So, I admit I may have tuned out too early.

No doubt, a lot of people love this one and Forleo does offer content that resonates with me. But the problem is that I’ve heard it before. For example, I’m down with: “All beliefs are a choice, and choices can be changed” and “Beliefs are hidden scripts that run our lives.” Her thesis is that what we tell ourselves is what we are going to create. I’m right there with her. But where she losses me is when she proposes that we make “Everything is figureoutable” our mantra.

My issue is that I just don’t like that metaphor. It sounds kind of hard, like we have to go out and research and conduct a bunch of experiments to get there. I believe that the information is already there, that we can relax into knowing, that we can align with the energy of what we are trying to achieve. Also, I find it too heady, as in suggesting that it is brain power that will smash our way through obstacles. Rather, I believe that we often need to quiet our ego-driven concept of what we should do so that we might tune into the universal wisdom that might guide us toward inspired action. We can, and should, do this while holding positive beliefs about our abilities to achieve great things, but assuming that it is up to us to “figure it out” can cut us off from a higher source.

I gonna give this one a Not Recommended.

Understand What Makes You Tick

From Stuckness to Growth: Enneagram Coaching by Yechezkel and Ruth Madanes

Are y’all familiar with the Enneagram? It’s a freaky powerful tool that describes personality types. I’m a fan of most personality typing systems, like for example, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). But of all that I’ve ever encountered, the Enneagram is the eeriest, the most uncanny, for its ability to absolutely nail me. What’s cool about the Enneagram is that it’s not a static system. In one classic book on the topic, The Wisdom of the Enneagram, Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson lay out several levels that can be characteristic of each type. They describe dysfunctional, average and thriving versions of each of the nine personality types of the Enneagram and then they prescribe ways that you can move toward the healthiest versions of your type.

The Enneagram is a symbol with ancient origins. (Ennea is Greek for nine and gramma means drawn or written.) In more recent times, thinkers such as George Gurdjieff, Oscar Ichazo, and Claudio Naranjo have mapped onto the symbol a system of spiritual and personal transformation that has eventually become known as the Enneagram of Personality.

I was drawn to this particular book because it discusses how to incorporate use of the Enneagram into life coaching (something that I am integrating into my own coaching practice). Plus, it is written by relatives of Cloé Madanes, a masterful coach in her own right who partnered with Tony Robbins to found a coach training systems (Robbins Madanes Training) which I have studied.

From Stuckness to Growth does a masterful job at describing the unique characteristics of the stuck place that individuals of each type might find themselves in and then gives powerful practices and techniques for helping individuals navigate out of their particular rut and toward meeting their higher potential. I love that the approaches are uniquely tailored to each type. I highly recommend this work. Want to know your Enneagram type? A great place to start is here, or if you’re looking for a free version, try this.

I’m a coach for Gen X women who feel that now is their time to shine but self-doubt, confusion, and overwhelm are holding them back. They fear that more time might slip away while they’re still trying to figure it all out. I help them to tap into their internal voice of wisdom and access their unstoppable inner drive - making success inevitable.

If you’re ready to kick yourself into gear, please visit me online at kiraswanson.com/services/ or email me at kira@kiraswanson.com. I’d love to chat.