A Positive Psychologist Takes Her Hand to Fiction and the Result is a Win-Win for Everybody
By Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein
Why would a psychologist take her hand to fiction? I guess I am a kind of visionary in the sense that I am always looking for new ways to help girls, teens and women celebrate themselves and 'be' themselves in the true meaning of 'being', not faking or copying or struggling to be someone else. I think I have had that longing to help women and girls since I was a kid. I saw women not feeling good about themselves and what they had become, and that made me sad and angry as a kid. I also saw women who did develop and move out of the role of housewife and into their own; for example, my own mother, who started college when I was six and became a teacher, teaching second grade, when I was 11. I was so proud of her and emotionally I could feel how much happier she was having a purpose that felt right to her. I knew she loved being my mom and we had great fun together, but I also knew that she felt stifled in just being home. Kids sense stuff like that and I knew it was better for all of us when my mother found herself in teaching.
I knew I also felt stifled around the house and needed to be with people and to earn a living, even if married. So when I became a teacher, a school psychologist and finally a psychologist in private practice, I knew I was on the right track for me. But how could I really help other women and girls find their stride? What could I say? What could I teach? Much of it I formalized in my first book, The Enchanted Self, A Positive Therapy. There I teach how to turn the therapy room into a marvelous positive environment that helps everyone find their lost potential, regain hope, and learn various paths to happiness. But how could I teach this outside of the therapy room? The answers include doing a lot of teaching, workshops, media work, websites, other books, including Recipes for Enchantment, The Secret Ingredient is YOU!, DELIGHT, and now the latest answer I discovered is writing fiction!
And so The Truth (I'm a girl, I'm smart and I know everything) came to be. The book puts into fiction what I need to transmit to girls, tweens, teens, moms and women of all ages. You see, we seem to forget what the ten- or eleven-year-old girl inside of us once knew with such certainty. Even by our teen years, with all the pressures we face from society and the emotional pressures we experience within ourselves, as we grow into womanhood, we forget how strong we are. We forget how astute we are at sizing up the world. We forget our capacity to recover from hurts and build successful new relationships.
We forget so much of our childhood wisdom. We forget the excitement and enthusiasm that comes from letting our passionate natures come out to play. And we forget how to laugh, laugh from our bellies. We forget how to intensely react to daily life. So often we forget how to have fun. Many of us don't allow the playful part of ourselves to come out. We don't know how to let out, safely, the imp inside of us. And we forget how proud we can feel about ourselves. For many women as we grow older, the cost is enormous. Some of us walk around discouraged, like we're a balloon that has pins pricked into it. Some of us don't achieve our birth right of living out our potential. Like sleeping beauty, we await a prince to awaken us, rather than awaking ourselves to our own riches: our capacities for joy and fun, to create, study, invent, innovate, lead, recover, re-invent, feel, love, discover, share, etc.
However, the girl in The Truth (I'm a girl, I'm smart and I know everything) knows exactly how to hold on to her truth. Her life adventures and upsets are similar to ones we have all had. She cries and yearns over a first crush. She is angry at her mom for ignoring her questions about growing up. She is upset over moving to a new town and leaving friends behind. But she has a spark to her that is captivating and draws you in. You are drawn in to her as a character, but even more so, you are drawn back into the best of yourself. She may speak a truth that may not be exactly your truth, but the girl has the power to stimulate you, reminding you of your talents, dreams, wisdom and resilience. So, when you finish the book you may miss the girl, but you have come home to yourself.
And as a positive psychologist I would say that is a win-win for everyone!