“I want to have answers! I am tired of all the theory and of reading books that give no solutions! Could you suggest me a practical book where I can find what I need?”
This is what I had to deal with today. Someone asked me this. And it is not the first time. And it is not going to be the last time. I work in the psy field so people consider that I should have the answer. This is my job. I work with people all the time and people believe that I should have figured out this by now. How hard can it be to give answers and recommend a “good” book?! I mean, I should – I ought to – be competent enough, right?
Actually, I have the answer. However, it is MY answer and not THE answer. THE answer depends on who asks. Why? Because this world is made of extremely diverse people with infinite combinations of personal histories and personal backgrounds and expectations, so THE answer is always personal or personalized. In other words, MY answer is different from YOUR answer. And MY answer might not – partially or completely – answer YOUR question. And then, it is also important to ask the RIGHT QUESTION. Why? Because, if you don’t know what you’re asking, how do you want me to at least try to answer?!
You are right, there are many books and many theoretical analysis about various aspects of life, there are discussions and debates about answers, and all this is tiresome and unproductive. Read sterile. And yes, you are right. People have no clue about anything, so they prefer to analyze and debate instead of finding solutions. There are many books who fail to at least clarify some questions. Those books are written so as to kill time. Other books are barren as hell because they are written to glorify their authors. And finally, some authors never aim to give answers, they just delude their audience so as to gain prestige or money. There are however practical books that might provide some answers. But then, it depends on your questions; depending on your experience in and with life, you might have one set of questions at some point in time and a different set of questions when you are getting older. And it also depends on your personality: if you are rather rational, you expect to have your answer written in a certain way, most likely structured and with examples, but if you are mostly emotional, you will seek perhaps the answer written in the form of a poem or you’ll understand the answer as emerging from “between lines”.
So yes, I need to know you quite a lot so as to know what book to recommend to you. And then, this implies that I read a lot of books, which is not true. In fact, I read a bit of everything I met in my professional path, but I cannot see my mind as some sort of library from which I can pick up a certain book that is likely going to fit your style. So the second best thing I can do is to “guess”, to recommend something that I approximately believe is good for you, but this is like throwing a dice and let it decide if that was a good move for you or not. If the dice says that the book was good for you, then I am a “good” psy; if the book “doesn’t speak to you”, I am a “bad” psy. And then, what happens if you don’t have the patience to finish the book which, perhaps, has the desired answer hidden in its last pages?!
The right answer that can be given to the questions above is something like “find your own path, ask the right questions and then give to yourself your own answers”. This is disappointing, so I often recommend a book, so as to show that at least I “try” to be a “good” psy. This is not the right thing to do, but the right action – the one of turning back completely the question unanswered – is something I constantly refuse to do.
You might ask what MY answer is. Yeah, I can tell it to you, but it is not going to make any difference, first because it is my own answer and not yours, and second because at my age and experience I probably see everything differently from you and I ask different questions. And then, I am a predominantly rational being. My simple answer is Love. Yes, it is lame and dull. You expected something wiser. I know. Everything in me revolves around love. If you have problems, it is either because you don’t love yourself enough, or because the others don’t love themselves enough so as to also love you enough. Now, that’s wiser, isn’t it?
You might say that love is a theoretical concept and, as you said, you are tired of analytical speeches. Yes, love is an abstract notion, but what you do in the name of love is deeply practical. Actually, for me, love always translates into action. Always. For me only. Perhaps not for you. So, if you stay in a completely idiotic situation in which you suffer, you are not showing enough love for your own soul and therefore you are not doing something – anything – so as to get the hell out of that swamp. If you are passive, if you are lazy, if you are drunk or stoned, you have no respect and no love for yourself – and here’s the end of story for me. Of course that, being a psy, I’ll try to move you out of the marsh. Of course I’ll initially fight for you and your soul, of course I’ll become creative and find ways to trigger that love that is in deep sleep inside you. But in the end, it is you who decides. To put it differently, my love in me will fight to wake up the love in you. And this is never theoretical; it is as practical as it can possibly get. And it will start with giving you the book you asked for. What book again? Any book I judge to be helpful for you, given your personality? Will I fail with that book? Will I succeed? I don’t know. I cannot even control if you read that book or not. But I will always choose to give you that book.
That book might contain YOUR own answer to… everything.