“’Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?’ is a collection of a clinical psychologist’s best practical advice to combat anxiety and depression and improve our mental health in small increments, collected from over a decade of 1-on-1 work with patients.”
If you are willing to get to know yourself better, learn how to achieve distant goals, avoid burning out and retain that prioritising your own boundaries and safety is not selfish but healthy, you should check out the phenomenon of booktok (book Tik Tok) – ‘Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?’
This literary gem invites readers on a transformative journey, delving into the depths of our emotional well-being. Within the pages of this book, Dr. Smith generously shares her therapist’s toolkit, offering an exquisite amalgamation of expert guidance and clandestine wisdom, intended to fortify and sustain our mental well-being even amidst the most arduous trials.
Dr. Julie Smith is an experienced clinical psychologist who has spent over ten years in the field. In addition to her clinical work, she is also an online educator and has gained immense popularity on social media platforms, with a combined following of over 3 million people.
Dr. Julie recognised the importance of accessibility and started her TikTok account to reach a wider audience. Her engaging posts on TikTok and Instagram have garnered more than 20 million likes, demonstrating the impact of her content.
What is the book about?
‘Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?’ is a booktok bestseller that addresses a wide range of topics related to mental health and emotional well-being.
The book is organised into eight main chapters, each covering a different aspect of mental health and personal growth. Topics such as depression, motivation, grief, self-doubt, fear, stress, and finding meaning in life are explored. Each chapter is further divided into short subchapters, making it easy for readers to navigate and find specific information based on their needs. Bite-sized entries make the book quick to read and easy to understand, making it a valuable resource during challenging times when immediate support and guidance are necessary.
Dr. Smith’s writing style is compassionate and empathetic, creating a safe space for readers to explore their emotions and vulnerabilities.
The author encourages readers to identify their values and analyse their thoughts and behaviours to ensure they are aligning with their desired path. In addition to providing journaling prompts and techniques for understanding negative emotions, this book emphasises the importance of understanding and labelling emotions correctly.
One notable feature of the book is the inclusion of visual aids, such as light bulb graphics for ideas and wrench graphics for tools. While these tools may not be entirely new, they are presented in a fresh and valuable way. The strategies shared in the book are backed by evidence and proven effectiveness, reflecting Dr. Smith’s expertise as a therapist and providing readers with reliable advice they can trust.
Table of contents
- 1: On Dark Places
- 1: Understanding low mood
- 2: Mood pitfalls to watch out for
- 3: Things that help
- 4: How to turn bad days into better days
- 5: How to get the basics right
- 2: On Motivation
- 6: Understanding motivation
- 7: How to nurture that motivation feeling
- 8: How do you make yourself do something when you don’t feel like it?
- 9: Big life changes. Where do I start?
- 3: On Emotional Pain
- 10: Make it all go away!
- 11: What to do with emotions
- 12: How to harness the power of your words
- 13: How to support someone
- 4: On Grief
- 14: Understanding grief
- 15: The stages of grief
- 16: The tasks of mourning
- 17: The pillars of strength
- 5: On Self-doubt
- 18: Dealing with criticism and disapproval
- 19: The key to building confidence
- 20: You are not your mistakes
- 21: Being enough
- 6: On Fear
- 22: Make anxiety disappear!
- 23: Things we do that make anxiety worse
- 24: How to calm anxiety right now
- 25: What to do with anxious thoughts
- 26: Fear of the inevitable
- 7: On Stress
- 27: Is stress different from anxiety?
- 28: Why reducing stress is not the only answer
- 29: When good stress goes bad
- 30: Making stress work for you
- 31: Coping when it counts
- 8: On a Meaningful Life
- 32: The problem with ‘I just want to be happy’
- 33: Working out what matters
- 34: How to create a life with meaning
- 35: Relationships
- 36: When to seek help
- Spare tools
Key takeaways from ‘Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?’
1Long-term persistence: how do you do it?
One of the biggest takeaways from ‘Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?’ is Dr. Smith’s explanation of how to achieve one’s goal without giving up and burning out. The author starts by giving examples of psychology research that has challenged the theory that only people with innate talents can succeed.
Instead, she points out that to thrive one needs to break the goal into smaller ones and celebrate reaching certain milestones. The accomplishment of a small, specific goal indicates that you are heading in the right direction.
According to Dr. Smith, in order not to burn out, we need to give ourselves proper rest. She emphasises that not all breaks are equal and that using your respites for clearing emails or scrolling through social media does not start a body and brain recharge mode. Instead, when you find yourself having 15 free minutes, instead of reaching for your phone, why not step outside for some fresh air?
2Make your goals less self-oriented
Setting life goals based solely on personal achievement and exceptionalism may not lead to true happiness and well-being. The traditional notion of striving to stand out and prove oneself as enough can often result in burnout and mental health issues. Science indicates that individuals who orient their goals towards something bigger than themselves, such as making a difference in the lives of others or aligning with their values, tend to experience greater hope, gratitude, inspiration, and overall well-being.
Here are several suggestions from Dr, Smith that will help you to shift from self-oriented goals to bigger ones:
“When you feel under stress and you notice the urge to escape or avoid, take some time to return to a values check-in. Ask yourself questions like: How does this effort or goal fit with my values? What kind of contribution do I want to make? What difference do I want to make to others with what I am doing? What do I want to stand for during this? What do my efforts mean to me?”
3Learn to support others
The book also explains how to effectively support someone struggling with their mental health. It emphasises the importance of being present and showing care, rather than trying to fix the problem. It highlights the significance of listening with compassion and kindness, providing social support, and being there for the person consistently.
Dr. Smith also points out the need to prioritise one’s own mental health, set boundaries, and seek support when necessary. Practical help, sensitivity to vulnerable situations, and distraction can also be valuable ways to support a loved one. Furthermore, it underscores the importance of accepting the ups and downs of their healing journey and maintaining open and honest communication throughout the process.
Strengths and weaknesses, according to readers’ reviews
Provides practical and comprehensive advice.
Is suitable for beginners and provides a solid foundation of information that can be helpful for those who are new to these concepts.
Is written in a gentle and supportive way. The writing style creates a safe and non-threatening atmosphere, allowing readers to feel understood and supported.
Focuses on motivation. The book addresses the need for self-motivation and provides techniques that can support individuals in their journey towards personal growth and improvement.
Lack of depth and scientific content. The book lacks scientific and in-depth exploration of the subjects covered.
It might seem repetitive to readers who are versed in the topic. It provides advice similar to what can be found in many self-help books. Readers who are well versed in the topic may think the book didn’t add anything new to the conversation and didn’t meet their expectations.
Best quotes from ‘Why has Nobody Told Me This Before?’
"If we associate failure with unworthiness, then starting anything new is going to feel overwhelming and procrastination will be front and centre. We protect ourselves from the psychological threat of shame by sabotaging the process before it gets started."
"Thoughts are not facts. They are a mix of opinions, judgements, stories, memories, theories, interpretations, and predictions about the future."
"Emotions are your brain’s attempt to explain and attach meaning to what is going on in your world and your body."
‘Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?’ is a book that we can recommend to anyone seeking to improve their mental health and develop resilient coping mechanisms. Dr. Julie Smith’s compassionate and insightful guidebook serves as an empowering resource that has the potential to positively impact your life. Whether you’re a 23-year-old student burdened by self-imposed pressures, a 38-year-old new mom grappling with postpartum issues, or someone who constantly feels overwhelmed at work, this book offers invaluable guidance and support.
Where to buy
You may purchase ‘Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?’ on Amazon at the best price. It is available in Kindle, audio and hardcover versions, so you are free to choose the format that suits you best.
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