Reviewed by Jaylynn Korrell
A thoughtfully crafted guide to awakening a higher self
Your Way There is a trustworthy compass that guides you to a more compassionate way of approaching your circumstances. It could be a lifesaver.
Gretta Keene uses a friendly approach and decades of studying the mind through psychological work to shine a light on the why behind our actions. This, mixed with the tools she introduces to uncover and address those issues, is what makes this book so invaluable.
Each chapter in Your Way There tells a story of fictionalized clients that Keene and her husband help as therapists. Readers will hear stories of relationships between spouses, siblings, parents, friendships, and self. Keene addresses clients who have experienced infidelity and rape, childhood trauma, neglect, abuse, and everything in-between. With a thoughtful approach, she helps them better understand themselves and the real reasoning behind their current situation.
Keene gives readers the tools to improve their communication skills, get to the root of their problems, and be kinder to themselves. She undoubtedly leaves each patient in a better place than they were before.
One tool I found particularly useful was giving personalities (and maybe even names) to their defense mechanisms, as they act as our bodyguards to keep us safe in difficult situations. Giving them these personalities and digging deeper into when they show up and why they’re causing friction. I also enjoyed learning about the Speaker-Listener approach as a way to improve communication with others.
There is a kindness and understanding to Keene’s writing voice that makes you want to listen to her. For every patient she helps, you’ll feel more trusting of her. For every personal story she divulges, you’ll feel like she’s not just a therapist but a struggling human like the rest of us. She never pretends to have it all figured out. Instead, she provides testament to the way that these tools and ways of thinking have improved her life.
The concepts in this book are big, but they’re made easier to understand through illustrations. William Murray (the book’s illustrator) helps concepts become more digestible for visual learners, creating a fuller picture of the ideas. They bring the work to life.
I love the way that Keene weaves her own personal experiences into the story alongside those of her fictionalized patients. My favorite of her personal stories is that of her mother. She had suicidal thoughts, but she renewed her lease on life after finding a potato shaped rock on the beach. This rock reminded her of her Irish roots, and the stability and comforting nature that the potato had for both her and her ancestors. It turns into her hope and her reminder that with a simple attitude change, she can have more control over any situation. This story is just one of the many instances that show how it’s about reacting to our circumstances. It’s the only thing we have control over, and whatever way we can hold onto that truth is worth trying out, even if it means carrying around a potato shaped rock everywhere you go.
This is a book that should be read slowly with lots of space for reflection—but with a re-read later on. Keene provides readers with tools that will take practice to master, but they should be practiced. She introduces conversations that can improve your relationships, increase your self-awareness, and take some of the weight off of navigating being alive. I enjoyed every word.
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