Book Review: The Audacity to Be You: Learning to Love Your Horrible, Rotten Self
In his latest book, The Audacity to Be You: Learning to Love Your Horrible, Rotten Self, Dr. Brad Reedy tackles the essential question of how we can learn to process our past wounds, forgive ourselves for our shortcomings, and ultimately love our Self, exactly as it is…even when it seems “horrible and rotten.”
As we find out later in the book, Reedy makes a distinction between those who pursue therapy for shorter term solutions and tools to live their daily lives a little more harmoniously, and those who pursue long-term therapy to dig deep into the Self and come away transformed. Both have their places. For example, tools for living each day can help us change bothersome behaviors rather quickly. And, over the long haul, who wouldn’t like to transform themselves into a more emotionally balanced and evolved human?
To meet the short-termers where they are, Reedy includes two chapters with tips, tools, and myths that can serve people in their daily lives as soon as they start incorporating them. And for some, it might be tempting to cut to Chapter 8 and start with the tools. But this is exactly why Reedy puts them at the back of the book.
You see, Reedy is solidly in the “dig deep” camp and his purest hope is for all of us to be as well. Yet he’s very clear that to do this is not easy and, in fact, takes a huge amount of courage. The words of one of his past patients sum it: “In this work, when I discovered that one of my long-held truths was debunked, I realized that all of them were up for grabs. It was terrifying.” Clearly, transformation is not for the faint of heart.
But, luckily for us, the book holds a roadmap for such work. We start with our Self, which Reedy says “is the naked you; it is your human, fallible, beautiful, scared, imperfect, and perfect you.” We work on casting off guilt and shame, laid on us by parents, peers, and society. We dispose of the ideas of being “right” and “good” and we embrace the idea of just being who we are. We learn to hear our Self, to nurture our Self, to slowly, gently forgive and love our Self, as we would a little, vulnerable child.
But why would anyone want to push through this painful work, rather than just using some tools and changing some behaviors? “The result of this work is freedom and peace and a greater capacity to love yourself. When you accept yourself, your interactions with Others won’t be in the service of proving your goodness and worthiness. Instead, you use your energy for loving them,” he says.
None of this can be achieved by reading this book alone; which is why Reedy also devotes a chapter to choosing a therapist who can accompany you on this voyage. This chapter is liable to ruffle some feathers in the therapy world because Reedy has strong opinions on what therapists can do to serve the best interests of their clients. According to him, there are therapists out there who either cannot or will not pursue the simple act of really listening and seeing their clients as they need to be seen and heard. Through stories of his own therapeutic work and those of past clients, he elucidates the qualities folks should search for in a therapist, and he leaves open the very real possibility that some of us may even need to leave our current counselors behind in order to find one best suited to accompany us while we work.
Reedy offers all this insight through the lens of his own experience. He has fought many battles in his own life, he has worked his way through various personal therapists, and he has tended to the hearts and minds of thousands of people in his 25-year career. It’s this rich history that informs his treatment style and this book. Yet, in the end he says, it all comes down to two simple words: love and acceptance. Simple to understand, but not easy to truly embrace. “For love to be meaningful,” he says, “it must go beyond feelings…it must have the capacity born from self-awareness and arrive at kindness and supportive energy for the Other.”
With all the fear and anxiety in the air brought on by the current global pandemic, this book comes at the perfect time. Just this week, Reedy dropped the price of the book on Amazon to cost, to help folks fill the “found time” brought on by social distancing and enforced isolation. In the meantime, Reedy is also hosting nightly webinars and chat sessions to bring together his global community and support them through these unprecedented events. To receive links to the webinars or find out more contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.