A Square-Peg People Book Review
Finding Your Own North Star
by Martha Beck
She starts by examining types of change (and the fact that change can be chosen or can be thrust upon us). Then she guides us in exploring what we desire, and continues by empowering us with knowledge about patterns of change and the how-to's of dealing with transformation when it's happening.
Beck says that change can bring us joy - if we're headed in the right direction - and this book is all about helping us find the right direction.
Delightfully, Martha Beck does not try to have us all travel the same path through transition. In the Introduction, she says:
"There are as many paths as there are people, and the only one I can chart is my own. I have no idea, for example, where your true path may lie. But you do....I believe that a knowledge of the perfect life sits inside you just as the North Star sits in it's unalterable spot."
This book is a fantastic tool for getting to know your SELF.
Martha Beck says that the self has 2 parts: the "social self" and the "essential self". Basically, the difference between the 2 selves is the "essential self" holds awareness of what WE want, while the "social self" has the knowledge of what others want us to want - the way we fit in.
Both are vital, but Beck says that the "essential self" gets lost in our society - as the "social self" is given more emphasis.
In Finding Your Own North Star, Martha Beck gives us lots of help re-connecting with our essential self. The book has many exercises in self-awareness.
But, even if you are the kind of Square-Peg who doesn't DO exercises, you'll still get a shift in perspective just from reading the exercises and the information Beck gives about them.
This book is a companion through the whole journey of change with us. In it, Martha Beck offers processes for naming our desires - using a review of physical and emotional responses and signals to report on what feels good--and what doesn't, working through blocks, helpful advice for DOING (she stresses that dreaming alone will not make your dreams a reality), and even what to expect when you reach your goals.
Finding Your Own North Star includes a chapter called "A Map of Change". In it Beck gives an extremely helpful description of the 4 -part cycle of change: 1) Death and Rebirth 2) Dreaming and Scheming, 3) The Hero's Saga and 4) The Promised Land. The last four chapters of the book are a thorough explanation - and guide map through each of the 4 stages of change.
Beck is careful to paint a realistic picture of the process of change. She mentions negatives that often accompany transition, such as anxiety and:
"Another emotion that can come on strong after an opportunity catalyst is guilt. As you accept your new challenge and your life begins to change, you'll inevitably leave people behind--people who may be jealous and angry because they want the opportunities you have. Even if you still hang out with your old crowd, you'll find that you don't fit in the same way."
Martha Beck writes with humor. She talks about "Wildly Improbable Goals" in an exercise about "finding a dream that thrills your essential self", entitled: "Making your own WIGS". She has another chapter called: "Whizzing on the Electric Fence", about "..rules....that keep you from consciously engaging your real dreams."
Throughout the book you can sense an element of play. That's because Beck considers play to be VERY important:
"Playing improves your creativity and problem-solving skills, minimizes burnout, and maintains high-level performance. Iron-willed self-discipline may be just the right thing if you're planning to be a ruthless psychotic despot. Otherwise, let the games begin....Ask your essential self what it wants to do during playtime. See how much your productivity increases and your desire to commit mass murder recedes."
I love this book. The humor surprises me every time I read it - and I read it alot! I grab it whenever I'm going through the change process and I get confused or stuck.
Finding Your Own North Star is full of stories, both from Beck's own life and the lives of others. It has a very personal feel - like sitting down with a friend - a very wise, hilarious friend (who just happens to have a Ph.D. from Harvard!). And it's SO helpful - no matter which stage of change you're in.
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