I recently finished reading a book that I still can’t stop thinking about. It’s called Maybe You Should Talk to Someone and it’s been on my mind for weeks. From the beginning, I was hooked and looked forward to going to bed early so I could read just a few more pages. The author, Lori Gottlieb, is a therapist who describes her interaction with four different patients she is treating while also discussing her experience seeing a therapist herself. The author is candid in her treatment approach and so insightful and relatable as she sees her own therapist and wonders what he’s thinking. Does he like her? Does he approve of her choices?
If you’ve ever wondered what a therapist, or really any clinician, is thinking, this book is enlightening. Gottlieb describes the four patients as a a young woman who keeps getting into relationships with the wrong men, a pompous and unbearable Hollywood producer who doesn’t know why he’s there in the first place, a young woman who recently got married and was subsequently diagnosed with terminal cancer, and a senior citizen who decided that if her life doesn’t improve by her next birthday, she’s ending it.
The conversations in the book are so vulnerable and thought-provoking; you will see yourself in these stories. So many of their feelings are universal and thoughts that have run through my own mind. I loved reading about how a therapist sees personal issues like finding meaning in one’s life, moving past regret, loneliness, facing one’s own mortality and so much more. In so many cases, people continue to behave in a similar way throughout their life and go in circles without ever understanding the pattern. Hearing her approach was like eavesdropping on her therapy sessions but without all the guilt.
As I was reading, I drew parallels with my own life and looked at some of the decisions I’ve made in a new light. It made me think back and reevaluate my impression of certain situations or people. We never really know what someone is going through and this book in particular describes the outward behaviors that may camouflage what is happening beneath the surface. Lately, i’ve been eye rolling at many of the popular self-help books but this book feels different. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read Maybe You Should Talk to Someone already. What do you think?
Here are a few quotes that are worth repeating:
“Our younger selves think in terms of a beginning, middle, and some kind of resolution. But somewhere along the way – perhaps in the middle – we realize that everyone lives with things that may not get worked out. That the middle has to be the resolution, and how we make meaning of it becomes our task.”
“The more you welcome your vulnerability,” Wendell had said, “the less afraid you’ll feel.”
“I thought about how many people avoid trying for things they really want in life because it’s more painful to get close to the goal but not achieve it than not to have taken the chance in the first place.”
“Wendell once pointed out that we talk to ourselves more than we’ll talk to any other person over the course of our lives but that our words aren’t always kind or true or helpful – or even respectful. Most of what we say to ourselves we’d ever say to people we love or care about, like our friends or children. In therapy, we learn to pay close attention to those voices in our heads so that we can learn a better way to communicate with ourselves.”
“I remember how I both loved and hated Wendell for saying that. It’s like when somebody finally has the guts to tell you that you have a problem and you feel both defensive and relieved that this person is telling it like it is. That’s the delicate work that therapists do. Wendell and I worked on my grief but also my self-imprisonment. And we did it together – it wasn’t all me. Therapy can only work if it’s a joint endeavor.”