This short book is a self-help guide which could and probably should be designed to easily fit into a pocket or handbag, or downloaded onto a phone for easy access. Rather than a pioneering psychology manual, it is rather a series of affirmations intended to help the insecure and those lacking in self-esteem to feel better about themselves at a moment’s notice. Denise admits, right from the foreword, that she is one of those people, her confidence having been undermined by her mother at an early age. As somebody with a working knowledge of young people with self-esteem issues, I can vouch that parenting is almost always the fundamental starting point, and Denise is right to highlight this credential in herself right from the start.
Whilst her confidence checklist – which is what this book essentially is – doesn’t really reveal anything novel or unique I feel it might be invaluable for, and definitely should be targeted at teenagers, particularly those in social media culture, which Denise refers to a lot in this book. I think that anyone much older than this will have already tried and tested all of the affirmations she has included. Don’t get me wrong – none of the affirmations are wrong, and there is a lot of useful advice in this book which any age of reader can take away. It is just sad that the millennial generations are so damaged by the self-esteem deficiencies associated with mass media and social media that compilation of such a book is still necessary – but, shamefully, it is. In it, the interactions with others are described as brief and judgmental, with many taking place in a non-existent virtual world, and I am not surprised that this plays such a significant role in a book about self-esteem and confidence. Personally, my own advice would be to scrap your social media reliance altogether and interact face to face – nothing develops a young person’s character more than participating in a wide range of social situations with a wide range of people, rather than digitally selected peers; there is little social about the toxic social media environment. In chapter 18, Denise mentions that losing one’s geo map signal gives them the opportunity to explore and enjoy their surroundings organically – I would apply the exact same metaphor to breaking away from the digital social environment.
Denise uses some great metaphors and analogies throughout - like comparing unique people to valuable works of art - then goes on to explain them articulately and convincingly. She is a wonderful, warm and endearing writer, and although Malaysian, whilst I think the layout may need a touch of work, and perhaps a little of the punctuation, the English is to an extremely high standard; I enjoyed the Tempus style of font that she used. The book looks nice and Denise has put a lot of heart and work into it, which always shows and is a pleasure to read. Perhaps, after the final chapter, it would have been nice to read an afterword – and maybe even more about Denise herself – to bring it to a more natural conclusion. It would have also, I think, been nice to include some good mood stock images in the book, just to break up the narrative and remind the reader at a glance of the chapter’s context, as much of the affirmation does start to roll into one long pep talk.
Whilst the “confidence” aspect of the book is necessary, inspiring and motivational, I did – and always do! - have a big issue with the “amazing” part. I am not a fan of misused superlatives anyway, but this particular one has long since become tedious, and overused to the extent that its meaning has become worthless. Furthermore, I can’t help thinking that the continual aspiration to feel amazing and to be amazing is a huge part of society’s confidence issue in the first place – telling somebody they are amazing rarely makes them feel it, and for many this is somewhat disappointing. But, of course, the terminology is synonymous these days with feeling good about oneself in the face of adversity, so I guess the language is appropriate in terms of its most suited audience.
Overall, this is a nice book, and I think with a slight polish and aesthetic makeover it could be a real pocket essential for its audience. I do genuinely hope that Denise has absorbed and truly feels the advice she gives, and has overcome her own insecurities, because, of course, a teacher has to believe in her lesson thoroughly to project its message. And, of course, this author has a good heart, which she wears on her sleeve, and deserves to be happy.
In : Book Reviews
Tags: denise-wijayaratne self-confidence self-esteem self-help psychology