Nicholas Brealey Publishing (2018)
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (2/19)
“Defining You,” by Fiona Murden is one of the most impressive books I have read on understanding oneself, stepping out of one’s comfort zone and being the person one wants to be. As a Psychologist for over 25 years, I wish I had access to this book to give to every client.
Very interactive and insightful, Murden provides numerous assessments to understand oneself better as well as rethink how one’s upbringing impacts who we are today. In Chapter 2, The Story of You, readers rethink their early years, how they see their parents and consider whether we are intrinsic or extrinsic in our motivation. What impressed me most about this chapter is our parent’s expectations for us and how we feel about whether we met them or not. Does it matter? When I did the biological influences on page 44-45, I am both my mother and father, and at times I don’t want to be like either of them. As a parent, I find myself sometimes exhibiting those traits in them.
Chapter 4 addresses the Meaning of Life which addresses one’s values and passions, strengths and preferences and continually learning. This particular chapter had me make some changes to what my values and passions are. Like many readers, I have always kept the positive and strong values that others see in me, but as I age, I find those have changed. I also discovered through the author’s information and short exercises that I am not as caring about materialistic ideals and can be somewhat critical of others who don’t seem to have common sense.
Using The Sarah Model in Chapter 6, the author describes how each of us might react when hearing something about ourselves that doesn’t fit with our internal narrative of how we see ourselves. This model is adapted from the Kubler-Ross change curve. A great example is feeling anger when a comment or perception is made about you, or one feels you are being criticized. This chapter is another area that many of us don’t think about yet react to consistently.
Overall, the author puts readers to the challenge of taking a hard look at themselves which will optimize who we are and help us live a more fulfilled life and avoid misunderstandings. “Defining You” is easy to read and understand and will hopefully inspire changes that will help one get to know themselves better. Very compact information which is very powerful. I highly recommend Fiona Murden’s “Defining You.”