Who’s Really Driving Your Emotional Bus?
by James O. Henman, PH.D.
Stonehenge Literary and Media

"Remember that healthy change is only possible in the present, and only when you are an active participant in the process."

Active participation in the process of personal growth and change is a core component of this book. One of the first things the author emphasizes is training oneself to feel good about noticing what needs to change. This positivity-first approach is felt throughout the discussions. Also stressed is that the individual is not defined by their story or past. Rather, this is just the place where they are starting from as they are “becoming” someone better. Another big component is learning to stop living in the old program and to start recognizing and living in the new program. One of the keys to doing that is to be sure to look at one’s life through “a clean windshield.” The author identifies twenty-five perceptual filters that can affect one’s view of their own identity. Learning how to identify when a filter is present and that the individual is still operating under the old program will help them grow and apply a clearer, new program filter. In addition, the book spotlights the need for a higher power, whatever that may be, if that “presence” includes certain characteristics identified by the author.

This book includes aspects of many styles of psychology and self-help plans. Readers familiar with the positivity and idea of accepting oneself where the individual is and going forward from there from authors like Brené Brown will find similar themes in Henman’s work. Also, both authors place most of their emphasis on self-esteem. In a similar vein, those familiar with The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale will feel at home in Henman’s offering. The use of a higher power in the context of this book has much in common with the teachings of Alcoholics Anonymous. Another big part of this book talks about being adult children and healing the inner child. Some of this style is also found in books by John Bradshaw and Dr. Lindsay Gibson. Finally, this book relates to and often refers to a book written by Henman in 1990 titled Changing Attitudes in Recovery—A Handbook on Esteem.

Henman’s book is well-written and offers many examples to help illustrate his ideas. His years of experience are clearly drawn upon as he presents his design for personal growth. The inclusion of sample sessions with him assists in bringing his ideas into a context that allows the reader to get a better feel of how one is supposed to apply the concepts he offers to one’s own life. Although the book has a chapter-like structure based on introduced topics, there is purposely a lot of repetition of thoughts, or “nuggets,” as the author puts it, and this reads much like a long essay. The author emphasizes that this program won’t work if it is just taken intellectually and that it has to be felt and experienced before it really begins to take hold. The techniques need to be constantly in practice. That being said, some readers who experience life more cerebrally may have trouble connecting with Henman’s central principles. However, many readers will find the examples applicable to their lives and may find this book a guide for change for themselves or someone they know.

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