I think this self-help book was originally mentioned in the comments to a Captain Awkward post, but of course I can’t find it now so who actually knows?
Emily and Amelia Nagoski are here to tell you that feelings are good, we need to complete the stress cycle, and that “wellness” isn’t another should to beat yourself up over. Over which to beat yourself up? Anyway…it’s above average, I’d say, and in large part because their target audience is very specific.
Is it really paranoia if they are out to get you? Is it really stress if we (and by “we” I, and the authors, mean women — a lot of the advice will be useful for men, but the Nagoskis are talking to women and it’s women’s experience they’re exploring) if we are constantly bathing in it? And what the heck does “complete the stress cycle mean”? The next quote won’t answer that, but the book will.
Emotional exhaustion happens when we get stuck in an emotion and can’t move through the tunnel. In Human Giver Syndrome, the giver isn’t allowed to inconvenience anyone with anything so messy as emotions, so givers are trapped in a situation where they are not free to move through the tunnel. They might even be punished for it. (Kindle location 131)
“Human Giver Syndrome” is the catchy title they give the increasingly emphasized cultural understanding that about half the population is expected to give everything to the other half, who are considered actual humans. (No points for guessing which is which, and even though I’m inclined to agree this isn’t my theory so don’t @ me, bro.)
The book offers concrete, clear examples of Things You Can Do that echo, but do not mimic, such advice (we all kind of know is bullshit) as “go for a run/swim”, “be positive”, “be grateful”. Instead of the common understanding of each of these things, though, the Nagoskis discuss the underlying science (described thusly: “science doesn’t offer perfect truth, only the best available truth.” (loc 181) behind the catchphrases, and where the common pop understanding of each of these things is unhelpful at best, and downright damaging at worst: “it’s not as simple as “look on the bright side” or “find the silver lining” or “enjoy the journey”” (loc 713).
Each chapter flows naturally from the next, and each chapter also ends with a “tl;dr” section for when you want your good information in sound bytes. The biggest takeaway, I think, is this:
Human Giver Syndrome is the first villain in our story. It tries to make you ignore your Something Larger, because you’re supposed to dedicate all your resources to Human Beings. […]
Your job is to not stop. Keep engaging with your Something Larger. Use planful problem-solving. Keep completing the cycle. #Persist. But of course, sometimes it’s not that easy.
(loc 1168 and 1184)
Go forth, my beautiful Madwomen, and pursue your Something Larger. The call is coming from inside you.
Illegitimi non carborundum.