Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? Book Summary - Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? Book explained in key points
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Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? summary

Julie Smith

Everyday Tools for Life’s Ups & Downs

4.2 (939 ratings)
20 mins
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    Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?
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    Lay the groundwork for robust mental well-being by becoming aware of how your feelings are generated.

    When Dr. Julie worked with patients caught in an ongoing low mood, she noticed some common thought patterns. To her patients, it often felt like their low moods came out of nowhere, or that their brains were simply faulty. It seemed like other people were born with the ability to be happy, but for them, it was out of reach. These beliefs prevented them from taking their mental health into their own hands. But let’s take a closer look at how a bad mood might arise.

    Say you’ve been working late, worried about a fast-approaching deadline. You finally make it to bed, but you’re too tired to remember your usual glass of water before sleep. You spend the night tossing and turning, worried about your deadline. You drift into a light, restless sleep – only to be jolted awake by your horribly loud alarm.

    You wake up irritated, exhausted, and with stress hormones shooting through your body. In short, you’re in a bad mood.

    It’s easy to see why, isn’t it? Your bad mood didn’t come out of nowhere – you’re stressed, sleep-deprived, and dehydrated!

    Of course, not all low moods arise due to a night of dehydrated tossing and turning. But what’s important to understand about emotions is that they’re constructed by a variety of factors, many of which we can influence. If you’re in a bad mood, it’s actually more likely that you’re experiencing an unmet need and not a malfunction in your brain!

    So the first step to relieving an ongoing low mood is to reflect upon what those unmet needs might be. Dr. Julie helps her patients build this awareness over time by asking questions that help uncover what’s going on in their bodies and in their minds. Once she and her patient have started to break down the thoughts, behaviors, and environmental stressors that contribute to a low mood, the patient can start to address those unmet needs.

    Some of these questions are: What exactly are you thinking when your low mood surfaces? When do these thoughts start to surface? What other physical sensations did you experience? What did you do in the week leading up to the low mood?

    These are questions that you can ask yourself, too! Emotional hindsight is a skill that can be built outside of the therapy context. Dr. Julie recommends keeping a journal that focuses on both positive and negative experiences, and detailing the thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and circumstances leading up to those experiences. Gradually, this will help you notice patterns over time and the concrete factors that contributed to a certain mood.

    Let’s say this practice of turning a bit more awareness onto your feelings helps you recognize an easily fixable source of low mood. You might notice that you regularly think, “I’m such a loser!” right after scrolling through social media. This recognition gives you an actionable clue of how to get away from that feeling, simply by deleting certain apps or unfollowing people who generate bad feelings of comparison.

    Now, building this awareness of how feelings are generated won’t bring clarity or solutions to all painful emotions. Some problems are more complex and may require professional help, and that’s OK. But if that’s the case, increased awareness of your feelings and their origins will still help you and your therapist in the joint work of improving your low mood.

    Remember that feelings aren’t just in your head; they’re in your body, your living conditions, your past and your present, and the influences you surround yourself with. The more practiced you are at breaking down the factors interacting to create your emotions, the more easily you can see the changes that are within your power to make.

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    What is Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? about?

    Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? (2022) is an empathetic and practical guide to improving and maintaining mental well-being. It offers bite-sized, actionable advice and coping strategies for anxiety, depression, unexpected setbacks, a lack of self-confidence, and more.

    Who should read Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before??

    • People seeking relief from anxiety and depression
    • Those looking to support a loved one going through a hard time
    • Self-help fans eager for science-based perspectives

    About the Author

    Dr. Julie Smith is a clinical psychologist with over a decade of experience, and an online educator with over 3 million followers. Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?, her first book, is a No. 1 Sunday Times best seller.

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