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OK Phil McGraw is balding. He is tall, American and prone to shout. To those like myself, who feel compelled to watch Oprah, Dr Phil is someone you either hate or love. There is no such thing as being indifferent once you have seen this man in action (for want of a better phrase). 'Self help? Yeah I'll help you save the £6.99 and tell you that if you really believe a book can help you then you are a L.O.S.E.R.' I can almost hear someone thinking back there, in my mind, in the realms of dooyoo or wherever thinking that. Au contraire, once you have got past Phil being as apple pie as Americana can get, you actually realise that this guy isn't trying to blind you with psychology. As a psychology graduate myself, I found his work to be relevent , accessible and highly refreshing. As a human being I found this book 'darn' challenging. The book comprises of fourteen chapters. Ah you think, it's only 282 pages long, I'll whizz though that and be cured in time for 'Neighbours'. On first inspection this may seem the case, but once again au contraire. This book sets you tasks. Get yourself a notebook and a comfy pen. You're going to need them. That and your brain and a little dash of open mindedness. When you start reading the book Phil waffles on about Oprah and the Amarillo Beef Trials (Oprah was taken to court by farmers over comments concerning BSE) and you think what the hell is he telling me this for? But read on and it all becomes clear.. honest guv'nor. I could go into what the tasks are, but I think that if you plan to read this book then you need to fulfil them in a virgin state of mind. Dr Phil does not set out to be the nice guy in this book. He isn't looking for a fan. He is looking for you to do some work on yourself. A psychological M.O.T. if you will. If you want to realise a few things about yourself that you didn't know you
knew in the first place, then this is the book for you. You may have to put the book down a few times, but the tasks are thought provoking: it's only natural that life gets in the way, but do return, look Phil square in the eye and shout 'Shut it Baldy, I get it. I finally get me' And close the book, smile and wonder why this man is wasted on American daytime television. That's what I did. ****Tasks: A spoiler to keep millergirl happy 1. Challenge top five beliefs right now. 2.The story I'll tell myself if I don't get anything from this book. 3.Challenge past events you have accepted in blind faith. 4.View your life with accountabilty (responsibility). 5. Make a top ten of negative speech you use to yourself. 6.Dealing with specific negative behaviour. 7.Are you in a rut? Checklist. 8.Write down what you would want to say to people you love if they died tomorrow. 9. Start a chart of your findings (key areas/problems) 10. Checklisting limiting beliefs. 11. Write down concious life decisions. 12. Relationship Questionnaire. 13. Forgiveness letters. 14. The curcular nature of wanting. 15. Life Dimensions Table (filled using answers to tasks). 16. Priorities Chart. 17. Character Profile (short play). 18. Set a goal. 19. What are your successes? (According to Chart).
When I first saw Dr. Phil on the Oprah show, I found his manner irritating. However, despite this, I found myself listening to what he had to say. I realised that this man has a lot of insight into human nature. Dr. Phil is anything but the gentle counsellor. He sweeps away bad life experiences as merely excuses and persists in asking “Yes – but what are you going to DO? Life rewards ACTION (Life Law #6)”. So why did I – someone who values exploring experiences and finding my own inner wisdom decide to buy this book? Well – simply put – as much as I value exploration and understanding; at some point I believe there is a time for DOING. However much I feel hurt, however much I want change I am the only person that can change anything. If I don’t do something different how can I expect life to be different? I am one of those kinds of people who write News Years resolutions. I have endless “What do I want out of life” lists; “Things to do lists”, “Things I want to do” lists, “Things I want to do but think I can’t do” lists. Lists of things I have done but could have done differently. Lists of things I did that I shouldn’t have done (in my perception). Oh yes – and lists of things I’m actually doing so that I can keep track of them! These lists are scattered in all four corners of the house (endless fun for the cat chasing bits of paper about). I figured I was on the right track but needed a little organisation with my list-making and a different way of looking at my life. Enter Dr. Phil. “Stop making Excuses. Doing what matters, doing what works” is the subtitle of this book and I have to say I still cringe a little when I read this. Afterall – none of us likes to be told that we are making excuses. None of us likes to believe that our life is how we created it (when Life seems to be heaping the proverbial u
pon your head). Yes – maybe someone has hurt us but then we have the power to control our responses – however difficult. We learn to take responsibility. And that is what this book is really about – taking back your power, taking responsibility (not blame), redefining your needs and examining your wants. Time to dig deep and find out what is legitimate fear, opinion, judgement, warped self-belief or excuse. “Life strategies” is very readable and very clear. Sometimes painfully so. There are 14 chapters – 10 of which are the “Life Laws” that Phil has devised after observing human nature. Trained in psychology and using his experience as a trial scientist for the US legal system, Phil has gathered a wealth of knowledge on how we as humans respond to life. Life Laws 1) Get real 2) You either get it or you don’t 3) You create your own experience 4) People do what works 5) You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge 6) Life rewards action 7) There is no reality – only perception 8) Life is managed; it is not cured 9) We treat people how to treat us 10) There is power in forgiveness. Each chapter provides exercises to work through to help you identify limiting beliefs about both yourself and the world. Nothing in this book could be described as newage psychobabble. This is grassroots stuff: practical, applicable and motivating. It isn’t necessarily stuff you have never heard before. In fact often he presents the glaringly obvious – the SO obvious that we just don’t see it (wood for the trees effect). The last 4 chapters of the book draw on all that you have worked through in the life laws homework and lead you through a step by step plan to devise your own life strategy. You need to have done all the previous exercises fully before starting this part so I would recommend you take your time reading th
is book working through it in a methodical manner. So now all my lists have been pulled together into a plan. I’ve written a lot, explored a lot and asked myself some hard questions. I now have a plan that is realistic and acknowledges what I find difficult and what I find easy. It isn’t set in stone – we change, we grow, perceptions shift and motivations and intentions also change. A life-strategy is just that – a strategy for managing the process of life. Perhaps this book won’t be for everyone but I wouldn’t judge it by what you have seen of Dr. Phil on Oprah. There is a great deal more material in this book than they can discuss on the show. It isn’t the answer to your problems but it does show you a way of finding your own answers. His manner may be rather harsh and sometimes I find his occasional moralising annoying but Dr. Phil has a healthy respect for being true to yourself and accepting the truth about yourself. Without truth – life is nothing more than a fog.
'10 Life Laws' to make dramatic changes in your life.