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Bridget Conway writes a book review…..

Honor Jane Newman is a psychologist currently living in Melbourne who has penned a short and easy-to-understand self-help book for women living with perfectionism, anxiety and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). Killing the Perfectionist Within is a simple little book that gives the reader an insight into the various symptoms of perfectionism, anxiety, and CFS and then delves into exercises that can be undertaken to start on the path towards healing.

Newman approaches her self-help book with a positive and honest attitude and this shines through on each page. From the get-go, we are able to view perfectionism, anxiety and CFS from an insider’s point of view. Newman has not only counseled many women going through these issues but has also personally experienced them herself.

The first half of Killing the Perfectionist Within is part scientific fact and part real-life lived experience. This first section explains why people develop these three issues in their life, ranging from explaining that parenting styles can play a huge role in the development of perfectionist tendencies to providing insight into when symptoms are becoming serious and professional help needs to be sought. Newman also makes a bold statement in this part of the book by claiming that perfectionism often leads to CFS and although this claim is not backed by years of hard data, she has seen a growing trend throughout her career between these two disorders. It would be great to see Newman expand on this claim, and so I hope that she continues with this in another book.

The second half of Newman’s self-help book is part exercise logbook and part helpful strategies that one can take on in their journey of killing the perfectionist that lives within them. It includes breathing exercises, body image tips, a guide on how to self-marriage, sticking to femininity whilst letting go of perfectionism and to managing and dealing with guilt.

While the book is aimed at helping those who have suffered or are currently suffering through the particular issues of perfectionism, anxiety, and CFS, the book is flexible enough to also be helpful for those who don’t identify with these problems. The reason for this is not only that Newman aims her writing towards a wider audience, but it is also because we can all relate, in some way or another, to some of the issues and symptoms faced by those with these particular disorders. So, while you may not have been diagnosed with anxiety, you may find Newman’s breathing exercises relevant to helping you calm down on your way to work, or if you don’t think you are a perfectionist you may realise through reading this book that you sometimes have perfectionist tendencies and so can make use of the strategies that Newman presents.

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