Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein Talks About Getting the Positive Psychology Message for Women out via the Written Word

I’ve been a writer now for 20 years. Well, actually it is much longer than that. If I count from the fourth grade when I started keeping a diary, and junior high, when I started to write poetry, and college when I started to write short stories, ummm, let’s see, that makes…..let’s just say too many years to put into print.

In the old days I remember sending my short stories to a number of magazines. I was typing on a real type writer and using carbon paper. I was putting in a stamped return envelope and praying for good news but received bad news. My goodness, not even the New Yorker wanted to publish my stories! Even my most adorable short story that to this day, gets laughs when I read it aloud, “Am I My Cousin’s Cousin?” was accepted for publication! Ask me about the story and I’ll be glad to finally ‘publish’ it via one of my blogs! How times have changed. I’ll just give you one clue: the story is about Marisa Berenson, who is a distant cousin of mine, at least by marriage. Oh-here is another clue-she never knew I existed!

Of course, there was no web or blogs in those days. So after a tear of two fell into my lap, my short stories would be put back into the drawer in the dining room where I kept them. In fact they are still there! I began to feel I would have to live out my life not rich and famous!

But life goes on and as the years flew by I became a successful psychologist and one of the first psychologists to identify and do research in a new field of psychology, call Positive Psychology. Now after doing case study research in this new field, I was tempted to write once again. This time I was thinking about a book. I had interviewed women, ages 35-80, not in my practice, as well as worked for years with women, and discovered some shocking information about them.

In summary, I had discovered that as women we put ourselves down and don’t appreciate our talents and potential. Thus we often go through endless cycles of having achievements and yet feeling indifferent or even discouraged about ourselves. The results can be bad, leading to mood disruptions, such as feeling blue or even depression. Also, because we don’t know how to value who we are we often don’t replenish or celebrate ourselves. We run on empty and feel depleted.

I felt compelled to get this news out and to also teach women how we can recognize our talents and potential and begin to intentionally celebrate and reward ourselves so that we live happier, productive lives where we enjoy our Enchanted Selves! This book never got printed. I think the manuscript is still in my office somewhere. Almost 20 years later, I’m having trouble remembering what the working title was. However, after much mental agony, a paper summarizing my findings with women in this brand new field of Positive Psychology emerged. The paper was titled something like: A Full Circle, Coming Home to Our Enchanted Selves. In the paper I discussed four of the women I interviewed and how each of them had managed to bring delight, pleasure and their own talents into parts of their everyday living. I also included some of my clients and showed how I intentionally helped them learn to recognize the best of themselves.

The paper became the catalyst for my first book, The Enchanted Self, A Positive Therapy. The book was published by an academic press in 1997 and is still in print. Routledge Press took over the imprint and it is now available through them. In this book I share my own adventures in discovering and rediscovering my strengths, interests, talents and potential. I also share how I lead my clients to discover what is best about themselves and then bring those parts to life. I have lots of case studies in this book. Actually, it is quite an inspiring book, particularly from the perspective that one can grow and keep on tapping into the best parts of herself again and again. Life can throw us lemons and yet we can still make lemonade!

Because of my background in writing, since the age of 9, I was able to put into print all the material that other women need to take themselves on an Enchanted Self journey of growth. Also, because of all the trials and tribulations I have endured as a writer for so many years, I was able to persevere until the right publisher came along.

Posted in Books and tagged , , , .