All too often, the author of a book meant to help readers tackle emotional issues can seem perched behind an impersonal wall of credentials. And regardless of how promising their methods to reduce anxiety, anger or depression, it sets up a clinical distance. It makes sense, certainly: doctors are supposed to be impartial, traditionally, and not insert their own experiences into the treatment of their patients. But a book is different: readers may want something warmer, so when looking for answers, there’s a sense of connection to the person behind all those words.
That’s what makes Dr. Johnny Lops so accessible. His book is aptly titled Reinvent Yourself: Essential Tools from a Brooklyn Psychiatrist Who Has Seen it All. It combines Lops’ own life lessons — including some hilarious mistakes and misdeeds — with a very no-nonsense, practical outline of how to overcome our crippling self-doubts, anger, and anxieties. Not only is Lops quite relate-able, he’s persuasive, and in a large part that comes form his own life and career.
Lops is indeed a Brooklyn psychiatrist, but he’s no ordinary one. He’s got great qualifications: For a number of years he was the team psychiatrist for the Brooklyn Nets; in his (Board-certified) practice he works with adults, adolescents, and children; and he teaches psychiatry — at Maimonides Medical Center and the New York College Osteopathic Medicine. And he’s a well-rounded person who’s also made successful forays into acting (he was in the Elephant Man in New York’s Joyce Theatre, among other stage productions, and has been in major commercials), and runs marathons.
Lops is no slouch, but as he writes candidly, he grew up harboring a bundle of fears and issues. It took some extremely hard (and literal) knocks to overcome them, but he’s certainly faced his demons — and it’s from that perspective that he writes. “Allow yourself to consider your own experiences through these pages,” he suggests in the Introduction, inviting the reader to draw their own comparisons. Such a participatory stance is not only heartening, it’s enlightening: we’re already working on ourselves, and thinking about ourselves, before we know it.
Comprising the practical meat of the book are the eleven critical tools Lops has identified. There are tools on tackling negativity, including how to replace negative thoughts with positive ones (thinking good thoughts crowds out the bad ones); and to how to remove the snark and spite from our everyday conversations and start feeling better about everything. The link between negativity, stress and health has been well-established, and Lops works in this mind body connection in a down to earth way. There are tools for dealing with the desperate feeling of a fragile ego — finding the strength in ourselves so we can look inward for validation; and for handling the firestorm of emotions and anger — which has much to do with developing a keener emotional intelligence.
Lops also pulls no punches: he derides the superficial connections inherent to social media, and reminds the reader that not all friends are generous or healthy. He extols readers to leave the victim mentality behind (and explains how), and encourages a lifelong sense of curiosity for new things, new experiences, and new people. It’s all good wisdom, and it seems to come from the heart.
Written in a breezy, candid style, Reinvent Yourself moves along as smoothly as an enjoyable memoir, but includes takeaway points at the end of each chapter that ground the advice in tangible points and steps. It’s a great combination of the personal and the helpful, the honest and the educated, and it’s certainly worth the read.
For more information about Reinvent Yourself and Dr. Johnny Lops, visit the author’s website.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=0990454606]