We’ve all been there: poised at the entrance to a party, or a job interview, about to take a dive into life, career, or love, when there’s a nagging voice in our ear. You’re going to screw this up like you always do. It’s our own personal heckler, ready to shout us into folding up our wings and walking away. There are countless self-help strategies that promise to help overcome those self-doubts, if we have the time it takes to understand them. Then there’s a new book, Says Who? How One Simple Question Can Change the Way You Think Forever.
Clear and wise, Says Who is based on the premise that we can — and should — challenge our negative thoughts. It’s author, Ora Nadrich, is a pitch-perfect combination of no-nonsense and inspiring: there’s no jargon to wade through, no complicated commitments. It’s the book we’ve all been waiting for.
Nadrich is a certified life coach and mindfulness meditation teacher based in Los Angeles. She works with some of the busiest people in the world. She’s also made extensive forays into a whole range of therapies and philosophies, from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Jungian Analysis to Buddhism and Kabbalah. As a child she witnessed and then internalized a family tragedy, and as a successful actress (her list of credits includes a feature film opposite William Hurt) she found herself stricken with fear and guilt despite a blooming career. Embarking on a journey to heal herself, she wound up armed with an expansive spectrum of knowledge and wisdom, and a true gift for healing others. From all of this sprung the very insightful Says Who.
Nadrich asserts that it takes more than just being aware of our fears and issues to tackle them. We need to turn self-awareness into action, and work to master the very thoughts and fears that dig into our psyches and slow us down. This is mindfulness as a functional, effective tool: by identifying and questioning the very thoughts that trap us, we can begin to break free.
The book’s methodical structure lays out the logical groundwork for for each step. Nadrich helpfully takes us through the process by which bad thoughts become entrenched behaviors, whether conscious or not. Then she leads us through a set of seven questions, specifically designed to that challenge those thoughts, and the real work begins. She writes, “The very first question, ‘Says who?’ will stop your negative thought in its tracks whenever it pops up in your head, and expose it for exactly what it is — disruptive and potentially damaging to your well-being …”
Each of the seven questions has its own logic, and examines a negative thought at yet another angle. As she points out, is that nagging doubt is even our own thought? One of the strongest revelations in these pages is that we inherit the opinions and negative thoughts of others. We listen to a critical parent, an angry loved one, a frustrated teacher, and we adopt their negative words as our own. Unchallenged, they become a part of our belief system. But if we actually turn to face a negative thought and challenge it, we start chiseling it out. Suddenly there’s so much room for thinking positively, and changing our concept of ourselves from I can’t to I am.
The very process of challenging these negative thoughts has a way of disabling them, Nadrich points out, proposing we practice the questions daily. It’s in the daily ritual of challenging our negative thoughts that we begin to develop the stamina and strength to move beyond them. Indeed, this is a workable method designed to mesh with everyday routines. One could follow it for the rest of his or her life, batting back the doubts, nay-saying the nay-sayers. Tangibly, practically, and also enthusiastically, Nadrich offers us remarkable possibilities for our own futures. We are the ones who the key to our own lives and our own thoughts, and noone else, she says, and sometimes, all we need are the will, and the way.