‘The Secret Lives of Adults’ by Allison Keating is an absolute necessity in every house, whether you are single, in a relationship, or have a family.

I have read a few self-help books, which have bored me and definitely not helped me. I am not sure whether the author Allison Keating would call this a self-help book, but there is a huge amount to be gained from reading it and following the strategies that she describes.

Many of you will probably know psychologist Allison from RTE’s ‘Ray Darcy Show’ or the morning shows on TV3 (or Virgin as it is now known). She was also one of the psychologists who analysed the relationships of participating couples on the RTE show ‘And Then Comes Marriage‘ and told them some home truths. Her practical and commonsense approach make her a popular contributor, but she is also a sympathetic and empathetic listener, using her 18 years’ experience as a Chartered Psychologist to offer advice and help.

ME, MYSELF AND I

In this, her first book, Allison tells us that the most important relationship is with yourself… ‘The Me, Myself and I’.

Yes, we are complex creatures!

And her aim in writing the book is to provide you with guidelines and the necessary tools to learn more about yourself, how to look after yourself and how to take responsibility for yourself; in other words to truly know yourself.

The symbol she uses to explain the different layers within us all is the Russian doll, containing as it does layers of separate selves within the one ‘me’.

RELATIONSHIPS

If we understand ourselves and the complexities surrounding all the important roles in our lives, then we can change or improve the other relationships in our lives, with our parents, siblings, children, friends, work colleagues. For example, the book can help us understand why we repeat certain patterns of behaviour in our relationships with others.

We are all blind to parts of ourselves and most of the time no one is brave enough to tell us that we are overly critical, sarcastic, sensitive or whatever it is. I frequently tell Graham he talks too much and goes into too much detail. And because we are together so long – 36 years – he does not get upset. In fact, he ignores me and continues to embellish his conversations. Graham tells me I have no faults. I know …perfect in every way!

EXERCISES

As part of this discovery of ‘self’, Allison suggests that you keep a diary or notebook to record your answers as you work through the book. Writing can be cathartic, as we all know.  And some questions will be difficult to answer, but you need to be honest. I have already started my diary and it is yielding interesting answers. I have it hidden, Graham!

PSYCHOLOGICAL TOOLBOX

I loved this practical section; its aim is to promote your mental well-being by giving you tools to manage emotions, stress and difficult situations.

BUY IT

This book is not a definitive ‘you must’ or ‘should do’ this or that. Because the answers will be different for everyone. But it does make you examine your relationships, giving you the tools to help you understand why you behave in a certain way.

So, you become more self-aware and that is surely a good thing. It is not a quick read (because of all the homework!) and I do not recommend that you read it and loan it to someone else.  Why? You might not get it back! There is a lifetime of skills in between the covers.

Published by Gill Books, you can buy it in bookshops such as Dubray (where it was launched), Manor Books in Malahide,  Easons and on Amazon.