Emotional Health for Emotional Wealth by Susan J Smith

Susan Jane Smith’s photo shows someone very like the ideal grandmother: smiling, kind, wise, good humoured, ready to listen, and understand.

Her book shows this to be an accurate assessment.  Life experience has taught her wisdom.  Twenty years of counselling means that nothing surprises or shocks her.  Her advice may not be what you want to hear, but it’s probably what you need to hear.

Susan Jane Smith herself says that this is ‘another self-help book.’  What makes it different is the fine anger underlying the compassion and advice, and the passion for helping people to overcome the emotional pain she suffered herself.

Emotional pain means you cannot be healthy: you cannot live at ease with yourself.  Nor can you be emotionally wealthy. You may have material wealth –you may be driven to tirelessly acquire more and more ‘success’ – but  emotional pain prevents you from relaxing, or simply, wholeheartedly enjoying anything.  The pain forever chafes and nags.

It can be so established that it seems normal, yet it still hinders people, adversely influencing their choices in careers, in partners, life.

Susan Jane Smith knows all too well that attaining the peace of ‘emotional health’ isn’t easy.  Habits are hard to change, and trying often rouses old terrors: but many live with such distress they are willing to work hard to be rid of it: to endure the nightmares, the withdrawal, the loss of family and friends… Whatever it takes.

Susan Jane Smith went through this struggle herself, and relates how, after years of counselling, she woke one day to a puzzling sensation: an absence of the emotional pain that had chafed her for so long.  The experience set her on a crusade: to qualify as a counsellor so she could relieve others’ pain.

Her message is simple: If you don’t like your life, change it.  If you can’t understand what is causing your pain, don’t know what to change, or how to begin – then find a therapist to help you puzzle it out, and encourage you when it gets tough.

Her advice is excellent, but she doesn’t expect you to simply accept it, and recommends many other titles and organisations for consultation. The book is a veritable self-therapy source-book.

She discusses the pain caused by the abuse of children, domestic violence and rape – and also the addictions and compulsive habits so often employed as a desperate way of controlling the resulting emotional pain: alcoholism and other drug abuse, compulsive eating and starving, over-work and self-harm.

But the advice is always based on what Susan Jane Smith has found to be practical and effective.  It is admirably down-to-earth and realistic.

She has counselled abusers and rapists, and although she has compassion for them, her attitude is refreshingly steely: ‘My understanding from the people I have worked with who had perpetrated abuse is that they simply “wanted to” and could.  They have a callous disregard for the victim… One man said… it would be a crime [only] if the victim told the police.  Distorted thinking!’

The book’s empowering anger is inspired by injustice, cruelty and apathy.  A Telegraph headline – ‘Child Abuse Won’t Be Overcome Until We Define What It Is’ – makes her demand: Do governments and social services still not know what it is?  She provides, from her experience, a full definition for their assistance click here

She has listened to the damaged adult victims of every kind of child abuse: children hit with pokers, constantly ridiculed, left hungry and cold for days, raped.  Her fervent wish, I think, is for us all to sort ourselves out and stop treating each other so badly!

As the old Russian tale says, There would be no suffering on earth…if only we were kind to each other.

Sadly, that time will never come, but Susan Jane Smith will battle on – an odd, but brave, shining knight.

Almost everyone would gain some insight, some help from reading this book – and if you are one of the many bruised and reeling from a cruel childhood, or rape, or assault by a partner – to name only a few possible traumas – I think this book would be a strong, supportive, wise friend.

Reviewed by Susan Price 

Available in Kindle format 

Find out more about Susan Jane Smith (BSC)

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