How many times have you read books, searching for strategies to help with some part of your life you’d like to improve, but you see no results? Maybe you’re inspired as you read, connecting with different parts saying, “yes, yes!” in your head, feeling like you’ve finally found some answers. But as much as you want to change, and you actually try to implement the strategies, life happens and you go right back to your same behavior.
You read a leadership book and see exactly where you can improve, but you aren’t able to translate that into the workplace when you’re in the moment. “I need to be more assertive” you say to yourself, but you don’t know how, and you don’t really know why you aren’t assertive to begin with, so you feel defeated.
You read a dating book and say to yourself, “Omg, I totally do that!” but it just sits in your head and the next time you go on a date, everything goes out the window. You’re on autopilot.
Why does that happen? You WANT to change, you’re COMMITTED to change, but you’re not SEEING change.
I’ll tell you why. Reading books is an intellectual pursuit, and change is an emotional endeavor. So if you don’t bring the emotional side into what you’re reading, it stays trapped in the intellect. Sure you may use tactics that work for a short time, but they’ll fade away because you’re operating from your head.
So how do you connect emotionally to a book? Well, it’s tricky to explain because you’re reading this just as you would a book… with your head. And as I write this, I’m using my intellectual brain to explain an emotional process. See how that’s hard? But I’m going to give it a try.
Below are steps to help you connect more emotionally with the books you read to affect true and lasting change.
Set Your Intention
Before you even begin reading, tell yourself you want it to have an impact. Say “I want this book to help me with X or help me change X.”
Take It SLOW
Don’t devour the book in a few days. You need to break it up into pieces and digest it slowly. You can do this by only allowing yourself 1-2 chapters per week, or (even better) read until something strikes you and then stop.
Put It Down
Once you stop, set the book down for a week and don’t pick it up again. This is where the intellect-emotion part kicks in.
Sit With It
It’s time to bring that intellectual wisdom into your heart/gut/intuition/emotion. This is the tricky part to explain. Right after you put the book down, close your eyes. Drop your focus down to your heart or your gut, then allow yourself to expand, almost like meditation. Is anything there? Do you FEEL anything? At first the answer may be no because you’re numb and stuck in your head. This takes practice! Lots of practice. Keep sitting, but don’t force it. Are images coming to mind? Are you feeling uncomfortable? Is your body “abuzz”? Again, if you don’t feel anything, don’t worry. Try it again tomorrow. Try it every day for a week.
Look For Triggers
Maybe the book talked about taking things personally, and that resonated with you. You then sat with the feelings. Great! Now it’s time to look for where this shows up in your life. Maybe someone critiques an email you wrote and you notice you’re taking it personally. You’ve now identified a situation in your life that relates to something in the book.
Check In With Your Feelings
When this happens, ask yourself how you feel. Do you feel rejected, not valued, afraid, embarrassed, belittled? Do you want to fight back or turn around and hide? What comes up for you? Also, do you want the feeling to stop? Probably yes! Let yourself feel your feelings!
In What Other Situations Have You Felt This Way?
Let’s say you feel belittled. When have you felt that way in the past? What was the situation? Go back as far as you can remember. Maybe you were in 4th grade and you talked about your summer vacation as part of “show and tell.” The teacher chuckled at your destination, only 10 miles away, saying that’s not a “real” vacation. Your heart sank; you felt unimportant. Remember the keyword here is FEEL. The subconscious operates on images and feelings, not words or linear thinking.
Identify The Belief
Behind these recurring feelings is an old belief. Perhaps these feelings of belittling come from your belief that you have to do something monumental to be important. Small acts don’t count. Nearby vacation spots are worthless. Just being you isn’t enough. The email critique stems from feeling you’re worthless. BINGO. You take things personally because it hits the nerve of you not being good enough. You have now made an emotional connection to something in the book.
Change Your Response
The next time you take something personally, you’ll be able to identify it more quickly and know where it stems from. Now it’s time to change your response and behavior. Ask yourself, “Is this person intentionally belittling me, or is this because of an old pattern?” Yep, it’s almost always the latter and simply ACKNOWLEDGING this can make the feelings dissipate. You’re looking at it through a new lens. He/she isn’t belittling you at all, it was just your interpretation based on events from your past. Understanding this allows you to let go and move on. Each time it comes up in your life, you have the power to challenge the feeling, and when you do, it becomes weaker and weaker.
Go back to the book and read another section until it resonates with you and start the process over again. Yes, it’s a PROCESS and definitely takes time, but this is how you’ll turn an intellectual pursuit into real, actionable change.
Do you have a book on your nightstand now that you can try this with? I’ve put this 10-Step Guide into a free PDF so you can download it and use it with your next book. Reference it each time you repeat the process.
Download Turn Your Books Into Action
Download this BOOKMARK with the 10 Steps. Then print, cut and put it in your book as a reminder!
As always, I love feedback, so please let me know how this process works for you.