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13 Books To Read For A Better Relationship With Yourself

These recommended reads prioritize self-love, you should, too.

Good Reads

There is no shame in needing a little bit of help – even if said helps come from the pages of a book. Nevertheless, so many self-help books – if you're looking in the wrong places – can be more hindering than helpful.

The best self-help books these days thankfully come from experts in their field – journalist, psychologist, social scientists, career coaches, life coaches, and legitimate successful people who've been where you are.

Here are the 13 best self-help books you should read to foster a better relationship with the most important person in your life, yourself:

Black Girl, You Can Do This by Brittni Kirkpatrick

"This book is written from my heart and soul to teach and guide the next generation in love, empowerment, and truth."
―Brittni Kirkpatrick, Black Girl, You Can Do This

In this manifesto of mindset liberation for young women, Brittni Kirkpatrick encourages the next generation to explore their ideas and values, find the meaning and truth within, and be true to themselves rather than fitting in with the crowd.

Black Girl, You Can Do This is a series of love letters from Kirkpatrick to her younger self, followed by the practical techniques that will help you cultivate the needed space for personal growth and development, love and healing, and empowerment to thrive in the power of your natural talents, skills, and abilities.

The Self-Love Experiment: 15 Principles for Becoming More Kind, Compassionate, and Accepting of Yourself

Amazon

"Your desire to change must be greater than your desire to stay the same."
― Shannon Kaiser, The Self-Love Experiment: Fifteen Principles for Becoming More Kind, Compassionate, and Accepting of Yourself

In The Self-Love Experiment, Shannon Kaiser encourages you to overcome your fears and put a stop to self-sabotage, so that you can gain the confidence you need to reach your goals and become your own biggest fan, best friend, and unwavering supporter.

The Self-Love Experiment rectifies the problem people face when they believe that they are not allowed to put themselves first or go after their own dreams out of fear of being selfish or sacrificing others' needs. No matter what you're going through, Kaiser walks you through her own personal experiment, a simple plan that compassionately guides you through the process of removing fear-based thoughts, so you can fall in love with your life.

milk and honey by Rupi Kaur

Amazon

"What's the greatest lesson a woman should learn? That since day one. She's already had everything she needs within herself. It's the world that convinced her she did not."
- Rupi Kaur, milk and honey

milk and honey is the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. Divided into four chapters, each chapter serves a different purpose, deals with a different pain, and heals a different heartache.

milk and honey "takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look."

the sun and her flowers by Rupi Kaur

Amazon

"This is the recipe of life/ said my mother/ as she held me in her arms as i wept/ think of those flowers you plant/ in the garden each year/ they teach you/ that people too/ must wilt/ fall/ root/ rise/ in order to bloom."
- Rupi Kaur, the sun and her flowers

Unlike milk and honey, the sun and her flowers talks about the experience of growth, healing, ancestry, and honoring one's roots. Divided into five chapters and illustrated by Kaur, the sun and her flowers is a journey of wilting, falling, rooting, rising, and blooming. A celebration of love in all its forms.

the sun and her flowers reflects souls who rise above the barricades that incumber their growth. It is a passage between decay, awakening, and healing; and it is a passage that has the capacity to truly mend and heal broken hearts stuck in darkness and despair.

the sun and her flowers beautifully discusses "expatriation and rising up to find a home within yourself."

The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz

Amazon

"And what is the right woman, the right man? Someone who wants to go in the same direction as you do, someone who is compatible with your views and your values ― emotionally, physically, economically, spiritually."
― Don Miguel Ruiz, The Mastery of Love

In The Mastery of Love, Don Miguel sheds light on deep-seated fear-based beliefs and assumptions that cripple love and lead to suffering and drama in relationships. Utilizing perspicacious anecdotes to bring his message to life, he shows us how to heal our emotional wounds, reclaim our freedom and joy, and reestablish the spirit of playfulness that is essential to healthy, loving relationships. Using teachings from the three Toltec Masteries — Awareness, Transformation, and Love — as groundwork, Don Miguel illuminates the misconceptions and erroneous expectations about love that pervade most relationships.

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

Amazon

"You express your own divinity by being alive and by loving yourself and others."
― Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements

In The Four Agreements, Don Miguel argues that everything we do is found on agreements we have made with ourselves, with other people, with God, and with life itself. Out of these agreements, the most important agreements are the ones we make with ourselves. In these agreements, we tell ourselves who we are, how to behave, what is possible, and what is impossible. One single agreement is not such a problem, but we have many agreements that come from fear, deplete our energy, and diminish our self-worth. With The Four Agreements, bestselling author Don Miguel Ruiz reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and creates unnecessary suffering. The Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can quickly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and, ultimately, love.

sunny. by Gabrielle Hickmon

via Permission To Write

"When was the last time you let yourself feel everything?/ Gave yourself over to the love,/ the fear,/ the soul of it all?"
-- Gabrielle Hickmon, sunny.

As a collection of poetry dedicated "to everyone, but especially the girls everywhere — chasing the sun," sunny. is a poignantly familiar place for you to spend your afternoon. With poetry and prose about the ins and outs, ups and downs, and twists and turns of life and love, sunny. is rooted in the notion that "everything is a piece of a poem, if you're paying attention." Exploring the ideas of self-love, what happens when a relationship falls apart, and how love finds us in even the ostensibly minuscule details of life alone or with someone else, Hickmon, showcases the struggles of being vulnerable and effortlessly loving oneself, seamlessly.

This collection of poetry is reminiscent of poets before her, such as Rupi Kaur and Amanda Lovelace, with more of that refreshingly raw and gritty edge one could expect from such a book.

The Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah Winfrey (and Guests)

Amazon

"All of us are seeking the same thing. We share the desire to fulfill the highest, truest expression of ourselves as human beings."
Oprah Winfrey, The Wisdom of Sundays: Life-Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations

The Wisdom of Sundays features insightful selections from the most meaningful conversations between Oprah Winfrey and some of today's most admired thought leaders. Organized into ten chapters — each one representing a powerful step in Oprah's own spiritual journey and introduced with a personal essay by Oprah herself — the moments of inspiration that have enlightened millions are collected and held within this stunning, treasurable, and deeply-affecting book.

Paired with beautiful photographs, including many from Oprah's private property in California, The Wisdom of Sundays promises to be a timeless memento that will help readers awaken to life's astounding potentials and discover a deeper connection to the natural world around them.

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living An Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

"If you're serious about changing your life, you'll find a way. If you're not, you'll find an excuse."
Jen Sincero, You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

You Are a Badass is the self-help book for people who gravely want to improve their lives, but don't want to go broke doing so. In this invigoratingly entertaining how-to guide, Jen Sincero — world-traveling success coach — offers humorously inspiring stories, sagacious advice, and easy exercises, helping you to: Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want; to ultimately create a life you can be incandescently in love with.

You Are A Badass lets you create the life you want not tomorrow, not the next day, and not in a month, but now. By the end of the book, you'll understand why you are the way that you are, how to love what you cannot change, how to change what you don't love, and how to use everything else to kick some serious ass. You Are A Badass makes you feel…well, like you're a badass. The baddest of them all to be exact.

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown

"Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame. It's a shield. It's a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it's the thing that's really preventing us from flight."
Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

With living in the age of social media, each day we face a bombardment of images and messages from society and the media telling us who, what, and how we should be. In doing so, we are led to believe that if we could only look perfect and lead perfect lives, then we would no longer feel inadequate. We would no longer feel incomplete. So, most of us perform, please, and perfect instead of living as our true, authentic selves.

In The Gift of Imperfection, Brené Brown — a leading expert on shame, authenticity, and belonging — shares what she has acquired from a decade of research on the power of Wholehearted Living; and teaches her readers how to engage with the world from a place of worthiness. Using ten guideposts, Brown engages your mind, heart, and spirit while she explores how you can cultivate the courage, compassion and connection to wake up in the morning and think I am enough.

UnFu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life by Gary John Bishop

Amazon

"Wake up to the miracle you are. Here's what you've forgotten: You're a fu*king miracle of being."
- Gary John Bishop, UnFu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life

In this straightforward handbook, Gary John Bishop gives you the tools and perceptive guidance you'll need to demolish your woes weighing you down, so that you can become the truly unfu*ked version of yourself. Through a series of seven assertions, Unfu*k Yourself encourages you to believe that you are: willing, wired to win, unstoppable, capable of embracing uncertainty, not your thoughts, what you do, expectant of nothing and acceptant of everything.

Unfu*k Yourself illuminates the idea that "it isn't other people that are standing in your way, it isn't even your circumstances that are blocking your ability to thrive, it's yourself and the negative self-talk you keep telling yourself." If you're tired of feeling fu*ked up, Unfu*k Yourself does a marvelous job of showing you that you can truly lead the life you were meant to have. All you have to do is get out of your own head and out of your own way.

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

Simon & Schuster

"There is no list of rules. There is one rule. The rule is: there are no rules. Happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to. As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be. Being traditional is not traditional anymore. It's funny that we still think of it that way. Normalize your lives, people. You don't want a baby? Don't have one. I don't want to get married? I won't. You want to live alone? Enjoy it. You want to love someone? Love someone. Don't apologize. Don't explain. Don't ever feel less than. When you feel the need to apologize or explain who you are, it means the voice in your head is telling you the wrong story. Wipe the slate clean. And rewrite it. No fairy tales. Be your own narrator. And go for a happy ending. One foot in front of the other. You will make it."
Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes

Before her Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes was an expert at declining invitations others would leap to accept. With three children at home and three hit television shows on TV, it was easy to say that she was simply too busy. But in truth, she was also afraid. Afraid of cocktail party faux pas like chucking a chicken bone across a room; petrified of live television appearances where she could trip and fall and bleed out right there in front of a live studio audience; terrified of the difficult conversations that came so easily to her characters on-screen.

Then, on Thanksgiving 2013, Shonda's sister muttered something that was both a wake up call and a call to arms: You never say yes to anything.

Afterwards, Shonda knew she had to embrace the challenge: for one year, she would say YES to everything that scared her. In Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes hilariously, emotionally, and candidly shares anecdotes and her solution to overcome your fears. This book is a genuine and rousing account of saying yes to life. After reading this novel, you will feel like you are limitless and that you are only one word away from your life-changing moment. When in doubt, step back, assess the situation, and without hindrance, say "yes."

Be Unapologetically You: A Self Love Guide for Women of Color by Adeline Bird

Adeline Bird

"As a woman of color, you think you are at the bottom of the pile but your position is unique and your differences are not your weakness, they are your strength. Once you own that, you can be unstoppable."
Adeline Bird, Be Unapologetically You: A Self Love Guide for Women of Color

In Be Unapologetically You, Adeline Bird teaches that self-love is a journey that starts with forgiveness and acceptance of what is. Only after you have forgiven yourself and accepted that whatever happened happened, can you start your soulful revolution, where you stop judging yourself and start celebrating yourself instead.

In hopes that you become self-aware, Bird encourages her readers to learn what is important to them and then she forces them to decide what kind of behavior they are prepared to accept from themselves and from others. Loving yourself is non-negotiable, and with the help of Bird, she teaches you that although loving yourself is hard, takes courage and commitment, you are blessed with the creative genius to shape your own world. All you have to do is reach out and grab it with both hands.

Once you've found and cultivated a better relationship with yourself, with the help of these novels, come on back and let us know which one helped you the most.

Featured image by Getty Images.

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Originally published on February 2, 2019

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

This article is in partnership with Staples.

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