There is no shame in needing a little bit of help – even if said help comes 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:
"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
"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 TheSelf-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.
"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."
"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."
"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.
"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.
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.
"All of us are seeking the same thing. We share the desire to fulfill the highest, truest expression of ourselves as human beings."
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.
"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.
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."
"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.
Originally published on February 2, 2019
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Taysha Robinson is a writer and high school English teacher, based in metro-Atlanta. A self described philomath, you can find her reading books and articles of every genre, attending educational conferences, and hiking wherever the terrain will allow.
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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I didn’t think much could get better about the blissful high that comes with oral. That was until I came across the Kivin Method.
As someone who was never a huge fan of oral sex and could largely take it or leave it, I must admit that I have started to come around in recent years. With my head thrown back, hands gripping sheets and hair, and toes curling from the intense sensations of the work my partner is putting in at my center, I now give myself over to the pleasurable act wholly and unapologetically.
When I came across a way to maximize the pleasure I receive from cunnilingus (already), I had no choice but to tap in. Who knew the key to taking oral sex to new heights was giving it a sideways twist? For those of you who might also be interested in ways to spice up the way you do oral, experience faster and stronger orgasms, or simply want to indulge in something new with your partner, the Kivin Method could definitely be the oral sex technique for you, too.
Keep reading to learn about the method that is sure to have you writhing in ecstasy in no time at all.
What Is The Kivin Method?
For the uninitiated, the Kivin Method is an oral sex technique that focuses on stimulating the clitoris from a different angle. Dubbed “sideways oral” by some, this method involves the action of giving head from a side-to-side movement as opposed to the up-and-down motion that people typically perform when giving head. (If you need a visual, this illustration is helpful.)
The difference in approach as you’re receiving head can be a game-changer in how you receive pleasure. Not only does the giving partner have access to the clitoris, but they can also access more easily the vulva and the labia, which are objectively a bigger focus in this version of cunnilingus. More access means wider coverage, and that, plus the new sensation of oral from a different angle, can heighten the way you experience oral sex that much more.
Where more pleasure flows, intense orgasms are sure to follow.
How To Do The Kivin Method
If you want to know how to do the Kivin Method, it’s actually pretty straightforward. The receiver lays on their back while the giver positions themselves perpendicular to the receiver. Their head will be facing the vulva, but instead of vertical, their face will be horizontal to the vulva.
From there, the giver can get to business, ensuring that they keep their head perpendicular to the receiver’s vulva while working on their craft. Because this technique can be more intense for some receivers, start slowly by stroking the vulva and clitoris sideways with the tongue, and allow sensations and communication from the receiver to be a guide of what you need more or less of with the Kivin Method.
Ultimately, the Kivin Method allows experimentation and unlocking what pressure, rhythm, and tricks work best for the giver and the receiver. Try implementing a finger or two, or adding a sex toy to the mix to intensify the act even further.
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Featured image by Delmaine Donson/Getty Images