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8 Books & Podcasts Focused On Healing

The only real change we can make in this life is being conscious, intentional, and empathetic individuals.

Inspiration

A couple of years ago, I had significant breakthrough in so many areas of my life. At first, it felt overwhelming to process so much guilt, shame, blame, resentment, and anger. There was so much digging I had to do to understand my journey — let alone accept areas in my life that I felt deprived of and to see the lessons in it regardless. It was a rude awakening to see all the things I was carrying for years emotionally and mentally, and I never thought it was necessary to pause and find tools to work through a lot of my issues. However, this transformative experience made me hungry for healing.


From books, to podcasts and TED Talks targeting healing, being more intentional in therapy regarding the areas I knew needed more love, meditation, interactive workbooks on healing, journaling, and having more in-depth conversations with friends and my partner at the time about the patterns I wanted to change. My fresh awareness planted a seed that made me inclined to do the work. I said, "God, I know you didn't call me to see myself so clearly for no reason, reveal what I need to see to push me to do the work needed to live a more intentional and less emotionally heavy life." And thankfully, he answered my prayer request, he knew I'd work through the adversary no matter how difficult things got, and he provided me with just the right tools and people to guide me to new emotionally mature heights at the right time.

Every individual has a unique journey on this planet, but one thing we all go through is trauma, and the advantage we have in this generation is having access and an overload of information to healing! So whether you need to work on your boundaries, trauma bonds, codependent relationships, enmeshed relationships, emotional intelligence, inner child healing, self-awareness, and the list goes on, I got you!

Check out the list below regarding the most instrumental books and podcasts that have helped me work through healing in many areas of my life.

On Purpose Podcast by Jay Shetty

On Purpose Podcast

The first time I witnessed Jay Shetty's wisdom was on Red Table Talk, an episode in season two called "The Roadblocks Between You and Love", and I was exceedingly impressed. Shetty has such a unique experience, born and raised in London, U.K., from a high expectation South Asian family, and yet he became a monk at age 22 and retired that lifestyle around 25. The level of discipline and willingness to unlearn consistently being a monk is a scholar's mindset, but it's even more courageous that he transformed his experience to a universal lens of healing in every aspect of life.

His podcast On Purpose, started in 2019 and is the number one podcast globally in the wellness market. Shetty covers topics consisting of pragmatic steps on unlearning unhealthy habits, skills to raise your self-awareness, tips for combating imposter syndrome, coping with anxiety and depression, and my favorite is his stellar relationship advice. We can all benefit from his wisdom, stemming from his monk analogies to modern-day tools to cultivate a healthier and balanced you! Also, check out his profound book called Think Like a Monk, which provides interactive questions to dive deeper into self-work in every chapter. His podcast is available on all major streaming services!

'After the Rain' by Alexandra Elle

Amazon

Alexandra Elle, aka Alex Elle, is an author of four self-help books, host of The Hey Girl podcast, and speaker. All I have to say is,After the Rainwas life-changing. It was one of the most gentle, compassionate, introspective, and accountable self-help books I've read thus far. One of my biggest takeaways from this read was the gentleness I needed to implement working through my inner child healing. Before I was able to tackle the areas I felt deprived of throughout my childhood, I had to get to the bottom of working through playing back uncomfortable memories filled with tears and despair to understand how I can nurture areas that still need tending to.

I held on to Alex's tender affirmations. I wrote my heart out throughout every journal prompt question at the end of each chapter that highlighted areas she focused on working through regarding identity, validation, love, soothing in suffering, change, and becoming. Alex opened me up to acceptance, and compassionate accountability that I think will come in handy to all of us going through this roller coaster journey called life.

The Homecoming Podcast with Dr.Thema

The Homecoming Podcast

The Homecoming Podcast is a mental health podcast hosted by a licensed psychologist and ordained minister Dr. Thema Bryant. I enjoy Dr. Thema's approach with consistent episodes highlighting combating unhealthy patterns like becoming more emotionally available, unhealthy attention-seeking, increasing accountability, being open to feedback, commitment issues, etc. In many ways, she equips me to heighten my therapeutic self-soothing lens; she makes me feel like I have autonomy over my life while quoting scripture from time to time which I'm very appreciative of.

If you're open to changing unhealthy patterns and you're a Christian, this is an excellent start for you to understand how God-equipped professionals like Dr. Thema can give you the tools to be open to psychological transformation. Her podcast is available on all major streaming platforms!

'Clarity & Connection' by Yung Pueblo

I came across Yung Pueblo's self-awareness work through his Instagram page, and then I stumbled into hearing him being interviewed on an episode of Devi Brown's podcast called "getting closer to home." And your girl was hooked to his work ever since! Pueblo is the author of two self-help books, Clarity & Connection and Inward; he's also a meditator and speaker. Clarity & Connection took my mind to new heights regarding emotional intelligence, and as a very emotionally open person, I was pleased to see yet another man of color tapping into this level of vulnerability.

His words shifted my mind to turn more inward to understand my patterns and remind me that no one can fill my cup up like myself, and loving people without attachments is healthy for both parties. People flourish the most without being consistently judged or expected to be perfect when we're all flawed in our own ways. Pueblo didn't hesitate to dive into the depths of the subconscious mind, amplifying self-awareness to its fullest depths, exploring attachment styles, soothing our souls with being open to letting go what isn't for us and letting in what's for us. Pueblo's approach is an unusual way of analyzing emotions; he has a logical perspective on the depths of the most troubling yet fulfilling emotions we all experience.

Side Grace by Aliyah Grace Dean

Side Grace Podcast

The Side Grace podcast is hosted by Aliyah Grace Dean, podcaster, master's student of clientele mental health, powerlifter, and overall a beautiful soul speaking to the gen-Z market that's interested in working through healing. Dean walks listeners through childhood trauma, working through the loss of a family member and how it's changed her life, exploring different types of anxiety, tips on finding a therapist that fits you, and providing guidance for re-parenting yourself.

I love hearing her perspective because it speaks to my intersectional walk of being a first-generation Afro-Caribbean. She does in-depth research regarding our experiences, which is usually not amplified singularly. Each of her episodes is delivered with love yet assertiveness. She equips her listeners with tools to dive deeper into journaling intentionally, meditation, and validating their need to slow down to tend to their wounds because they aren't going to tend to themselves.

'The Language of Emotions' by Karla McLaren

Amazon

The Language of Emotions is basically the encyclopedia to building emotional intelligence and emotional awareness. Karla McLaren is an empath researcher and takes readers through her life journey of researching the depths of understanding emotions. She goes in-depth about the significance of embracing your emotions, let alone understanding the underlying things they are trying to tell you. I'm really enjoying reading this book because I was often told as a child that I was "too sensitive, or too emotional," and this book normalizes being an emotionally open person.

More than anything, it's teaching me how to regulate my emotions and not let them consume me. If you're someone curious about the depths of your feelings or working through increasing your emotional availability, this book is for you.

Dropping Gems with Devi Brown Podcast

Dropping Gems with Devi Brown

Dropping Gems is hosted by Devi Brown, former radio personality, Chief Impact Officer at Chopra Global, meditator, and educator. Brown does a remarkable job taking us through walking through soul bonds featuring Yvonne Orji, learning the importance of being present, and planting intentional seeds with Charlamagne the God. I love listening to her podcast because she has a mind full of no limits regarding expanding, building her emotional and mental awareness. She speaks to the experience of Black women processing grief and the importance of getting more acquitted with understanding your emotions versus suppressing them. Dropping Gems is available on all major platforms.

'Set Boundaries, Find Peace' by Nedra Glover Tawwab

Amazon

Set Boundaries, Find Peace by Nedra Glover Tawwab was a significant game-changer for me because I've been working through emotional turmoil in many areas of my life, and I just got to the point where I'm tired of the cycles, so what better area to focus on than boundaries. Tawwab is a licensed Black therapist with over 14 years of experience, and every ounce of that expertise is shown in her book. She walks her readers through understanding the focal areas of boundaries, first for self-preservation and second to build healthier relationships in our lives.

Nedra's narrative is fixated on curating boundaries in every area of our lives, from relationships with yourself, family, friends, romantic relationships, work, and technology. She also goes through the adverse effects of codependent relationships, enmeshed relationships, and trauma bonds. After each chapter, she provides interactive questions to explore how to clarify boundaries in each area of your life. Understanding the importance of boundaries is essential to our healing journey; you can't combat unhealthy relational skills unless you're aware of them first. Get this book to learn that giving someone tools is all you can and should do, and allow others to do the actual work. Change only sustains itself when you do it for yourself, not for others. To all my fixers, this one's for you!

I hope some of the tools above equipped you with what you need to start or continue your healing journey. Be patient with yourself, and extend the grace you naturally give to others, to yourself. The only real change we can make in this life is being conscious, intentional, and empathetic individuals that are aware of our individual pain and not making it someone else's job to fix. Emotional intelligence doesn't have an ending; it's an ongoing commitment. The best scholars are always students.

Healing is not a destination; it's a journey you have to be willing to continuously work through — you never arrive, so don't get complacent.

Featured image by Getty Images

You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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