In December, I wrote an article for Made to Flourish about how pursuing peace on earth must begin with pursuing peace within our own souls. But I didn’t offer many concrete ways to start the journey. Yes, I suggested that this inner work should be done in community. Yes, taking a cue from Bonhoeffer, I suggested that confession could be a good first step. Some of us may need to find a counselor or spiritual director to help with the work.
But here are a few resources that might help you do this hard work (again, in community with others). The first three books, while they may mention faith or spirituality, do not integrate the inner work they prescribe within any particular faith tradition. The latter three books are distinctly Christian.
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. We use this as a textbook in a class that I teach, and my students love how it helps them think through how they respond to situations and engage with others. Every time I revisit it, I take away something new or am reminded of something to continue to work on. I think it’s a great entry point for someone that hasn’t done a considerable amount of self-reflection. Get the workbook, too, because it will help you process the concepts as they pertain to your values, your work, and your relationships.
- Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves. This book explains what emotional intelligence (EQ) is and helps you reflect on your ability to 1) Understand your own emotions, 2) Manage your own emotions, 3) Read others’ emotions, and 4) Respond to others’ emotions. The book helps you identify areas of growth and then gives you exercises to help you develop in those areas.
- The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown. Brown comes at inner work from a social science perspective. She’s researched shame for years, and her work helps us attend to the messages of shame that resound in our heart and mind in order to uncover and live out of our authentic selves.
- The Gift of Being Yourself by David Benner. I read this book in seminary and then again during a bit of a vocational crisis in 2010. Benner offers a theological approach to this inner work.
- Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Pete Scazzero. Pete examines emotional health within the framework of Christian discipleship. And he reflects on his own growth in this area. You can purchase several accompanying resources such as workbooks and curriculum. You can also watch Pete present the content on YouTube.
- Wholeheartedness by Chuck DeGroat. I recently read this, and I loved how DeGroat drew from psychology, neuroscience, Brené Brown’s research, and Christian spirituality to describe our inner dividedeness and how to move toward wholeheartedness. I especially appreciated the final chapters that offered concrete practices–reflection and prayer–to help us do the inner work.