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The Wisdom of Anxiety: How Worry and Intrusive Thoughts Are Gifts to Help You Heal

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  674 ratings  ·  88 reviews
In The Wisdom of Anxiety, counselor Sheryl Paul examines the deeper meaning of the racing thoughts, sweaty palms, and insomnia that accompany the uncertain moments of our lives. No one likes to feel anxiety—and yet, Paul asserts it can be a remarkably direct messenger of our subconscious. Here you will learn how you can pause and listen to your anxieties to discover inner ...more
Paperback, 239 pages
Published May 28th 2019 by Sounds True
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Average rating 4.41  · 
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 ·  674 ratings  ·  88 reviews

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Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"As Rilke said, 'Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart, and love the questions themselves.' When embarking on inner work, it's essential to remember that life is a work in progres, and there is not end goal to healing. As humans, we are both whole and broken, formed and unformed. But there is a critical difference between having broken parts that need attention and believing that there's something fundamentally wrong with you. There is nothing wrong with you. You are intrinsically ...more
Sandra  {coffee & books}
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
As someone who has dealt with pronounced anxiety most of my life, I would have to say that this is, by far, the best book I have read on the subject. The content is relatable to everyday life and encourages us to look inward, be open, be curious, and to be kind to ourselves. I took my time with this one, carefully reading, journaling, and understanding all of its wonderful parts. I will no doubt keep it on my bookshelf and re-read it from time to time. This book is sincerely an invaluable comple ...more
Apr 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
The 21st Century has been labeled by many as the Age of Anxiety. Nearly 300 million people worldwide have received anxiety diagnoses and millions more are undiagnosed. Anxiety, when balanced, is beneficial to us. It alerts us to what we should pay attention to, use caution toward or what to examine for more data. It’s helpful. It’s a natural human response that help us survive and thrive. It’s when anxiety becomes imbalanced that it becomes problematic. The reasons for the rise in anxiety disord ...more
Jan 15, 2020 rated it did not like it
I didn't feel like my social anxiety related to this enough. Less information on anxiety, causes and treatments, more a celebration of anxiety and comfort for the reader. Lots of "there-there you're okay".

"Address your thoughts, challenge them, understand their causes." Basically this sentence reiterated again and again.

The only notes I got from this was:

How do you feel when your anxious?
Where do you feel it? What does your anxious body feel like?

Recommends a lot of slowing down and mindfulne
Athina Demon
Feb 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

It's your typical self-help book...only that it's not...
I'll be honest I didn't have an "aha" moment at every theory this book had but most of the facts are quite literally what I needed to hear even if it hurt...even if I was angry at the author for seeing me. Being vulnerable is scary and yes this book will make you vulnerable, it will make you feel exposed like someone just decided to publish your deepest, darkest voices.

Now excuse me I'm off to nurture my inner child and
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book came at a time I really needed help with my issues, and it came via my sister as a gift. It became a book where I journaled my thoughts alongside topics and themes that really resonated with me. Passages and lines I had underlined in a moment of revelation and understanding. It suffices to say the help and rationality it poured into the insecure spaces of my pscyhe, is something that I will carry with me for the rest of my journey.

There are certain aspects in this book that seem like
Brian Sachetta
Dec 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I loved this book’s overall message. The idea that anxiety is a message carrier, rather than a thing to be fought or pushed away, is one that resonates well with me, despite what mainstream medicine often communicates to us through its prescriptions and medications.

We simply cannot ignore our inner worlds, Paul states. To do so would be to continually invite anxiety and disease into our lives. She’s absolutely right — our superficial, symptom-fighting culture often ignores this message, telling
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Changed my life. 💕 I’ve never thought of anxiety and sensitivity as a gift before, but I can see now that it is so much more than something I initially thought was a burden or terrible. Sheryl has literally changed me for the better.
Sanaa Hyder
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love the positive ring the title of this book has. It reflects the content of Paul’s work and her approach.

Although she uses words like soul, ego and self — inspired by Jungian psychoanalytic theory — I sometimes read and replaced these terms with Islamic ones like nafs, shaitan, and the rational god-given side of ourselves.

Paul’s message is simple: normalize and accept yourself as human — flawed, broken, traumatized, sad, lonely and anxious. Now work backwards, work inwards. Challenge your f
Emmanuel Graëve
May 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A keeper, guidebook and tool for those who suffer from anxiety.
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ahhh yes! This book. This is to anxiety what Radical Forgiveness is to anger and blame. I'd never thought to be grateful for anxiety, to listen to the message behind it. This is a game-changer for me. I especially enjoyed the section about loneliness/solitude and anxiety in relationships. ...more
This is not just for people with diagnosed anxiety. Everyone has periods of anxiety sometimes.

I have read a lot of books on this topic, this was one of the best and most helpful ones <3
Adrianna Talaga
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is hands down one of THE BEST inner work books I’ve ever read. Sheryl Paul help me think outside of the societal normative and redefined “anxiety”. If you haven’t experienced panic attacks but you still get anxious, project fictional narratives onto your life and others, this book will be transformative. Seeing anxiety as a messenger rather than a symptom of “there is something wrong with me” let me understand my inner wounds more profoundly.
One of the topics she covered, that really stuck
Jul 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I can’t recommend this book ENOUGH! I think most people suffer from anxiety at some point in their life (especially in 2020, my God), and this book is absolutely priceless and encouraging when it comes to navigating that inner landscape. Anxiety doesn’t need to be scary. Anxiety can be our helper. And here’s a book that explains how that’s possible, with practical guidance. That’s it, that’s the review.

Read it!
May 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Gave this a four because the advice is truly helpful. I think some of the passages can be a little overwrought, but if you look past that it's a truly great guide for making anxiety your friend instead of your enemy. ...more
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Yes! Going inward is the only way to help with anxiety. Stop fighting it and listen to what it has to say.
Em Whitworth
Jan 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Poetic, gorgeous, soothing, discomforting, necessary. Gave me a totally new outlook on how to reframe my journey with anxiety. I still pick it up to read a chapter when needed – like medicine.
Jan 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2021
It's one of the best, most useful books I've read recently. Sheryl manages to break down the complex and messy inner human experience in a way that is poignant, honest, nurturing and actionable. This is a book that teaches you how to live. I know I'll keep coming back to it. ...more
Jul 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 06, 2019 rated it liked it
TBH, I get more out of her Instagram account. somehow having it all together makes it overwhelming and watered-down, whereas small, topic-specific bite sized chunks with reflective questions is way easier to process each day.

The question "what is this intrusive thought protecting me from feeling?" has been life-changing. Her ability to soften the message of anxiety, ask the reader to look below the surface and see what's actually happening below it, is really on point. she has put to words that
Hayley James
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Super interesting concept and a way of thinking about anxiety that not many other books talk about.
This book talks about allowing yourself to feel what you are feeling and ask yourself what is going on deeper than the superficial thought to help to tackle anxiety. When we let ourselves feel our feelings, and train ourselves to recognise when feelings are just feelings and thoughts and not actually real - we can start to heal ourselves from the pain of what we are actually feeling.

Knowing ourse
Garret Macko
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There isn’t really anything too groundbreaking here—but what it lacks in originality (not a necessary condition for a good book), it more than makes up for in clarity and wisdom. I would highly recommend that everyone, regardless of their relationship with anxiety, read this book. If you don’t struggle with anxiety, it’s likely that either you or someone you love will at some point in your life.
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I found myself underlining so many passages in this book. As a sufferer if anxiety, I found it comforting to reframe it not as something to be simply pushed away but as a portal into deeper layers of emotion and inner wisdom.
Elizabeth D
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: psychology
some solid ideas about looking at anxiety and obsessive thoughts as not being what they appear to be about, but as things which distance/numb ourselves from the feelings we're truly scared of; however it was structured within a bunch of Jungian woo ideas that are just fundamentally not for me. ...more
Apr 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️I think it’s really difficult to review self-help books because everyone has different needs/struggles, learns in different ways, and believes in different approaches...self-help/healing/growth are such personal journeys of discovery that I don’t think I should actively recommend or persuade anyone to read something if it doesn’t align with where you are in your life or your current needs and values. What I can do however is share that this book has completely changed the way I underst ...more
Jeremy Blum
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I first came across Sheryl Paul's website, Conscious Transitions, around 2013 and 2014 during a worry-filled time of my life when I was specifically suffering from relationship anxiety. Of all the internet resources, message board threads and YouTube videos that my anxious mind Googled in an effort to make myself feel better, Sheryl's articles were the only ones which really had a positive effect.

Fast forward to mid-2019, when I found myself going through a similar bout of nervous thoughts once
Liv | Books to Liv by
The Wisdom of Anxiety.
Before reading this book I never thought of my anxiety as something wise and kind that was trying to pinpoint where I had to change, where I had to work on myself, where I had to look at myself closely.
But after reading this enlightening book I was finally able to grasp the complexity of the realm of thoughts, feelings and body. I was finally able to look beyond the veil, to look at my idiosyncrasies with a different perspective. And most of all, I was finally able to unmas
Apr 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
wonderful book! helped me understand the manifestations of anxiety better than any other book I've read on the topic.
Sheryl Paul belongs to the "Carl Jung" school of psychology, she approaches anxiety in a holistic way, not in the mainstream medical approach to human psychology, which views everything as a 'pathology' that needs to be medicalized and fixed.

So many passages made me pause, reflect and reach a deeper understanding of where anxiety comes from. In her discussion on the various 'symp
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sheryl has written an invaluable book for anyone who experiences anxiety or for those who love and care for someone with anxiety. Serious clinical anxiety is a terribly painful affliction, but even the minor anxieties, which we all have at times, may be mitigated by a careful reading of Sheryl's truly wonderful approach to her topic. Apart from her own analysis of the issues, born of her own direct experience, she offers solutions, practises and exercises one can easily follow. Her premis that a ...more
Burcu Gobuluk
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing read

Although the first few chapters in the beginning made me put the kindle down and almost give it up, i am so glad that i continued to read. There are some chapters that are so beautifully written that i literally highlighted the whole text for future reference. I leave below a paragraph that resonated with me a lot.

“Part of the growth process involves being able to hold a feeling without immediately resolving it, trusting that resolution occurs with no action other than conscious hold
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“Anxiety asks you, dear reader, to embrace the gift of who you are. Maybe you’ve been told that you’re too much — too sensitive, too dramatic, too emotional, too analytical — and this message was translated inside your young self to mean that you were wrong or broken in some way. But you must begin to know now, as hopefully you will as you read through this book, that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you. You’re not broken. You’re not too much. You’re not wrong. In fact, it’s the very qualities that you’ve been shamed for that you now need to wrap up like a hurt animal and hug close to your heart. For it’s when you stop seeing your sensitivity as a burden and instead recognize it as the gift it is that you will begin to heal the hurt places inside you and bring your full presence into the world.” 4 likes
“If we try to ignore the inner world, as most of us do, the unconscious will find its way into our lives through pathology: our psychosomatic symptoms, compulsions, depressions, and neuroses.” 3 likes
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