Whether we need to explore new ways of coping with life’s ups and downs or we just want to find someone who has been through what we have been through, books allow us to try out other realities without too much of an opportunity cost.
Any reaction you have to a story is important and valid in itself. However, fully dissecting your response with others (and/or creative writing) while using the four-stage process of bibliotherapy can amplify and add dimension to your personal revelations.
Without intense analyzation, I may have read two chapters of Financial Freedom by Grant Sabatier and thought….
Here’s Grant: $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
Here’s Me: $$
- I'm feeling "less than"
- In fact, I'm feeling kind of dumb
- MAKE THIS FEELING GO AWAY
- What's the opportunity cost of this book?
- Art is more interesting anyway...
- Music and teaching are fun...
- Death to my strict boring money tasks!
However, I wasn’t threatened by the book. In fact, I couldn’t put the book down.
I love the effective way he wove numbers with stories while explaining the power of compound interest. In addition, I realized I have a lot in common with Grant, even as a petite Midwestern mom who sings (and isn’t handy with computers or advertising).
I also found out I have a lot in common with the All-American Travis character who kept showing up to shoot his future money self in the foot.
Comparison Is Everywhere!
Jealousy may not be prominent in the FI community, but let’s be honest - some financial books, podcasts, and articles leave me feeling financially behind for my age and worse about myself.
However, compared to the average person, I’m certainly doing alright.
Why is being a financial blogger wearing on me after less than half a year? I’ve learned I naturally perform upward comparisons (versus downward comparisons) because I like to PUSH myself.
My recent walk with a Hidden Brain podcast about why no one feels rich helped me gain even more insight into this. #highlyrecommended
For me, bibliotherapy has become a go-to method for minimizing psychological harm while exposing myself to an onslaught of financial stories causing uncomfortable self-comparisons.
In other words, after a six-year break from social media, I’m enjoying my time online again as a highly sensitive person draped in thick psychological armor.
Why Else is Bibliotherapy Appropriate For People Pursuing FI?
Bibliotherapy works because positive group interactions with music, poetry, and stories have all been proven to increase empathy and confidence. The “group part” might have been missing as I read this particular book, but the FI community online is a good substitute for processing similar information.
(Recently, I’ve even found myself interacting with some of my favorite podcasters! I feel like a kid at a virtual concert meeting real ROCK STARS.)
Anyhow, anytime you choose a path that goes against established societal norms, you are taking on a large psychological task. The Theory of Positive Disintegration is an enormously effective theory for developing your confidence as a high-ability person with a unique approach to life.
In addition, bibliotherapy has been proven to impact multiple behaviors. It has the potential to change values, adjust attitudes, expand thinking, and positively develop the personality when implemented properly.
The Four Stages of Bibliotherapy
As a reminder, bibliotherapy is a four-stage process where you…
- Identify yourself with a character or theme.
- Examine the connection you recognized, allowing catharsis to take place (or at least vicarious living).
- Juxtapose (compare and contrast) your circumstances with the theme, plot, and/or character in order to gain insight into your own issue (this may involve creative writing).
- Apply the lessons learned to your life and enjoy universal feelings of awe.
When wisely conducted, bibliotherapy looks like a trinity: literature - participant - facilitator. If it truly goes the distance, it adds creative personal expression as a fourth element.
For example, I’m here publicly adding to Step 3 after reading the book (aka - this is not a book review). You’ve probably figured that out. Also, I'm functioning as both the facilitator and the participant.
Focused Reading Includes a Plan
My goals before reading included:
- Liberating myself from my own small story.
- Stimulating my imagination to see aspects of my money situation I may be missing.
- Focusing my attention on one long book requiring concentration (a relief after months of scrolling).
- Understanding and recognizing new feelings formed in the past year about money (especially after having my first child).
Bibliotherapy should be implemented with the careful selection of high-quality literature matching a conundrum in someone's life. Also, you should use questions carefully created for the goals of the discussion.
- High-quality literature? Check!
Financial Freedom was a surprise I received in the mail from Andy at Marriage, Kids, and Money. I left a review of his excellent podcast with no expectations and received quite a nice gift!
- Questions to match my goals? Another check!
The questions were formed using question stems from a flip book in my reading classroom based on the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.
Grant - Take Me On a Four-Stage Trip!
Stage 1 - Identification: I realized Grant plays the guitar and I play guitar. He’s also into philosophy. My kind of human!
Stage 2 - Examination: I noticed Grant struggled with anxiety and low self-esteem. He even connected food issues to money. Plus, he watched his neighbors cat as a side-hustle and walked his dog. My connections deepened and I found myself thinking about this “character” as my mind wandered throughout the day.
Stage 3: Juxtaposition: I emerged with a full-on Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting Grant’s life to mine. I wondered, what can I learn from his story? What part of him acts as a role model for me and what parts of his story will I reject in relation to mine?
Stage 4: Universal AWE: This will be lived out over the next few years as I pocket the memory of his story and reference it with self-application.
You can watch that journey on this blog if you wish. Will this book eventually lead to universal feelings of awe? We’ll see. If I don’t get those feelings from earning boatloads of money, I’ll certainly have good vibes coming in from plenty of other places.
Peace out Grant! Thanks for offering up your life for insights and reflection.
While reading, it takes extra cognitive work to identify intense feelings, sort through them, and evaluate why we may be having certain responses. It also takes effort to creatively process a story while creating spin-off works of our own.
However, these few extra steps may pay dividends in the long run if we value quality over quantity when it comes to our reading habits.
In future posts, I will take you through my current songwriting process and explain why bibliotherapy is appropriate for artists and creative people.
How about you? Did you read Financial Freedom? What did you think?
FI Research Study:
One final thought: I really love bibliotherapy because it can develop empathy and compassion. If you’ve followed this blog in the past, you know I have a vested interest in the systemizing and empathizing continuum (along with how they supposedly compete for gray matter in the brain).
Basically, I am wondering if there are any psychological similarities among people who pursue FI.
Are You an Extreme Systemizer?
A quick test can help you answer this question. Would you like to find out and be part of a study? You can take it for your own insight, but if you could please send me a screenshot of your results, you can help me gather some data for an independent study worth conducting.
Here is a link to the test.
Please send your results in a screenshot to firstname.lastname@example.org
All results will be kept anonymous.