Thinking Outside the Tribe to Heal Your Spirit
Review posted March 8, 2010.
Harmony Books, New York, 2006. 313 pages.
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2007: #1 Nonfiction: Personal Growth
I've been meaning to review this book for a very long time. I first read it in 2007, some time when my life was in upheaval, with the move to Virginia from Germany and taking online classes to get my MLIS degree. I wasn't getting many books reviewed at that time.
But this is a life-changing and life-affirming book. I reread it in 2009 in order to get that good advice again and also to review it. Since it is my own copy, not a library book with a due date, I still didn't get around to reviewing it. So here goes! This may not be as long a review as this book deserves, but I do want to bring it to people's attention.
You can get a taste of the wisdom in this book by reading the many passages from it that I posted on my Sonderquotes blog.
The core concept behind Christel Nani's teachings in Sacred Choices is that we all have tribal beliefs we aren't even aware of. They are beliefs, but we think they are the facts of life, the way the world works. They have been handed down to us from our tribe.
Christel says, "Your ancestors taught you how to work, how to grieve, and why bad things happen. You have taken for granted that in their desire to protect you, they prepared you adequately for life by teaching you the way of the tribe -- what they valued and what they believed to be true. These tribal beliefs are the inherited ideas about the way life works, passed down to you from anyone who had power or authority over you as a child -- pretty much anyone who was taller than you were. Some of these beliefs cause you to make choices that make your life harder than it needs to be, creating conflicts and inner turmoil often marked by repetitive themes and patterns."
Sometimes these beliefs are good for us, but often they are not.
At first, you aren't even aware that you are making choices at all. You are simply following the tribal way, even when you believe you are thinking for yourself and doing what is best for you. Consider the student who pursues a college degree in an area that offers a safe career path but does not excite her, or the man who gets married despite his doubts because everyone tells him how lucky he is to have found someone so nice. Or perhaps you are justifying staying in a career you no longer enjoy because the pay is good, or a draining relationship because you've been together for a long time. These are all examples of lives driven by limiting beliefs, not the heart's desire. Unfortunately and paradoxically, some tribal rules are contrary to your authentic nature and needs. Even a life that looks successful on the outside can leave you wondering if this is as good as it gets, because you recognize on a deep level that something is missing. And it is.
What's missing is a deep satisfaction with your life, alignment with your soul, happiness that wells up and overflows, peace of mind, and a general sense of well-being. One reason you are left wanting is that tribal beliefs can make you think you want things that you really don't, and when you get them you wonder why you aren't wowed by them. This is but one symptom of a person at odds with his spirit and not living an authentic life. And a life without authenticity quickly becomes a life without passion.
In this book, Christel Nani shows you how to uncover your tribal beliefs so you can examine whether they are good for you or not. She doesn't ask you to throw them out willy-nilly. But isn't it worth looking at the beliefs you live by? She also helps you rewrite limiting beliefs into beliefs that will serve you better.
Christel says, "I wrote this book to help you learn to listen to your spirit. The purpose of Sacred Choices is to explore your tribal beliefs and determine if they are good for you -- to decide whether they raise or lower your vibration. Some tribal beliefs cause you distress and can lower your overall energy and even cause illness. The idea is to be aware of your unconscious choices -- to become more conscious and thereby have a greater role in living your life the way you want it to be -- not how you were taught, or how you believe it's supposed to be."
When I have been able to apply these concepts to my life, I am very happy with the results. Christel's promises are lavish, but not unwarranted:
I want you to be wildly happy, incredibly successful, and filled with passion and spontaneity. Listening to your spirit will accomplish all of it. And when your vibrations are good, you are sending out the best possible energy to the rest of the world. The fact is, your good vibrations are healing to others.