I recently read Lori Gottlieb’s Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. This book was published in April 2019 – I had seen it on multiple trips to Barnes and Noble and finally dove in, not sure what to expect. After reading it, I am not surprised it has received 13,400 reviews on Goodreads. It’s a good read!
It isn’t a self-help book or an explosive celebrity memoir, but it is deep, and I felt better for reading it. I also felt glad to have participated in therapy in the times in my own life that I have, including last year. There is so much good that comes from working on ourselves and editing our stories. Therapy has given me a peaceful calm and a renewed hope.
Lori (the author), is a therapist who is treating patients in her Southern California practice. We get to know a few of her patients: Julie, a newlywed with terminal breast cancer, Rita, a senior citizen contemplating suicide while feeling the weight of her mistakes decades earlier, and John, a Hollywood producer trying to save his marriage while grappling with extreme grief.
Meanwhile, Lori is dealing with a crisis of her own: the unexpected decision of her partner to end their relationship. She gets her own therapist, only to find out her therapist, Wendell, is treating the wife of one of her patients.
The book is very relatable and honest. I found it to be as entertaining as it was educational – a tough task to accomplish for an author. Lori explains psychological terms in a way we can understand and even identify opportunities for subtle shifts. For example, many of us as kids experienced displacement, where our parents would transfer their anger from something else, onto us. Some parents will acknowledge, apologize, and pivot, while other parents will never soften, leaving their children to blame themselves for their parents’ unhappiness with them, without understanding that they did nothing wrong. Read an excerpt of the book about displacement on Maria Shriver’s website here.
The themes of this book feel heavy: loss, pain, transformation, grief, and the burdensome weight of the baggage we carry. It demonstrated how a therapist can offer a unique perspective, and invite us to consider doing the heavy lifting in our own lives, and be kind to ourselves. We also see themes of love, hope, and potential. No matter where we are in our journey, we can change. Hope lives, and love wins.
Therapy is becoming less common these days. Insurance providers would rather provide antidepressant medication than weeks of therapy sessions, and people seeking relief are often steered in this direction. Others decide they don’t need therapy, because they have friends who will listen to their problems. But this dismissal fails to consider what a friend won’t ask you to do. For example, in a painful breakup, friends may offer empathetic support and compassion, identifying the other party as “an idiot” or “an asshole.” Good riddance! But a therapist, while still being empathetic to a painful situation, can hold up a mirror, and ask us to look within ourselves to have awareness of our own role in a situation. That can be difficult to consider, but the growth can lead to a better, lasting happiness, whether soldiering on alone or braving a new relationship.
Reading this book, I could only think of how some of the people close to me would benefit from it. I think we all have room to grow. And no matter what age we are, we all have a chance to edit our story.
Maybe You Should Talk To Someone is in development for a television show with ABC and Eva Longoria. I will be watching closely for news on this project, and cannot wait to see the show.