After reading How To Do The Work by Nicole LePera I have gathered my thoughts on the book. I share my thoughts on her take on recognizing your patterns, healing from your past, and creating yourself. This is my review and thoughts on the book How To Do The Work.
About The Author – Nicole Lepera
Nicole Lepera is a writer, podcaster, and social media influencer known as the.holistic.psychologist on Instagram with a rather large following. She is a corporate leader, author, entrepreneur, and speaker.
Like many others, I found The Holistic Psychologist on Instagram. I saw her spreading helpful information that often resonated with me. When a friend recommended the book, How To Do The Work, knowing how I feel about personal development and growth, I initially did not make the connection that it was the same person who I followed on Instagram.
I began reading the book without knowing a lot of the controversy around Nicole. It is said that she doesn’t believe in social justice and the effects of social issues and racism on mental health. I’ll share my thoughts on all of this a bit further in the review. But thought it to be worth mentioning.
How To Do The Work Summary
How To Do The Work by Nicole LePera is a book about healing from trauma. But also, recognizing how past family dynamics and traumas end up manifesting into bad habits or unhealthy relationships. It is a good introduction to mindfulness and other techniques that those of us who are aspiring to be healthy adults need to practice.
Nicole talks about how trauma can be anything that was traumatic to us individually; anything that we didn’t have the tools to cope with; and not just the stereotypical “big” things.
The book is great for seeing and realizing that your trauma is real. It is also good if you have difficult relationships with others, and/or experience physical illness as a result of chronic stress/mental illness. But not necessarily for understanding how to truly “self-heal”.
I say this because when you have been through trauma there are many avenues to take to heal yourself. And that goes beyond just shifting your mindset and outlook. Whether you go to therapy, take meds, or get involved in support groups those are all parts of healing yourself.
I would recommend this book to those who relate to Nicole’s Instagram content. It would also appeal to those who feel stuck and/or stagnant, and/or have been through some trauma (realized and unrealized).
If you’re not familiar with Nicole LePera, check out her Instagram (@the.holistic.psychologist). The content there will be a good indicator of whether or not this book will speak to you.
After reading this book, I believe that Nicole went on her own journey of self-discovery after facing her own pain and struggle. She came out renewed and with some form of healing. And now she wants to share HER process, knowledge, and wisdom. So that you too, can be renewed and find healing.
I think that is great and something we could all benefit from.
But this book, to me, is not exactly in-depth on “doing the work”. it is worth noting, that it is filled with the author’s personal experience. Which we can always learn from (or even relate to) the experiences of others.
The best chapters, for me, were the ones about trauma and how it affects the body; how to try and heal (and the idea that we can heal certain systems in our bodies that have been impacted by our experiences); and the ones that speak on setting boundaries, reparenting, and paying attention to our inner child.
The weakest, and least interesting chapters, for me, were the last two on the topics of Emotional Maturity and Interdependence. Which I struggled to get through, both reading the book and listening to the audiobook.
Overall this book will either vibe with you or it won’t, and you will know after reading the first two chapters.
Full of assumptions
One of my biggest warnings about this book is that it assumes a certain level of life stability that is necessary for self-led healing but may not be realistic for many people. The author, Nicole LePera, had already been through her share of problems by 22 and was able to set aside time every day to focus on her mental health, a luxury that many just don’t have.
The author also assumes that we are able (or even willing) to devote our life to self-work. For many people, that just isn’t realistic. A lot of people have jobs and responsibilities and not a lot of extra time on hand.
LePera advocates for creating a sacred space in your home where you can sit with your journal and think deep thoughts (while doing laundry or cleaning up) or setting aside time during your day at work when you can be mindful. It’s an extremely valuable practice, but one that might seem impossible if you have kids who need help after school or a disabled family member who requires constant care. If everyone could do it, then everyone would do it. But they don’t; most of us are busy keeping our heads above water.
On page 100, she talks about healing with movement and using yoga as the single focus. How about the low-income person who works two jobs and can’t afford or have the time to learn the practice of yoga, or get 8 hours of sleep a day?
It would have been nice to see her mention some things that are possible for most like marching or running in place, taking a walk, or stretching. Seemingly small things can be big to the person that does not have access.
More could have been done for marginalized communities
She comes from a place of privilege. But, she offers advice based on research but generally speaks to limitations in regards to race, class, and gender identity.
I feel she could have benefited from consulting and hiring at least one, if not more, mental health professionals or colleagues with a specialty in social justice and race, to review her book before it was printed. And having that/those person(s) write a part in the beginning specifically to the black community.
Since she does not seem or claim to be an expert on social justice or race, the times she mentions certain topics related to issues facing the black community felt disjointed, even if they were meant to be genuine.
But there have been several things published about her not only interacting with members of the black community in the field. But also, her blatantly gaslighting them.
Generalizations and contradictions
These are just two examples, but there were a few.
On page 51 she states, “Anytime an intrinsic need is denied, resentment soon follows.”
I disagree with this statement.
Sometimes a child may not feel seen or heard for different reasons, but it does not automatically lead to resentment.
On page 217 she states, “There have only been three times in my life when I honored my needs even though it meant that others would be hurt by my decision.”
But she spent a whole chapter earlier telling us about boundaries. And that having and enforcing them may hurt or disappoint others. But to still show up for yourself and implement them anyway, and gave examples of when she used them.
A big premise of this book seemed to be specifically about how honoring one’s needs is something that with practice, can become more natural and easy to do. Which then leads to change and growth. But then the statement that she has done this “only” three times seemed a bit contradictory to me.
My Thoughts On Her Actions Outside of This Book
There have been claims and evidence presented of her gaslighting people of color when they shared differences of opinions than hers or shared with her how her stances could potentially be more harmful than good, particularly with people of color.
While a simple difference of personal and/or professional opinions is nothing to get worked up about. When that extends to gaslighting and the mistreatment of others, a line is crossed.
I can be okay with the fact that she didn’t go as far as she could or should have to be more inclusive with the information she presented in the book. Because we all are on a journey. One where we learn from our actions (or inactions) and in turn become better.
But when someone from the community that is negatively impacted reaches out to you to bring it to your attention and ask you to hold yourself accountable to the issues that are present, with such a huge following and impact, you are held to a certain level of responsibility to “do the work”.
With that said, I didn’t go far enough down the rabbit hole to be able to confirm (or deny for that matter) that she is racist, anti-black, or any other of the things she has been accused of. There are several articles that a simple Google search of her name will lead you to. Allowing you to formulate your own opinion and determine if she is someone you wish to support by purchasing her book.
We Just Have To Commit To Doing Our Own Work
Overall, to me, it’s a pretty good book. If you are just coming to terms with your trauma, or even understanding that trauma is not just the “big things”, and are further getting acquainted with concepts like attachment theory, inner child work, reparenting, etc.
For the most part, I enjoyed reading her experiences and how she came to her realizations. Some sections in the book made me feel like “Yes, I totally understand this!”
From this book, however, I was expecting a little more discussion on psychological evidence and practical application. Some of the last few chapters felt like she was just trying to meet a word count. And she doesn’t make it clear that not all of these techniques will help everybody.
Holistic healing and spirituality sound amazing. But people who are going through severe mental illnesses aren’t always going to be capable of self-healing. And that should have been expanded on. It is okay and also a grand step in your life to take up therapy, medicines, support groups, etc. if that is what is needed and recommended by a professional.
I definitely think she still has “work” to do. But the reality is we all do, and we will never fully arrive. We just have to commit to continuing to do the work; our individual work.
Committed To Doing Your Work?
Grab a copy of the Who Are You Workbook to go on a journey of self-discovery and self-awareness like never before.