An attorney and a psychotherapist with twenty-five years of experience, Darlene Lancer uses the tools of both her trades in her short e-workbook, Freedom from Guilt and Blame: Finding Self-Forgiveness. The former entertainment lawyer shares her formidable professional and personal understanding of the psychology of relationships to help readers separate unhealthy emotions like shame, anger, and fear — emotions that can sabotage us.
Lancer’s powerful combination of professions allows her to be particularly adept at examining the moral and legal nuances of guilt. It also helps the reader root out several often-connected behaviors, including self-destruction, addiction, codependency, manipulation, and passive-aggressiveness.
These are big issues, and Lancer often tackles them individually, both in blog posts and in her other books. Here, she puts them all in perspective, methodically dissecting the behavior that “keeps us stuck in the past and prevents us from moving forward.” Her workbook is a robust tool to help free individuals from the negative grip of guilt.
In every step toward self-acceptance, Lancer guides the reader with definitions, anecdotes, and examples to better understand feelings, actions, and reactions, all in the service of creating the healthiest frames of reference. She discusses how guilt and shame differ depending on cultural and religious lenses, and how conscious and subconscious experiences and memories also affect our moral compass. After defining “true guilt,” she offers three methods to live with it: cognitive, self-compassion, and spiritual.
The cognitive approach Lancer offers includes acknowledging responsibility and identifying needs, intent, knowledge, and motives. Her self-compassion techniques, meanwhile, address empathy, forgiveness, and how the past informs one’s adult life. Spiritual methods include Christian, Jewish, and Islamic paths, as well as a Buddhist approach. Lancer also spends a great deal of time with the spiritual principles of the twelve-step guidelines. These guidelines, she explains, come from Episcopalian reverend Sam Shoemaker, who helped co-found Alcoholics Anonymous.
As Lancer explores huge emotional and behavioral issues in the book, coming to it with some understanding of guilty, codependent, and manipulative behaviors may make it easier to start grappling with these issues. This truly is a workbook — something to return to in order to grasp all it offers — including multiple links to Lancer’s other publications and her website. The range and depth of material she packs into fewer than sixty pages is remarkable.
Freedom from Guilt and Blame: Finding Self-Forgiveness
Carousel Books, July 2015
eBook, 59 pages