After meeting with a life coach for the first time, I felt inflated with a boost of energy, self-love, and purpose. Now with a full tank, I had all the strength and focus to apply what the coach told me to my current situations and relationships. It felt a bit comical that I gave him one hour of my time in exchange for his insights, and I came away with a workable strategy for the biggest things going on in my life. I was incredibly satisfied with not only the visit, but the results that followed. What struck me most was that the concepts he shared with me were all very applicable in multiple situations, including relationships and career.
Reading George Dieter’s I Power: The Freedom to be Me had the same effect on me. As a clinical psychologist with dual masters degrees in the psychology of coaching and psychology, as well as a law degree, Dieter delivers a refreshing monograph on the core concepts of psychology — including self, boundaries, relationships, stress, and conflict — in a form that reads more as a series of life coaching appointments than as a traditional psychology text. With a simple and accessible tone and style of delivery, I Power is an easy-to-read manual on having quality relationships, living with what the author calls a “boundary focus,” taking responsibility for your own life and happiness, and gaining the empowerment that comes from all of the above.
I picked up this book not long after delving into the world of life-coaching, as well as after reviewing the core concepts of boundaries and how to maintain them. From that perspective, I Power stands up remarkably well to the other books I’ve read on the subject, despite its low-profile approach. Whereas most books on this topic reflect the heavy-handed academic training that endowed the writer with their knowledge, this particular work takes that same knowledge and packages it in such a way that any reader, regardless of experience, education, or background, can comprehend it and use it.
While I’ve read other texts that focus specifically on boundaries, I found this to be immediately applicable — and I could see results.
Dieter introduces the concept of boundary focus through the basic principles of boundaries themselves: stress, fear as the ultimate driving force, emotions, and the connection between emotions, stress, and boundaries. His goal in doing so is to acquaint the reader with each ingredient in the recipe before explaining how the chemistry of the ingredients causes particular reactions and flavors.
Indeed, once he establishes these foundational concepts, Dieter connects the dots. He asserts that boundaries are the core of being yourself because they empower you to live within healthy limits and to in turn maintain relationships within healthy limits. By taking responsibility for yourself, your own limits, and, in turn, your own life, Dieter posits that you can be empowered to live a life that is fulfilled, satisfied, and happy.
Fear, Dieter writes, drives us in multiple directions away from a happy, healthy state. We feel the stress of unpredictability and the real or perceived lack of control, and the positive and negative swings of emotion. By understanding the connections between these factors and learning to manage them in a positive and healthy way, we are able to live with a boundary focus, as Dieter puts it, which gives us a general direction to go in.
Boundaries define who you are by creating lines of demarcation around the various pieces of your life. By living with a focus on these boundaries, Dieter writes, you are empowered to be a healthy you.
One particularly noticeable thing about this book is the first-person approach Dieter uses. By asking “So what do I mean by boundaries?” instead of defining the term in a third-person, academic voice, Dieter made me feel comfortable. His tone is more dialogue than dissertation.
The only thing I found myself wanting were more firsthand accounts or stories to show the concepts in action, but I wouldn’t consider this to be a detracting point. I can certainly say that I will be sharing and recommending this book, as well as reading it again.
I Power: The Freedom to be Me
Exisle Publishing, October 2015
Paperback, 232 pages