Live the life you’ve always dreamed. Sound like an infomercial? What if you really sat down, focused hard, created a plan and removed all of your self-doubts and negativity? Then you really could be living the life you always dreamed, write authors Boni Oian and Emily Sanderson in their slender, idealistic, but solid book Claim Your Life.
Mostly, Oian and Sanderson’s text is a step-by-step workbook that asks readers to name their dreams and to pinpoint blocks that stop them from success. In answering basic life questions, readers dig deep within themselves: What do I want? What fulfills me? What keeps me from reaching my goals? This aspect of the book is indeed helpful. The drawback of Oian and Sanderson’s approach is that it’s a little too pie-in-the-sky. Bring to it your own heavy dose of realism, though, and you may find that the book can boost you toward your goals.
Initially, questions like “What fulfills me?” sound easy. That’s what I thought, until I completed the workbook. It took several hours to drill through all the bedrock of life — the hopes and disappointments — to find out what really matters to me. Once I hit the sweet spot — the real core of who I am — I learned a lot about myself. This turned out to be enlightening and energizing, and I thought, huh, maybe these authors are really onto something.
Claim Your Life is loosely based on the oft-quoted Joseph Campbell saying: “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” Oian is a certified hypnotist with a specialty in past lives, as well as a teacher of Akashic records, a way of unlocking subconscious negative beliefs and replacing them with empowering thoughts. Sanderson is a writer, counselor, and life coach. The authors mesh coaching and teaching experiences to set readers on a smooth clear path to “bliss.”
“Think of yourself as being in the middle of a bubble (this is your comfort zone),” the authors write. Everything inside this bubble represents your life and your relationships as they currently exist. Everything you want is outside the bubble. Thus, the workbook coaxes readers to reach beyond the bubble. In five steps, readers explore their deep consciousness to identify what they want; experience what they want; identify distractions (called “blocks”); identify unproductive beliefs behind those blocks; and replace blocks with empowering beliefs.
“Detecting and clearing blocks is the crucial part of reprogramming your subconscious to support everything you want in your life now,” the authors write. In fact, this is the key to the book. “Blocks” are those second-guesses and self-doubts that stop us in our tracks and cause us to think: I’m not worthy; I’m a failure; I’m wasting my time. Readers learn how to identify these blocks and how to replace them with self-empowering, motivating ideas. This is the strength of this book. The authors’ systematic approach is easy to understand, personal, and adaptable — applicable to all kinds of career, relationship, and lifestyle transitions.
To keep it real, though: I worry that the authors have sprinkled a little too much sugar along the dream paths. Dare I burst the bubble here, but not all dreams are possible — or possible in the way we’d like to imagine them. Let’s say your dream is to be a poet and live in a luxurious mansion on a Hawaiian beach. This is unrealistic. No matter how hard you work or how much you believe in yourself, you will find it difficult to afford a posh life existing solely on poetry sales. Maybe it’s possible if you become a celebrity, but how many celebrity poets can you name? Maybe you’ll inherit the mansion, become its caretaker or acquire it through another source of wealth (such as marrying into money). Just because you can dream the dream and work hard to achieve it, does not mean that you’ll live the dream — at least as envisioned. Success comes from seeking opportunities, making concessions, and pursuing creative solutions — not to mention setting realistic goals.
The book’s premise reminds me a little of a hugely popular book from the late ‘80s, Do What You Love and the Money will Follow by Marsha Sinetar. That was more of a career book, and chock-full of examples of how people made sacrifices to turn their dreams into realities. Sinetar’s approach seems a little more realistic to me. While Claim Your Life offers examples too, they’re rather general, and the authors don’t give enough details about the blocks and solutions for readers to fully picture themselves in these situations.
Even so, I would recommend Claim Your Life to anyone who has pursued a passion and stopped before taking it to the limit. It’s a tool that can help one forge ahead, reduce crippling insecurities, and discover what it takes to become happy and fulfilled. Just make sure you stay slightly grounded while reading it.
Claim Your Life: Transform Your Unwanted Subconscious Beliefs Into an Exhilarating Source of Power
Balboa Press, October, 2011
Paperback, 92 pages