Wouldn’t it be great to really trust ourselves with problem solving? “We have everything we need inside of us; there is no need to look outside of ourselves,” Mercedes Tur Escriva writes. Sounds simple and true, but it can be hard to stop looking to external things for answers and happiness. In Interview with Your Self: Be Inner-Wise, Resolve Life’s Problems, Tur Escriva attempts to bring us clarity, help us find our inner truth, and live a balanced life.
The inspiration for this book, she writes, comes from her own sense of failure after she had to close down her life’s-dream business and was in debt. She shares her experiences and aspires to help others gain a new perspective. But although she provides an interesting read, I didn’t really learn anything new from the book.
Like many people, the author recalls that she read several books on self-development looking for answers and trying to understand the meaning of life, but kept not putting the ideas into practice. Now, in her own book, she strives to introduce us to the process of self-inquiry so that we can become in touch with our true selves, our own authentic answers to our problems. In fact, she uses the word “authentic” often — so often that she may risk making readers feel we are being untrue or deceptive to ourselves.
The writing style is also a bit esoteric as Tur Escriva weaves together discussions of science, ancient writings, and spiritual journeys. She emphasizes that if we approach issues without emotional responses, such as fear, we can reflect rather than respond automatically. Most of the information we deem valid, she writes, is based on assumptions, beliefs, emotions, and interpretations. We’ve been lead to believe that the tools to understand ourselves are outside of us. But, as many others before her have written, comparing ourselves to others or to expectations from others will not help.
Tur Escriva presents three basic questions to ask ourselves when we hit the “tides and winds of life”: who am I? Where am I? And, lastly, what do I want?
In the chapter on getting in touch with our essence, Tur Escriva has us do an exercise with our eyes closed. We are to stop and observe where in the body we feel an emotion, such as confusion or distorted ideas. She encourages us to breathe into the emotion, and then release the emotion by breathing out while pausing and observing if the emotion has changed or disappeared. This is similar to mindfulness activities and quieting the body to feel, observe, and experience emotions — to becoming attuned to the here and now and creating solutions while releasing discouraging thoughts.
It isn’t until chapter six that we dive into the actual “interview with your self” that the title suggests. The interview is divided into three parts: the body, the mind, and the soul. Tur Escriva offers questions to help us explore what is causing our anxiety, stress, or despair.
She then prompts us to imagine that the situation has been resolved — and to ask ourselves another series of questions that involve the body, the mind, and the soul. Her method seems to take nods from mindfulness, meditation, visualization, and cognitive therapies to help us feel and experience our anxiety and then to reframe and visualize positive outcomes.
However, although the self-interview questions were thoughtful and may be helpful for those starting a process of self-discovery, there wasn’t anything in the book that I hadn’t already heard about or tried before.
Interview with Your Self: Be Inner-Wise, Resolve Life’s Problems
Balboa Press, November 2014
Paperback, 126 pages