[This is the text of the book review from episode 67.]
A couple episodes ago I interviewed the author of this week’s book—Kitty Chambliss. The interview was informative and a thoroughly enjoyable the experience. We covered some information from the book I won’t be discussing in this review (since it’s been covered on the show), as well as other things about polyamorous relationships and unhealthy information we receive about what the ‘ideal’ relationship looks like from the media.
Her book—Jealousy Survival Guide: How to Feel Safe, Happy, and Secure in an Open Relationship is incredible and I’m so happy to be reviewing it. I received it for free, but I’m so glad I did.
Before I get started—there are two books out there with the title Jealousy Survival Guide—so be sure you get the one written by Kitty Chambliss.
There is a boggling amount of information in this book. It’s only a hundred and six pages, but there’s a lot going on: psychology, interpersonal communication and life coaching. It’s impressive how much happened in so little space.
The author is a life coach by profession (her site is lovingwithoutboundaries.com) and it comes through in her writing—her enthusiasm is palpable. There’s a chapter that’s basically about getting your life on track through your relationships. It’s about figuring out your life goals and then seeing if your relationships align or further those goals.
I’m not sure if that’s something most people do—think of their personal goals first and then their relationships and feeding those goals second. We tend to place relationships as above our own personal happiness or worth—women do, anyway. But of course you’re going to be happier and thrive if you figure out what you most want in life—where you want to go—and then only involve yourself with people interested in helping you get there or going on that same path.
There were several moments of, ‘Well, that’s a different way of looking at it, but it’s so obvious now,’ in this. I love books like that. Show me a new way of looking at the world that makes everything clearer, makes everything make more sense.
Though the book is short—it’s not really meant to be read in one sitting. There are exercises made to be practised over a period of time. For starters, there’s a contract you make with yourself. Regular listeners know how much I love my homework and I LOVE contracts. The one you make with yourself is useful for setting your intentions.
I took many, many notes and it’s difficult to decide what to talk about—it’s one of those books—so that should tell you something there.
One thing the author talks about and is important is that jealousy (and I found the technique works for anxiety, as well) is just an emotion. We try to escape discomfort quickly rather than examining it, but it’s not going to kill you.
There’s a technique, where you just have the unwanted emotion, examine it, and deal with it constructively. It’s a whole section on it’s own so I don’t have time to go into it, but that section alone was worthwhile. Jealousy isn’t a huge problem for me—at the moment anyway, but anxiety is. They’re both human emotions that are going to happen at annoying times and you have to cope with them.
This book is written for people in nonmonogamous relationships, but the advice would work for just about anyone trying to conquer out-of-control emotions or get their love life on track with their personal goals.
There are practical communication strategies—it’s not just worksheets for yourself and theory, either.
And there are moments where I felt seen. The author gets it. At one point she says:
I have realized that many of the fears that creep up for me are related to the unknown or to expectations of how I think things should be or predictions that I make.
Oh. Yes. Hello. Are you me?
For dealing with overwhelming emotions there was a concept called Defusion or Cognitive Defusion or Cognitive Deliteralization. It’s:
Observing then questioning our thoughts and detaching from them when possible.
The purpose of defusion is to see thoughts and feelings as what they are, not as what they say to us they are.
You’re not mad someone was late home, you’re scared they were in a wreck, for example.
There were strategies upon strategies for dealing with things. One of the communication techniques was non-violent communication, which Kitty talked about in the interview. It’s pretty involved and could take it’s own book or episode, but the chapter on that was useful and covers the basics.
Then there was this quote, which warmed my Stoic heart:
Be the person you truly want to be in the world. Every day you get to re-invent yourself, and be a better version of yourself. Who do you want to show up as? In terms of the subject of this book, do you want to be a frazzled, crazed, drama-creating, stressed out person who gets in a jealous rage and potentially damages your relationships? Or do you want to come from a compassionate, loving, understanding place, practicing patience with yourself and others, and create inner peace for yourself and a feeling of safety for others?
Kitty Chambliss’ Jealousy Survival Guide is a slim volume, packed with information and worksheets useful for dealing with any toxic emotions (not only jealousy) that could threaten a person’s wellbeing—in or out of polyamorous relationships. Her expertise as a relationship and life coach is apparent—there is much wisdom contained in these pages. Wisdom and practicable knowledge. This is already a go-to resource I recommend to my listeners and anyone looking for advice on how to take control of the emotions that threaten their happiness.
Definitely a 5/5.