December 2, 2010


Change your Thinking, Change your Life
by James Borg
288 pages, Prentice Hall Life

Review by Hereward L.M. Proops

Ever fancied doing the Jedi mind-trick? You know the one, where you wave two fingers and tell someone these aren't the droids they're looking for... Well, if that's the kind of mind-power you're looking for, keep looking. James Borg's latest self-help book, “Mind Power” is not about controlling the minds of others. Rather, the book looks at ways in which you can learn to control your own thoughts and feelings in order to improve your mental well-being.

Borg's previous books “Persuasion” and “Body Language” have both been well-received and when you read “Mind Power” it's easy to see why. Unlike many self-help writers, Borg does not bombard the reader with pseudo-scientific new age bullshit. Everything in this book is based around tried and tested methods of behavioural counselling as pioneered by Albert Ellis and the more recent and very popular cognitive behavioural therapy.

The essence of behavioural therapy is that negative thoughts lead to negative feelings. Such negative feelings can lead to harmful or self-destructive behaviour. If a person is able to identify patterns of negative thoughts and feelings in themselves, they are then able to “reprogramme” their thinking so that they approach life's challenges with a more positive outlook. They might not become optimists overnight but at the very least their thinking will be more realistic and less prone to negativity.

Borg is clearly an advocate of this theory and his enthusiasm for the topic is infectious. He writes with an informal, chatty manner that makes for very leisurely reading. Some may find his frequent repetition of key points a little irritating but this is how he succeeds in hammering the message home. Sure, some of his jokes are pretty awful and may well elicit a more than a few groans and facepalms but they serve a purpose. Behavioural therapy can be a difficult experience for people. After all, it's not easy admitting that there is a problem with the way you think and it can be even harder to force yourself to change. The touches of humour that Borg includes serve to put the readers at ease and encourages them to stick with the often challenging material. There are a few instances where some readers might find the scientific explanations of how the brain works a bit overwhelming. Mercifully, these are kept to a minimum. Borg's book aims to be accessible to all and this is one of its main strengths.

As well as showing the reader how negative thoughts lead to negative behaviour, Borg also provides a number of tips on how one can actually improve the cognitive functioning of the mind. Once again, there's no new age mumbo jumbo here, just intelligent and rational ways in which everyone can get their neurons firing and improve their thinking.

The book is not a complete guide to behavioural therapy and those with deep-rooted problems might find it insufficient for their needs. Indeed, a book such as this is no match for one-on-one counselling or therapy that can be tailored to the requirements of the individual. “Mind Power” does provide a fascinating and accessible introduction to a form of therapy with a proven track record. Borg's book manages to be both highly readable and informative. His rational, straightforward explanations of how one can break free from a cycle of negative thinking, combined with a light-hearted and enthusiastic style make this one of the better self-help books out there.

Hereward L.M. Proops

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