As a positive psychologist I am delighted to share this excerpt from my book, The Enchanted Self, A Positive Therapy with you. This article reveals the way that I initially began to reclaim my own Enchanted Self, resulting in my finding new ways to overcome adversity, experience positive emotions and behaviors and feel certain that I was living a life worth living.

My enchanted self was beginning to emerge, unpeeling as an onion is unpeeled, layer by layer. This is important because I think so many of us shy away from our innermost positive feelings perhaps as much as we do from the dark shadows around us. The search for The Enchanted Self is intimate in revealing and it's scary -- and maybe people really won't understand or appreciate it. Maybe we have to fight through shame or humiliation before we find it. Maybe we won't understand or give credit to our own enchanted selves when we do! That would be the most violating thing of all, if I were to find my own enchanted self and then discard it. I can't have it anymore, because I thrown it out.

One of my first self-discoveries was recognizing my lost capacities for engaging with people without being paid. As I interviewed the women I realized how much fun I was having, how I felt on equal footing and yet privileged to be hearing their stories, how "female" I felt and how connected. I loved this wonderful opportunity to have time with women that was not social time and yet not work time, either. I began to realize how hungry I had been for this kind of "at ease time" with women. My childhood had pushed me away from such time with women. After all, I had to get out, to get going, to be competent and, often, competitive, not connected.

The second layer was feeling profoundly more connected to women, all women, than I had ever felt before. I found myself suddenly able to ally myself with, and have compassion for, many women, an ability which had eluded me prior to these interviews. Family members, friends, my mother, all took a softer hue.

As therapists, we can certainly wonder why this hadn't happened as a result of my training and my time in therapy. After all, I had been exposed to hundreds and hundreds of intimate stories over 15 years. My hunch is that while in the treatment room, I, like any paid healing professional, saw myself, to some extent, as being in the authority position. This may have reinforced some natural biases that I carried with me from my childhood. I think I continue to withhold some deep level of empathy, still seem myself as being apart. When interviewing the women, however, I was automatically their equal, and that placed me differently. Having the privilege of listening to the 18 women, I began to listen to other women's voices with less bias and value judgments. For example, I had always valued certain capacities, such as pragmatic decision-making and the capacity to carry through once a decision had been made. This is a capacity which can be restricted for women. After this glimpse into the girlhood dreams and shattered hopes of many of the women interviewed -- the compromises made with life and the painful, yet successful ways of salvaging one's soul after many lost opportunities -- I was able to cross a barrier and join them at some level of womenhood -- removing my old iron bars, my negativity and judgments.

The results were amazing as I became a happier woman and a much better therapist. Mental health is important for all and we all can continue to learn how to enhance the ways we view ourselves and others so that we experience happiness.

Author's Bio: 

About the Author
Dr. Holstein is the originator of THE ENCHANTED SELF(R) and a positive psychologist in private practice since 1981. She is the author of The Enchanted Self, A Positive Therapy, Recipes for Enchantment, The Secret Ingredient is YOU! Delight, and now The Truth (I'm a girl, I'm smart and I know everything).

Dr. Holstein speaks on radio, and appears on television in NY and NJ. Her website is She gives lectures, seminars, teleclasses and her quotes appear often in national magazines. She has a weekly radio show on, Kids, Tweens and Teens, A Positive Psychologist Looks at All Three. She is the official guide for positive psychology on

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