Yo soy un pozo de rencor
Yo soy un pozo de rencor — como amigo puedo tener defectos, pero como enemigo soy perfecto…
Efrain Bartolome, Educacion emocional en veinte lecciones
I’m a cesspool of bitterness — as a friend I may have defects, but as an enemy I’m perfect…
Boy, how much fun has this book been! Efrain Bartolome’s Educacion emocional en veinte lecciones [review] is exactly what the title implies —an emotional education, a coginitive-behavioral approach to learning to handle your emotions—, I just never thought it would be this much fun.
I stumbled on it combing the city’s book fair for books originally written in Spanish, as has been my custom for the last couple of years. It was a difficult choice, it was pricey ($200 pesos), had too facile a title and yet managed to be intimidating with its 300 pages of dense prose. It apparently lied somewhere between selfhelp and psychotherapy, both of which I dislike. But then its recency (2006), its being written by a Mexican UNAM professor, its initial quote:
System, poet, system: start by counting the stones, then you shall count the stars.
I’m glad I did. Whatever the book’s merits the best compliment I can give it is that it has changed me, far more deeply that I can tell this close to the reading but I think and feel different ever since.
How not to love a book that manages to be densely precise and technical while still being fresh, humble, and (Mexicanly) casual — always struggling for clarity, for precision.
How not to love a book that manages to delve deep into theory while being chock-full of practical suggestions — always struggling to convince you, to change you.
How not to love a book that suggests buying a pornographic magazine as an exercise in selfcontrol, proposes a condom-buying dare, explains respiratory meditation, entrances you with the stream-of-consciousness of an addict, and finishes lessons by sprinkling a sufi story (the tale of the two brothers) or a beautiful metaphor (“Se como el sandalo que perfuma al hacha que lo hiere” / “Be like sandalwood that perfumes the axe that hurts it.”)?
If you care about selfhelp books this is by far the best I’ve ever read. If you care about psychotherapy this is by far the best I’ve ever read too (no Freudian bullshit!). I earnestly and sincerely recommend it, grab it wherever you can find it.