10 Personal Development Books and Courses I Love and Recommend
As a hypnotherapist with a master’s degree in psychology, I love personal development.
I am fascinated by how humans think, feel, and move throughout the world. And I am down for any book or course that can help me to feel happier, healthier or more aligned with my goals.
So as you can imagine, I’ve read a lot of personal development books and taken a number of courses over the years. Here, in no particular order, are ten that I personally love and recommend.
(Some of these include affiliate links. If you purchase a book or course through my link, I may receive a small commission. I am only recommending books and courses I love and recommend to friends and family all the time.)
1. Anger by Thich Nhat Hanh: I read Anger before I ever considered being a hypnotherapist or doing any sort of spiritual work. I was just at a really difficult point in my life, and somehow this book found its way to me. Thich Nhat Hanh had a simple way of telling stories that was compelling, and this book was an entry point for me in learning about my inner child and healing old wounds. It has a treasured spot on my bookshelf.
2. The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer: A good friend recommended this book to me during the height of the pandemic, when I was going through another difficult time (weren’t we all?). I desperately messaged some local friends when I needed a break from being woken up in the night by my kids, and was graciously offered a weekend away at a friend’s guest house. I raced through The Untethered Soul in two days, and it was exactly what I needed. This book helped me to start questioning the narratives I’d been telling myself and to start wondering what my life would look like if I started seeking expansion and stopped making life choices that were boxing me into a smaller and smaller life. Since reading that book, my internal landscape has changed immensely and I’m not sure if I would be in such a positive space if I hadn’t taken the time to read this book.
3. DNRS (Dynamic Neural Retraining System): I began this course after reading The Untethered Soul. With my new perspective on my issues, I wanted to explore a program that used the principles of neuroplasticity to retrain your brain out of symptoms associated with chronic illness, anxiety, depression and more. My main goal in using this program was to decrease my many food sensitivities, and while I can’t say I’ve fully achieved that, I did get something that was perhaps even better: more joy, less depression, and less anxiety. I still use the practices in this program and find it has created positive shifts in so many areas of my life. I will say that I think DNRS is a prime example of needing to find the right fit for your personality. The language used in the program spoke to me and made so much sense for me. But I’ve also shared the program with friends who didn’t like the language (although they still found it to be a helpful program when they did it). So this is really a matter of checking it out for yourself and deciding if it feels right to you. (Note: I plan on writing a full review of this program eventually because I know there are definite pros and cons to it. But speaking only for myself, it was truly life changing.)
4. Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself by Nedra Glover Tawwab: I found Nedra Glover Tawwab through a podcast and loved the way she talked about setting boundaries, especially as an entrepreneur. As a licensed therapist and relationship expert, Glover Tawwab believes that a lack of boundaries and assertiveness underlie most relationship problems, and I could not agree more. My own hypnotherapy work with clients has led me to see that unhealthy boundaries are at the root of many of the issues clients come to me with. Set Boundaries, Find Peace was a great book for both personal and professional insights.
5. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron: The Artist’s Way is one of those books that has been around in the personal development arena for so long that most people have at least heard of it. I read it and did the corresponding practices years ago, when I was a newbie to personal development. The morning pages (journaling) were something completely different for me, and in many ways, it helped set the course for my move across the country (from NYC to Seattle) that introduced me to hypnotherapy.
6. Integrative Hypnotherapy & Past Life Regression Certification Course: I received my hypnotherapy and past life regression certifications from Mary Lee LaBay, as well as attending some one-day workshops with her. She remains, 10 years later, one of the best teachers I have worked with. I learned so much from her course that I still use with clients today but I also use what I learned for my own personal development. Using self-hypnosis skills I learned in her courses, I have healed from so many issues, including binge eating, and continue to find healing over time. Truthfully, my whole life direction changed because of taking Mary Lee’s courses. In addition to her hypnotherapy training, she also offers a Transpersonal Wellness Coach Certification, Wisdom of the Tarot, and Interpretive Astrology.
7. Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression by James S. Gordon, MD: I read this book because I saw that one of the recommended exercises was shaking meditation. I had done some shaking meditation in Seattle and found it profoundly healing. Yet I hadn’t – at that time – heard anyone else talking about this healing modality. Now, I hear a lot more about different types of shaking meditation and shaking for trauma release, and I’m glad that it’s becoming more mainstream. But in 2009 when this book came out, it was nice to see confirmation from a medical doctor (and acknowledgment that this practice came from Indigenous cultures around the world) that there was something valuable about shaking meditation
8. SLG School by Mandy Martini Chihuailaf (Mist spreading over a lake): Mandy is a Mapuche teacher and writer who created SLG School to help people heal from the effects of stress and trauma using Indigenous knowledge and wisdom. I signed up for her course soon after starting the DNRS course. When I decide to do something, I go all in, so I figured I could use as many tools in my toolbox as possible! This course uses a form of shaking release as its main healing tool, and I was fascinated by the idea. Right now, I use that shaking release daily after my morning workout, and while I find the effects to be subtle, it does feel like it is helping me heal old emotional wounds.
8. How to Have Magnificent Sex: The Seven Dimensions of a Vital Sexual Connection by Lana L. Holstein, MD: Does this count as personal development? I’m not exactly sure but I see sex – if you can or choose to have it – as an important part of your personal development. Most of the issues people have show up in various areas of their lives, including their sex life. So if you can heal your relationship with sex, you’ll likely find other areas of your life improving as well. The chapter on Tantra was especially intriguing to me, as the connection between sex and spirituality has always fascinated me.
9. Stop Fighting Food: I know that not everybody needs this program but I see so many women with a dieting mentality around food that makes them feel crazy. As a former binge eater, I have been following Isabel Foxen Duke for years and I am 100 percent on board with her program that teaches women to stop feeling crazy around food. I wish that this program had existed when I was in the midst of my binge eating disorder (which I recovered from through a combination of self-hypnosis and educating myself out of the diet mentality).
11. (BONUS!) Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One by Dr. Joe Dispenza: Okay, I have to admit I only read the first two chapters of this before it was due back at the library. But I plan on finishing it! So can I really add it as a bonus to this list, especially since it is, at the time of this writing, the #1 bestseller on Amazon in the Ghosts and Hauntings category!? I’m not even sure what to think of that! But here’s the thing. Sometimes you need to hear something at the right time in your life and in the right way to get through to you. This book, in two chapters, got through to me. As a hypnotherapist, I believe wholeheartedly in the power of the mind but this was the first time I read a book about manifesting that actually made sense to me. In fact, after reading the first chapter, I manifested something that had been lost for weeks! I literally found it that day, after imagining that I was going to find it. Coincidence? Maybe… Maybe not…
By the way, I am a big fan of listening to books first and then purchasing ones I know I’ll want to revisit. Audible is a great way to listen to books while doing the dishes, taking a walk, etc. (plus it has a free 30 day trial).