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A Path to Self-Acceptance
Table of Contents
About The Book
Identify, understand, and reframe your life story with this “must-read” (Christie Tate, New York Times bestselling author of Group), essential guide for self-acceptance from Lisa Olivera, a therapist, writer, and creator of a wildly popular Instagram account @_LisaOlivera.
When Lisa Olivera was just a few hours old, her birth mother abandoned her behind a rock near Muir Woods in Northern California. She was found and later adopted.
Growing up, Lisa knew she was adopted. She later learned she was abandoned. Like with many adopted children, this led Lisa to wonder: Why did her mother leave her behind? Without answers, Lisa came to believe she was not enough. This story wasn’t true, but it made sense of a confusing experience. It allowed her to move forward. It felt like the only way. Until, with the help of a therapist, Lisa began to tell herself a better story.
If you have ever felt like you didn’t belong, or like you weren’t worthy, or like you weren’t enough, just as you are…it might be time for you to rewrite your story, too. Now a therapist herself, Lisa shows you how.
In Already Enough, Lisa explores how our stories affect us—often much more than we realize. She guides us through reframing our stories so we can remember that we are already enough, just as we are. And she invites us to join her on a transformative journey to healing. “Beautiful, meditative, touching, and hopeful” (Arianna Huffington), Already Enough is a powerful reminder that we are the authors of our own stories. The sooner we decide to write a better story, the sooner we can live a more whole, more meaningful, more nourishing life.
The first place I spoke parts of my story aloud outside of a therapy office was as an undergrad at UC Santa Cruz. I took a moral psychology seminar, and our final project was to write a thirty-minute presentation about some aspect of our lives that we continued to carry within us. I chose to talk about my abandonment, my relentless search for my identity, and my history with depression (you know, the light, casual stuff). I stood in front of my classmates—and on the edge of myself.
“I realize my abandonment had nothing to do with who I am as a person or my worth as a newborn,” I said. “That’s how it affected me, though, and those are the beliefs that I formed about myself, whether or not they were valid. I have carried these beliefs with me throughout my life.”
I explained that these beliefs carved paths for an unhealthy relationship with myself and for challenging relationships with others. “It’s not all bad,” I said, “and I have made remarkable progress in my life between when I was fourteen and where I am today, but I still have a long way to go.”
I said things I had never spoken about with more than a few other people. I shared parts of me that I thought needed to be hidden. Parts I wanted to keep buried. Parts I was still ashamed of. Parts I once wanted no one else to see in me. At the end of the presentation, I read out loud a letter I had written to my birth mother: “My soul longs to meet yours, not only to ask you questions but also to embrace you and tell you that it’s okay. It’s okay. I know that while I have struggled, you have also struggled. I know that when I think of you every year on my birthday, you may be out there, thinking of me.”
I thanked my birth mother. I thanked her for being brave enough to carry me just long enough to let me go. I thanked her for providing me with the opportunity to love, to feel pain, to experience joy, to embrace friends and family, and to discover who I am and what I want from this life. “Without you, I would not be,” I said.
I could barely get through the rest of the letter. Tears were at the back of my throat. A swirl of dizziness overcame me.
When I finished, there were a few seconds of silence. I stared at the floor, heart beating fast. When I looked up, most of the people in the room were in tears. My professor put his hand on his heart. They had seen all of me, and they met me with open arms.
I stood, wobbly kneed, in awe of what transpired when I chose to share the hard parts of my story instead of the easy parts—when I chose to finally tell the truth.
I think about that moment often. Writing that letter changed me, and reading it out loud changed me more. It was a potent reminder of what making room for our stories to come out of hiding does: it allows us to come out of hiding, too. Understanding my story hasn’t fixed or changed what has happened in my life, but it has allowed me to let myself be witnessed as my full self—and to heal. We all deserve this.
Reframing our stories starts with understanding them. It’s challenging to have compassion for stories you don’t understand, let alone to share them with others, which is why cultivating a deep understanding of our stories first is so transformative. It’s why we start here.
Human instinct is to tell stories. In 1944, psychologists Fritz Heider and Marianne Simmel conducted a study in which subjects watched an animated film of shapes moving around a screen, and found that most of the subjects, when asked to explain what had happened, constructed a story about it. This is our way of making meaning of what we experience. It gives us a perceived feeling of control. Creating internal stories can be an unconscious process. We may not even realize what we are telling ourselves until we slow down and start paying attention. That is exactly what this book will support you in doing: tuning in to start understanding your story, gently and tenderly, so you can rewrite the parts that are holding you back and move forward, more whole. Understanding, reframing, and then integrating your story is part of how this healing happens. Getting honest leads to getting brave, and getting brave leads to getting free.
A gentle reminder: You might already be feeling a bit of heaviness about diving into some of your own stories. This is normal. I invite you to go at your own pace, to give yourself permission to pause and to breathe. This is a process and not on a time line. Keep checking in with yourself as you read, and thank yourself for doing this work.
How Our Stories Come to Be
Throughout the book, I will use the word “story” often. You might be wondering, what exactly is a story? I think of our stories in two ways: what we’ve experienced and what we tell ourselves about what we’ve experienced. Say you’re trying a new recipe for a chocolate cake and you leave it in the oven too long—and it burns. The story you’ve experienced is: I burned the chocolate cake. The story you tell yourself about what you’ve experienced is: I can’t even make a chocolate cake.
Why We Love It
“You are not enough.
Does this sound familiar? Perhaps you heard something like it growing up. Perhaps you tell yourself something like it, now. The thing is—this is just a story. It may feel true, but it’s not.
In this book, practicing therapist and writer Lisa Olivera shows that through understanding and rewriting the stories that keep us stuck, we gift ourselves the opportunity to live into new stories—ones that make room for our full humanity.
You are not enough becomes you are already enough, just as you are.
The sooner you decide to write a better story, the sooner you get to live a better life. It changes the way you show up for yourself, for others, and for the world. It’s already done that for me, and I think it will do that for a lot of people.”
—Emily G., Senior Editor, on Already Enough
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster (January 10, 2023)
- Length: 256 pages
- ISBN13: 9781982182670
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Raves and Reviews
"An insightful, compassionate therapist offers practical, positive advice and self-help strategies for reframing painful life stories." —SHELF AWARENESS
"In these pages, Lisa Olivera explains how to change the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. With small shifts in our thinking, she shows that we can experience tremendous healing. She lights the way down what was once a dark road. Already Enough is beautiful, meditative, touching and hopeful."
– Arianna Huffington, Founder & CEO, Thrive Global
"One of the best books ever about healing from the past and finding a better future. Lisa Olivera offers deep insight and practical suggestions grounded in the science of change. Her writing is pithy, honest, helpful, and so hopeful. As you read, you feel she is with you, like an encouraging friend who has been through the fire herself and also happens to be an extraordinary therapist."
– Rick Hanson, Ph.D., psychologist, Senior Fellow of UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center, and New York Times bestselling author of Resilient
"This collection of work is wrapped in truth and vulnerability. Each page creates a sense of soulful reverence."
– Alexandra Elle, Author of After the Rain
“Already Enough is a balm for all of us for whom false stories have ruled our lives and limited our vision. Lisa Olivera''s Already Enough empowers readers by offering a path to liberation from the stories that have limited us for long enough. Part memoir, part guide, and all heart, Already Enough is a must-read for anyone searching for their true story underneath the false and often toxic narratives that no longer serve them.”
– Christie Tate, author of New York Times bestseller Group
"We all come with stories but have you ever wondered about yours? Is it true? Does it define me? Already Enough by Lisa Olivera is a template to help us uncover the true nature of ourselves. Thought-provoking, touching and supportive, a book for all who have ever thought they might not be good enough.”
– Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Real Change
"Already Enough is an insightful, deeply personal journey into self-compassion and self-acceptance. Authenticity shines through every page, as readers are invited to find their own pathway to the realization that they are already enough.”
– Kristin Neff, author of Self-Compassion and Fierce Self-Compassion: How Women Can Harness Kindness to Speak Up, Claim Their Power and Thrive
"With honesty and grace Lisa offers a beautiful roadmap for transformation. She reminds us again and again that no matter what our current circumstances, and no matter what has happened in the past, healing is always possible."
– Shauna Shapiro, PhD, Professor and author of Good Morning, I Love You: Mindfulness & Self-Compassion Practices to Rewire Your Brain
Resources and Downloads
High Resolution Images
- Book Cover Image (jpg): Already Enough Trade Paperback 9781982182670
- Author Photo (jpg): Lisa Olivera Photograph by Wendy Garrett(0.1 MB)
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