This practical and inspirational guide to healing from the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of The Choice shows us how to stop destructive patterns and imprisoning thoughts to find freedom and enjoy life.
Edith Eger’s powerful first book The Choice told the story of her survival in the concentration camps, her escape, healing, and journey to freedom. Oprah Winfrey says, “I will be forever changed by Dr. Eger’s story.” Thousands of people around the world have written to Eger to tell her how The Choice moved them and inspired them to confront their own past and try to heal their pain; and to ask her to write another, more “how-to” book. Now, in The Gift, Eger expands on her message of healing and provides a hands-on guide that gently encourages us to change the thoughts and behaviors that may be keeping us imprisoned in the past.
Eger explains that the worst prison she experienced is not the prison that Nazis put her in but the one she created for herself, the prison within her own mind. She describes the twelve most pervasive imprisoning beliefs she has known—including fear, grief, anger, secrets, stress, guilt, shame, and avoidance—and the tools she has discovered to deal with these universal challenges. Accompanied by stories from Eger’s own life and the lives of her patients each chapter includes thought-provoking questions and takeaways, such as:
-Would you like to be married to you? -Are you evolving or revolving? -You can’t heal what you can’t feel.
Filled with empathy, insight, and humor, The Gift captures the vulnerability and common challenges we all face and provides encouragement and advice for breaking out of our personal prisons to find healing and enjoy life.
Chapter 1 KEYS TO FREE YOURSELF FROM VICTIMHOOD
That was then, this is now.Think of a moment in childhood or adolescence when you felt hurt by another’s actions, large or small. Try to think of a specific moment, not a generalized impression of that relationship or time of life. Imagine the moment as though you are reliving it. Pay attention to sensory details—sights, sounds, smells, tastes, physical sensations. Then picture yourself as you are now. See yourself enter the past moment and take your past self by the hand. Guide yourself out of the place where you were hurt, out of the past. Tell yourself, “Here I am. I’m going to take care of you.”
In every crisis there is a transition.Write a letter to a person or situation that has caused you pain, recently or in the past. Be specific about what the person did, or about what happened that you didn’t like. Put it all on the table. Say how the actions, words, or events affected you. Then write another letter to the same person or situation—but this time write a thank-you letter, expressing gratitude for what the person has taught you about yourself or how the situation has prompted you to grow. The goal of the thank-you letter is not to pretend to like something you didn’t like, or to force yourself to be happy about something painful. Acknowledge that what happened wasn’t right and that it hurt. And also notice the healing power in shifting your point of view from a powerless victim to who you really are: a survivor, a person of strength.
Harness your freedom to. Make a vision board—a visual representation of what you want to create or embrace in your life. Cut out pictures and words from magazines, old calendars, etc.—there are no rules, just see what attracts you. Paste the images and words to a sheet of poster board or a big piece of cardboard. Notice what patterns emerge. (This is a wonderful practice to do together with dear friends—and with plenty of good food!) Keep your vision board close by and look at it every day. Let this intuitive creation be an arrow to follow.
An eminent psychologist and one of the few remaining Holocaust survivors old enough to remember life in the camps, Dr. Edith Eger has worked with veterans, military personnel, and victims of physical and mental trauma. She lives in La Jolla, California. She is the author of the award-winning book The Choice and The Gift.
“I’ll be forever changed by Dr. Eger’s story…The Choice is a reminder of what courage looks like in the worst of times and that we all have the ability to pay attention to what we’ve lost, or to pay attention to what we still have.”
– Oprah Winfrey
"This book is partly a memoir and partly a guide to processing trauma. Eger was only sixteen years old when she and her family got sent to Auschwitz. After surviving unbelievable horrors, she moved to the United States and became a therapist. Her unique background gives her amazing insight, and I think many people will find comfort right now from her suggestions on how to handle difficult situations."
– Bill Gates
“I can’t imagine a more important message for modern times. Eger’s book is a triumph, and should be read by all who care about both their inner freedom and the future of humanity.”
– Lori Gottlieb, New York Times Book Review
“Dr. Edith Eva Eger is my kind of hero. She survived unspeakable horrors and brutality; but rather than let her painful past destroy her, she chose to transform it into a powerful gift – one she uses to help others heal.”
– Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle
"The Choice is a gift to humanity. One of those rare and eternal stories that you don't want to end and that leave you forever changed. Dr. Eger's life reveals our capacity to transcend even the greatest of horrors and to use that suffering for the benefit of others. She has found true freedom and forgiveness and shows us how we can as well."