It’s time for a resource list of books to help you grow more emotionally mature!
We’re in the middle of our emotional maturity series, and yesterday I was talking about 6 ways to help you grow more emotionally mature and more responsible. I promised that today I’d give you a list of books that I highly recommend that have helped me, and that I hope can help you, too.
I know that we’ve got so many resources other than just books, and so I’ll give some suggestions on how to identify healthy resources online as well.
But let’s jump in!
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Books that help you understand emotions
I’m going to list a few books below that help us learn what healthy looks like. I’ve mentioned so many books in the past that help us cope when things aren’t healthy, and if you know you’re there, then going deeper is likely a good idea.
But I think getting a picture of what a healthy emotional life looks like first makes it easier to handle it when things aren’t healthy. So here are some books that can help you identify health!
The Wisdom of Your Heart
Emotions are not bad. Emotions are meant to tell us something.
Learn how to value your emotions and honor your emotions–because God is an emotional God!
Marc is going to join us on our podcast this Thursday, too, talking about what emotions can teach us. It’s amazing how we tend to think that certain emotions are “good” and certain ones are “bad”, and we’re not supposed to have the bad ones–or it’s a sin to have the bad ones. Let’s get a more biblical approach to emotions, which will show us better how to handle them, too!
Don’t try harder.
Try softer. What if our approach to how to handle our to-do list, our stress, our daily life is all backwards? Lean into what rest and grace really mean.
Sometimes it’s not only our emotions we have a hard time accepting or feeling–it’s also God.
And that could be because the way that you naturally relate to God and yearn to experience God is different from the way your church does it, or you’ve been told is the “right” way.
Here are 9 spiritual pathways that we may have as we experience God. Our family found this book so helpful as we all tried to identify our own–and it helped me understand why pen-and-highlighter-with-a-journal devotion times don’t do much for me.
How daring to be vulnerable is the key to emotional growth–and the key to purposeful living.
Brene Brown made a huge splash with her videos on how vulnerability is linked to courage, and in this book she explains it well.
Full disclosure: this is the one book on this list I haven’t read, but so many of you recommended it on Facebook yesterday that I couldn’t leave it out!
Books that help you process your past or understand trauma
Sometimes the issue isn’t just understanding emotions; it’s overcoming past hurts that are holding you back. How do you grow despite trauma? How do you help trauma not take over your life anymore? Here are just a few suggestions:
The Body Keeps the Score
This is THE book on post-traumatic stress disorder, and how to process trauma that has taken root in your body and is now impacting your life.
Truly a groundbreaking book, this helps you understand why you may do the things you do, and what may hold you back, and then points to some treatments that can help you move forward.
I know The Body Keeps the Score can be a controversial book right now because its author has, tragically and ironically, been implicated in multiple abuse situations. It is still, however, a great book. If there are others that are just as comprehensive and good that you would recommend, let me know in the comments so that I have a different one to use instead of this one!
The Road Less Traveled
The classic that I read over thirty years ago, it’s still so insightful on how growth happens.
Scott Peck wrote this when he was on a spiritual journey. It’s not a Christian book, but you can see, in later books like People of the Lie, that he had come to see God in a personal and real way.
I found this book so illuminating–one of the concepts Peck is trying to describe is grace. It’s very interesting.
Books that help you navigate healthy relationships and boundaries
I LOVE the Boundaries books. This is the one that started them all–showing how boundaries are biblical, while letting others walk all over you is not. This shows you how it’s not selfish to say, “I will do this but not that.” It’s actually affirming of God’s calling on your life!
For people who tend to be people pleasers, or who have trouble being assertive, this book can help you understand what healthy relationships look like.
9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage
This one’s MY book!
Want to know what a healthy marriage should look like? Want to throw away many of the things that we’ve been taught that can actually keep us stuck?
Learn how to walk together towards God’s intention for your marriage, in God’s power for your marriage. Because sometimes the things we erroneously THINK about marriage can hold us back!
The Emotionally Healthy Woman
The subtitle of this says it all: eight things you need to quit to reclaim your life.
If you feel like you are overfunctioning in far too many areas of your life, letting yourself get burned out, then you need to learn how to act so that those who are underfunctioning can be encouraged to look more like Christ!
A great book on what healthy responsibility looks like.
Books that help you get more disciplined and develop life skills
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
It’s not an exaggeration to say that this book changed the direction of my life. I don’t think I’d be writing today had I not read this when my girls were babies.
What this helped me understand was how to be purposeful and intentional with my life, and how things weren’t magically going to happen unless I put things in place to make them happen. Just an amazing book.
Your God is Too Safe
Do you struggle with getting excited about your devotions? Do you struggle with wondering if you really love God?
This is an awesome book that helps you see God in a different way–and helps you see spiritual disciplines in a new, exciting way.
This book helped get me out of a several-year-long drought with God, and helped me reinvigorate my disciplines with Jesus.
Want to exercise more? Use social media less? Do housework in a more organized way? Be more productive at work?
We all have these goals of little things we want to change in our lives, but how do we make that change actually happen?
I read this book two years ago, and it’s been amazing to help me figure out why I couldn’t break stupid habits, and how to actually accomplish some of the small changes that bring big results!
How to Identify Good Resources to Help You Grow Emotionally
Obviously this is only a tiny list of the books that I have found most helpful in my own life. I would also add a book on money management, since that’s such an important thing to learn. And, of course, many of these things can be learned through podcasts, blogs, or YouTube channels as well.
Rebecca has learned so much about cleaning routines and baby routines through YouTube, and Katie loves listening to money management channels online!
The key is to always be learning.
But I’m also very aware that many resources, even in the church, are distinctly unhelpful.
My litmus test to see if a resource is healthy:
How does that resource treat the idea of boundaries?
If a resource encourages you to have boundaries, then the resource is likely emotionally healthy. If the resource tells you to continually deny yourself, or just to pray harder, then the resource is likely not healthy.
Please don’t misunderstand me: It’s not that I’m against prayer. I’m all for it! But so often resources use “prayer” as an excuse to not exercise good judgment or boundaries. Just pray harder and let the person keep treating you badly, abusing you, or walking all over you. Just pray harder and good things will happen to you–instead of acting responsibly.
Prayer should not be an excuse to avoid doing the hard things that God wants us to do!
God made us with limits, with boundaries, and when those are trespassed, we will become emotionally unhealthy. When we understand God’s purpose for our life, and that we can’t accomplish His purpose if we are allowing others to run roughshod over us, or if we’re avoiding responsibility, then we’ll be able to grow.
So as you’re seeking out resources online, ask yourself: Does this help me make good choices? Does this help me become more responsible? Does this give me more margins so that I can concentrate on what God wants for my life? Does this encourage me to help other people around me look more like Jesus, or does this encourage me to enable sin?
That’s how I find good resources to help me grow.
I’d love to hear what you find helpful, too. Any podcasts that have helped you grow? Books that have helped you grow? YouTube channels you love? Leave them in the comments!
What would you add? Do you have a litmus test? A favourite book that has changed your life? A favourite podcast? Let’s talk in the comments!
Posts in the Emotional Maturity Series:
- Four Markers of Emotional Maturity
- Do We Use God Language to Avoid Maturity?
- 2 Keys to Handling Stonewalling Behavior
- 6 Ways to Grow in Emotional Maturity
- A Book List to Help with Emotional Maturity
- What Does Emotional Maturity Look Like (Podcast)
- When Christian Resources Perpetuate Your Spouse’s Immaturity
- What if Emotional Maturity is a Skill Guys Can Learn?
- How Anger is Like an Iceberg
And check out 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage–my book that covers emotional maturity. Plus there’s a FREE group study you can take with it!
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of Bare Marriage
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