'Fully Alive' inspires
“Is it any wonder that so many of us feel lost, depressed and discouraged by life?” Janice Carbon, a licensed Catholic psychotherapist counselor, asks in her new book, “Fully Alive.”
“Our culture has descended into such narcissism being promoted in celebrity culture,” Carbon said. “We need something to nudge us out of this and nudge us into a higher level of thinking.
“Fully Alive,” published by Tau Publishing in Phoenix, Ariz., offers a first step to encourage people, especially the young, to start rethinking their lives, asking the questions, “What kind of person do I want to be?”; “What values do I have?”; and “Are they reflected in my life?”
“It’s based on the work I have done with people over the years,” Carbon said. “I’ve seen the fruit of it. It helps free them of the emotional immaturity that holds people back from becoming free from being themselves.”
Easy steps, profound results
Carbon said she found a common thread among clients in her practice over the decades – “emotional immaturity that keeps them trapped in ineffective ways of looking at life.”
As a former kindergarten teacher, she tends to keep things simple and came to adopt the four developmental stages of thinking: the infantile thinker, the childish thinker, the adolescent thinker and the adult thinker.
Carbon believes that once individuals realize what stage they are in – according to how they react to situations – they can work toward emotional maturity, to be someone who is “principal-centered, values- and belief-driven, has a moral compass, is true to self, authentic and secure.”
She not only describes each phase of thinking, but offers three case studies over different age ranges and circumstances to illustrate how this thought process is applicable to everyone. She uses as models a young, married couple with the husband trying to satisfy a spoiled wife; a young adult with an unhealthy self-image and no self-control who turns to self-destructive behavior and blames others; and a 62-year-old grandmother who while trying to accommodate an adult child loses her sense of self.
The book concludes with suggestions on how to achieve the adult stage of thinking where one evaluates his or her core principles, values and beliefs and infuses the love of God and others in them. Based on these “commandments” of loving God with your whole heart, mind and soul and loving others as yourself, “we are able to live fully alive,” she said.
How book materialized
She said while working with clients she often was asked if the suggestions she made were written down. While she had planned to do it, it wasn’t until after several appearances on Focus TV, where she discussed her common-sense ideas and received inquiries about where viewers could read more, that she finally decided to put pen to her ideas.
Once she had a manuscript, she sought many opinions on the worthiness of its content until she had the courage to submit something to Tau Publishing.
“I was thrilled,” she said, then had to wait almost a year until it was published.
“I wanted to share with others ideas that I benefitted from,” Carbon said. “Over the years, the ideas have been fine-tuned, especially bringing faith into it.
It gets people to think about how they are interacting in their lives and in certain relationships.”
Because she said her Catholic faith gave her strength at her most challenging moments in life, Carbon incorporates suggestions on how readers can develop a stronger relationship with God, using the Prayer of St. Francis (“Make me a channel of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow your love...”). She also ponders what people would do if every person encountered was Jesus. One suggestion is to create your own psalm, as she did, incorporating the message of Psalm 136 (“for his love steadfast endures forever”). Other suggestions include reading Scripture, attending Mass and adoration, and turning to the Blessed Mother to intercede for us with God.
“As you begin to trust God with your life, you will begin to live in his peace and joy,” Carbon said.