REVIEW: Don't Feed the Monkey Mind - Jennifer Shannon, LMFT
As someone who has suffered from generalized anxiety for the last three years, I have read many many books on the subject looking for a little relief. Jennifer Shannon's book captures the whirlwind of emotions and thoughts swirling around inside an anxious person's head. This may stem from the fact that the author lives with a "monkey mind" herself, and the inclusion of her personal stories gives the reader a way to connect with someone who truly understands what he or she is going through on a daily basis. Her approach to dealing with anxiety differs from the typical relaxation and meditation advice and uses the counterintuitive approach of confrontation, which I found refreshing.
Shannon's simplification of the topic, especially the causes, allows the book to be more approachable for most readers. Using the image of a monkey inside our minds helps illustrate the concept in a way that makes sense. Narrowing down the root assumptions of an anxious person's belief system is a great classification system that most readers will be able to relate to themselves. Another aspect that helped the book stand out was the repetition of her core principles and concepts such as the cycle of anxiety and the use of expansion charts. While the website was not operational at the time of reading, the way it was integrated throughout the book could be quite helpful.
On a personal level, there were a few areas that didn't work for me. The writing style was a little too simplified in parts and the continuous use of the monkey metaphor did become tiring by the end. Also, the intended audience seemed to change during the book. Sometimes it felt intended for educated adults but at other times the repetition and simplification lent itself to a book intended for adolescents. Overall, these points probably wouldn't be considered issues by most readers so I don't think it negatively affects the book as a whole. There were many sentences and talking points that I marked as I read that definitely gave me things to think about.
While maybe this book's writing style wasn't my favorite, I do recommend this book for anyone suffering from anxiety looking for a little relief and/or validation. The included exercises and quizzes are a nice addition, and the techniques for coping with anxiety and it's symptoms are innovative and nontraditional in a way I haven't seen in other books.
*I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.