BOOK REVIEW: “Self-Love” by Dr. Devi B. Dillard-Wright

At its core, self-love is an unconditional acceptance of and
value for yourself—body, mind, and soul. Confidence in your decisions, appreciation for your strengths and weaknesses, and care for your physical and mental needs are all part of loving yourself.

Self Love, by Dr. Dillard-Wright, page 12 (Simon & Schuster, 2021)

Dr. Devi Dillard-Wright’s upcoming book, Self-Love: 100+ Quotes, Reflections, and Activities to Help You Uncover and Strengthen Your Self-Love, offers “120 daily reflections and exercises to help readers think about the way that they treat themselves–whether that might be through negative self-talk or forms of neglect and self-sabotage”. The book offers a definition and an in-depth view of the meaning of self-love, allowing readers to reflect on their personal histories, giving them the opportunity to begin to understand how they can practice self-love and why it is important to do so. Then, it offers daily exercises and reflections that readers can practice to develop their self-love.

The book is broken into two parts: “Understanding Self-Love”, and “Practicing Self-Love”. In the first part, Dillard-Wright explains the benefits of having self-love, including resilience, personal growth, emotional release, and stronger relationships. Further into part one, the author outlines why it may feel difficult to love oneself, a brief outline of how practicing self-love works, and even a pledge to repeat out-loud to reaffirm one’s commitment to a healthier future. Then, in part two, over one hundred practices are provided.

“Self-Love” uses eye-catching blurbs entitled “Taking Action” to outline an exercise readers can do. I do find some of these reflections to be similar to things I have read in blogs about self-care and self-love before, and some seem to rely on manifestation as the main form of self-help. While positive affirmation and manifestations are important, the book could benefit from some more unique exercises. However, many (like the one below) are intuitive and offer a different perspective on self-care as a benefit for all around you, not just for you. For example, this bubble, from section “Nurture Your Relationships” (180-181):

Screen Shot 2020 11 28 at 11.29.02 PM
Dillard-Wright, Devi B. Self-Love: 100+ Quotes, Reflections, and Activities to Help You Uncover and Strengthen Your Self-Love. Simon & Schuster, 2021 (p. 181).

My only qualm with Self-Love is its lack of discussion that sometimes it is not always possible to help yourself on your own. While the book is wholly meant to assist with self-driven mental health, it could use a section outlining mental health crisis lines, or different mental health resources. Perhaps an acknowledgement that while self-care or love have definite benefits and are good for every person, it would be difficult for them to fully counter a chemical imbalance in the brain if one suffers from mental illnesses (which is of no fault of a reader who faces these issues and may struggle to complete the exercises). One of the final exercises is “Consider Seeing a Professional” (244-245) which challenges readers to rethink their internalized stigmas regarding mental health professionals and consider seeking professional help if they feel they need it. This section is very crucial as the truth is, sometimes professional help is entirely necessary, alongside personal reflection and work as outlined by some of the “Taking Action” blurbs.

Overall, Self-Love (2021) has a lot of quality and substance, but there are some flaws as well. This is a valuable book for someone who is beginning a journey into self-love, but may not be for someone who is struggling with serious mental crises as they may find the self-driven approach to be a burden. However, there are some very beneficial pieces of work in the book: Dr. Dillard-Wright offers positive self-affirmation exercises which can vastly improve one’s outlook on life.

If you or someone you know are in crisis, please reach out to a mental health professional (you can find a list of mental health resources for the greater St. John’s area linked here).

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