3 out of 4 stars
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Joy Tonbara Ikumoinein says it all in the title: You Can Totally Do This: Stop doubting yourself, reach for greatness and be happy. Currently in the business of “coaching teens on personal development and educational advancement,” Ikumoinein does not promise the reader a perfect life but rather control of one’s life. She’s been lost before, she confesses in the introduction. Through her book, she intends to help others achieve what she wished she’d found sooner: clarity of direction.
Ikumoinein divides her advice into 13 chapters, with titles like “Believe in Your Own Awesomeness” and “Live the Life You Love” priming the discussion for each section. She elaborates on the titles and fortifies her message with inspirational stories, advice culled from other authors or sources, or anecdotes from her own life. The chapters end with a list of “steps to take” — exercises to do or questions to reflect upon in order to drive the lessons home. The bedrock that seems to ground Ikumoinein’s philosophy is the concept of self-love, which she firmly distinguishes from selfishness or greed. Throughout the book, she urges you to believe in yourself, love yourself, forgive yourself, and affirm your own worth.
Ikumoinein’s ideas are not groundbreaking by any means. In fact, much of the things discussed, such as self-limiting beliefs and the therapeutic value of adaptive self-talk, are iterations of concepts found in cognitive psychology. “We create our realities via our thought patterns,” Ikumoinein says, echoing psychologist Albert Ellis’ own assertion that “people disturb themselves by the rigid and extreme beliefs they hold about events.” The lesson is the same: What you think is what you become. Change your thoughts and the rest will fall into place.
While Ikumoinein obviously meant to focus on different aspects of self-development in the various chapters, there is quite a lot of overlap in them. Writing is one recurring advice, as Ikumoinein stresses the value of keeping a journal to document your ideas, track your progress, itemize the things that you are grateful for (gratitude journal), or perhaps jot down your accomplishments for the day (achievement journal). I agree with her views on the value of social relationships, particularly the merits of having a mentor as well as a strong support system. I also appreciate that she advocates counseling, a process that she herself has benefited from in the past.
Ikumoinein is a cheerleader through and through, and the optimism she exudes gives the book a very positive and sincere vibe. She is candid about her own life experiences, drawing from them as she touches upon issues like career development, body image, and abusive relationships. References to God indicate that she is religious as well, but this aspect is not so overwhelming that it runs the danger of alienating a non-Christian reader. “That you are alive is a reminder that God is not finished with you yet,” she states, but she goes no further and does not impose her values upon the reader. She mentions a platform she started for teenagers and young adults, called Living Joys, but she does not use the book as a mere vehicle for self-promotion. Instead, at the end, Ikumoinein provides a list of useful resources — of motivational books that she hopes readers will find as valuable and enlightening as she did.
I rate You Can Totally Do This 3 out of 4 stars, with 1 star deducted for several punctuation issues and typographical errors. While there is nothing much that would distinguish it from other self-help books out there, You Can Totally Do This is as inspirational as they come, like an upbeat soundtrack meant to knock you awake, lift your spirits, and give you that push to take a step forward and move. For people struggling with low self-esteem or depressive tendencies, this book could be a lifesaver. At the end of the day, however, self-validation should come from within. With her infectious positivity and genuine regard for her readers, Ikumoinein offers an excellent starting point.
You Can Totally Do This
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