This is a book whose title is a little misleading. You’d assume you’d need to be in a relationship at the very least to get something from it. You might even feel a little strange reading it. But as Susie discovered, it’s the perfect book to read, regardless of your relationship status.
We all love ourselves more than other people, but care about their opinions more than our own.Marcus Aurelius
Quite an opener. And, in my opinion a monumental start to a life transforming lesson.
Don’t be misled by the title, it’s a bit of a misnomer. As someone who doesn’t have a partner, let alone a wedding to plan, I was somewhat put out at being asked to read this book. That’s right, rub it in my face… But after the first chapter I was hooked, maybe this could be the key to me learning how to deal with my own insecurities and foibles.
Piercy is a professional magician, hypnotherapist and scholar in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). In this book he aims to explain the self-help concepts glibly presented in social media and make them approachable and practical for the reader, giving tools to actually implement them.
The ‘stoic bride’
What does he mean by the term ‘stoic bride’? Piercy’s approach is derived from Stoicism. Not your British “stiff upper lip’ but the teachings of the 3rd Century BC ancient school of Greek philosophy: Zeno of Citium.
Essentially, Stoicism is to concern ourselves only with things within our control, our thoughts and our actions without input from external events which may jeopardise our happiness. Easy to say, but how exactly do you do that?
Piercy uses the analogy of wedding planning to lay out the key principles of becoming a practicing Stoic.
The book is divided into sections, which can be picked up and read in any order according to you needs. Personally, I found reading the book from cover to cover gave the best overall concept of Stoicism.
Initially the reader is asked to recognise gratitude and its importance:
Imagine how powerful and grounding it would be for you if you could feel grateful for all the truly incredible things you have in your life, all the time.
Easier said than done, but here’s where it gets interesting. Each chapter gives various practical exercises to achieve the required result. They are carefully laid out and easy to follow, and, due to Piercy’s therapeutic background, they really do work. As someone who finds their mind uses ‘mindfulness’ as a cue to create shopping lists and obsess over minutia, I actually found myself in a state of calm, focusing on breathing. Anyone who knows me will vouch that this is a revelation.
Control, Wanting and Giving Permission
The chapters progress through topics such as understanding control (and what is within our sphere of influence); the difference between wanting and needing (particularly useful when planning a wedding on a budget); giving permission (‘no one can make you feel inferior without your consent’ a complete mindblower); Amor Fati, which translates to a love of fate.
I had difficulty with this one. Essentially it asks you to accept and love everything that happens. As someone who has had their fair share of illness and has witnessed loved ones suffering with no end point, asking to love this was a hard task. But this is why this book is so different. Piercy is human, he understands human minds and emotions and recognises that.
He asks the reader not to categorise things as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ or ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ which prevents you from formulating a specific response to things.
Seek not for the events to happen to you as you wish but rather wish for events to happen as they do, and your life will go smoothlyEpictetus
We are all human
Being the gatekeeper, remembering we are all human and storytelling are the chapters which follow, each giving little nuggets of self-help that you can either use directly for the stress of organising your wedding or, like me, just to help with everyday situations in life.
The bombshell comes later in the book, and this is the point where I knew I could credit Piercy with his knowledge. He speaks of his own battle with depression and a suicide attempt. It takes true strength of character to open up to the world about such things. By nature, humans are too proud to admit their weaknesses but it is in admitting these that we show our true courage. My respect for Piercy is unbounding, he has used his own therapeutic practice, alongside his learnings to help others.
Becoming a stoic, without needing to be a bride
Perhaps the big let-down of this book is its title. As someone who is not on the cards for a wedding just yet, this book wouldn’t have got a second glance, due to its title. But it has changed me as a person. I feel more resilient and more confident. Understanding that I cannot control things outside my own thoughts and actions has brought be a sense of calm and control that I guess I’ve been searching for. I just didn’t realise it was inside me all along.
I wholly recommend this book, not just if you are getting married, but if you feel that you are searching for a sense of peace and direction in your life. Thank you Chris!