cover image Bold Move: A 3-Step Plan to Transform Anxiety into Power

Bold Move: A 3-Step Plan to Transform Anxiety into Power

Luana Marques. HarperOne, $29.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-063-27701-4

Marques (Almost Anxious), an associate psychology professor at Harvard, draws on personal experience and cognitive and dialectical behavior therapy principles to lay out a promising plan intended to help readers surmount anxiety and other internal barriers to success. Abandoned by her father at age 10, Marques grew up dealing with poverty and an ever-present sense of inadequacy. She moved to America from Brazil to pursue a doctoral degree, and began a career marked by workaholism and burdened by a desperation to fit in. These responses, she writes, were rooted in fear and avoidance spurred by childhood trauma, and she learned to deal with them by treating others with anxiety as a clinician. She explains how psychological avoidance of perceived threats can result in reacting (fight), retreating (flight), or remaining (freeze), leading to a self-reinforcing cycle of negative habits. Solutions include shifting one’s perspective (it’s important to “make better predictions based on the best information we have available... while challenging our old expectations”), sitting with painful feelings instead of dodging them, and living according to one’s personal values. Marques molds complex neuroscientific concepts into relatable and realistic advice (readers shouldn’t practice her tools on “the most challenging situation” their lives, she writes; baby steps are the best bet) and discussions of her own trauma are refreshingly candid. Readers who feel their anxiety is insurmountable should give this a look. (June)

Correction: An earlier version of this review incorrectly stated that the author dealt with binge-eating as a child.