Book review: ‘The Paper Tiger Syndrome’ by Rebecca A. Ward

‘The Paper Tiger Syndrome’ is a guidebook on the journey of healing and self-repair. Photo: Amazon

Rebecca A. Ward is an American therapist, activist, healer, author, speaker, and coach. As a trauma survivor herself, she has triumphed over extraordinary suffering and come out on other side to her joy again. As a licensed therapist in California and ICF-Certified Professional Coach, Rebecca holds a multitude of trauma-informed certifications, including Somatic Experiencing®. She is a member of the International Coaching Federation and CA Marriage and Family Therapists Association. In her new book, “The Paper Tiger Syndrome: How to Liberate Yourself from the Illusion of Fear,” Rebecca shares her personal trauma-to-resilience story and the wisdom from her own clients to help readers transform their own trauma wounds into personal growth, presence, resilience, and joy and reconnect back to the truest version of themselves—what she calls the Original Blueprint®. (Amazon, 2022)

“The Paper Tiger Syndrome” – Paper tigers are thoughts and experiences that conjure up dread but do not present any real danger, they just create the same physiological responses in the human body that our ancestors experienced when they were stalked by predators on the plains. In the modern world, however, those responses are unwarranted. They are neurological “misfires” that harm our mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing, all in an effort to keep us “safe.” In the Preface section of the Introduction, the author explains that the book is “a roadmap to guide you on that journey back home.” This is followed by the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) survey to help readers find out where to begin since ACEs are known to be linked to chronic health problems, mental illness, and substance abuse in adulthood. The book consists of examples from her clients’ lives, and her own, as well as journaling ideas and exercises/rituals to enhance the healing process. All together, she shares ways to overcome fear, stress, and trauma in your life to help regulate your physical body. Based largely on the principles of somatic therapy, it contains specific exercises and tools to help you walk the bridge from fear to safety to unconditional love. It is divided into ten chapters including The Anatomy of Fear, How We Survive Childhood, and It Takes a Village.

Now more than ever, people are struggling with anxiety and depression. Life’s hardships can create a sense of apprehension that is hard to shake but the truth is that most fears and anxieties are really just paper tigers. A paper tiger is defined as ‘something, or someone, that appears to be a threat, but in reality is powerless.’ The difficulties the author experienced and surpassed give this book an aura of authenticity; she knows what she is talking about and her tone is caring without being condescending. She even pauses every now and then to encourage readers to take a break if necessary. The language is easy to understand and the layout of the information includes diagrams, lists, and reflection opportunities. To get the full benefits, the author recommends having a personal journal to complete the written exercise and write down your thoughts or download the Companion Workbook. Highlights include Chapter Four: It Takes a Village where she stresses that a lack of connection ‘heightens fear reactions and diminishes virtually ever aspect of life, including longevity’ and Chapter Seven: Healing Childhood Wounds where she shares guidelines to help overcome harmful childhood conditionings like body shaming. “The Paper Tiger Syndrome” is a highly informative resource guide that is encouraging and therapeutic and includes the necessary tools to guide readers through their healing journey. It is recommended for readers interested in self help, personal transformation, and spirituality books.

“Fear is a cheap marketing tool to keep you in line. Fear is not the way any infinite Source wants us to feel. We’re here to discover love for all that is in us and around us.”

*The author received a copy of this book for an honest review. The views and opinions expressed here belong solely to her.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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