By Madison Gummow
NAIT’s student counselling assistant Stef Guilly has an interactive self-help book coming to shelves near you.
“This is my second book, Forest Talks, and I wrote it as a way to lead people into a conversation about connecting with themselves. The book is not like a technical textbook where it’s like, ‘This is stress, this is anxiety’,” Guilly said.
There are several main concepts that the book focuses on, including understanding that feelings and thoughts are not to be pushed away or ignored, but should be heard and reflected on.
“In our busy world, it’s very hard to just have a moment to attach. We hear the question, ‘How are you?’ and we respond to that with just, ‘tired’ or ‘stressed’ but we need to pause to really understand what our other alternatives are,” Guilly said.
Guilly emphasizes the importance of truly figuring out what you are feeling and knowing how to accurately express it.
There’s actually a list of emotions and needs in the book so you can look at them and it’s like, ‘Oh my god, I get all of these.’ It’s really kind of eye-opening. The book is supposed to be like a gentle conversation rather than, ‘Here’s the information, go do it yourself,’” said Guilly.
The book was created to expand people’s understanding of themselves. Not everyone will be ready or open enough to make full use of Forest Talks; there is a certain type of person Guilly’s book will likely help.
“People who are interested in personal development, people who may feel a bit of anxiety or depression and they’re not really sure where to start. People who say sorry a lot or always feel a need to ask permission to do things or to make choices in life. And people who feel like maybe there’s more to life and are looking for a place to start,” Guilly said.
The first piece of advice Guilly has to offer any individual feeling those ways is to not blame yourself for negative emotions you may be having and appreciate every step towards a positive attitude.
“I think that it’s really easy to feel alone and to feel that it’s all your fault and you should be able to handle these things, [but] it’s actually a lot more complicated than that. We don’t have the skills, and our environmental factors are very heavy against us. So to even be able to have the courage to pick up a book like this and give yourself the time to look at a page is a huge act of compassion and love. There’s a credit to doing that work even if it feels like, ‘What’s the point?’ There is a point. Every positive action that you take into self-awareness is a huge milestone, even if it doesn’t feel tangible at that time,” Guilly said.
Using her specific micro-credentials in mental health and her knowledge from studying psychology, Guilly is able to give professional advice.
“When I do get into some subjects that are more strong on the mental health spectrum, I do refer to, ‘Okay, if you’re struggling with this thing, here’s what a mental health therapist would do,” Guilly said.
The idea for her book began to develop after Guilly discovered non-violent communication, the principle that the ‘why’ of ‘why are we feeling like this’ is because of all these needs that we don’t know about are unmet.
“I realized I’m not checking in with myself, so I started checking in with myself on Instagram and writing some posts about my experiences and I got a lot of really good feedback. People were like, ‘Yeah, me too. I really resonate with that, I get that,’ and so I developed those posts and expanded them and I put them into a book,” said Guilly.
“It’s sort of like a year of exploration and it goes through how I felt at the beginning and how I felt near the end and I hope that it kind of brings people through that process also.”
The book is available on amazon under Stef Guilly: Forest Talks and is currently available at Audreys Books on Jasper Ave. Guilly also has plans to distribute her book to local bookshops this summer.