Review and Summary: Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?

Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? Book Cover

Author: Dr. Julie Smith

Publication date: 5 January 2022

Publisher: Penguin Books

Number of pages: 368 pages

I am not a TikTok user but if you do, maybe you ever come across Dr Julie Smith. As a clinical psychologist, she gives a bunch of science-based mental health tips and attracts 3 millions of followers on that platform.

The title of this book is inspired from Dr Julie Smith’s patients in her therapy room. Her patients ask themselves “Why has nobody told me this before?” after therapy sessions when they understand how to deal with challenge situations in healthy new methods. This book offers sets of life skills that mostly informed in therapy to help the reader get through hard times, learn, and grow.

This book has eight sections: On Dark Places, On Motivation, On Emotional Pain, On Grief, On Self-Doubt, On Fear, and On Stress. The reason why I love this book is how Dr Julie Smith validates and engages with our emotions then being informative about what to do and what not to do with them. I also adore how she presents the science of how our brain works, the data to build analogies, and her interactive writing style.

You cannot change what you cannot make sense of.

Dr Julie Smith, Author of “Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?”


On Low Mood

  • Mood fluctuation is normal. Nobody is happy all the time.

On Motivation

  • Motivation that goes up and down is not a fault in the system. It’s part of being human. It is a sensation that comes and goes just like our emotions.

On Emotional Pain

  • Emotions are neither your enemy nor your friend.
  • Emotions just pop up with no trigger and we have no control over what happens or when it happens. All we can do is resist them, block them out, and be rational.

On Grief

  • Feeling the grief does not make it disappear. But we build up our strength to know that we can be reminded and yet still return to engage with life as it is today.
  • Expectations about how you should feel, how you should behave, and how quickly we should heal, only make grief harder.

On Self-Doubt

  • We are built to care what others think of us, so telling ourselves that we don’t care is not the answer.
  • High self-esteem is not linked with better relationship or better performance. But it does correlate with arrogance, prejudice, and discrimination.
  • It is not only our relationship with our own failure that needs to be change, but also how we respond to the failure of others.
  • Those who develop self-acceptance and learn to self-compassionate are less likely to fear failure, more likely to preserve and try again when they do fail and generally have more self-confidence

On Fear

  • Fear is a part of our survival response.
  • If we want to feel less anxious about something, do it as often as we can. Use the skill to help us sit with anxiety and it will reduce over time.

On Stress

  • stress has positive effects in the short-term, such as for immune response, sharpens cognitive function, and helps us to narrow focus, evaluate our environment and respond to meet its demand on us.
  • Stress in long term leads to over production of adrenaline and abnormal patterns of cortisol are linked with shorter life expectancy.
  • There is no silver bullet that works for everything. The right balance for one person will be unrealistic for another.

On A Meaningful Life

  • The idea of happiness has been hijacked over the years by an elusive fairytale of constant pleasure and satisfaction with life.
  • We are given the impression that happiness is the norm and anything outside of that could be a mental health problem.
  • Simply having goals is not going to ensure that our life changes and stays changed. what does is the everyday details of our repeated behaviors that keep us moving forward in that direction.
  • motivation is like a flame on a match. it will burn itself out. It’s an unsustainable source of fuel. But if we have a routine of small actions that are not too radical or dramatic to maintain, then our new sense of identity will help to sustain us.

Whatever has caused our low mood, it tends to come along with a focus on threat and loss.

Gilbert, 1997.

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