I Shouldn't Feel This Way

Name What’s Hard, Tame Your Guilt, and Transform Self-Sabotage into Brave Action

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Pub Date May 07 2024 | Archive Date Dec 31 2024
Nelson Books | Thomas Nelson

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You can find emotional freedom. Learn to see through the haze of conflicted feelings and move forward in your life with confidence. Licensed therapist and bestselling author Dr. Alison Cook guides you through a groundbreaking 3-step process to find the freedom you crave.

When you're tangled up inside, it's hard to find clarity. Yet so many of us guilt-trip or gaslight ourselves instead of working our way through complicated feelings….

  • I should be a good friend, even though I feel hurt by past betrayals.
  • I should be content, even though I feel lonely or unfulfilled.
  • I should just have faith, even though I feel discouraged by unanswered prayers.


This jumbled-up knot is a cry for gentle care and patient attention, but most of us haven't been given the tools required to unravel it.

I Shouldn't Feel This Way is your guide out of the chaos and into the calm and clarity you need to face life's challenges. Drawing from over twenty years of research and clinical practice, Dr. Alison Cook guides you through a groundbreaking 3-step process that has helped tens of thousands of people find emotional freedom and surprisingly simple breakthroughs. Dr. Alison shows you how to:

  • identify guilt and know what to do with it,
  • trade feeling stuck in your head for clarity,
  • move from comfortable numbing to courageous conversations, and
  • make decisions that break cycles of defeat.


Change starts when you finally stop beating yourself up for the way that you feel. I Shouldn't Feel This Way is your pathway to emotional freedom. It is time to finally work through your complicated feelings so you can start living with the clarity and confidence you crave.

You can find emotional freedom. Learn to see through the haze of conflicted feelings and move forward in your life with confidence. Licensed therapist and bestselling author Dr. Alison Cook guides...

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Featured Reviews

I am such a fan of the authors writing and was so excited to get my hands on an ARC of her newest upcoming release. This book did not disappoint. I highlighted/underlined so much of the book. My favorite chapters were the ones about defensiveness, and body image. Dr. Cook helps readers to acknowledge the emotions that they are feeling and get curious about them- instead of feeling shame about them. She walks through the process of Naming whats hard, framing your reality, and braving a new path.

"The simple act of stopping to notice what you're thinking and feeling- without criticism, judgement, or shame- brings calm to the chaos inside." This is exactly what Alison helps the readers to do. I love how she mixed different talk therapy techniques, with stories of clients that she worked with, with application questions for your own life.

This book is set to release 5/7/24 and I will for sure be buying a hard copy and a few copies for friends. Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an ARC. Cant wait for this one to be released and in the hands of many many people!

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This is a must-have resource to help one improve mental health, resiliency, and live a more full and happy life. It is full of great strategies, advice, and easy to implement ideas. This is one I'll return to again and again. Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the advanced copy of the book.

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This is the book on emotions that the world needs. So many important topics are covered with realistic ways to calm your soul. One read through is not enough to truly grasp all the concepts. I do feel like there’s almost too much in this book, but really well thought out both from a psychology standpoint and biblical standpoint.

Thank you NetGalley for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review!

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I've been listening to the podcast and have read The best of you, and boundaries for your soul. I was incredibly excited to read this book. I loved the way the book is separated into three parts. I connected with every chapter and appreciate the guidance of naming, framing and braving. I've already noticed my levels of joy increasing as l've been practicing naming my feelings and thoughts and aligning them with what is true from a biblical standpoint as well as the reality of what's actually happening in real time. I was someone who always struggled with hearing my inner critic, and guilt messages. I never realized there's a "false guilt" we can experience. I've bookmarked many pages with steps to navigate certain experiences I'm sure I will go through that I can utilize. I love how she addresses toxicity and learning about blame shifting, control and manipulation, and naming these toxic behaviors will make a massive ditterence in my ability to set boundaries for myself. I feel full of hope and a lot more BRAVE after reading this book. Thank you so much Alison!!

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The beauty in Dr. Alison Cook’s writing is the authentic connection she creates through her transparency in exposing common thinking patterns and struggles that we all wrestle through. The sharing of those real experiences and revealing our underlying and often hidden feelings draws the reader comfortably in to sit beside her through an invitation to pause and work through them. Cook lays open the truth of our whole selves and helps us navigate the complexity of understanding those feelings through practical tools by naming them, reframing our understanding through a lens of truth, and guiding us courageously forward to brave a new path, changing unhealthy patterns. The reader can move from a place of confusion and guilt-driven expectations to a path of clarity and peace anchored in biblical truth and professional experience. Cook offers therapeutic advice through a practical pattern of simple application thinking tools that anyone can use.

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In just a few pages, I fell deeply into I SHOULDN'T FEEL THIS WAY by Alison Cook, entranced by her compelling and compassionate guidance to quieting the noise inside my head, silencing the negativity, and imagining another way entirely of living my life without the "ities" of fake positivity, toxicity, all the approaches and makeshift temporary hacks to make an overfull and overstressed life feel better. Cook doesn't mince words, doesn't not promise an easy solution, but does offer a vision for wellness, for living from the heart, and giving your entire energy to being present, feeling all the feelings, and living a great life. Throughout, I felt like I was talking with a trusted, incredibly wise friend. I received a copy of this book and these thoughts are my own, unbiased opinions.

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After going through many counselors and feeling like I wasn't getting the tools I needed to process grief and my tendency for emotional numbness, I finally found someone who could give me the tools needed to process and begin to talk about how I felt. This book felt like that. Alison Cook has brilliantly summed up what great counseling can unlock in us and what tools we can leave with to better practice emotion and human connection. I really enjoyed how much she tailored this book to everyone, knowing everyone struggles with similar issues & emotions so differently without overwhelming the concepts she discusses. Having read many books in this genre, it is rare to come across one that is practical, has great examples, and is rooted in faith. I think the most impressive parts of this book are how she calls out and works through spiritual bypassing and the many simple and effective tools offered to begin to practice how we can name and frame what we are feeling no matter who we are connecting with in our lives.

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I'm grateful to have received an early copy for review.

From the start, this book names a courageous statement we're too often afraid or ashamed to admit. By identifying it and repeating it, we're given permission to acknowledge it, enter a liminal space and bravely take steps to radically accept it.

Dr. Cook provides us with incredibly practical tools to move through our guilt and discover brave steps forward. Through her profoundly simple "name, frame, brave" process, we're provided with an outline for how to deal with the many ways we guilt ourselves in the ways we treat ourselves and others.

By giving us permission to stop "shoulding" on ourselves, she provides us with hope for a lighter, brighter future. She offers a framework for a future filled with less expectations and obligations, and with the freedom to brave new choices instead of defaulting to our old habits of self-sabotage.

If you've ever found yourself stuck in loops of overthinking your guilt, shame, or anxiety, this book will help and guide you on your way to clarity, confidence, and freedom.

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In this third installment of Dr Alison Cook's deep dive into healing our minds, bodies, and souls, she takes us on a profound journey. Some of the steps are very simple - in fact, most are simple - but that doesn't mean they come easy. If you remember the adage, "Anything worth having is worth working for," well, this fits in that category.

Deep healing is worth it and it will take work. Do I feel completely healed after working my way through these books? No - but I'm certainly farther along on the path to healing now then where I was before I started applying the things outlined in these books.

"I Shouldn't Feel This Way" seems to be the capstone on a beautiful offering from the heart of Dr. Alison Cook. I'm so thankful she has presented this to the world.

I received an ARC; this is my honest review.

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Dr Alison has done it again!! 🙌🏼
This is and will be an excellent resource for anyone, who like me, plays/played the shame game.
"I shouldn't feel this way" resonates with me on many levels. I used to think that I wasn't allowed "to feel or think" for myself. And most of my life went by with 20/20 vision.
I especially enjoy Dr Alison's "2 things can be true" exercise and being able to name, frame & brave, is a great process for self love ❤️ I was told by my therapist that I lacked self compassion and I was floored. Going through that process of realization is how I came to find Dr Cook and I believe it was God who led me to her. It is so refreshing to know that I can be a Christian and I can also love myself first.
Thank you Alison!

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Dr. Alison Cook has created another masterpiece in which she forges a connection to the readers in an authentic and transparent way, making the reader feel heard, and validated. Dr. Cook gives many examples and experiences that shed light on the often hidden feelings that we stuff, bury, and ignore, that results in us having a hard time in navigating our feelings in an emotionally healthy and mature way. She gives us practical tools to Name, Frame, and Brave our experiences and emotions, and guides us into a level of understanding by the source of truth and authenticity. Dr. Alison guides us towards courage and bravery in learning how to take tangible action steps towards healing and health. She sets out a roadmap towards clarity and peace by integrating biblical truths and her experiences in counseling, while providing simple thinking tools that we can all use as we gain a healthy mindset.

"We need play. We need rest. We need comfort. We need to escape through the power of our imaginations. These are all good things. The Enemy of our souls has excelled at distorting otherwise good gifts and turning them into shackles."
[Alison Cook, PhD]

Dr. Cook gives us hope for healing through showing us how to shift our mindset and practice a more simple way of living, by giving us tools to thrive and grow in our emotional and mental health. I appreciate the ARC of this book from NetGalley and Thomas Nelson Publishers. All opinions are my own.

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I would highly recommend this book! It's a biblically sound source of how to understand and process our emotions in a healthy way, Dr. Alison Cook also provides scientifically sound, evidence-based insights that are designed for practical implementation in our daily lives. Dr. Cook's writing style is very relatable and relevant. Filled with nuggets that are easlity adapted to personal application,

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Reading 'I Shouldn't Feel This Way' was a game-changer for me. As a pre-licensed therapist, I am learning about modalities in therapy. I found that Alison Cook's framework of 'Name', 'Tame', and 'Brave' was incredibly useful - both personally and I'd like to use it with my clients. I can see parallels between 'naming' and diagnosing, 'framing' and perspective-taking, and 'braving' and taking action to lead a better life. It is difficult to deal with what we cannot name. One thing I love about Alison's writing is the artful way the theology and psychology find common ground in the voice she offers the reader. I would highly recommend this book, to the curious and those willing to take a good look at the hard parts of themselves. Thank you, Dr. Cook, for offering up this helpful life-guidebook to us.

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Appreciated Dr. Cook's insightful and practical book. The examples in the book and the simple phrase of "Name.Frame.Brave." helped one to sort out complex emotions and responses, and to develop a plan of action. The book was so good that I am looking forward to reading it again a second time at a slower pace and working through the questions and examples

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Oh my goodness! This book was SO GOOD! Dr. Cook writes about such a complex issue but she is so gifted in breaking the hard stuff down and making it easy enough to digest.
The moment I opened to the first page and started to read, I KNEW I was meant to read it. As I turned each page, I found myself looking in the mirror. However, for the first time looking at the things that have caused me so much guilt and shame, I felt freedom and gentle liberation. The condemnation was no longer there. I found myself viewing everything like a scientist does. I discovered I can break down the trauma, pain, and insecurity and work them out with God's help.
Anyhow, "I Shouldn't Feel This Way" is definitely a book to add to your personal library. I can't wait to start putting what I've learned into practice. AWESOME book,  Dr. Cook. I didn'tean for that to rhyme 🙂

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This is probably the best self-help with religious tones book I have read to date. The chapters do a great job of explaining skills to connect with thoughts and feelings, reframing the experience, and taking appropriate risks to stay true to self. Each chapter works with a “rule” that is self-imposed and reinforced by society, and provides reasonable skills that do not default to God as the answer—I particularly loved her mention of spiritual bypassing that is prominent in most Christian books I have read. I could easily recommend this to a wide range of people who would benefit.

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Dr. Alison Cook has done an incredible job of addressing the complexity of human emotions with kindness and grace. This book provides a helpful framework for all of life's seasons and situations, providing examples, practical exercises, and even scripts to help you process and communicate your emotions, thoughts, and boundaries. As someone who is growing out of codependency and people-pleasing patterns, I so appreciated the practical tools and simple steps to begin naming, framing, and braving the hard and challenging things of life. This book will be one I refer to often!

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I love all of Cook’s work. This one is so informative and helpful and validating. Probably her best yet.

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Alison Cook is a gentle voice in a world of chaos. Many of us struggle to allow ourselves to feel our emotions without shame. Alison Cook takes away that shame so we can process through our feelings in a healthy way. A great read’

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Shouldn’t Feel This Way is how I feel most of the time. I can have a great day and then go to bed with worries, or wake with worries and have a great evening. The “shoulda, woulda, coulda” thinking drops by and rummages through some past memories, experiences, sins, mistakes, losses, and hurts. Christians like me think we’re supposed to always feel content, blessed and not stressed. But we live in a broken world in broken bodies. Our minds though are quite complex and we can choose how we respond to hardship and pain.

Psychologist and best-selling author Dr. Alison Cook said her latest book provides tools for working through distorted and conflicting thoughts and feelings. The second half of the title is: Name What’s Hard, Tame Your Guilt, and Transform Self-Sabotage into Brave Action. She wants us to “mind our minds,” a skill so few people have learned. It’s more like “mining our minds,” to notice wrong thought-patterns, destructive tales we tell ourselves, and the ways we numb and bury rather than reflect on what’s going through our minds. Bottom line, Cook said we need a way to process negative thoughts and feelings in a healthy way to live more conscious, mindful, honest lives.

First, approach the emotions, feelings, and thoughts without guilt or shame. Ask questions about our reactions to life in order to better learn the reasons behind them. Lean into and not away from the cognitive dissonance, which is when someone feels discomfort for holding two contradictory beliefs at the same time. The three-step process Cook outlined in this short book fell in line with cognitive behavioral therapy techniques. Patients work to change thought patterns and behaviors that they do have control of despite the limits put on them by their circumstances.

Imagine we’re putting together a puzzle, Cook said, with the truth-pieces coming together. We first need to name what is going on inside of us without beating ourselves up. Name what is hard on the path of life and stop at the Crossroads so we do not jump to conclusions and follow wrong mental pathways. Then, Cook says we can frame our reality, and brave a new path.

Cook compared naming to the ultimate Namer in Genesis, God when He named His creation and then invited Adam to co-name with him here. The “naming” and “framing” – I’ll admit those confused me. I think it was the words themselves, not the explanations for them. I took naming to mean we examine our thoughts and feelings to find what is true about them without judgment and find a fitting name that explains what we’re thinking. I have already started to incorporate naming in my morning prayers. I tell God what I am thinking, accept the truth of my sometimes contradictory feelings, and surrender what is out of my hands, an important part of the step-by-step process.

I did not catch on until further into the book that an acronym is at play for “frame” and the third step “brave.” Framing requires Facts, information I know to be true. I pay attention to what I tell myself about my circumstances. Feelings aren’t facts but they feel like it. I may have some discomfort, Cook said, but that is a gift because then I know something is out of order within me. Then I can draw on my memory of past events – the Roots – and consider strategies I have tried before (Audit) with new ways of thinking and acting (Mental messages). Finally, I take my case and Expand by talking with friends and experts. From there, I need to decide if I want to “fight for it, leave it, or suffer wisely,” Dr. Cook said.

Suffering wisely. I live that one. When you have chronic conditions, then you also may be familiar with suffering wisely. Fibromyalgia, TMD, migraine and interstitial cystitis are all conditions I manage and not always well. I must suffer wisely. I found I have been working on Cook’s “Brave” step already. I need and absolutely have internal and external Boundaries. I know my physical limitations. I also have a “Range” of treatments and a good support system of physicians and therapists to help me manage and cope with these illnesses. As a patient, I find it difficult at times to “Assert” my voice and ask for what I need, but I know I have to do this more. And I do look for Vitality, life-giving activities to pull the focus off my circumstances to see the bigger picture and push me to connect with the world around me. Changing my mental and physical Environment at times is necessary as part of those life-giving measures.

I learned after reading this book that the steps, the acronyms are of Cook’s own creation. They are tools to help people stop “stinkin’ thinkin’” in its tracks, spend time at the crossroads, and not accept every thought and feeling as true.

Cook has an expanded reading list in the notes sections to add to her discussion…and my reading list. One work she references she cowrote with licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Kimberly Miller called Boundaries for Your Soul: How to Turn Your Overwhelming Thoughts and Feelings into Your Greatest Allies. Other intriguing references included: psychiatrist Dr. Daniel J. Siegel’s Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation; Professor, social worker and author Brené Brown’s Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience; Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry William R. Miller’s On Second Thought: How Ambivalence Shapes Your Life; Social psychologist Leon Festinger’s A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance; and Therapist and author Aundi Kolber’s Try Softer: A Fresh Approach to Move Us Out of Anxiety, Stress, and Survival Mode – and into a Life of Connection and Joy.

Speaking of dissonance – I kept feeling like I wasn’t tracking at times as I read this book. Cook provided plenty of personal and anonymous client stories to explain how to interpret each step. I think I needed illustrations or just more information. That said, I know I am not always the best judge of what is happening inside my mind or heart, so I did think this book has tools that will help me tell someone else about what I’m going through. I did like the idea of leaning into discomfort and dissonance, seeing it as a gift, and being okay with the fact “two things can be true” at the same time. That’s life on planet earth, isn’t it? Instead of letting my circumstances tell me lies, I can use my God-given reasoning ability to regain control of run-away thoughts and feelings. I can align myself with what’s true instead of listening to self-destructive lies.

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I Shouldn’t Feel This Way Review

Can’t afford a therapist? Start here.

If you’re like me and it’s hard to find money for therapy in the budget (the “fudgey budgey” as my friend calls it), then this book is for you. I Shouldn’t Feel This Way is an optimal starting point for processing difficult emotions on your own (or with a trusted friend). It lays the groundwork you need by defining a 3-step process of Naming (speaking out loud what’s hard), Reframing (identifying what’s actually going on inside you that caused this hard emotion in the first place), and then Braving (identifying a healthy action step that keeps you moving in the direction of emotional health). And then in Part Two and Part Three of the book, it dives into specific hard emotions, feelings of “I shouldn’t feel this way about . . .” and gently guides you in unpacking those guilt messages. Dr. Cook gives specific examples in each scenario that are a great help in recognizing if this is an unhealthy message that you have been ignoring but need to process, and then she gives specific questions to guide you through processing each harmful belief.

I wish I could tell you that this makes processing “easy,” but it’s still hard HARD work. But this book does make processing ACCESSIBLE—giving you a guide to follow as you finally begin the hard work of healing (and might I recommend, it gives you time to save money so that one day you can also get a licensed professional involved).

Stop saying, “I need to get a therapist,” and then using that as your excuse to put off doing the hard work of healing. Start with buying this book, and then put some action steps towards your healing. Take the time to write out your own answers to each question and get the healing journey started. You deserve it (I know personally how hard it is to receive and believe that message, but it’s true.)

You DESERVE to heal.

Thank you NetGalley and Epic Agency for sending this book for review consideration. All opinions expressed here are my own.

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