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Living Oprah? Live Your Real Life

I think I read too many books last year.

Let me take that back. I didn’t read too many. Too many read me. I let them tell me my truth and how to accomplish it. I turned off my inner voice, my truth, as I read their words, so that they could tell me how to run my life. If a book told me that meditation could change my world view, I believed the author and felt badly about myself that I can’t seem to get beyond two seconds without thinking about the kids’ homework, or that the car has only enough gas to get to me their school, not back. If someone maintained that yoga was the answer to absolutely everything that was wrong in the world, I didn’t question that. I got out the whip and told myself that no wonder I struggled so much. I haven’t mastered my lotus pose.

Now, when I see a book title or blog post that could derail me, like “Six drug-free steps to cure absolutely all illness … you pick!,” I don’t read it. Or if I do, I repeat to myself this mantra: “This is my truth. This is my truth.” And I hang on to what I have identified as my truth: a recovery program that is as unique and individual as each person on the planet Earth, one that combines traditional and alternative strategies, one that I discovered only after years of extraordinary effort and creativity, but works for me.

That is my New Year’s resolution: to own my truth, and to protect it as best I can from all propaganda out there today challenging it.

In essence, it’s about living my Real Life. Not the Best Life that so many motivational writers and speakers try to sell me. My Real Life.

Living Oprah

I came away with this New Year’s resolution after reading Robyn Okrant’s entertaining and inspiring book, Living Oprah: My One-Year Experiment to Walk the Walk of the Queen of Talk.

Robyn and I attended a three-day media boot camp in November sponsored by our publisher because our hardbacks are released at the same time. We bonded immediately, because our books are really about the same process… Coming to accept ourselves and love ourselves for who we are, and about owning our truths, even though they might not make for the sexiest headlines: “After trying 23 medication combinations, 7 psychiatrists, 2 hospitalization programs, acupuncture, yoga, and every other kind of alternative medicine, and praying like a blessed mystic for close to three years, you, too, can wake up without wanting to die!”

Robyn’s experiment was even more dangerous than living inside a psych ward. She watched every episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” read every “O” magazine cover to cover, and referred regularly to for an entire year to see if her life would improve if she did everything the talk show queen told her to do.

Did it?

I won’t spoil the surprise. You’ll have to pick up a copy of her book for yourself to find out the details. Robyn’s response is so nuanced and sophisticated that I can’t do her book justice by telling you what gets a plus and what gets a minus. But let me quote one of my favorite passages:

I know that I will never truly believe I am beautiful if I allow someone else’s definition of beauty to impact my self-esteem. I know I will never have a truthful, honest relationship with Jim if I judge my own marriage against others’ unions. The same goes for my friendships and my connection with my family. It is futile and exhausting for me to shape my life to meet anyone else’s standards. And I know there is a hazardous divide between being inspired by others and being dependent on their guidance and approval….I think we can all give up hunting for the elusive path that will lead to Best Lives. I think the very idea of attaining our Best Lives is a fairy tale that keeps us from being satisfied with our Real Lives.

Amen, Robyn! Amen!

So, in 2010, I am going to try to live my Real Life, and to better own and protect my truth that no one but me can dictate.

Living Oprah? Live Your Real Life

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Therese J. Borchard

Therese J. Borchard is a mental health writer and advocate. She is the founder of the online depression communities Project Hope & Beyond and Group Beyond Blue, and is the author of Beyond Blue: Surviving Depression & Anxiety and Making the Most of Bad Genes and The Pocket Therapist. You can reach her at or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn.

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APA Reference
Borchard, T. (2018). Living Oprah? Live Your Real Life. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 16 Jan 2010)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.