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Book Summary: Welcome Home – A Guide to Building a Home for Your Soul

Welcome Home (2021) uses the metaphor of a house to provide a personalized blueprint for achieving self-worth, belonging, and happiness. Through personal stories, practical advice, and poetry, it lays out tools you can use to build a place where you’re at peace with yourself.

Book Summary: Welcome Home - A Guide to Building a Home for Your Soul

Content Summary

Genres
Introduction: Find true happiness and self-worth by being at home within yourself.
Before you can be loved by others, you need to learn to love yourself.
Use forgiveness to free yourself from your pain.
Be in control of who you’re letting into your life.
Examine yourself with care and honesty.
Surrender to yourself.
Summary
About the author
Video and Podcast

Genres

Motivation, Inspiration, Mindfulness, Happiness, Personal Development, Self-Esteem, Memoirs, Self-Help, Poetry, Psychology, Mental Health, Spirituality, Autobiography

Introduction: Find true happiness and self-worth by being at home within yourself.

If you sometimes feel lost, helpless, or broken, you’re not alone. What you need – what we all need – is a home. Not a house, a home: a place where you feel safe, seen, and loved.

Too often, we build our homes in other people; we rely on the validation, comfort, and approval of others. But this inevitably leaves us desperately holding on to love when we find it, and we feel abandoned if the other person leaves.

This summary will teach you how to build a home within yourself. You’ll discover and furnish all the different rooms of the home – each with a specific purpose – through a unique set of tools that’ll help you be comfortable and satisfied with who you are and what you do.

So in your mind, stand in front of the house’s door. Take a deep breath, and step inside. No need to knock – after all, this is your home.

In this summary, you’ll learn

  • to recognize the love that’s already around you;
  • how to separate your pain from the thing that hurt you; and
  • the difference between an emotion and a feeling.

Before you can be loved by others, you need to learn to love yourself.

Picture someone you love. It can be a friend, a partner, a family member – anyone you care for deeply. Now imagine them coming to you with a problem. Maybe they have a bad headache, or they’re stressed out at work. Or maybe they’re going through a tough breakup and need someone to talk to. What would you say to them?

Chances are, you’d do whatever you could to make them feel better. You’d sit them down and find a painkiller for their headache. You’d ask them about their day at work. You’d tell them that it’s going to be alright. You’d do these things because you love them.

Now imagine that it’s you who’s going through that suffering. Would you be as kind and patient with yourself as with your friend? If your answer is no, then you need to work on the first room in the house: self-love.

Self-love means being empathetic toward yourself. It’s a skill that involves treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding you show others rather than defining yourself by the external love you receive or want. Remember, you’re here to build a home within yourself.

Love is a power that’s inside of you. When you give your love to someone else, you shouldn’t feel empty. The key is to first use it to strengthen yourself; then you’ll have more, even infinite, love to direct outward.

Self-love means embracing yourself for who you are, but it also exists in your ability to recognize and receive the love around you. Sometimes, like when we’re in chronic pain or caught up in the emotions of others, we forget that there’s love out there for us – and that it’s not selfish to let it in.

So here’s a simple activity you can practice to help develop your self-love. Every morning, tell yourself, “Today I am going to see proof that I am worthy of love.” Keep this in mind throughout the day, and collect all the affirmations of your worth: a smile, a friendly conversation, a nice text message.

When you look back on these small acts of love at the end of the day, remember that you’re not trying to define your worth through some external source. Rather, your ability to recognize love in the world around you is already the proof you need. In short, let yourself see love, and you’ll realize you’re worthy of it.

Once you’ve spent some time meditating on these thoughts in the Self-love room, you can move on to the room of Forgiveness.

Use forgiveness to free yourself from your pain.

We’re all weighed down by pain. It could be from a friend who broke our trust, or the blame we pile on ourselves for a poor decision we made. Whether this pain comes from our own actions or the actions of others, the only way to truly heal and feel at home within ourselves is through forgiveness.

This is the next room you need to build and furnish.

The first thing you need to know about forgiveness is that it’s only about you. You can’t wait for an apology that may never come, or dwell on actions you may never understand. The thing that hurt you can’t be the thing that heals you. Only you can do that.

It’s OK to have something or someone to forgive. After all, you can’t control the fact that you’ve been hurt, but you can decide what to do with that pain. The forgiveness room isn’t a secret vault where you hide your suffering – it’s an open space where you can let go of anything you’re holding on to, whether they’re thoughts, feelings, or resentments.

Forgiveness is about release. Let go of the idea that you have to go back to being the person you were before. That person is gone, but don’t worry. Now you can pick up the broken pieces, examine them, understand them, and put them into the new you.

Unless you can forgive, you’ll always be tied to the person who hurt you – like a marionette with strings stretching off into the past, unable to move with true freedom and comfort. Wouldn’t it be nice to cut those strings?

There’s a simple but powerful tool you can use to do this: reflect on the events you need to forgive using “I” statements. These statements were made popular in the 1960s for conflict resolution, but they’re also an effective way to shift the focus from other peoples’ actions back to you.

When trying to forgive a friend who lied to you, it might be tempting to say, “She lied to me!” or “She broke my trust!” A more productive statement would be, “I felt sad when she lied to me because it made me feel like I wasn’t worthy of the truth.” Now your forgiveness and healing aren’t about the other person – they’re about you.

These “I” statements follow a simple structure. Start with “I feel” to pinpoint whatever emotion you’re dealing with. Then continue with “when,” followed by the event you’re trying to forgive. Finally, express why it made you feel the way you do by saying “because,” followed by your reason.

Using this formula separates your healing from the person who hurt you. Keep it in a convenient spot in the forgiveness room in your home. When you’re struggling to forgive or let go of something that has pained you, enter this room and find the tools and space to begin healing.

Be in control of who you’re letting into your life.

The home you’re building inside yourself is a place of safety, a place where you’re comfortable living as your authentic self. But that doesn’t mean it’s a place of solitude. Just like any home, you can and should invite others into your heart.

It’s time to focus on the next room – the only one of your rooms that’s meant for others. This is the room of Compassion.

Imagine you’re having a dinner party, and you’re preparing to let people into the intimacy of your home. Are you going to invite everyone? Probably not! You need to prepare a guest list. Let’s take a look at this list. Who’s on it? What are the criteria?

The first and most important guest is also the easiest to overlook: you. It’s your house and your dinner party – you’re the host. You need to be able to show compassion for yourself, and not be so concerned with serving the other guests that you forget your own plate. If you find this idea difficult, take a moment to reflect in the Self-love room.

So, who else is on your guest list? You wouldn’t invite total strangers who haven’t earned your trust, nor would you invite people who’ve hurt you or someone you care about. Know that it’s OK to turn away any guest who shows up uninvited. And if you find a guest disrespecting you in your house, remember that you’re under no obligation to invite them back next time.

These unwanted guests can also take the form of opinions or societal pressures. Unspoken rules about how you should look, what you should wear, and how you should live are constantly reinforced by social media. Try unfollowing negative social media accounts to keep these unwelcome guests at bay.

After you’ve decided who you don’t want to let into your home, it’s time to decide who you will let in. You can approach this by building boundaries. This is when you determine whether the behaviors and opinions of others are acceptable or not. You shouldn’t expect others to change to fit your boundaries; instead, the focus should always be on you and what you find acceptable.

How do you set boundaries? First you need to know yourself, so ask yourself what’s important to you. Once again, the Self-love room is useful here. After that, you can start setting your boundaries using the “I” statement tool you left in the Forgiveness room.

These statements are personal and can change based on the people you’re considering. You’ll likely have different boundaries for family, friends, coworkers, and strangers. A boundary could be something like, “I will say no when I feel uncomfortable” or “I will not put up with disrespectful behavior to protect the feelings of others.”

Once you have these boundaries, it’s important to reinforce and stick to them. You wouldn’t change the height of a fence to accommodate how high someone else can jump.

With your Compassion room complete, you now have a safe method of letting people in and out of your home. Now it’s time to turn the focus back to yourself in the Clarity room.

Examine yourself with care and honesty.

Who are you? Chances are, your answer involves a mixture of experiences, jobs, physical attributes, family members, and cultural and religious expectations – everything that culminates in the consciousness of the person sitting here now, reading this summary.

Do you have a clear picture? It’s common to feel like other people don’t see us for who we really are. But can you truly say that you can see yourself?

Welcome to the Clarity room, where mirrors hang from wall to wall. This is the room you come to for self-reflection. It’s where you can peel away the layers and see your authentic self – not how others see you, or how you think you should be. You’re here to discover the actual you.

Sometimes, it’ll be difficult to see your reflection. The mirrors might be blurred by guilt or confusion or anger. This is your body telling you that something’s wrong. You can use these emotions as tools to help you understand where you need to focus. Listen to your gut – it’ll help you choose the appropriate mirror.

Let’s have a look at some of these mirrors.

The first one is the blank canvas mirror. List everything that defines your life now. Does that actually reflect you? If you had a choice, would that list look the same? If you could rewrite your life onto a blank canvas, what would be different? Think about what’s keeping you from the life you choose.

Next is the purpose mirror. Look at your actions, and ask if they align with your goals in life. If not, what needs to change?

If you’re unsure about what your goals are, look in the intention mirror. Ask yourself why you’re really doing what you’re doing. For example, you could ask, “Why am I trying to get this new job?” or “Why am I posting this on social media?” It doesn’t matter what your intention is, but it’s useful to be aware.

Do you ever feel like you’re avoiding some thought or emotion? Take a look in the escape mirror and ask yourself, “What am I escaping from?” Once you have an answer, you can allow that feeling to leave your home.

There’s also the real-story mirror, where you can reflect on the stories you’re telling yourself, examine whether they’re true, and consider whether they’re helpful to believe. Take a story like “He doesn’t think I’m good enough.” Is this true? It’s likely that you don’t know for sure. Is it useful to believe it? Definitely not.

You can place many types of mirrors in the Clarity room. Think of them as tools for whatever honest self-reflection you need.

With this knowledge of your authentic self, you are now ready to explore the final room: Surrender.

Surrender to yourself.

You’re nearly done exploring the home you’re building in your soul. It feels good, doesn’t it? You feel safe and self-aware in ways you never have before. Suddenly, you hear a knock on the door. You’re not expecting guests – who could it be?

You peek through the keyhole, and there it is: The negative emotion you’ve been avoiding. The pain you don’t want to deal with. The thought you don’t want to explore. You could try waiting it out in another room, but you know the knocking is just going to get louder. This house isn’t a place for you to hide; it’s a place for you to live.

Luckily, you have a room specifically for dealing with these unwanted but unavoidable guests – the Surrender room. This is the room you enter to experience your true emotions, and it’s where you become aware of the habits and patterns you might be using to avoid these emotions. Let’s step inside.

First, you need to understand the relationship between emotions and feelings. A feeling comes from the meaning you attach to the emotion you’re having. Take the emotion of disappointment. This is experienced through the feeling that something you wanted to happen didn’t happen. You’re always aware of your feelings; emotions, on the other hand, can happen unconsciously.

Have you ever experienced an emotion – for instance, anxiety, anger, or sadness – and not been able to say why? This is because you weren’t letting yourself feel the emotion. It’s these unconscious emotions that knock on your door the loudest.

So let them in. Have tea with them. Give yourself the time to stop resisting. Truly understand what emotion you are experiencing – and why. This will empower you to accept and release the emotion as you see fit.

And it’s not just the negative emotions you need to meet. It’s easy to forget that positive emotions need to be acknowledged and validated too. Whatever emotion is knocking, give it the time it needs in the Surrender room.

Surrendering is about facing reality. Just because something is familiar doesn’t mean it’s the way it has to be. Survive in a bad situation long enough, and it becomes living in a bad situation, which then becomes thriving in a bad situation.

One day, the idea of changing that situation becomes unfamiliar and scary. The pain of dealing with a bad relationship becomes more bearable than the pain of breaking up and dealing with the unfamiliar. Only by surrendering to the reality of the unfamiliar can you actually begin to change your life for the better.

You can become more comfortable with the unfamiliar by shifting your focus to what you want to be familiar. First, write down what thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and relationships tend to come easily and naturally to you. This is your familiar – your normal.

Next, write down what you want to be thinking, doing, or feeling instead. By acknowledging these things as simply new rather than scary, you can start on the path to redefining what’s familiar to you.

Now it’s time to turn your attention back to that unwanted guest who’s knocking at the door of your new home. How long have they been there, knocking louder and louder? Maybe it’s time you opened that door.

Summary

In this summary, you’ve learned how important it is to listen to your authentic self. If you’d like to immerse yourself in this idea, find a quiet place, sit by yourself, and try to listen to what your inner voice is telling you.

Chances are, the voice you hear is not your own. It may be a sense of self that you’re convinced is real because of your life experiences or what others have told you about yourself. Push past this inner voice. It’s not you. Your authentic self is the one listening to this inner voice. It’s not defined by yourself or others. It doesn’t come from anything external.

You can’t get your sense of worth from someone else. All of your love, forgiveness, and compassion is inside of you. This is your power, and it exists apart from the outside world. When you’re aware of who you truly are – and fully accept this being – you can be at home within yourself.

About the author

Najwa Zebian is a Lebanese Canadian activist, author, speaker, and educator. Her search for a home was central to her early years as she struggled to find her place in the world. She became a teacher and a doctoral candidate in educational leadership. As Najwa began to write in an effort to connect with and heal her first students, a group of young refugees, she found that she was also writing to heal herself. The author of three collections of poetry, she delivered the TEDx talk “Finding Home Through Poetry” and recently launched a digital school, Soul Academy, and a podcast, Stories of the Soul. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Glamour, Elle Canada, HuffPost, and more.

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Video and Podcast

Book Summary: Welcome Home – A Guide to Building a Home for Your Soul
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