A Review of "How to Get What You Want and Want What You Have," by John Gray

Updated on February 20, 2020
louiseelcross profile image

Not getting what you want from life? Disappointed? Do not know what to do next? This article will help you get unstuck.

John Gray

How To Get What You Want and Want What You Have

John Gray was born in Houston, Texas, in 1951, and he is an author and marriage and family therapist. One of his most famous books is Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.

In his book How to Get What You Want and Want What You Have, he shares proven strategies that can enable us achieve personal success. He offers practical advice on dealing with negative emotions, improving communication and resolving conflict skills. I decided to share the contents of this book with others in the hope that it will help others as much as it helped me in my life.

John Gray claims that we can all have the life we desire. We can all do and be what we want to do in life, as long as we truly know what we want.

When I came across this book I was in a bad place in my life emotionally. I was depressed and felt there was no hope for me. It was difficult for me to identify what I was feeling and I felt lost and confused.

Just about every experience I had was negative and I did not know how to change my situation. The book explains how, when we are stuck in negative emotions we attract negative situations. We mirror our inner experience through our reality in life. When we are negative on the inside we draw to us negative experiences.

When I looked at the main list of negative emotions John shares in his book, I realised that I felt them all negative emotions listed but I did not know how to deal with them. I did not know how to identify individual negative emotions. My emotions were just one big ball of negativity. By reading John's insights I was able to identify each feeling and begin to process them.

‘To the extent that you dwell on negative emotions you will attract that in your life. To the extent that you deny your emotions you will disconnect with the power to create what we want’ (pg. 138).

We all have the inner power to create what we want from life but when we deny our negative emotions or we do not feel the negative emotion, we become blocked from creating the life we want. We become disconnected from our true want which is to be happy and to love.

Twelve Negative Emotions

  1. I am angry.
  2. I am sad.
  3. I am afraid.
  4. I am sorry.
  5. I am frustrated.
  6. I am disappointed.
  7. I am worried.
  8. I am embarrassed.
  9. I am jealous.
  10. I am hurt.
  11. I am scared.
  12. I am ashamed.

John says that all other emotions stem from these 12 negative emotions. When we are stuck in one or more negative emotions from the list, we lose the ability to feel our true desire's which is to be happy and loving. Being stuck in a negative emotion also means we cannot feel our inner power and ability to change things.

We become blocked and unable to connect to the positive feelings of our true selves which is to be loved and to love.

We need to process these negative emotions so that we can re connect to our true desires. Only by feeling our negative emotions can relief from that emotion be felt.

‘Dwelling on and feeling negativity only works when we are feeling our negative emotions. Pure negative emotions help us to find our way back to balance as we are moving away from the true self’ (pg. 216).

Feelings Chart

When we are not getting what we need from life and we are not in touch with our desires, Only by fully feeling our true desires can we create the life we want. If we feel stuck in life, we feel blocked from connecting to our true self or desires and we are blocked from our powerful inner ability and power to change.

Look down the list below and find your block. An example would be, if you identified Depression as you block from the list below. You would go along the page and find the general feeling of Abandonment. The healing emotions that need to be faced and processed are sadness, fear and sorrow.

John recommends Identifying the block and the general feeling and then process the associated emotion and the next two emotions below on the list below it.

I started from the top of the list with the block of Blame even though I felt Depression, Anxiety and everything else on the list.

I blamed my parents and everything they had done to me for my inability to feel good about myself. By blaming others I disconnected from my inner power to change my life. I was blocked from my own ability to make changes in my own life. I had to become aware of Blame and address what the attitude of blame was doing to me and my life.

Next to Blame is Betrayed, which is a general feeling we carry about, whether we are conscious of the feeling or not. I needed to address this feeling of being betrayed. Next on the list was anger and then I explored the emotion of sadness, fear and sorrow.

By writing the feelings letter we become aware of how we really feel and why we feel the way we do. We can voice that pain through the feelings letter without fear of anyone reading the letter. No one needs to read the letter. You do not have to show the letter to whoever it is addressed to. You could destroy the letter or, if you feel that you share then share it. I could not share my letter with my mum because she died of an alcohol related illness when I was aged 11.

Feelings chart

1. Blame
2 .Depression
3. Anxiety
4. Indifference
5. Judgement
7. Procrastination
8. Perfectionism
9. Resentment
10. Self-pity
11. Confusion
12. Guilt

My Personal Experience

As a child I was abused by my alcoholic parents and unloved. I felt that I would never get the love I needed. I developed beliefs that I was unlovable and that there must be something wrong with me. John teaches that although we cannot change the past we can change the beliefs, we can also change how we feel.

As an adult it was very difficult for me to identify what I was feeling and so felt lost and confused and was experiencing constant intrusive thoughts. I would constantly hear myself say that I was stupid or that I was not good enough. My mother’s words of how useless I was were haunting me even though my mother had died over forty years ago.

Once I began to understood the emotions and what emotions I was feeling it got easier, in time, to release my negative emotions and come back to my true self and my true needs. My intrusive thoughts decreased dramatically and I was grateful for that.

We feel emotional pain when we are accepting or experiencing negative beliefs. We usually develop negative self beliefs in childhood. So, by going back in time and reliving the pain we felt as children that resulted in a negative belief we can heal the pain and reconnect to our true selves. By revisiting the past and by using the processes shown in this book we can reconnect to our true selves who are always beautiful and lovable.

We know we are not connected to our true self and true desires in life when we are not experiencing or attracting what we need in life to feel good about ourselves. When we are in this position we are blocked from all that is good in life and we are blocked from the power to change.

With a fuller understanding of how we become blocked in a negative emotion by reading Johns insights we can process the negative emotion quickly and return to feeling happy.

John says that by going down the list to identify what we are feeling we can begin to process those negative emotions. As I was lost and confused with many negative emotions I decided to start at the top of the list of negative emotions and work my way through them all and it worked. Soon I was feeling less confused and able to identify fairly quickly what negative emotions I was feeling.

Anger and Blame

I felt angry and believed that I could not get the love I needed because of my parents abuse. I blamed my parents for the way that I felt which was a feeling of being unlovable. I needed to let go of blame with forgiveness for my parents actions in order to bring myself back to a sense of inner peace and harmony. By doing so I could focus on what I really wanted which was to be loving and happy.

By holding onto pain and blame I could not reach my inner power to heal my pain. I felt powerless to create the loving life that I wanted. By learning to let go of blame with forgiveness I was able to stop focusing on my pain from the abuse I had endured as a child and move on with my life.

The Feeling Letter Format

The first step is to become aware of what we are feeling. John suggests that we identify our block and link it to the past.

"Recall a time when you felt betrayed and then explore the four emotions of anger, sadness, fear and sorrow and then write a feeling letter. Address the letter to whoever you feel has left you feeling anger.

In my case I was angry and my block was blame. My letter was addressed to my mum.

I feel betrayed that....

I am angry that...

I am sad that...

I am afraid that...

I am sorry that....

I want....

The Feeling Letter

Dear Mum,

I felt betrayed when you hurt me and did not protect me from the constant abuse.

I felt angry that you were so cruel to me and that you were selfish by putting alcohol before me. Angry that you only thought of your own needs and angry that you did not protect me.

I felt sad that you could not show me love and left me feeling unlovable and unloved. I was sad because I could not please you and that you felt the need to hurt me.

I felt afraid that you would hurt me. Afraid that I was not as important to you as my sisters and brother and afraid that I was not good enough for you. I was afraid that I could not trust you.

I am sorry that I could not please you. Sorry that I got on your nerves and irritated you. I am sorry that we did not have good times together. I am sorry that I could not trust you so that I could come to you, my mum, when I was hurting.

I love you and want you to love me. I want to feel free of pain to enjoy life and to be loving. I want you to feel proud of me. I want to feel happy and to feel loved. I want you to accept me and love me for who I am.

Now write a response letter and imagine what you would feel like if you got the response you wanted to hear.

The Response Letter Format

I apologise...

Please forgive me...

I understand...

I promise...

I love you...

Dear Louise,

I apologise for being so cruel and abusive towards you. Sorry that I allowed you to get hurt by putting my need to drink before you.

Please forgive me for hurting you and for not showing you love. You did not deserve to be hurt.

I understand why you are hurt and angry with me. I understand why you could not trust me to tell me that you were hurting.

I promise I will do better and promise I will never hurt you again.

I love you and have always loved you. I want you to know that you are lovable and are not to blame for anything I did. You are loved and you were always loved. I want you to enjoy life because you deserve a happy life filled with love and joy. I love you.

And Finally

Before finding this book I could not imagine feeling any better than I did which was not good. Once I started processing my inner pain I felt a sense of relief. I was able to feel calmer and more positive about life. I learnt that the key to developing much needed inner peace was to first become aware of my negative emotions and then to let them go, As I let go of the negative emotions I felt free to focus on more positive experiences in my life.

I am truly grateful to John Gray for sharing his insights in this book. My life changed dramatically after reading it. I now have valuable life skills to deal with negative emotions and without those skills, I was truly struggling with life. I am now aware of what negative emotion I am feeling and why I am feeling it. I am then able to let go of the pain the negative emotions brought.

Through reading How to Get What You Want and Want What You Have, my life is good. I have learnt how to love myself and that is the most valuable lesson I have ever learnt.

Give it a try, identify emotion and let me know how you go on. Leave a message below. I wrote this article because it worked for me. I wanted to share that with all those who are feeling low and feel they have no where to turn. Turn to this book and its advice and I hope it helps all who read and understand.

And Finally

Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Questions & Answers


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • louiseelcross profile imageAUTHOR

        Louise Elcross 

        4 months ago from Preston

        Thank you Nd for reading. The book really helped me when I needed it. Glad it was helpful.

      • Naddy Pasha profile image


        4 months ago from uk

        Great article and very helpful .

      • louiseelcross profile imageAUTHOR

        Louise Elcross 

        6 months ago from Preston

        I am glad that it has been made clearer. Thanks for the feedback.

      • Amanda Buck profile image

        Amanda Buck 

        6 months ago from Rural South Central Indiana

        Thanks! I went back and read the changes you made and it is more clear now.

      • louiseelcross profile imageAUTHOR

        Louise Elcross 

        6 months ago from Preston

        Hi Amanda.When we do not feel the negative emotion or we are unaware of the neg feelings we are blocked from our inner power to create the life we want and deserve. Blocks prevent us from moving forward. John gives many insights to how blocks can happen but being aware of one of the 12 blocks to success as listed is important start to healing. I edited the paper to try and make clearer. Hope that helps and thank you for reading and comment.

      • Amanda Buck profile image

        Amanda Buck 

        6 months ago from Rural South Central Indiana

        I loved your letters to and from your Mum. I can see how that could be very healing. I was also interested in the feelings chart, but I do not understand exactly what a "block" is. Can you elaborate and explain what the author means by a "block" in the feelings chart? Thanks for sharing!


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, patientslounge.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)