I honestly don’t know how I stumbled upon this book.
I think I was scrolling through my Audible account and because I had already downloaded several books about compassion it popped up as a suggestion. The name alone caught my attention, and when I read the sub-title, it was what I needed at the moment: the subtle art of not giving a f*ck.
At the time, I was in a space where I really wanted to give up on a lot of different aspects of my life. It was before I read Kristen Neff’s Self-Compassion book, and before I took a more aggressive approach to my wellness journey. The book sat on my audio “bookshelf” for several months until I finally decided to give it a go.
I am glad I did.
Be forewarned, if you aren’t keen on vulgar language, this book and review may not be for you. I will try to keep the analysis family-friendly, but at times it will be necessary to use strong wording.
What follows is my review of a book I chose on my own. I did not receive any compensation for this review.
Title: Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and into Your Life
Author: Gary John Bishop
Date Published: 2017
Amazon Link (non-affiliate)
Official Book Website
From the onset of the book, Gary John Bishop lets the reader know that he’s not going to sugar-coat anything. Bishop warns the reader that he will be frank, he won’t say what you want to hear, and he’s probably going to turn some preconceived notions you might have on their head. There is an acknowledgment that some of the concepts will be controversial because he does use a broad brush to paint personal responsibility.
Personal responsibility plays a significant role throughout the book. We, the reader, are responsible for our own actions. Each time we come up with an excuse “but, my….” the use of an excuse gets in the way of our ability to take action in our life. Bishop believes that the obstacles we use in our reasons are surmountable if we don’t engage in obstacle talk, to begin with.
Bishop uses the introduction to explain self-talk and how many conversations we have with ourselves throughout the day. The nature, tone, and direction of this self-talk impacts how we reflect on ourselves and respond in our lives. Really, we don’t recognize the significance of this impact in our lives because that self-talk is so invisible, but it does affect the daily decisions we make.
Chapter one challenges the readers to use more assertive language when having these self-talks or normal conversations. If we use more active, “I will be a published author” versus the passive language we tend to use “I want to be a published author,” it gives us the mental fortitude to seek and achieve our desires. Assertive language makes the goal attainable and brings us into a more active participant in our desires.
In chapter two, Bishop tackles victimhood in our lives. As a coping mechanism, we often become victims in our lives and when we do that, we get in the way of our own desires. Removing the internalized victim mentality allows us to regain control in our lives. We are able to take action for the important changes we want to make.
The third chapter diverges from the normal self-help formula. It acknowledges how we win already in our life. Every moment we exist, we are winning: we are surviving (win!), we allow ourselves to be miserable in our jobs (win!), and we think we can’t do any better, so we don’t (win!). In the moments we self-sabotage, we are winning at the self-sabotage. We accept these “wins” as things we cannot/will not change and therefore we win at “losing.”
Chapter four discusses gaining perspective on our present by looking to our past and future. We get stuck in our past even in the moments we look to our future. Old habits, negative self-talk, and other personal obstacles get in the way of achieving our desires. Through mindfulness, appreciating our present since it’s tangible, will help change our future.
The fifth chapter addresses taking advantage of the opportunity to do something with your life. We have a lot of fears, which is understandable, but those fears get in the way of our desires. Uncertainty is a common fear, and through that uncertainty, we are reticent to make a meaningful life change. But Bishop wants the reader to embrace that uncertainty because within it comes our personal growth.
Chapter six is about the difference between our thoughts and actions. Another divergence from the typical self-help book: positive thinking is great but it’s our actions that matter more. We know plenty of celebrities who engage in negative self-talk (self-destructive behavior) yet are successful. Their negative thoughts aren’t stopping them from the action. When we sit around thinking about what we want to do or meditating on it, we aren’t taking the steps to achieve those goals.
Humans are risk-averse, and chapter seven acknowledges this. What we can do and do well (positive or negative), comes from taking that initial risk of trying something new until it became a habit or mindless. For example: driving a car is a risk we took, one that might have brought about a lot of fear, but we kept at it until we became proficient. Now we don’t think anything about getting into a vehicle multiple times a day because we no longer recognize the risk. To that end, we get into a rut of sticking with what we are comfortable with doing to avoid taking those risks we once did. When we hold in the shadows of our life, what do we get out of it? We have to put ourselves in risk’s way to see personal success.
Chapter eight examines managing our expectations. The motto is “expect nothing and accept everything.” When we expect nothing in life but are open to all possibilities, we put ourselves in the moment discussed in chapter four. We cannot expect life to happen for/to us because when we do that, nothing happens. But if we are open to possibility, we are more open to taking the risks discussed in chapter seven.
The final chapter, nine, puts everything Bishop discussed into seven personal assertions:
- I am willing
- I am wired to win
- I got this
- I embrace the uncertainty
- I am not my own thoughts; I am what I do
- I am relentless
- I expect nothing and accept everything
By using these personal assertions in our daily life as mantras (as needed) we are able to take a more active role in our life. These are the initial steps of untangling ourselves from the thoughts and actions preventing us from achieving personal success.
Thoughts and Recommendation
If you need a kick in the pants to get started in your wellness journey, with a tone similar to a boot camp instructor, try Unf*ck Yourself. This book comes from the school of common sense, so there are plenty of “duh” moments while reading it. Full disclosure, it was with an air of “I-know-this-but-never-actually-do-it.” Bishop reminds the reader about the importance of common sense, and it’s nice to have an objective third party say what I am already thinking.
Bishop’s main thesis is “just do.” That’s it – just get out there and do what you’ve wanted but talked yourself out of doing. We get caught up in excuses as to why we don’t take a risk, or why we can’t, but we lose that we can actually achieve our desires. We are “happy” with our lives as they are because we allow ourselves to settle.
That brings up what is the controversial aspect of the book: Bishop states that we are unequivocally responsible for our lives and actions. This is problematic in the situations where we literally have no choice: if we lose our mobility due to exacerbation how can we choose to walk again?
I imagine Bishop would respond about taking the rehabilitative steps to re-learn how to walk unless it’s physically impossible and in that case alter your expectations. Bishop does not qualify situations that would be specific to people with chronic illness, so if you are like me you have to read the book with an open mind.
That said, it’s crucial to adapt Bishop’s advice to our situations. As someone with MS, I found that I used fatigue as an excuse to not be productive in the afternoon. You’ve heard me talk about it on the blog before: my productivity level is lower in the afternoon.
I took a few moments to reflect on my fatigue: was I tired or was I saying I was tired? I realized that while I am exhausted after a full day, I chose to not take the hour or two Ash watches Jai to be productive. Self-care is still important, so I take it when I need it, but I realized I was accepting my fatigue to stay in my comfort zone rather than taking risks.
When I finished reading Bishop’s book, I realized that the only person preventing me from achieving personal goals and personal satisfaction was myself. Life might close certain doors, but I had to go out there and find a way to work around those doors or just bust them open if I didn’t want to change course.
I also came to the realization that I spent a lot of my life waiting. I would wait for spiritual signs, permission, or social acceptance before embarking on a new endeavor. When I ran into a roadblock, it was easy to allow myself to give up. Rather than letting my fears to stop me, after reading this book, I realized I needed to take a more active role in my life. Embrace the uncertainty and fear.
I knew all of this on an unconscious level, but reading it from someone else validated what I knew but was afraid to admit.
Bishop’s book was a shot of pep I needed in working towards my personal goals. I recognized so much truth in his writing: I was winning in my life but not in the way I wanted. I had to step outside my comfort zone like I did when I learned to drive. Flops weren’t a failure on my part, but just a learning opportunity.
If you need a no-nonsense, slap you upside the head with reality self-help book, please check out Unf*ck Yourself. I think it’s a great way to fire up your potential and get you motivated to move forward with your goals. I know that I am going to return to it frequently when I feel any flagging in motivation. That said, if you aren’t keen on coarse language and need someone to coach you in a gentle way, this book may not be for you.
Want to Read More?
If you think this book is for you, or you want to find similar books, here are some of my suggestions. Does not contain affiliate links:
- Stop doing that Sh*t (not released as of this review)
- You are a Badass, How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life
- Girl Wash Your Face
Have you read Unf*ck Yourself? What are your thoughts on the book? Please post your thoughts in the comments.
Like this post? Make sure to follow me on your favorite social media platform and show some love by sharing it. Links found below.