How to Stop Feeling Like Shit: A Review

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One day a couple months ago, a random email showed up in my box. I didn't know the sender. And I'd certainly never received an email with "Announcing the publication of..." as the first few words. I receive so many emails, I figured it was more spam from a random list that I just happened to sign up for way back when. The first email, I promptly deleted. The second, I almost did the same. But something intrigued me. So I read on.

The email contained phrases like, "insightful", "no-punches-pulled", "straight-shooting", "kicking gears out of autopilot", etc. It was intriguing. And then I saw the kicker. "Please let us know if you would like to review a copy..." Hmmm...they want me to review this book? At first, the imposter syndrome gremlins kicked in. The "why me" and "who cares what I think of the book". Trust me, the irony was not lost on me. I was being asked to read and review a book called "How to Stop Feeling like Shit" and I was shit-talking myself. Lol. So, never one to say no to a free personal growth book, I responded.

Just over a two months later, I'm back to write my review. And, let me save you any further suspense. I LOVED IT!

 Andrea Owen is Brene Brown meets Jen Sincero meets many of the other call-you-on-your-shit, fast-talking, brash female authors out there whose names currently escape me. Her combination of insight, background, and incredible, engaging voice made this book not only an easy read, but an enlightening one as well.

none of that cookie-cutter bullshit

Perhaps one of the biggest thing about Andrea Owen's style that I grew to appreciate is that she completely avoided and didn't lean on the cookie-cutter bullshit like so many self-help authors do. Some self-help books are truly forgettable because they, frankly, present you with nothing new. And that's just too damn bad! If I'm going to invest my money in a book and my time in reading it, it better present me with something new and just re-hash the same old lessons in different words. 

I remember watching something on Tony Robbin's documentary on Netflix where he says something along the lines of, "This isn't some bullshit seminar, where I'm just going to have you chant 'there are no weeds' and pretend that the shit isn't there." And Andrea Owen's approach to self-help is exactly the same. 

You complete your list: meditation, yoga, green smoothies, follow this person on Instagram, read all the books. But here’s what I know to be true: that checklist won’t make you happy and joyful. The “answer” - the key to your happiness - lies in connecting the dots from your past to your current behavior and shining the light on things that hurt. It’s about acing the obstacles, working through, and processing them, and loving yourself along the way.”
— Andrea Owen, "How to Stop Feeling Like Shit"

All the truth bombs

I'm always a fan of authors that can drop some serious truth bombs. But what I loved about Andrea Owen's style was the fact that she put her truth bombs in a context that was so painfully true it was uncomfortable, and action-inspiring. Take this little nugget of wisdom. 

I mean, you know how you like your coffee and you know who should have won The Bachelor, but do you know how you want to live your life? Every single day? Do you know your triggers and how to recognize them? Because when you do, you’re acutely aware of your missteps and you can correct course - and that’s how you step into a kick-ass life.”
— Andrea Owen, "How to Stop Feeling Like Shit"

So many of us are prioritizing the wrong shit in our lives, but we don't realize it. Andrea Owen puts that simple notion into such glaring context that we're forced to recognize how messed up our priorities have been. We're prioritizing our coffee order and our favorite TV show. We're so unflinchingly familiar with these aspects of our lives. Yet if someone asked us to describe the things that trigger us or to say our top 3 life goals, how quickly could we rattle them off? How much would we hesitate? For the vast majority of us, we would hesitate a lot. We would hesitate far too much. And what's brilliant about this simple statement is that it's put into a context that we can all relate to. We can wholeheartedly recognize that, yes, my life goals and the things that I'm chasing after are much more important than my coffee order or who the next Bachelor will be. It forces us to step back and evaluate that we're expending far too much conscious awareness to these insignificant aspects of our lives. It challenges us to re-evaluate. And it's brilliant.

Making Shame Accessible...because you do experience it

Ya'll know I love me some Brene Brown. If you've been following me for any period of time, you know that I've read and reread all her books. I share and discuss her ideas all the time. I'm a fan. Mildly obsessed you might say. Andrea Owen is too, as demonstrated by the fact that she's a certified Daring Way facilitator, which is Brene Brown's flagship training program for coaches, social workers, psychologists, etc. I never thought you could find someone that could talk about shame and vulnerability quite like Brene Brown. But, Andrew Owen does a damn good job. You might even say that in some ways, she's better. Take this quote below for example...

When we think of someone feeling ashamed, we might imagine that person has done inconceivable things and her actions have been made public: she was caught embezzling money from her church and the whole congregation knows. He was caught having an affair with his psychiatrist and people are whispering around town about it....

What I’ve come to know is that shame is not only more common than we think but also happens—often—in private scenarios. I hate to break it to those of you who think you’re living shame-free, but all of us feel shame.”
— Andrea Owen, "How to Stop Feeling Like Shit"

What's so special about this? Well, firstly, I would just like to say that Brene Brown is a kick-ass researcher, writer and speaker. For the most part, she's incredibly gifted about putting her work into context and explaining it in a way that her readers and listeners can keenly understand. But that's not always the case. As a researcher, you sometimes get so close to your work that you can't detach yourself from some of the jargon. The more technical terminology. Speaking as a former scientist, I'm keenly aware of this. Though Brene Brown doesn't fall victim to this often, she occasionally does. 

What Andrea Owen was able to do was to frame some of these more complicated issues, particularly issues of shame, in a manner that anyone and everyone could understand. She's right. Shame is something that sometimes people struggle to understand. They think of the word "shame" or the phrase "I feel ashamed" and often apply it in it's most extreme scenarios, thinking that these are the only instances of shame. But they're not. Shame is a subtle and sneaky monster. What Andrea Owen did was she framed the experience of shame in more everyday examples. Examples that most of us can relate to and even sympathize/empathize with. And that's incredibly important. Because the simple experience and understanding that shame is a prevalent emotion and that, yes, we do all experience it, is such an important part of emotional health and living your best life.

making struggle a-okay & Addressing that it is a daily effort

Ya’ll. The inner critic runs deep. That is why I go on and on and on (and on) about this work being a constant, daily effort and not just a one-night stand. It takes lots of practice to undo this.
— Andrea Owen, "How to Stop Feeling Like Shit"

One thing that I hate in personal growth books is when they don't address the daily struggle that making true transformation truly is! They give you activities and to-do lists and meditations, but they don't emphasize enough that this is a daily struggle. Especially when it's a mental and emotional transformation like changing your inner monologue and stopping "feeling like shit". It's a practice! And coming up with daily ways to cultivate that change in mentality. It's the emphasis that it's not all going to be forward progress. It's going to occasionally be two-steps forward and 3 steps back! And that's okay. But you still have to show up. And that's the important thing!

Accompanying Resources up the ying-yang

Meditations? Worksheets? Book recommendations? Resources? Andrea Owen is amazingly good at piling on all the resources! You can find them all here. Not all books provide you with that kind of help! And I massively appreciated the extra assistance! Basically, this book was a really good one! It had all sorts of insights and spunky, no-holds-barred stories and truth-bombs! And when tackling heavy subjects like this, that's exactly what we all need!

Buy your copy of "How to stop feeling like shit" Here


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