If you haven’t been following along, last month, I announced that I would be reviewing Andrea Owen’s latest book, How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t: 14 Habits that Are Holding You Back from Happiness.
Along with her book, Andrea offered a 4-week long study group for people who are reading the book. This review isn’t just on the book, but my experience reading the follow and following along in the study group. To catch up, click the links below:
BABES. I COMPLETELY FELL OFF THE PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT TRAIN.
Funny enough, on Wednesday, Andrea posted in the study group “We have reached ‘The Dip!'” Haha which apparently is halfway through the class where people lose momentum, get sidetracked, get overwhelmed, and have a hard time hopping back on the horse. So personal victory – it’s not just me! Apparently, it’s totally normal to lose momentum and fall off the train. She asked us to add a GIF in the comments to show how we’re feeling. This was the gem I chose:
Okay, maybe that was a little dramatic, but in this week, I started a new job (which I will talk about later), my boyfriend was visiting me from out of town, and I am trying to bust my butt at the gym in anticipation of two tropical vacations coming up. So with that being said, here’s what I was able to gather from the next 4 chapters.
Chapter 8 – Perfectionism
This is another chapter I wanted to avoid. I find myself doing that with the chapters I need to read the most. But this chapter hits a trigger for me because, throughout most of my life, one person in my life has always pointed out my “need to be perfect,” but in a very insulting way that makes me feel like I am being put down for my hard work. I don’t think I have ever worked towards being perfect, but subconsciously, I know there are things I have avoided doing in my life in fear of not being perfect. For example, I played volleyball on intermediate bar leagues for years in my early-mid 20’s. After the sudden passing of one of my teammates and best friends, I completely stopped playing. I went to grad school and had other obligations at the time so it wasn’t just his passing that turned me off to the sport. But now, I am in a new city and one of my friends always asks me to play volleyball with her. But I don’t because I am afraid I am no longer good enough. I didn’t realize that until reading this chapter, so thank you, Andrea, for pointing that out!
But what Andrea talks about in this chapter is that it’s not a bad thing to want to do things well. But what is not good is when you avoid them altogether because you’re afraid you won’t do it well enough. When I play volleyball with her, am I going to be as good as I used to be? Hell no. Will I be embarrassed? Yes. But instead of avoiding it, maybe I can ask her to practice on the beach with me before hitting the court. I can use this example to look at places in my life where I make mistakes and learn from them, rather than avoiding them and criticizing myself for not being perfect.
Chapter 9 – Being Strong: The Illusive Tough Exterior
“Stay strong!” MY GOODNESS, IF I HEAR THIS PHRASE ONE MORE TIME, I MIGHT SNAP. Yes, friends, family, boyfriend, LISTEN UP!
If you don’t know me well, then you don’t know I am in a long-distance relationship with my long-time boyfriend. We planned to move to our dream city together, but unfortunately, I got a job first and together we made the decision for me to come here first. It’s been HARD. Especially throughout the holidays. Almost every day someone says “Stay strong!” Although it’s meant to be a positive pep talk, really, someones I need to feel my feelings, breakdown, cry, and talk about how freaking hard it actually is. It’s like being “strong” has been coded as a badge of honor you can wear for not letting people know you cry and are human. Andrea points out, we often say “stay strong” as if the alternative, falling apart, is wrong. Is it? While being strong isn’t always a bad thing, why do we make it seem bad for us to cry when we are truly in pain? My favorite quote from this chapter is, “We like happiness and positivity. So, instead of risking discomfort and vulnerability, we ask people to stay strong.”
What if it’s okay to fall apart sometimes and face our feelings?
I am just going to leave that right there. Clearly, this chapter triggered some strong feelings in me!
Chapter 10 – Let Me Do It: Start Letting Go of Control
Seriously, did she write the second half of this book for me? With being strong, comes being overly independent. When you are independent and do things yourself, you get used to having that control. This is common because as humans, we like certainty and it can be scary when you put faith in someone else and you are uncertain of what the outcome will be. Andrea discusses the fine line between being efficient and crossing the self-control line into “Crazytown.” This can show up in the order in which we like our house, trying to force others to stick to a schedule or itinerary, or maybe micromanaging your children (if you are a parent).
“People who struggle with control are living in fear.”
Boom. People who try to control and trying to avoid pain and uncertainty in their own lives. The best part about this chapter is Andrea tells you how to fix it. I am going to leave that answer up to you to order the book and discover. This chapter was pretty much skipped over in the study group, but of the 4 chapters this week, I think the other 3 struck bigger cords with most people (myself included).
Chapter 11 – The Sky Is Falling: Bracing Yourself for Catastrophe.
This is something I know many of my friends do and I have done myself. One of my best friends and I actually talk about this often and until reading this book, I didn’t know there was a word for it!
When everything in your life, relationship, job, family, pregnancy, etc. is going perfect and you think “this can’t possibly last.” All good things come to an end, right? We start to brace ourselves for the end of an era and wonder when it’s going to hit us. Apparently, people are uncomfortable feeling joy. Did you know that? I didn’t. I thought there were all kinds of people skipping through fields in joy. But I guess it makes sense that when we’re used to feeling disappointed, it’s strange to feel joy. Feeling joy can make us feel unsafe and vulnerable. Like we can’t get our guard down, otherwise, the upcoming pain will be unbearable. Andrea explains that when we let go of catastrophizing, we let us of our safety net.
This was a huge topic of discussion in the study group. In Andrea’s live video on Thursday, someone asked the question “How do I experience pure joy?” Someones we need to pause in the moment and think THIS IS SO FUN! How many of us do that? We often look back on days and think “wow, that was a fun night.” But it’s important to practice living in the moment to feel joy. In the study group, there was a much longer conversation on this topic and that’s what makes the study group so valuable.
I am quickly nearing the end of the book and my last review will be next week. If there is something I haven’t covered that you’d like to know, drop a note in the comments. Until next week!
XO – J