Unfu*k Yourself (2017) lays out an unpleasant truth: there’s only one thing that’s getting in the way of your best life, and that’s you. It provides a set of no-nonsense strategies designed to help you get out of your head, get out of your way, and begin living life on your own terms.
Introduction: Strategies for overcoming your own worst enemy – you.
Table of Contents
Out of everyone in your life, who do you spend the most time talking to?
If you said your mom, you’re wrong – even if you call her seven times a day.
If you said your best friend, you’re wrong – even if you live together.
If you said the members of your most active WhatsApp group, you’re wrong – even if you’re sending them a hilarious meme right this second.
The person you talk to most is … yourself. You have approximately 50,000 thoughts a day, and a lot of those thoughts occur within the context of self-talk. That’s right. You’re in a constant dialogue with yourself – whether you’re examining yourself in the mirror, working up the courage to talk to an attractive stranger at a bar, or second-guessing the contents of an important email.
Now, it is possible that those conversations you have with yourself are uniformly supportive, encouraging, and rational. But seeing as you’re reading a summary titled Unfu*k Yourself, we’re going to assume that you’re like most people – that sometimes, even a lot of the time, the voices in your head are negative, undermining, and panic-inducing. That those voices are holding you back from living the life you truly want to live.
Changing the way you talk to yourself can change everything. This summary sets out five radical assertions designed to help you make that change – and make it stick.
You live the life you choose for yourself.
Be honest with yourself – there are parts of your life that you find unsatisfactory. You face big problems – a job that feels like it’s going nowhere, for instance. And you deal with minor irritations – perhaps your partner doesn’t pull their weight with housework.
Of course, you didn’t choose to get stuck in a dead-end job or fall in love with someone who’s apparently allergic to washing the dishes.
Or did you?
If you’re willing to put up with unsatisfactory circumstances, then you are, effectively, choosing to live with them. So here’s a question for you: Are you willing to change what’s dragging you down?
You might be tempted to say something like, Of course I’m willing to quit, but the job market right now is …
Stop right there. You’re not really willing to make that change – yet. As soon as the word “but” creeps in, you start justifying your choice not to change your life for the better. Willingness is a hard state to access; it’s often easier to get comfortable with life’s negatives than do the work required to change them. But once you do access it, you’ll find it’s a powerful force. As the political strategist Niccolo Machiavelli said, “Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great.”
So, how do you invite willingness into your life?
Begin by getting real. What’s one thing you want to change in your life but haven’t been able to? Why haven’t you done something about it? Perhaps you’re too busy. Or too tired. Or you’re not quite ready yet. Or it’s actually really complicated … the list could go on forever. But there’s really only one reason you haven’t made that change, and it’s you.
You haven’t been willing to do the work to make things better. But don’t get depressed or down on yourself. It’s liberating to realize that you are creating a life you don’t want for yourself. Because that means that you are equally capable of manifesting a life you do want.
Once you’ve accepted the crazy amount of power you have over your own life, you simply need the willingness to use that power to make the necessary changes. So, here’s the first assertion that will rewire your negative self-talk: I am willing.
Are you willing to change your job? I am willing.
Are you willing to improve your relationship? I am willing.
Are you willing to hit the gym, move to a new city, put your work out there, do things that scare you? I am willing.
And here’s a little trick – if you’re feeling daunted by the big changes ahead, flip the script. Focus instead on the things that you’re no longer willing to put up with. It can feel like a lot to promise yourself that you’ll hand in your notice at your steady job and make the leap into a new role.
So ask yourself this: Are you willing to spend your life doing work that doesn’t fulfill you, for people who don’t appreciate your efforts? You know how to answer that: I am unwilling!
Being willing isn’t a magic wand. It won’t make change happen – change happens through work, persistence, and sacrifice. But the state of willingness is what sets the stage so all of that can happen.
If you really want to win, change the game.
Guess what? You’re a winner.
You may not feel like a winner. You may wish you earned more money, or that you weren’t single. But you are winning at your own life.
Let’s look at the example of Jack. He wants, more than anything, to find lasting love. After some failed relationships and some nasty breakups, Jack starts to wonder if he’s destined to be perpetually single. He thinks back on past loves and painful childhood memories, dredging up every instance where he felt unlovable. Then, he meets someone. Someone great. It’s not long before Jack and his partner are exchanging those three little words: I love you.
But then things start to fall apart, as they always do for Jack. Minor irritations turn to full-blown fights. The romantic spark evaporates. And, as he walks away from yet another relationship, Jack feels like anything but a winner.
Except he has won. He’s won at proving to himself that he’s unlovable. Do you see what’s happening here? We all have beliefs that hold us back: I’m not lovable or I’m not very smart or I’m bad with finances. We don’t want these beliefs to define our lives – but we are hardwired to prove them right.
How can you let go of these negative beliefs?
Begin by identifying them. Many of us aren’t even aware of the beliefs that we’re proving to ourselves time and again, because they’re buried so deep in our subconscious. Identify the problem areas in your life – where do you feel stuck in a cycle you can’t escape? See if you can unearth the “win” that’s happening there. What belief are you proving to yourself through your behavior?
Now, here’s the hard part: to overcome that belief, you have to prove it wrong.
Let’s say you believe you’re a chronic procrastinator. Every time you scroll through social media instead of working, you prove that belief to yourself. To prove yourself wrong, you have to stop procrastinating. You know what you need to do: get organized, take charge of your time, cultivate discipline. But first, you need to silence your inner saboteur. Crowd out that unhelpful belief by filling your mind with positive, constructive thoughts.
Specifically, visualize in detail how you’ll overcome your negative beliefs. Make a game plan. What will you do when you feel the urge to procrastinate? List the techniques you’ll use to overcome that urge – installing an internet blocker, for example, or allowing yourself a reward for every 90 minutes of focused work.
And don’t stop there. Imagine how good you’ll feel when you swap procrastination for productivity. List the projects you’ll finish. Make a plan for the fun things you’ll do when you’re not wasting hours upon hours avoiding work. Project a future version of yourself who has overcome the tendency to procrastinate. How do they feel? What have they accomplished?
The more you fill your mind with positive, proactive thoughts about how you’ll overcome your negative belief, the less room you give that belief.
And whenever you feel those old, negative beliefs creeping back in, remember this assertion: I am wired to win! Just make sure the game you’re winning is the one you really want to play.
Got a tough problem? Get some perspective.
The bad news is, no matter how positive your mindset, life is still going to throw some heavy shit at you. Relationships will break down. People will die. You’ll have to deal with trauma, health problems, financial setbacks, and more. Positive thinking won’t protect you from any of it.
But here’s the good news. When life happens, your mindset can powerfully frame your response. With a negative mindset, one problem can be enough to blow your entire life off course. Stress from a financial crisis, for instance, can seep into other areas of your life – you’ll find yourself snapping at your partner over what should be a pleasant dinner, and underperforming at work. Soon you’ll catch yourself thinking things like, My life is so hard and I can’t catch a break.
Cultivating a positive mindset, on the other hand, lets you deal with your challenges without sliding into depression and hopelessness. So next time you’re facing down one of life’s big problems, here’s your assertion: I got this.
I got this doesn’t mean you don’t feel bad. It’s not encouraging you to minimize the pain you’re feeling. It’s a reminder that you are strong enough to deal with even the toughest challenges.
Of course, it’s one thing to tell yourself you’ve got this. It’s another thing to believe it. Here’s a creative visualization exercise designed to take you from saying I got this to knowing you’ve got it.
You’re standing in the middle of a railroad track. Behind you, the tracks stretch off into the distance. In front of you, they disappear into the horizon. The tracks are your life, with your past stretching behind you and your future lying ahead.
Let’s travel back down the tracks. As you travel, remember some of your best, most meaningful memories: the first kiss with someone you loved, an amazing vacation you took, the day you landed your dream job. Go all the way back to your childhood. Remember winning that race at elementary school or climbing trees with your best friend.
Repeat the exercise. But this time, focus on your worst memories. All the times you experienced pain and disappointment. The failed exams, the hospital stays, the arguments, the times your bank account was in overdraft.
Now, focus on where you’re standing. Think of all the things you’ve gone through, good and bad. Look forward to the future. Those tracks stretch out a long way, don’t they? There’s so much potential for more life. The good and the bad. There’ll be trials and tribulations, but also new experiences – maybe you’ll hold your newborn child in your arms, travel to a destination you’ve always dreamed of, meet someone who makes your heart sing.
The point is, you’ve already overcome so many problems. A lot of them may have felt insurmountable and stressful at the time, but now you struggle to remember why. You’ll overcome this problem, too. Soon it will be a distant stop on the railroad tracks of your life. And you’ll be dealing with new challenges and experiencing new joys.
Applying a dose of perspective is a great way to remind yourself of all the obstacles you’ve already overcome. You’ve got this – you’ve handled tough stuff before. You can handle it now.
Make friends with uncertainty.
Odds are, you’re an addict. Every time you check the weather forecast, read up on trends in the stock market, or peruse election polls, you’re trying to satisfy a craving. Your drug of choice? Certainty.
Put simply, we like knowing what’s going to happen next. But here’s why you need to quit certainty cold turkey: certainty is the enemy of new.
Think about it. Nothing new ever happens without a degree of uncertainty. Whether you’re putting yourself out there to make new friends or taking a risk at work to reach new professional heights, you invite uncertainty in. You don’t know how your boss will respond to your so-wacky-it-just-might-work idea. And if your fear of uncertainty outweighs your desire to pitch a brilliant idea, you’ll never know.
A life without uncertainty is stagnant. If you want to orient your life toward opportunity, possibility, and growth, start with this assertion: I embrace the uncertainty.
Let’s go deeper. What’s stopping you from embracing uncertainty? Many people are uncertainty-averse because they want to avoid situations that open them up to judgment. We don’t want people to think we’re awkward, or weird, or a failure. But that’s life – people won’t always applaud you for taking risks, and your courage won’t always be rewarded.
Still craving a hit of certainty? You’re craving something that doesn’t exist. We live in a chaotic universe. You can do everything in your power to avoid uncertainty, then walk out your door one day and get crushed by a falling piano. Certainty is an illusion – a meaningless security blanket. Uncertainty, not certainty, is guaranteed. So you might as well get cozy with it.
And, really, why wouldn’t you want to get better acquainted with uncertainty? It’s a pretty amazing place, though it has its pitfalls. All your wildest dreams and best experiences are waiting there for you. Don’t let fear stop you from discovering them.
Thoughts don’t define you – actions do.
Changing your thinking is the most important thing you can do to bring about changes in your life, right? Well, here’s something that contradicts that:
Thoughts aren’t important – actions are.
Let’s unpack that a little. The reason you should change your thinking is that adopting a practice of positive self-talk will motivate you to translate those positive thoughts into positive actions. But even consistently positive, supportive, pragmatic, and resilient self-talk will not eliminate thoughts grounded in fear and doubt from your mind. Those thoughts will always creep in. And some days, when things feel especially dark, none of the assertions that we’ve already discussed will work to hold those thoughts at bay.
So, what should you do? It’s simple: ignore your thoughts, and act anyway.
At the very start of this summary, you learned you have over 50,000 thoughts a day. Trying to control them all would be an exercise in futility. Sometimes you’ll struggle to think positively. And that’s OK. You don’t need to feel positive – you just need to act as if you do.
Let’s say you’re asked to present at an important conference. It’s a huge opportunity for you, but negative thoughts immediately start creeping in. You hate public speaking; you don’t have time to pull together a paper; you’ll look inept compared to other, more experienced presenters. You try and reframe those negative thoughts using positive self-talk, but it’s just not working. What do you do? Decline the invitation?
Nope. You sit with all those confidence-eroding thoughts, and then you stand up and give the presentation anyway.
Acting in spite of negative thoughts will achieve a few things:
First, acting like you’re confident even when you aren’t can perform a weird magic trick on your brain. It can make you think and feel more confident than you were before. Most times, you can think positively in order to start acting positively. But sometimes, you need to act positively before you can start thinking positively.
Second, once you’re engaged in acting out a task, you have less brain space to sit with negative thoughts. Simply doing the thing you think you don’t want to do can distract you from thinking you don’t want to do it.
Third, it’s highly likely that once you start doing the thing you were avoiding, it won’t be as bad as you feared. And this sends positive feedback to your brain. If you give that conference presentation and no one laughs in your face and your pants don’t fall down in the middle of it, well, that’s not just a win on the day – it’s a win for the future, too. Because next time you’re asked to stand up and talk in public, your brain will remember that, actually, it didn’t go too badly last time.
So here’s your final assertion: I am not my thoughts. I am what I do.
Repeat as needed. Then get out and start doing!
Someone is holding you back from living the life you want, and that someone is you. Your negative self-talk and self-critical beliefs are dragging you down. Using powerful positive assertions can help you change the way you think – and change your life.
Gary John Bishop began his life journey in Glasgow, Scotland. The grit and wit of his early life has contributed to his irreverent, tough-love, in-your-face approach to personal growth. The one-time Senior Program Director to one of the worlds biggest personal and professional development companies, Gary has created the kind of no-frills message that cuts through the fog of people’s lives to transform the real issues that consume and anchor them to their self limiting behaviors and beliefs. As one of the leading Personal Development experts around with a reputation that has impacted millions of people worldwide, his “Urban Philosophy” approach represents a new wave of personal empowerment and life mastery that has caused miraculous results for people in the quality and performance of their lives.
“Unfu*k Yourself” by Gary John Bishop is a self-help book that aims to empower readers to overcome their self-limiting beliefs, take control of their lives, and achieve personal growth and success. The book is divided into several chapters, each addressing different aspects of self-improvement and mindset transformation.
Bishop’s central message revolves around the idea that our thoughts and self-talk have a profound impact on our actions and outcomes. He encourages readers to challenge their inner negativity and adopt a more empowering and positive internal dialogue. The book provides practical strategies and exercises to help readers break free from self-sabotaging habits, make better choices, and live a more fulfilling life.
- Your Thoughts Matter: Bishop emphasizes the significance of our inner dialogue and how it shapes our reality. He argues that changing your thinking is the first step towards changing your life.
- Take Responsibility: The author encourages readers to take full responsibility for their actions, choices, and circumstances. By doing so, individuals can regain control of their lives and stop playing the victim.
- The Power of Action: “Unfu*k Yourself” underscores the importance of taking action in order to create change. Bishop provides practical advice on setting goals and taking steps towards achieving them.
- Let Go of Excuses: The book addresses common excuses people use to avoid change and growth. Bishop challenges readers to confront these excuses and move past them.
- Embrace Uncertainty: Bishop advocates for embracing uncertainty and stepping out of one’s comfort zone. He believes that growth and transformation occur when we are willing to take risks.
“Unfu*k Yourself” by Gary John Bishop offers a no-nonsense approach to personal development. The book’s straightforward language and practical exercises make it accessible to a wide range of readers. Bishop’s message about the power of mindset and the need to take responsibility for one’s life is both impactful and actionable.
The book’s strength lies in its simplicity. Bishop doesn’t sugarcoat his advice or make grand promises; instead, he provides readers with tools and strategies to start making meaningful changes immediately. The emphasis on personal accountability is a refreshing departure from the victim mentality that often permeates self-help literature.
While the book’s blunt language may resonate with some readers, it may be off-putting to others who prefer a gentler approach to personal growth. Additionally, some readers may find the concepts in the book familiar if they have already delved into self-help and personal development literature.
In conclusion, “Unfu*k Yourself” is a practical and impactful guide for individuals looking to break free from self-limiting beliefs and take control of their lives. Gary John Bishop’s direct and no-nonsense style may not be for everyone, but for those who are ready to confront their inner obstacles and make lasting changes, this book offers valuable insights and actionable advice.