I was recently having a discussion with my fellow writer, blogger and Star Wars fan Julie G. about affirmations and positive mindset (check out her post that got the discussion going here), and we both mentioned some books that have helped us in this regard. Julie has read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson; I’ve been reading Jen Sincero’s You Are A Badass series. Julie suggested I write a review of the book(s), and while this post isn’t exactly a “formal” review, I thought I’d write my thoughts on it and how it ties into the future of my blog.
So Julie and I agreed that, at first glance, all this self-helpery and positive mindset stuff is a bit corny. And it’s true; I’ve never been that much into self-help books, and historically rolled my eyes at it, thinking it was up there with rainbows and unicorns. If it helped people, great; but I doubted it could help me. I was just destined to be a vaguely talented writer who could never really get her shit together, and would remain penniless her entire life while she worked at the local grocery store for minimum wage. I turned out to be the starving artist, and I guess that was just my fate. Sigh. Poor me.
My husband, meanwhile, has struggled with a directionless life, going from job to job, not really liking any of them, certainly not making much money, and not really knowing what to do with his life. We’re both about 50 years old, and so both of our struggles with purpose and success had been going on for decades. Like us, it was getting old.
One day he was perusing some books at the bookstore and saw a bright yellow book called You Are A Badass, by a woman named Jen Sincero. He picked it up, read a few paragraphs, and decided to buy it. He told me about it, I glanced at the book, and thought, huh. I didn’t have any interest in reading it at first; I was still in denial and subconsciously didn’t want to change. Looking back, I can see that I was in my comfort zone of excuses and limiting self-beliefs.
The book really revved up my husband, and he did things I never thought I’d see him do. He was interested in humanitarian causes, and decided he was going to walk 500 miles total in our local area to bring awareness to volunteers. He spent hours making signs that said things like, “Thank A Volunteer” and then spent two months walking at least ten miles a day (in a New England winter, mind you) with said signs held up over his head along roadways where cars could beep at him in support. He alerted the local newspaper to his doings, and they did articles on it. The next year he did another 500 miles, this time circling the local high school track, putting the spotlight on opioid addiction. More articles ensued, and he even got on TV with a local station. It was crazy, amazing, and very brave for my shy, don’t-put-the-spotlight-on-me husband. I was proud and a little awed. What the heck’s in this book, anyway?
So I picked it up and read it. And I have to tell you, it literally changed my life. Not so much on the outside–yet (it will happen eventually, I’m determined)–but mostly in my head. It completely changed my mindset. And that’s a good start.
So here’s what I learned from You Are A Badass:
- Most people who are living sucky lives do so because they have sucky thoughts. Basically, you create your own reality. What you focus on, you create more of. If you focus on thoughts of how much of an idiot you are, for example, well, then you’re going to be an idiot. If you’re convinced you can’t make money, you’ll be buying your groceries at the dollar store the rest of your life. If you believe you’re unlovable, you’ll either remain single, or have a string of terrible relationships.
- Our thoughts are often driven by our subconscious minds. Somewhere along the way, we picked up the beliefs that we are idiots, unlovable, don’t deserve money, etc. Sincero calls your subconscious The Little Prince–basically a toddler who throws tantrums anytime you try to do something out of your comfort zone. The Little Prince wants to keep you safe, and will do just about anything to keep you in that comfort zone.
- If you want to change your life, you MUST change your thoughts and beliefs. The way to do this is to basically be nice to yourself and repeat affirmations like I deserve love or Money comes to me when I call or I am beautiful and love the size of my ass (she’s very funny, by the way). Even if you don’t believe it at first, and feel ridiculous saying them, you must retrain your mind with repetition, and sooner or later you’ll even come to believe what you’re saying. You’ve trained your mind for years with negative thoughts that aren’t true; why not retrain them with more positive thoughts? (Remember when Luke failed to raise his X-Wing out of the swamp because he didn’t believe he could do it? Hmmm….I can hear Yoda now: “You must unlearn what you have learned.”)
- This one is the kicker, and what a lot of people have a problem with: you must believe in a Higher Power, a Creator, Lifeforce, God, the Universe, Spirit Guide, Universal Intelligence, whatever you want to call it. Because what you’re doing with the affirmations and positivity (aside from retraining your own beliefs) is “raising your frequency”. And when you raise your frequency, the Universe pays attention. Basically, we ARE the Universe (Stardust?); we’re made of the same stuff as the Universe, including our thoughts. It’s all energy, and it vibrates at various frequencies. When we raise our frequency, we attract more of the same frequency. It’s the whole Law of Attraction thing. Ask, and ye shall receive. If you want to make more money, for example, let the Universe know that that is your intention, you’re not messing around, and this is how it’s gonna be. I know, corny, right? Downright crazy. But tell me this: how’s your negative thinking been working for you? Yeah, me too.
- This one is even tougher than believing that the Universe loves you and wants you to be happy–you MUST force yourself out of your comfort zone. Period. There can be no change in your life if you’re not willing to take risks. If you stay in your safe little comfort zone, you may prevent yourself from being uncomfortable, but you’ll be unhappy with your stagnant and ho-hum life. This one really caused an epiphany for me: it really got to the root of my lack of success in life–I was unwilling to be uncomfortable. No way. If something scared me, I ran away from it. No thanks. I’ll just stay here in my safe little bubble. When you do this, you’re certainly letting the Universe know you’re not really serious about whatever it is you want.
There’s so much more to these books than what I’ve rather clumsily said here, and Sincero gets really detailed about how you can go about changing your life. But what I really love about her books is that she’s hilarious. She tends to curse a lot (so if that bothers you, you might want to skip her books and learn these same principles elsewhere), and she tells a lot of funny but illuminating stories from her own life and the life of her clients (she’s a life coach). I love her personal success story, which I won’t get into here, since this post is seemingly never going to end, but trust me when I tell you she’s entertaining, she knows what she’s talking about, and she’s lived it herself.
So yeah, I haven’t even gotten to how it inspired me to start this blog, even though I was afraid my family would think I was reverting back to childhood talking about Star Wars, of all things. You’re 49 years old, grow up! (No one ever said that, lol, in fact they’ve been very supportive). I actually had a false start of learning about copywriting and trying to get into that business, was all fired up about it, but then realized my heart wasn’t in it. I was only doing it because of the financial potential, and it involved writing in some form. But when I thought about it, what I would rather have been doing is writing about my love of Star Wars. So why not? That’s where my passion lies. And you must be passionate about what you’re doing, or you’re doomed.
It’s been great fun, I’ve found my tribe, and I’ve been much happier this past year than I have in a while. But I’d also like to grow the blog, and so I need to do something that scares me, right? I’ve mentioned writing the fan fiction for the blog, but that in itself doesn’t scare me (besides the usual What if it sucks? thoughts, lol, which I’ve learned to ignore). What scares me is that I’m thinking about expanding the blog with podcasting, with either the fan fiction or the blog posts, or both. That is SO out of my comfort zone. I’ve always hidden behind the written word. It’s why I became a writer in the first place, for feck’s sake. It’s a solitary pursuit where I don’t actually have to talk to anyone, or have anyone see me, or interact like a normal human being, lol. But that’s not actually true, is it? You can’t create in a vacuum. You need readers, viewers, listeners, as well as any number of helpers along the way. Writers must interact with editors, publishers, do interviews and book readings, interact with readers. Making art may be solitary, but bringing it out to the world isn’t. And that’s why I never succeeded in writing–I was never willing to put myself out there. I shrunk back, hid, wanting my words to be seen, but not me. It was a terrible dilemma, and kept me from pushing my boundaries, from taking risks. Not anymore. Now I’m more afraid of living an unfulfilled life than putting myself out there. Well, I’ll still be scared, lol. The difference is, I’ll do it anyway.
So this post is WAY longer than I planned, and if you’re still with me, I’m impressed and thank you, because it’s not my typical Star Wars post. I won’t write too many of these off-topic posts, but Julie gave me the idea, and so here it is. I hope it helped you in some way, and as always, May the Force be with you (hey, the Force is another way to envision the Universe, the Creator, God, Higher Power, etc. If those other words don’t resonate with you, well, use the Force, Luke!)
Have you read these books? Do you have any favorite self-help books? Or do you think it’s all a bunch of hooey (or should I say, a bunch of simple tricks and nonsense)? Let me know in the comments, and we’ll talk about it!