I finished this audiobook in one sitting and was using the tactics outlined that same day. This shit works.
No one tells it as it is quite like the Scots.
Gary doesn’t sugarcoat it, he isn’t nice to you, and sometimes that is how we need to hear it.
In a sea of American written and narrated self-help audiobooks “Unf*ck Yourself: Get out of your head and into your life” stands out with its Scottish attitude and narration.
“I won’t ask you to tell yourself you’re a tiger….I’m much too Scottish for that…to me being told these things is like being force-fed a bottle of maple syrup liberally sprinkled with bits of last year’s candy canes” – Gary John Bishop
I found both the writing and narration refreshing. I like American narrators but it did make a good change and in a way felt more accessible.
Plus somehow swearing sounds a lot less cringey in a Scottish accent.
“Unf*ck Yourself” is an audiobook worth f*cking with. It isn’t some 800-page drawn-out self-help book full of waffle that slowly meanders to the point and it isn’t an empty quick read that says nothing.
Instead, it is 3hrs of good fairly actionable advice, told to the point with clear takeaways you can implement. Angus King really delivers the narration, I felt like I was in a pub getting a genuine life lesson from Malcolm Tucker.
- Excellent narration by Angus King who like the author is from Glasgow
- No sugarcoating or BS, Gary tells it like it is
- Short enough to not get bored
- No major waffling or long-winded stories
- Easy to dip in and out of each chapter
- If you take away just a few of the lessons it will improve your life
- It could use some more practical advice on how to implement the lessons
- It is somewhat repackaged Stoic content that you may have heard before if you have read lots of similar titles
My quick review of it is that you should listen to it. It’s 3-hours, just go for a walk and come back a slightly better person. If you need more to decide read on.
Unf*ck Yourself: Get out of your head and into your life Audiobook Review
What is with the title?
The release of “F*ck Feelings” by Michael Bennett MD and Sarah Bennett seemed to kick off a trend of profanity led self-help titles which most notably include Mark Manson’s 2016 “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” and Gary John Bishop’s 2016 book “Unf*ck Yourself”.
Fast forward a few years and 6 million copies later, Mark released “Everything is F*cked”, Gary released “Stop Doing That Sh*t; Do the Work” and more authors followed suit. John Kim released “I Used to Be a Miserable F*ck” and Amy Alkon drops “Unf*ckology”.
Attention-grabbing titles are a part of the genre but the sweary self-help wave feels quite empty, only for shock value and trying to appeal to a younger demographic that probably see right through it. Although perhaps the sales say otherwise.
However, the content of these books is not to be ignored. I was apprehensive that this was another title jumping on the bandwagon but I was wrong.
Some Key lessons from Unf*ck Yourself
I haven’t detailed each chapter, that would be giving the game away, so here are some of the lessons that particularly resonated.
1. Assertive self-talk over narrative self-talk
Most of the conversations we have are with ourselves and our thoughts can change the physical structure of our brain (this is called neural plasticity if you want to research it). Which means all those times when we say “I can’t” start to build up and convince ourselves that we actually can’t do something. The same goes for when we say “I am going to” or “I will try”, these put our actions in the future rather than this moment of time. By being assertive we can change this.
There is a powerful difference between “I am relentless” and “I will be relentless“.
Gary explains that the answer is inside you rather than outside you. He also starts to introduce quotes from Stoic philosophers like Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus.
“Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.” – Marcus Aurelius
2. I Am Willing
Don’t blame others, stop blaming anyone including yourself. You can’t always control the bad things that happen to you but you are 100% responsible for what you do in the aftermath. This Stoic idea mirrors Epictetus’ views that we control very little of our life or the events that happen to us, only our reaction to them.
You must decide what you are willing and unwilling to do. I found this simple reframing quite powerful at both working out what is important to you and making peace with some of the changes you won’t make.
An example Gary gives is that you might be unwilling to sacrifice time with your family in exchange for an extra 0 on your paycheck. Or unwilling to give up your favourite foods to in order to see your abs. These are completely valid and recognising and accepting them will make you happier.
For things you do wish to change, maybe it is “I am willing to quit this job” or “I am unwilling to continue living this way”.
A similar exercise to this is replacing “No” with “it’s not a priority for me” when people as you to do stuff. I found this makes me happier with not doing certain things.
3. I Am Wired to Win
4. I Got This
5. I Embrace the Uncertainty
6. You are not your thoughts you are what you do
Your thoughts don’t need to be reflected in your actions. By starting we forget about the things bothering us. When we act we don’t have time for anything else, it is hard to focus on your worrying when you are getting things done.
You can let your negative thoughts pass.
Don’t act on your thoughts, act on what’s in front of you. Change your life by changing your actions.
“Action may not bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action” -Benjamin Disraeli
7. I am relentless
This one reminded a bit of David Goggins. Get uncomfortable, the greater the challenge the greater the reward and the only way to deal with this is to be relentless. Gary John Bishops touches on this topic but if this resonates you then you have to listen to Can’t Hurt Me.
When you have nothing left, be relentless.
8. Expect nothing & accept everything
This is one I’ve been trying to practice. On a recent trip, I had all these expectations and hopes despite having never been to this place. Of course, when I got there, it never met these expectations, some parts were worse and some were so much better. If you have all of these expectations you will always be disappointed. Equally, if you moan about the things that are different you won’t be happy. Expect nothing and accept everything.
This is also true in business. There are so many expectations about how successful or big the business will be and so many unknows that throw up problems we didn’t think to encounter. Accepting these problems doesn’t mean you can’t address them but don’t let them derail you.
Gary even points out that a big cause of unhappiness in marriage is unmet expectations.
To me, this feels aligned with staying present. Getting hung up on the past can make us sad and living life in the future causes anxiety. By staying present, expecting nothing and accepting what is in front of you we can be happier in the moment.
“No man ever steps in the same river twice” – Heraclitus
Give it a listen, it will only take up half of your Sunday afternoon or a few journeys on your commute. You will find some great lessons and motivation to make some changes.