Self Help Made Simple
I go through phases where I read certain genres exclusively for weeks on end until I make myself sick of them and need a break. I used to have a bit of a problem with self-help books, to the point that it was making me feel massively inadequate and like I wouldn’t ever achieve what I wanted to – but I still kept reading them.
The problem with a lot of self-help or self-improvement books is that they’re very airy fairy. So many of these must-read life-changing books focus on things like the Law of Attraction, a concept I find massively problematic, and claim that positive thinking is the best path to success. I’m a pretty cynical person, and this style of thinking just doesn’t do it for me.
Step in, Sarah Knight
I, like many other people, first discovered Sarah Knight’s books through the wonderful platform that is Instagram. Back in 2016, I ordered the first of the three – The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k
– to take on holiday to Croatia and fell in love before the first chapter was through. It’s pretty easy to not give a fuck when you’re lying by the pool in a sunny country, but nevertheless, the concept stuck with me.
Fast forward to summer 2017, and I was yet again heading off to Croatia. This time, I picked up Sarah Knight’s second instalment, Get Your Sh*t Together
. I am on a near-constant quest to get my shit together, so this felt like fate. Again, I read it whilst bathing in Croatian summer sun, but it was just as good as the first – if not better.
Then, towards the end of November, I discovered that there was a third addition to the collection and had it ordered within seconds. After a couple of shitty years, working myself into the ground and subconsciously insisting on being a people pleaser, I was over it. That’s why, when I discovered the existence of You Do You
, I knew it was meant to be.
The first of the “No F*cks Given Guides” focuses on the art of the NotSorry method. It’s a handy little companion for life, providing a valuable approach to some slightly awkward situations both professionally and personally. This introduction to the series looks primarily at mental decluttering, encouraging you to consider what truly matters to you and discard those that don’t wherever possible.
It’s a laugh-out-loud guide to stopping the incessant need to please everyone around you by partaking in menial tasks that bring you no joy. I loved the way it started with quite easy steps, building up confidence in being that little bit more selfish, before bringing in the big guns. It’s not about being rude or hurting people around you for your own sake, it’s about investing in yourself so you can be the best version for those you love.
Buy this one if…
- You’re tired of wasting your energy on things you don’t care about
- You want to prioritise the things you love
- You’re scared of letting people down
- You want to set clearer boundaries with your boss/best mate/extended family
- You feel like you care too much
I love organisation, so Get Your Sh*t together was an obvious purchase for me. After the introduction of mental decluttering in the first book, this instalment introduces the concept of mental organisation. I often find myself feeling so overwhelmed by all of the things I have or want to do that I end up spending the afternoon on the sofa doing sweet fuck all instead, resulting in unnecessary added stress at the end of the day.
As strange as it sounds, this book makes a lot of references to Alvin and the Chipmunks, but all will become clear when you read it. Sarah focuses on three different types of people and looks at how they need to prioritise things to get their shit together in an efficient manner. The three key areas covered are negative thinking, the work-life balance and managing anxiety – topics that are very relevant to my daily life.
Ultimately, it’s about prioritising. I think this book gave me the most practical advice – it helped me up my to-do list game – and had a real long-lasting impact on how I view organisation. Sarah doesn’t hand you everything on a plate, instead, she gives you the tools to work things out for yourself. It reminded me a bit of my time in CBT, and it worked.
Buy this one if…
- You’re overwhelmed by your to-do list
- You want a helping hand reaching your goals
- You’re a generally unorganised person
- You need more balance in your life
- You find yourself getting distracted by irrelevant tasks
And finally, the book that really changed things for me. I think it was timing, really, but there was something about You Do You that set off a chain of events leading to a bit of an epiphany in my brain. I’m guilty of trying to play down the parts of me that make me, me, and to be honest it was exhausting. Battling with the weight of society’s expectations isn’t easy at any age, let alone as a twentysomething recovering from a quarter-life crisis
Sarah shares the rollercoaster that was her own personal journey to just being herself, and it’s one of those things that just makes you feel that little bit less alone in the world. Nobody is perfect, and that’s okay. Learning to accept yourself for who you are is one of the best things you can do for your sanity.
This was the perfect way to end the trio of No F*cks Given guides and was easily my favourite of the lot. It was refreshing, thought-provoking, and ultimately taught me that I have to stop putting other people ahead of myself. Nurturing my needs and looking after number one helps me bring my best self to the table. No one else in the world can be me like I can be me, and that’s special.
Buy this one if…
- You’re in need of a self-confidence boost
- You want to put yourself first for once in your life
- You need some reassurance that you’re not the only one who feels like this
- You want to figure out what really matters to you
Basically, these books came into my life exactly when I needed them most, and I think they provided some much-needed perspective. Sure, the concepts aren’t anything particularly innovative, but that’s what I like. The simplicity of putting yourself first, investing your energy wisely and caring less about the things that don’t matter creates a concept I can really get behind. These books serve as more of a reminder, if anything.
I think the best part of this trio of books is that they present quite obvious ideas in a way that we can really translate into our everyday lives, instead of just wishing things were easier. It’s about practical steps and considerations, using things like lists (I love lists) to bring ideas to life. I wish Sarah Knight was my best friend so I could have her sound words on tap whenever I needed them. She has a brilliant sense of humour, and her bluntness is a breath of fresh air in a world of idealistic self-help platitudes.
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