Self Help

How to Stop Feeling Like Sh_t - Andrea Owen

Author Photo

Matheus Puppe

· 41 min read

Published by: Nero, an imprint of Schwartz Publishing Pty Ltd Level 1, 221 Drummond Street Carlton VIC 3053, Australia Copyright © Andrea Owen 2017 This edition published in 2018 by arrangement with Seal Press, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc., New York, USA.

  • The key to success and happiness is consistency and commitment to personal growth and development. It’s an ongoing practice, not a one-time event.

  • Paying attention to your habits and behaviors, noticing when they don’t serve you, and making a conscious effort to change them is key. Catch yourself in the act and make adjustments. Overanalyzing and being overly self-critical is counterproductive. Find the right balance of awareness and self-compassion.

  • Shame is a common human emotion that often manifests in subtle, private ways. It’s the feeling of being flawed and unworthy of love or connection. Public shaming and humiliation are more obvious examples, but shame can stem from many scenarios.

  • Two examples of shame: 1) In 8th grade, the author felt shame after two popular girls laughed at her outfit on graduation day. 2) As an adult, the author felt shame when a school coordinator read aloud that she had a “history of alcohol abuse” in front of new school staff. She felt the urge to run, defend herself, and cry.

  • Shame makes people feel horrible and want to avoid that feeling at all costs. But avoiding shame means it continues to negatively impact you behind the scenes. The key is learning to identify shame, face it, process it, and move through it in a constructive way.

  • Additional resources for implementing the habits discussed in the book can be found at The site offers meditations, worksheets, and more.

The overall message is that real change and happiness come from ongoing self-improvement, awareness of behaviors and habits (especially those stemming from shame), a willingness to face difficulties, and a commitment to personal growth. With hard work and practice, you can overcome shame, break bad habits, and lead an extraordinary life.

  • The inner critic, the negative self-talk that many women experience, originates from past shame experiences, often dating back to childhood.

  • This self-criticism can take the form of harsh verbal abuse towards oneself or a more general feeling of “not being enough.” Either way, it undermines confidence and self-esteem.

  • The inner critic leads to unhappiness, anxiety, depression and unhealthy behaviors as women try to escape its effects. It causes women to doubt themselves and avoid taking risks in life.

  • Recognizing and managing the inner critic is crucial to overcoming unhealthy habits and building self-confidence. The key steps are:

  1. Develop awareness of the inner critic and how it sounds. Notice the triggers that activate it.

  2. Challenge the inner critic’s messages. Identify any cognitive distortions and replace them with more balanced thoughts.

  3. Practice self-compassion. Speak to yourself with kindness and encouragement. Be gentle with your mistakes and imperfections.

  4. Set boundaries. Don’t engage in conversations with the inner critic. Say “stop” and refocus your mind on something positive.

  5. Seek external support. Talk to others who can provide a more fair perspective on you and your abilities. Let their support strengthen your self-belief.

The ultimate goal is to diminish the power of the inner critic so you can pursue your goals and dreams without self-sabotage. With practice and determination, you can overcome negative self-talk.

•Your inner critic, the voice that beats you up, often stems from your family, relationships, culture, and experiences.

•It’s important to address your inner critic because it makes you feel like shit and bleeds into other areas of your life.

•The first step is recognizing when your inner critic shows up. Make a list of what it says to you in different areas of your life. See which messages affect you the most.

•Update the list regularly so you can build awareness of your inner critic and compassion for yourself.

•You don’t need your inner critic to motivate you. There are healthier ways to stay driven without berating yourself.

•The solution is practicing self-compassion - speaking to yourself with kindness and understanding. It takes commitment and practice but will transform how you feel.

Your inner critic frequently compares you to others, pushes you to do better by highlighting your perceived failures and shortcomings, and uses harsh self-judgment in an attempt to motivate you. However, this approach usually does not lead to happiness or success and instead diminishes your self-confidence.

The solution is to show yourself compassion, kindness, and love. Recognize your triggers, like fears of how others perceive you, and speak to yourself with compassion when you make a mistake or feel inadequate. Make a commitment to practicing self-compassion, as it can take a long time to become your default reaction.

Positive affirmations alone are usually not effective, as deep-seated negative beliefs and wounds cannot be reversed instantly. Self-compassion requires recognizing these underlying issues and speaking to yourself with understanding and kindness. It may feel awkward at first, but making the effort to be self-compassionate can help overcome negative self-talk.

Overall, the key takeaways are: identify triggers and negative self-beliefs, make a habit of self-compassion, know it will take practice, and stick with it despite initial awkwardness or resistance. With time and effort, self-compassion can replace harsh self-judgment.

Here is a summary of speaking kindly to yourself:

•Develop a mantra or empowering statement you can say to yourself when your inner critic attacks. Something like: “I hear you and choose not to listen.” or “Thanks for sharing; I’m moving on.” Repeat it to yourself to interrupt negative self-talk.

•Ask yourself powerful questions in response to your inner critic, like: “Is this true?” or “What am I really afraid of here?” This can help reframe your thinking.

•Respond to your inner critic with neutrality and compassion. Don’t attack it back. Say something like: “Well, that just happened.” Your inner critic stems from fear and is trying to protect you, though in a misguided way.

•Write yourself a letter of compassion, praise or apology. Tell yourself all the things you wish you could hear from a supportive friend. This helps retrain your brain to be kinder to yourself.

•Forgive yourself. This means releasing feelings of blame for being human and flawed. Acknowledge your mistakes, feel your feelings, and make amends if needed. But ultimately forgive yourself for not being perfect.

•Speaking kindly to yourself is a practice. Don’t expect to master it overnight. But with repetition, you can retrain your brain to curb negative self-talk and show yourself more compassion.

Does this help summarize the key points? Let me know if you have any other questions!

• Isolating and hiding out is an emotional habit, not a physical one. Outwardly, these women seem to have it all together but inwardly feel lonely, anxious and afraid.

• The main feeling driving this habit is fear - of being judged, burdening others or revealing they don’t have it all together. These women usually don’t even question whether to reach out, they just know they won’t.

• This habit often starts from some painful experience, e.g. not being believed when in pain or criticized for sharing feelings. It stems from the belief that reaching out won’t help.

• It’s important to examine the reasons for hiding out and specific fears of reaching out. The fears are often irrational but have become truth.

• Some women isolate unconsciously, avoiding dealing with painful experiences and unable to ask others to help bear their pain. They put conditions on sharing what’s really happening in their lives.

• Recovering from this habit requires vulnerability and learning that reaching out won’t necessarily lead to judgment or burdening others. It also means accepting that while others may not fully understand, some will still offer compassion.

•Steps to overcome this habit:

  1. Identify your fears and reasons for isolating. Challenge any irrational beliefs.

  2. Start with small acts of vulnerability, e.g. share something small with a trusted friend. See their compassionate response.

  3. Remind yourself that hiding out serves to make you feel more alone and afraid. Reach out even when you don’t feel like it.

  4. Accept that while others may not fully understand, some will show you compassion. Let go of needing a perfect response.

  5. Make a commitment to call someone when the urge to isolate hits. Stay connected to your support system.

  6. Be patient through relapses. Breaking lifelong habits takes time. Forgive yourself and keep practicing.

The author believed that her situation was so bad that she didn’t deserve help from anyone. She thought she had to deal with her problems alone. This kind of thinking leads to further harm.

To fix this habit of isolating yourself:

  1. Reach out for help. This requires being vulnerable which can be scary but is necessary to connect with others. Staying silent leads to more isolation and negative habits.

  2. Practice being brave and vulnerable. Start small by thinking about reaching out to a friend. Connecting with others leads to love and support.

  3. Find compassionate witnesses - people who respond with empathy. Empathy means feeling with someone, not trying to fix their problems. Look for people who say things like “That sounds hard, I’m here for you.” Compassionate witnesses are hard to find so you may need to teach friends how to support you.

  4. Ask for what you need. Model the behavior you want to see from others. Reaching out for help when you need it shows you the support available. But don’t make friends your “complaint department.” Only share the bigger struggles.

  5. Get comfortable with uncomfortable emotions. To support others, you need to sit with their pain and sadness. Fixing the problem is not the goal - listening and empathizing is.

The key is practicing vulnerability and finding the right people to connect with for support. Isolating yourself leads to a cycle of harm, while compassionate connection with others gives you the love and support you need.

Here’s a summary:

• Rarely can someone fix your problems with just a quick word or conversation. Opening up to others about your struggles is more about finding someone who will listen without judgment and provide compassion.

• Choose carefully who you share your story with. Look for people who have earned your trust and the right to hear your story. Not everyone deserves to know intimate details about your life.

• Build trust in friendships through small moments, not big declarations. Look for friends who put down their fork to listen when you’re sharing difficulties. These small gestures signal they care.

• Ask friends for what you need, like listening without advice. Until someone masters mind reading, communicate what you want. Say something like “I just need you to listen.” True friends will appreciate knowing how to support you.

• If friends judge or lecture you after opening up, it can lead to feeling worse and isolating yourself. Don’t assume friends know what you need—ask them to listen with empathy.

• Practice self-kindness if you don’t have close confidants. Your inner critic may tell you it’s not safe to open up or that you’re alone in your struggles. Be aware of these thoughts and choose to believe otherwise.

• Have realistic expectations. Opening up doesn’t always go as hoped. Friends can still reject or judge you. While hurtful, don’t let one experience color how you see all friendships. Learn from it but stay open to connection.

• Don’t blame yourself if a friendship ends after opening up. It’s common to believe you were too much for the friendship or that there’s something wrong with you. This is the inner critic talking. The end of a friendship says more about the other person than you. Stay confident in who you are.

  • The author used to numb her feelings through disassociation and avoidance. She has learned that facing difficult emotions is key to healing and finding happiness.

  • Many people numb themselves to avoid feeling unpleasant emotions like fear, anxiety, sadness, etc. We do this through mechanisms like food, alcohol, drugs, shopping, gambling, excessive exercise, internet/social media use, etc.

  • Numbing may provide temporary relief but ultimately stifles our growth and happiness. We need to face painful emotions to become resilient and gain wisdom.

  • Wisdom comes from healing pain, not avoiding it. Those we admire for their wisdom and strength have often gained it by facing difficulties, not avoiding them.

  • Difficult emotions are like messengers, warning us that something needs to change. We should listen to them rather than ignore them.

  • It’s important to identify your own numbing mechanisms so you can face emotions rather than avoid them. The author provides examples of common mechanisms people use.

  • Facing emotions requires courage but leads to freedom and happiness. Pushing through pain leads to growth.

The key takeaways are: face your difficult emotions rather than numb them; find the courage and wisdom that comes from walking through pain; and identify and curb unhealthy numbing behaviors that stifle your growth. Overall, a thought-provoking essay on gaining emotional wisdom and resilience.

Here’s a summary:

The section discusses the difference between numbing your emotions and comforting yourself. Numbing is avoiding unpleasant emotions altogether, while comforting is addressing emotions in a healthy way. The key is recognizing when you’re numbing, which often happens unconsciously. Ask yourself what ‘self-care’ really means for you and notice the line between that and numbing. Practice conscious numbing by checking in with how it makes you feel.

You numb to avoid facing problems like stress, failure, fear, anxiety, criticism, perfectionism, losing control, etc. Name your emotions and reasons for numbing to gain awareness. Stereotypes about women and emotions also contribute.

To fix numbing, use these tools:

  1. Name your feelings out loud. Even just one word like “sad” or “joy.”

  2. Do controlled emoting. Pick a time to immerse yourself in emotions with music, photos, memories. Cry, scream, punch a pillow. Release trapped trauma and emotions. You won’t lose control or never stop. Emotions are messengers wanting to be felt and released.

  3. Accept that feelings can be confusing, changing, and not make sense.

  4. Your feelings deserve to exist. Don’t compare your hurt to others’ or dismiss your own as unimportant.

  5. Lean into discomfort. Stay with emotions instead of numbing. They’ll pass.

  6. Reach out for support. Call a friend or therapist. Let others comfort you.

  7. Practice self-care. Do small things each day that nourish you. Walks, baths, creative pursuits.

  8. Forgive yourself for numbing. Be compassionate with yourself as you learn new coping skills. It’s a journey.

The path to overcoming numbing is difficult but worthwhile. Face your humanity - imperfections and all. Find the beauty in it. Let go of unrealistic expectations of yourself and others. Embrace your whole self.

• Many people, especially women, dismiss or diminish their own pain and suffering because they believe other people have experienced worse. They tell themselves their feelings are unworthy of expression.

• While there is significant suffering in the world, that does not invalidate your own pain. Stuffing down your feelings to avoid burdening others helps no one and holds you back from growth and happiness.

• It’s common to judge our own feelings as wrong or to believe we shouldn’t have them. But feelings are natural bodily responses we cannot control. We should accept them rather than judge them.

• We often take on other people’s opinions about how we “should” feel. But only you can determine how you actually feel. Your feelings are your own.

• Getting curious about your feelings, rather than judging them, can help you understand them better and be more at peace with them. There is valuable information in our feelings if we explore them.

• Talking about your feelings with trusted others can help alleviate the crushing pain of loneliness and prevent emotions from festering. Keeping feelings bottled up helps no one.

• Learning to trust yourself and your feelings is key. While facing painful or difficult emotions can be scary, no one ever died from feeling their feelings. Our bodies know how to work through emotions, even hard ones, if we allow them to. The fear of the unknown is often worse than the emotions themselves.

• Even in the face of very difficult life events like the loss of a loved one, we can work through the emotions without numbing them. It will be painful, but we can come out the other side, and there are tools and trusted others to help us through. The hard experiences often shape us in important ways.

That’s the summary and key takeaways from the story. Please let me know if you would like me to explain or expand on any part of the summary.

  • Comparisons to others are inevitable but can be managed.

  • Social media feeds often make comparisons worse by showing curated versions of people’s lives.

  • Remember that what you see on social media is not an accurate representation of people’s real, everyday lives.

  • Comparing yourself to others often leads to feeling bad about yourself and setting unrealistic expectations.

  • The key is to avoid judging yourself or feeling “less than” based on comparisons. Your life and journey are your own.

• Social media comparisons are unfair because people only post selective, curated moments of their lives. You compare your everyday reality to the highlights of others’ lives.

• Comparisons convince you that you can’t have what others have just because they have it and you don’t. But your friend’s success does not mean you can’t have your own.

• When you compare yourself to others, you usually end up feeling worse about yourself. It’s unhealthy to build your self-esteem by putting others down in your mind.

• Celebrate your own successes instead of comparing them to others’. Make a list of your accomplishments and feel proud of them. Feeling pride in yourself will help reduce comparisons that bring you down.

• You can’t control all comparison triggers, but control what you can. Unfollow social media accounts that make you feel inadequate. Stop watching TV shows that trigger comparisons. Replace them with things that inspire positive thoughts about yourself.

• Catch yourself when you start comparing and pull yourself out of it. Use a mantra like “Well, that just happened” to draw a line in the sand and choose a different mindset.

• Remember, you don’t have the full context about other people’s lives from social media posts and public appearances. Focus on your own life journey.

The key is to celebrate your own successes, limit comparison triggers when you can, catch negative comparisons early, and remember you don’t have the full story of other people’s realities. Your worth isn’t defined by comparing yourself to anyone else. Focus on your own journey.

• Self-sabotage is when you do things that impair your ability to achieve your goals or get what you want. It comes in two forms: conscious, where you know you’re doing it, and unconscious, where you don’t realize your actions are sabotaging you.

• We self-sabotage for a few reasons:

  1. Fear of vulnerability. Going after what we want means facing uncertainty and risks. It’s scary, so we sabotage to stay in our comfort zone.

  2. Disliking ourselves. When we don’t like ourselves, we unconsciously gather evidence to prove we are as bad as we think by sabotaging our happiness and success.

  3. Feeling unworthy. Deep down, we may not feel deserving of good things, so we sabotage them.

• Examples of self-sabotage:

  • Picking fights in good relationships
  • Messing up at work when things are going well
  • Reconnecting with unhealthy exes
  • Not following through on goals or dropping important tasks

• To overcome self-sabotage:

  • Identify the root causes of your self-sabotage and work to challenge those beliefs
  • Practice self-care and learn to value yourself
  • Start with small wins and build up your confidence
  • Ask for support from others and be accountable
  • Learn to tolerate uncertainty and imperfections

The bottom line is self-sabotage comes from a place of fear and insecurity. But with awareness, personal growth, and practice, you can overcome those tendencies and achieve what you truly want. It starts by recognizing the signs, figuring out why you do it, and taking consistent action toward becoming your own best ally instead of your worst enemy. You deserve to have the life you want.

  • The imposter syndrome refers to persistent feelings of inadequacy and a lack of deservedness of one’s accomplishments. People with imposter syndrome attribute their success to luck or other external factors rather than their own skills and intelligence. They doubt their ability to repeat their success and feel relief rather than joy in their achievements.

  • The imposter syndrome is very common but often unrecognized. Many high-achieving women experience feelings of being a fraud in their careers and personal lives.

  • Examples:

  • Rachel, a nurse, felt like she was just guessing on her nursing exams and doesn’t feel competent or deserving of being an ER nurse despite graduating with honors.

  • Karen has been in a 15-year relationship but fears her boyfriend will realize how pathetic she is, that he’s just been humoring her, and leave. She feels like an imposter in her friendships too, waiting for others to expose her as unworthy of their friendship.

  • To overcome imposter syndrome:

  1. Recognize that feelings of fraudulence are common and often unjustified. Your success is due to your skills and hard work, not just luck.

  2. Identify your triggers and negative thoughts. Challenge thoughts that undermine your achievements and abilities. Look for objective evidence that contradicts them.

  3. Practice self-care. Exercise, sleep, and engage in hobbies to build confidence from avenues other than work or relationships.

  4. Talk to others. Hearing that others feel similarly can help alleviate feelings of being a fraud. Ask others for feedback on your work or value in relationships. Their support can help shift your perspective.

  5. Accept that perfection is unrealistic. Learn to appreciate your success and strengths rather than attributing them to external factors or waiting for “the other shoe to drop.” No one feels competent all the time.

  6. Stop seeking Validation. Do not let self-worth depend on praise or achievements. You are deserving simply because you are you.

  7. Own your success. Do small things each day to build your confidence from the inside out. Speak positively about your strengths, skills, and accomplishments. You earned them!

In summary, recognizing the imposter syndrome, challenging negative thoughts, self-care, social support, acceptance of imperfection, and building inner confidence are key to overcoming feelings of fraudulence and deservedness in women. Success and strong relationships are due to your inherent worth and abilities, not just luck! You’ve earned the right to own them.

• The imposter complex stems from a variety of experiences in childhood and adolescence as well as societal expectations of women. Many women struggle with feeling like frauds due to messages they received growing up and the minimization of women’s accomplishments in culture.

• To overcome the imposter complex, first acknowledge you have it. Then, challenge irrational thoughts, watch your self-talk, accept positive feedback, and realize you can’t be perfect.

• Get real by recognizing that fooling others would require an immense amount of work and that the people around you are not idiots. They would likely recognize if you were truly incompetent.

• Pay attention to the language you use to describe yourself and your accomplishments. Avoid words like “just,” “simply,” or “merely” which undermine your experiences and skills. Own what you have achieved.

• Accept positive feedback rather than attributing it to others, dismissing it, or believing you don’t deserve it. Pause and try to take the feedback at face value as a sincere gift. You deserve the praise.

• Understand that you cannot know everything or be perfect. Making mistakes, being wrong, and having more to learn do not make you a fraud. You are human, and like all humans, you will never have complete knowledge or be flawless.

• The desire to be perfect often stems from the belief that appearing “all-knowing” will prevent others from seeing you as an imposter. But no one can achieve perfection, so release the unrealistic expectation of yourself.

That covers the key highlights from the explanation of the imposter complex and recommendations for how to overcome it. Please let me know if you would like me to clarify or expand on any part of the summary.

  • People pleasers and approval seekers prioritize other people’s needs and happiness over their own. They worry excessively about what others think of them and try to gain others’ approval.

  • People pleasing and approval seeking behaviors often originate in childhood, when children learn that they need to behave in certain ways to please their parents and gain their approval. These behaviors become ingrained and continue into adulthood.

  • People pleasers say yes when they mean no to avoid judgement or rejection from others. They want everyone around them to be happy, even if it means ignoring their own needs and wants.

  • Approval seekers constantly worry about how others perceive them. Their self-esteem and confidence depends on what they imagine others think of them. They take things personally and feel like they constantly fall short of others’ expectations.

  • To overcome people pleasing and approval seeking behaviors, you need to:

—Learn to say no and set boundaries —Stop worrying so much about what others think —Build your self-confidence from within rather than basing it on external validation —Stop taking things so personally and realize you can’t control how others view you —Learn to value your own needs and priorities

Does this summary accurately represent the key points around people pleasing, approval seeking, and strategies to overcome these behaviors? Let me know if you would like me to clarify or expand on any part of the summary.

• Your tendency to people please and seek approval likely stems from experiences in childhood with parents, mentors, or authority figures who made their expectations or conditional love apparent. Recognizing these patterns can help you challenge the resulting beliefs and habits.

• You are not responsible for other people’s feelings. Their feelings are their own, and you have no control over them. Let go of worrying what others may think or feel if you say no or set boundaries. Their feelings are not yours to manage.

• Don’t take everything personally. We often make up stories in our heads about what others say or do, assuming their words or actions are directed at us or meant to hurt us. This fuels self-blame and the need to please others. You can’t control what others say or do, you can only choose your reaction.

• Learn to recognize what triggers you and causes you to take things personally. That way you can determine what is really about you versus what belongs to the other person. With practice, you can gain clarity in situations and respond in a way that honors your needs rather than reacting out of a need to please.

• It’s a habit to take things personally and seek approval, but you can break those habits. Start by recognizing the triggers and stories you tell yourself, then work to challenge them with the reality that you can’t control others, you are not responsible for their feelings, and their actions say more about them than about you.

• Practice self-approval. Rather than constantly seeking external validation, approve of yourself. Know that you are enough, and you don’t need the approval of everyone around you to be a worthwhile person. Build your confidence from the inside out.

The key is learning awareness and building new habits of honoring your own needs rather than constantly shaping yourself to please those around you. But go slowly, be gentle with yourself, and celebrate small wins along the way. People pleasing is a habit, and habits take time to break. You’ve got this!

  • Don’t be quick to get angry or offended. Notice the situations you tend to be sensitive about and try to not let little things trigger you.

  • Boundaries are not about aggression or confrontation. They are about communicating what is and isn’t acceptable to you. They help build healthy relationships and self-confidence.

  • Saying “no” and setting boundaries can be uncomfortable but it gets easier with practice. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for setting boundaries. A “no” can just be a “no.”

  • Have compassion for the other person when setting a boundary. Start the conversation with something positive about them or your relationship. Then share how their behavior makes you feel and what specifically you need to change. Be open to compromise but stick to your boundary.

  • Don’t set a boundary with the expectation that the other person will be receptive. Setting boundaries is about you and what you need. Their reaction is not in your control. Stay calm and remember why you need to set this boundary.

  • Be very specific in requesting what needs to change. Don’t hint at it, directly say what behavior you won’t tolerate and what you expect instead. Follow through with consequences if the boundary is crossed.

  • Setting boundaries takes practice. Start with small things and have these conversations from a place of self-care, not anger or resentment. Your needs and wants matter. Boundaries help ensure your happiness and wellbeing.

The desire to be perfect often comes from a well-meaning place of wanting to achieve and succeed. However, taken to an extreme, perfectionism can be self-destructive and lead to anxiety, low self-esteem, and regret. Perfectionism may stem from a variety of sources, including a family legacy of high achievement, wanting approval from others, or societal pressures.

The belief that giving up perfectionism means becoming lazy is a false dichotomy. You can still aim for excellence without demanding perfection. The key is focusing on yourself and self-improvement rather than what others think of you.

Some tips for overcoming perfectionism:

•Learn to accept criticism in a balanced way. Don’t let one criticism define your entire self-worth.

•Practice self-compassion. Speak to yourself with kindness and empathy.

•Set boundaries. Don’t feel obligated to always please others.

•Start small by trying imperfections in low-risk areas of your life. Get comfortable with “good enough.”

•Surround yourself with supportive people who accept you as you are.

•Remember, you are worthy and lovable as an imperfect human being. Striving for perfection will not make you immune to life’s pains and can’t earn you the love and belonging you desire.

Here are the main points from the summary:

•The command to “stay strong” is problematic. It implies that showing emotion is a sign of weakness.

•Many women grew up believing they had to be stoic and not show emotion in order to appear strong. This belief causes them to bottle up their feelings.

•Tracie’s story shows how being told she was “strong” from an early age taught her that she always had to appear tough, even when facing difficulties. This habit helped in some ways but prevented her from being vulnerable and asking for help.

•While strength and resilience can be useful at times, the emphasis on staying strong often means not allowing yourself to feel or express difficult emotions. It’s a way to make others comfortable with your pain.

•The author argues that telling someone to “stay strong” during hard times can be dismissive of their suffering. Allowing yourself to fall apart at times does not make you weak.

•Strength and vulnerability are not mutually exclusive. You can be strong yet still allow yourself to feel deeply. Staying strong does not mean numbing yourself to pain or putting on an act for others.

•There is danger in making strength a habit—it can cut you off from your emotions and prevent real healing and connection. Vulnerability is what allows us to connect with others in a meaningful way.

The key message is that while inner strength is important, we should reject the belief that staying strong means avoiding difficult emotions or always putting on a brave face. Allowing yourself to feel deeply and be vulnerable at times is not a sign of weakness but is necessary for well-being and connection. Strength and vulnerability can co-exist. The emphasis should be on authenticity rather than keeping up appearances.

  • It’s difficult for us to see people we care about in pain or expressing difficult emotions. We tend to prefer happiness and stability.

  • This preference often causes us to encourage people to “stay strong” instead of being vulnerable. But suppressing emotions is unhealthy.

  • The belief that we need to be strong often comes from our upbringing and experiences. We may have been told to “suck it up” or that our emotions were wrong or too much for others. This teaches us to hide our feelings to protect ourselves and others.

  • Suppressing emotions is exhausting and damages our well-being. The feelings we bury do not go away; they manifest in other ways like anxiety, illness, insomnia, etc.

  • True strength lies in facing our feelings, not hiding them. This means accepting that it’s okay to feel sad, angry, or fall apart sometimes. It means surrendering to our emotions instead of trying to control them.

  • Expressing emotions, though difficult, helps us process them in a healthy way. It also builds our self-trust as we learn we can experience intense feelings and come out the other side okay.

  • Two choices when feelings arise: (1) Push them down, which requires effort and causes damage or (2) Express them, which is painful but cleansing and helps us move on in a healthier way. The first choice is more familiar but the second is better for us.

  • The key is learning to shine a light on our feelings, get curious about them, and feel them fully. This “unraveling” of emotions is how we process them, even if it’s difficult. That is true strength.

•Being strong is often defined as not showing emotions or vulnerability. But a healthier definition is:

-Asking for help when you need it

-Not taking on more than you can handle

-Allowing yourself to feel and process your emotions

•It’s important to watch out for thinking in “all or nothing” terms, that you either have to be strong all the time or fall apart. There is a healthy middle ground.

•The most important step is awareness - noticing when you are pushing down emotions or taking on too much to appear strong. Your “inner critic” tells you to suck it up, but that isn’t helpful.

•Some questions to ask yourself:

-What do you believe is the opposite of being strong?

-Have you shoved down emotions to appear strong? Why?

-What are you afraid might happen if you weren’t strong?

-What have you avoided dealing with by being strong?

-What specific steps can you take to let go of the need to always be strong?

•Compassion for yourself is key. You can be strong and vulnerable, imperfect and resilient, all at the same time. The more you accept all parts of yourself, the happier you will be.

•The habit of always needing to be strong often comes from underlying issues like lack of self-esteem, fear, anxiety, or the inability to deal with painful emotions. The first step is recognizing when you are engaging in that unhealthy behavior.

•No one “wins” in the end by never showing any vulnerability or emotion. True strength comes from balance - knowing when to ask for help, when to process emotions, and when to set boundaries. The less you rely on always being strong, the more freedom and joy you will find.

• Surrendering means stopping the need to control everything and everyone. Letting go of control can be difficult because we are afraid of uncertainty and not being in charge. But controlling behavior is often linked to fear and distrust in ourselves and the universe.

• Ask yourself what specifically you are afraid might happen if you surrender control. Are you afraid everything will fall apart? That life will be harder? That people will judge you? Surrendering control does not mean giving up, it means compromising and making small changes. Controlling behavior often creates more stress and damages relationships.

• Develop self-trust. Self-trust comes from your heart, not just your thinking. Learn to trust your intuition and inner wisdom. Spending time in stillness through practices like meditation, yoga, and being in nature helps build self-trust.

• Consider your own issues. Controlling behavior is often a way to avoid dealing with your own pain, struggles, and discomfort. Seek help from a therapist or through self-help to address underlying issues. Letting go of control will lead to more enjoyment and better relationships.

• Catastrophizing is imagining that good things happening in your life will inevitably go wrong. It stems from fear, anxiety, and a lack of trust in yourself and life. Challenge catastrophic thoughts by looking for evidence that contradicts them and try relaxation techniques like deep breathing to calm anxiety. Focus on the present moment rather than worrying about the uncertain future.

• The key habits for well-being are self-compassion, gratitude, mindfulness, and self-care.They help build resilience, ease anxiety and fear, and lead to greater peace and contentment. Practice them regularly to overcome habits like catastrophizing.

  • The author describes experiencing intense feelings of joy and happiness but also worrying that it will end in disaster or tragedy. She refers to this as “catastrophizing” or rehearsing tragedy.

  • Many people, especially women, experience catastrophizing but don’t realize they’re doing it or how much it negatively impacts them. It prevents them from fully embracing joy.

  • Catastrophizing comes from discomfort with feeling joy, a feeling of unworthiness or not deserving happiness, and a fear of being vulnerable. We believe we can control the pain by limiting the joy we allow ourselves to feel.

  • Triggers, like past rejection or abandonment, can spur catastrophizing. Recognizing triggers and their influence can help address catastrophizing.

  • Practicing gratitude, especially in small moments, helps combat catastrophizing. It takes consistent practice and awareness. Appreciating tiny joyful moments, connections with others, and solitude helps reframe thinking.

  • Noticing when your mind wanders to catastrophic thoughts is key. Gently bring focus back to the present and practice gratitude. Small steps make a big difference.

  • The more gratitude is practiced, the more comfortable joy will feel. But it’s a continual practice, not a one-and-done solution. Paying attention and being aware of thoughts and habits is essential.

That’s the essence of the advice on overcoming the habit of catastrophizing by practicing gratitude and awareness. The key takeaways are: notice catastrophic thoughts, appreciate small moments of joy, practice gratitude consistently, know your triggers, and be gentle with yourself as you work to change this habit.

The author argues that blame is often used as a coping mechanism to avoid dealing with difficult emotions or taking responsibility for one’s own issues. Blaming others allows us to feel superior while also exempting ourselves from the situation. However, blaming others severely damages our ability to show empathy and connect with people.

To fix the habit of blaming others, the author suggests:

  1. Become aware of when you blame others. Notice if it shows up in major or minor situations in your life.

2.Take responsibility for yourself. While holding others accountable, also look at your own role and reactions. Often there are things you can improve on your end as well, even if the other person is primarily at fault.

3.Let go of the belief that you need others to change in order to be happy. You alone are responsible for your happiness and joy. Blaming others prevents you from focusing on the good in your own life.

4.Practice empathy. Try to understand why others act the way they do and how they may be feeling. Put yourself in their shoes. This helps combat the impulse to blame.

5.Accept difficult emotions. Blame is often used to avoid feeling painful emotions like anger, fear, frustration, and hurt. Learn to experience these feelings as a normal part of life rather than directing them outward at others.

In summary, to overcome a habit of blaming others, work on building self-awareness, taking personal responsibility, practicing empathy, and accepting the full range of your emotions. Let go of the need to control others and make them solely responsible for your happiness or unhappiness. With practice, you can break free from the “blame game.”

•The “zero fucks mentality” means not caring what other people think and putting on a tough exterior. It seems appealing but is often a cover for deeper hurt or insecurity.

•People who adopt this mentality are often trying to avoid being vulnerable or getting hurt again. They convince themselves and others that they don’t care when they actually do. This is exhausting and unhealthy.

•While not caring excessively what others think can be liberating, taking it to an extreme is problematic. It leads to closing oneself off from relationships and emotion.

•It’s important to find a balance between caring what others think and living authentically. We should consider the opinions of those who love and respect us, but not let fear of judgment hold us back.

•Rather than adopting a “zero fucks” attitude, it’s better to process difficult emotions, set boundaries, and surround yourself with supportive people. Develop self-confidence from the inside out.

•The summary covers the main problems with taking the “zero fucks mentality” to an extreme, while acknowledging that not being overly concerned with the opinions of others can be a good thing in moderation. The key is finding a balance and building healthy self-esteem.

Does this summary accurately reflect the key points and arguments in the passage? Let me know if you would like me to clarify or expand on any part of the summary.

  • The phrase “haters gonna hate” implies we should not care at all what others think of us. But giving zero fucks about everyone else’s opinions is not healthy and goes against human nature. We are social beings who want to belong.

  • It’s best to find a balance between caring too much and not caring at all. Only take to heart the opinions of a select few close ones who support you. For most other people, their criticism should not define who you are.

  • Even seemingly confident public figures like Chelsea Handler admit to caring what others think at times. No one can be completely detached from others’ opinions. We all “give a fuck” to some degree.

  • When faced with criticism, it’s normal to feel hurt. The key is to separate that emotional reaction from your sense of self-worth. Do not let others’ words dictate who you are.

  • Identify the select few people in your “square-inch box”—those closest to you whose opinions truly matter. Release the sting of outside criticism.

  • You cannot control receiving feedback from those who like to criticize you. But you can choose not to let their words define you or undermine your confidence in yourself.

In summary, we should care about the opinions of those closest to us who support us, but not let criticism from most others diminish our sense of self. The healthiest approach is finding the right balance between detaching from unhelpful feedback and valuing input from our inner circle. Ultimately, we must strengthen our self-confidence from within rather than basing it primarily on what others say about us.

• Overachieving means basing your self-worth entirely on your accomplishments and achievements. Overachievers believe they have to do as much as possible and be as productive as possible in order to avoid criticism and feel worthy.

• Overachievers put all their self-worth into their achievements. While this leads to rewards and success, it ultimately leaves them unfulfilled. They need to achieve more and more to feel satisfied.

• Overachievers tend to be anxious and not present. They are always thinking about the next thing to do and can’t enjoy the current moment.

• The downsides of overachieving include:

  • Mental and physical burnout. Overachievers take on too much and end up exhausted.

  • Relationship issues. Overachievers have unrealistic expectations of others and judge them for not achieving as much. This leads to conflict and damaged relationships.

  • Lack of self-worth. Overachievers don’t know who they are without their accomplishments and achievements. Their self-esteem depends entirely on what they do, not who they are.

  • Anxiety and depression. The constant need to achieve more and be the best can fuel anxiety, stress, and even depression.

  • Lack of enjoyment. Overachievers have a hard time relaxing and enjoying life’s moments. They are always focused on the next goal or task.

The key is for overachievers to establish their self-worth separate from their achievements. They need to learn who they are outside of their accomplishments and set realistic expectations of themselves and others. Overachievers must make time to rest, relax, and be present so they can live more balanced and fulfilling lives.

• Overachievers tend to struggle with anxiety, insomnia and lack of focus due to constantly juggling many tasks and worrying about not doing enough.

• Overachieving behavior often develops in childhood as a way to gain approval or avoid criticism from parents. Some overachievers observe the praise that comes from achieving and become addicted to it.

• To address overachieving, focus on your physical and emotional health. Make sure to prioritize relationships and take time to rest.

• Slowing down and resting can be challenging for overachievers as it forces them to face issues they are avoiding dealing with. But avoiding these issues will only make them worse over time.

• Failure should be embraced as an opportunity to learn and grow. Overachievers often see failure as a reflection of their self-worth, but learning to view it as part of progress can help break that mindset.

• Competitiveness can fuel overachieving behavior. Be aware of when competition, especially at work, is pushing you past your limits and prioritize your wellbeing.

• Remember that you are enough, with or without your achievements. Your worth isn’t defined by what you accomplish or produce. Focus on connecting with what really matters to you.

• Overachievers can still achieve and be productive, but they need to do so at a sustainable pace and make sure to also care for themselves and relationships. Finding balance and learning self-acceptance are key.

Knowing and honoring your values is key to overcoming unhealthy habits and behaviors. Values are your roadmap or compass, showing you the direction to head in life. When you engage in habits like perfectionism, people pleasing, or control, you are not honoring your values.

To find your values:

•Ask yourself what’s important to you and how you want to live your life. Some common values are courage, growth, balance, authenticity, faith, service, health, etc. Your values may differ in different areas of life.

•Think of a “peak experience” when you felt confident and proud. What values were you honoring then?

•Don’t choose values based on what you “should” value or to impress others. Your values are personal to you.

•Define what each value looks like in real life by listing behaviors that honor those values. For example:

Courage: -Speaking my truth, even if it’s uncomfortable -Setting boundaries -Admitting when I’m wrong -Trying new things outside my comfort zone

Growth: -Reading books on personal development -Reflecting on experiences -Asking for feedback -Pushing past self-imposed limitations

•Check in regularly to see if you’re honoring your values in daily life and make adjustments as needed. Your values may evolve over time.

•Surround yourself with people who share and support your values. Ask them to help keep you accountable.

Knowing your values provides clarity and direction. Make the effort to define them and practice honoring them each day. In time, valuing yourself will become second nature.

The key message is that in times of hardship and suffering, we often revert to unhealthy habits and behaviors to cope, even when we intellectually know better. The author shares the painful example of losing her father suddenly to cancer. Despite writing a book about avoiding habits that make us “feel like shit,” she struggled and engaged in some of those same habits at times, like isolating, overfunctioning, and getting angry.

However, she also chose better options at other times - leaning on loved ones, practicing self-care, acceptance and faith. She learned some truths in the process:

  1. Life is fragile and short. We never know how much time we have left with loved ones.

  2. Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. We can choose to make hard times even harder through unhealthy coping, or we can be gentle with ourselves and focus on self-care.

  3. Acceptance and faith help. Fighting against the hard times often makes the pain worse. Accepting the situation and having faith that we will heal and find strength helps us cope in a healthier way.

  4. Vulnerability and connection matter. Isolating makes the pain worse, while connecting to others helps us heal. We need to reveal our vulnerability to those who love and support us.

  5. Self-care is essential. Exercise, nutrition, rest, and downtime are vital for coping with loss and trauma in a healthy way. We need to make space for ourselves to recharge and renew our energy and strength.

  6. Life goes on. Even in the depths of grief and pain, life continues to move forward. We slowly start to function and engage in life again, at our own pace, even as we hold our loved ones in our memory and hearts. The pain becomes less raw, more bearable, though we miss them always.

The author learned and re-learned these vital lessons through the painful experience of losing her father. By sharing her story, she hopes to help others find comfort and strength in hard times. The healthy choices we make each day in how we cope with life ultimately shape our wellbeing and ability to heal.

  • The author received news that her father was terminally ill. In a panic, she went shopping and spent a lot of money on a dress and shoes to wear to his funeral. She felt relief briefly but realized her reaction was due to pain, fear, and human fallibility.

  • She says it’s okay to fall apart sometimes. She hopes people can be self-aware, make good choices, and be kind to themselves during difficult times. With experience, people gain tools and wisdom to get through challenges.

  • Losing her father gave her a new perspective. She believes people are here to learn, serve others, love, and be responsible for all three. Happiness comes from close relationships. People are trying to find themselves and connect with each other. Talking openly about pain and joy can help people heal and bond. People can support each other through life’s journey.

  • She thanks her community, clients, friends, and family for their inspiration and support. She dedicates the book to her father for his love and for allowing her to support him at the end of his life.

  • The author, Andrea Owen, is the founder of She is a mom, podcast host, author, speaker, and coach. She lives in North Carolina with her family.

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About Matheus Puppe