Book Review: How to Stop Feeling Like Shit by Andrea Owen

Book Review: How to Stop Feeling Like Shit by Andrea Owen

I probably think about the following phrase about once a week: How do I stop feeling like shit?

Sometimes, the answer is pretty simple. Well, I just at my third fast food meal in 3 days. That’s probably why and you need to lay off the fries for a while.

Other times, it’s a bit deeper than that.

Whether it’s a deep philosophical realization I need to confront or I just need to have more veggies, I usually need to sit down and think about what I could do to make it better.

That’s the first thing Andrea Owen tackles in her book. It’s not any of the 14 habits that she’s unearthed for women struggling to do and be better, but how to acknowledge and be in the right frame of mind to confront the habits that they do everyday.

She doesn’t even include it as a chapter. It’s more of a second introduction. “How to read this book.” Taking experiences from her own life, she tells the reader how to proceed and get the most from learning about yourself in the next 14 chapters. Owen could care less which of the 14 habits you utilize throughout your everyday life. She wants you to continuously ask yourself: How do I stop feeling like sh*t? Which one of these habits are affecting you the most and how do you see yourself changing.

That’s one of her most poignant points in this second introduction. Owen’s commitment to helping you, only goes so far. The change is completely on the reader.

The key has been consistency and commitment to the work.
— Ashley Owen, How to Stop Feeling Like Shit, xv


She can point out how your life is making you unhappy. Give you multiple case studies and advice on how to fix it till the cows come home. None of that is going to help if you are unwilling to put in the work and commit to making a change in your everyday life.

The thing is, it won’t be a quick fix either. I’ve heard it takes about 40 days to create a habit. I can only assume it takes at least just as long to break or amend one.

Owen approaches many of the habits in a similar fashion as her introductions. She takes a look at her own life and case studies that have involved many of these 14 habits to demonstrate her points. She doesn’t merely do this for emphasis sake, but instead tries to focus on how these examples can prove to the reader how to improve their habit.

Owen takes 14 common habits that women commonly go through and breaks them down through her book How to Stop Feeling Like Shit. Each habit is divided into its own chapter and can stand alone. So if you only have a problem with perfectionism, you might focus a bit more on that particular chapter.

Everyone has different problems. There is no judgement from Owens concerning what obstacles you are facing and which habits have manifested in your life because of said obstacles.

Here are the 14 habits Owens tackles for women in How to Stop Feeling Like Shit:

  1. Inner-Criticism

  2. Isolation

  3. Numbing Mechanisms

  4. Comparison

  5. Self-Sabotage

  6. Imposter Syndrome

  7. People Pleasing/Approval

  8. Perfectionism

  9. Being “strong”

  10. Control

  11. Catastrophe

  12. Blame

  13. Cynicism

  14. Overachieving

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You might be saying to yourself: “I do half of these” or “I do all of these” or however many habits might resonate with you. Maybe you’ve overcome some of them. That’s great and kudos to you, good sir. But maybe you have that one habit that you just can’t quit. That’s where How to Stop Feeling Like Shit comes into play.

Owen’s doesn’t immediately teach you how to absolve your bad habit. Each chapter focuses more so on acknowledging each habit and how to identify it within your everyday life.

Owen’s does offer you a bit of clarity at the end of each chapter however. She poses you with a few challenge questions to fight your habit and acknowledge your habit.

I’d like to point out, again, she does not pose each of the habits in How to Stop Feeling Like Shit as bad or good. Owen’s tends to frame each habit that she’s discovered as a survival tactic to some extent. These habits have accumulated and manifested in your life to get you through something in your life. What she wants to help you with is to find more helpful and successful habits for you to deal with the aftermath of the obstacles that have created these defense mechanisms.

Her main point when finishing up How to Stop Feeling Like Shit is to create a set of values. Instead of leaving you to tackle your list from her 14 habits, she has you construct new ways to confront obstacles that are bound to come up in your life.

For example: communication is a core value that I hold dear. There are many times that I could potentially use the blame game or comparison instead of communicating how I feel to someone when they have done something wrong towards me. Instead of confronting the issue with either of those habits, I can much communicate much easier about how that individual acted in whatever scenario occurred. It might not be as comfortable, but if I’m committed and consistent about changing this habit, I should be able to face this obstacle in a much more successful and healthy way.

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If you’re trying to instigate more successful habits into your life, try starting with one habit to focus on and go from there.

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