you are a badass

A Badass Review of You Are a Badass

[social_warfare]Badass reivew

It’s time for another round of Brunch & Books!

This week I take a closer look at the hugely popular “You Are a Badass” by Jen Sincero.

Read on to see if you are kicking ass and taking names!

The Badass Roadmap

The book is broken up into 5 parts of a journey.  Like all self-help, you can’t move forward without understanding how you got to where you are now.  So the book starts off with How you got to the way you are.  Once you have a good grasp of how you got here, next is how to embrace your inner badass.  You don’t think you have one? Au contraire, mon amie! Part 3 deals with living in the present and how to make that your best life.  From the present, the next 2 sections of the book guides us on how to move forward.

Part 1: How you got to the way you are

As the subtitle suggests, the book goes over the well-worn territory of the confluence of brain development with early childhood experiences.  That most of our reality is shaped by the subconscious learning we did as a child.

From how our parents viewed their world, to how they viewed us.  This is also shaped by larger social contexts like your socioeconomic status and perhaps the colour of your skin.

All of this early childhood learning plays out as your ego.  Unlike the pop culture understanding of ego, it’s not having a big head and thinking a lot of yourself.  It’s actually how you think about yourself.  It is the essence of “I.”

What is Ego?

The best way to understand this idea of “I” is when people say that you have to get out of your own way.  It’s how the idea of who you are sometimes trips you up.  Unless you had an idyllic upbringing, you are probably carrying around some baggage.

It affects our self-perception.  This self-perception is almost always wrong, unfortunately.  We either think we are deeply flawed, or we are wonderful.  It is situational.  Many people think they are great drivers when they get behind the wheel. But when it’s time to put on a bathing suit, we are always pinching parts of our body that we dislike.

The book then sets the reader up for what comes next.  This section explanations how you got this way and how it’s not your fault, but it is your responsibility to change.

Part 2: How to embrace your inner badass

The next section of the book is one giant therapy session.  It goes into how to love and forgive yourself.  That you came into the world as a clean slate and you earn to doubt self through your interactions.  It goes into how to appreciate yourself and how you are special.

It teaches you how to reframe the talk inside your head.  Instead of the “I hate my body” talk, reframe it as, I appreciate that I’m super healthy and never get sick.  How about putting that on a sticky note on the mirror? Next time you look at yourself, you might reflexively start to criticize and the note is to help you remember what you like about yourself.

Part of embracing who you are requires you to know who you are.  People say it all the time “I’ve lost myself” or “I don’t even know who I am anymore”.  Usually after a breakup or divorce.  So go find out what activities you love doing.  Go find out who you are.

The quickest way to do that is to just go do it.  Maybe you’d like salsa? Go take an intro lesson. You’ll get instant feedback whether you love it or you hate it. That kind of feedback is invaluable.

Part 3: Tap into the mother lode ;

This part of the book is on the pillars of transformation.  How to live. Basically, it comes down to meditation, gratitude, generosity, forgiveness, letting go.

These are things we know we should do, but often don’t do.  Sincero explains the benefits of each.  Not much more I can add here.

Part 4: How to get over your BS

Therapy part 2.  The part of the book goes into narrative psychology.  This is about the stories we embody.  The stories we tell ourselves, the motivations behind these stories.  This branch of psychology asks us to step outside of ourselves and into the role of an observer; in this case, the narrator.

So if you were David Attenborough looking into your life, what would you see?

After getting a clear view, we can rewrite the stories to alter the negative effects they have.  A classic example is that while we don’t often realize it, we live in a Disney FairyTale.  We are focused on getting married and it’ll be “happily ever after”.  Many of us are conditioned to think that the wedding is the finish line.

But what if we rewrite that story?  There is a reason that Frozen was such a popular Disney movie; it broke that story and told one that was actually more relatable to real life.

The rest of the section deals with the excuses we tell ourselves when we don’t want to change.  They are the same as the ones Rachel Hollis goes over in her book.

The usual suspects are:  there is not enough time, there’s too much to do,  I’m exhausted, I’m afraid.

The last one comes in the form of “I don’t want to lose any money investing, so I’ll keep it in savings” or “I like the stability of my job and if I change jobs, I won’t have the seniority anymore”.

Part 5: The sweet life

This is the part of the book that looks to the future and how you can kick ass.  And this is the part of the book that I struggled to finish.

It gets pretty woo-woo in here.  There are concrete tidbits like you have to practice something to get good at something or have non-negotiables.  But this section is all a masterclass in the Law of Attraction.

Like how money is energy, so raise your vibration because like attracts like.  Get clear on your wants, come from a place of abundance and the universe will deliver.

The upshot is to take leaps of faith and that the Law of Attraction will catch you.  She gives examples of how, without having the money to afford car payments, she went and got a luxury car and then a job would come through and she’d be able to afford those payments.

My goodness, woman, this is no way to go through life; on a hope and a prayer!  While I enjoyed Field of Dreams as a kid, I don’t live my life with a “build it and they will come” strategy. That’s not a strategy!

The Real Law of Attraction

I’m not sure why the Law of Attraction bothers me so much.  Maybe I just can’t take that leap of faith.  I can’t just believe in something so hard that it comes true.

It’s not how she’s explaining it.  I’ve read the OG LoA primer; Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. And I just can’t quite get there.

There’s a psychological study that went like this: a researcher gather a random sample of willing participants and asks each one if they thought themselves lucky or unlucky.

Then he had these people run through a series of exercises for prize money. An example of an exercise would be to count the number of pictures within a newspaper. Oh, and you were also timed on this task. Of course, as you might suspect, the lucky people did better than the unlucky ones.

But why? Turns out, on the second page of the newspaper, which was a prop, in big letters was the announcement “Stop counting.  There are 43 photographs in this newspaper”.  The self-proclaimed lucky folks saw it and stopped. The unlucky ones missed the announcement and kept going.

Believing that they were lucky, they had more of an open mind and they also were open to opportunities.  And the more they were open to them, the more opportunities they saw around them. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You think yourself lucky and so you put yourself in situations to get lucky. What’s more, if you get lucky, then it confirms your belief that you’re a lucky person.

Napoleon Hill’s version of the Law of Attraction was closer to this, though he threw in a lot of talk about the “ether” that’s in the air connecting everyone and everything. The popular Law of Attraction bible, The Secret, takes on a more woo-woo sense of just “putting things out to the universe.”

Empowerment as a Buzzword

I always start off with a bias against books like this; self-help books that claim to “empower” women.  The buzzword of “empowering” women is so overused in marketing that it elicits an eye-roll from me every time I hear it.

To empower is a shorthand for “agency”: defined as the capacity for individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices (Wikipedia).  To make choices independent from other influences. To be a “free agent”.   Now we are getting into the realm of free will and all the philosophical theories, so it is easier to say empower.

Our brain works on a series of shortcuts called “heuristics” – these shortcuts allow our brain to quickly make sense of a lot of information while burning as few calories as possible.  It is a survival mechanism.

So we do respond to the angle of empowerment. It wraps up complex ideas neatly into a single word. It’s come to embody not only free will but also social justice.  I’ve used it myself as a shorthand when people ask me what I do and what I’m about on my mission.

The title of the book itself is playing to the sense of power; who don’t want to be a badass?  We, as humans, have an innate desire for autonomy and to exert our own power.  No one likes to think of themselves as a blind follower, a member of sheep.

Jen Sincero purports to teach us how to be wolves.


The upshot? The book is one long therapy session.  Which is a good thing.  Many of us had f&cked up childhoods and have more baggage than an entire samsonite store.  The book can be a resource for those who can’t afford therapy with a professional.  If you really are suffering though, please seek professional help. They know what they are doing and have seen every situation.  If you are just mildly dysfunctional, you can appreciate Jen’s style of therapy (lighthearted delivery, serious questions).

Rating: Buy*

I rate it a conditional buy.  For the most part, it was worth my time to read and I can see how a lot of the teachings in this book can help us navigate our inner world. Buy it if you come across it at a used book store.

Did you read the book? What did you think? Comment below on what you got out of the book or if you’ve read her follow up You Are A Badass At Making Money.

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