Sh*t I Say to Myself by Katie Krimer aims to help readers change their negative self-talk. The author is a therapist, and also describes herself as “a recovered negative thinker and self-talker. I’m also a former insomniac, life-long worrier and overthinker, recurring panic attack survivor, skilled ruminator, and recuperating perfectionist.”
The book is broken down into chapters devoted to various common negative self-talk statements. It covers topics like thoughts being electrical signals rather than facts, cognitive distortions like all-or-nothing thinking, perfectionism, and feeling like you’re not where you should be in life. The author offers suggestions for changing the words you use in talking to yourself, like saying goodbye to shoulds and replacing “yes, but…” with “yes, and…” She points out that when we tell ourselves “I can’t”, it’s usually code for something else, like “It feels too hard to…” or “I’m scared to…”
Some bits I liked:
- “Life is difficult enough without us compounding any suffering with criticizing the way our mind is experiencing life.”
- We can try to be curious, “turning ‘ugh’ into ‘huh'”.
- “One of the functions of our thought loops is that they give us an illusory sense of control over a situation that otherwise feels upsetting, unfinished, or uncertain.” Our brains do this “to try to protect us from the intolerable discomfort of not knowing.”
- Regarding negative filtering: “In essence, we distort the reality of what we hear and process it through a tattered, moldy filtration system and convince ourselves that the gross gunk is the ultimate truth about others, life, and us.”
Self-help books involving swearing have been big in recent years. When done well, this can come across as being true to how people actually talk, and when not done so well, it can come across as gimmicky. For the most part, it was done well in this book, but there were a few times when it seemed a bit much.
Some of the slang used made me notice the generation gap between Gen-X me and the millennial author. I haven’t quite wrapped my head around the fact that “dope” is something millennials say now, as I can’t help but think of Vanilla Ice and the lines “Deadly, when I play a dope melody, Anything less than the best is a felony” in Ice Ice Baby. The book does seem to be aimed at a millennial audience; that’s the main clientele the author works with, so the examples she gave of issues her clients have dealt with were based on that population.
The book was easy to read, with short chapters. There were also some fun illustrations to mix things up. I liked how upfront the author was about her own negative self-talk. The author doesn’t explicitly state the therapeutic approach that the book is based on, but it incorporates mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). As you might expect from a swearing-heavy book, the tone is blunt, but in a supportive, encouraging way. That approach isn’t going to work for everyone, but if it’s something that appeals to you, I think you’ll quite like this book.
Sh*t I Say to Myself is available on Amazon (affiliate link).
I received a reviewer copy from the publisher through Netgalley.