Unfu*k Yourself by Gary John Bishop: Book Overview

What is Unfu*k Yourself by Gary John Bishop about? What are power statements and how do you use them?

In the self-help book Unfu*k Yourself, Gary John Bishop argues that the way you think dictates your reality. He introduces seven power statements that you can tell yourself to help reshape your negative thoughts into positive ones.

Keep reading for an overview of Unfu*k Yourself by Gary John Bishop.

Unfu*k Yourself by Gary John Bishop

In his self-help book Unfu*k Yourself, Gary John Bishop aims to increase your understanding of how your mind works so you can use its power to your advantage. Bishop argues that the way you think dictates your reality. He offers seven specific phrases that you can use to reshape your thoughts to improve your outlook on life

Bishop has distilled years of research and experience as a life coach and personal development consultant into this book, which was published in 2016. Here, he presents his findings as a set of simple tools for anyone who wants to make profound changes in their life. He sets out to make happiness accessible to you, whatever your circumstances, by showing you how to relate to your experience in a healthy way. After the success of Unfu*k Yourself, Bishop went on to write a companion workbook (Do The Work) as well as a sequel (Stop Doing that Sh*t), among other books.

(Shortform note: Bishop’s work is part of a trend in self-help publishing starting in the 2010s, with more books embracing an irreverent, informal, and humorous approach. Unfu*k Yourself is often mentioned alongside books like Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass series. One possible reason behind the phenomenon is that authors and publishers want to reach a wider audience, including readers who don’t see themselves as the type to need or enjoy self-help.)

In Unfu*k Yourself, Gary John Bishop introduces seven phrases designed to combat common negative thought patterns and make you more action-oriented. He calls these personal assertions; we’ll refer to them as power statements. Bishop says that if you incorporate these power statements into your self-talk, they’ll empower and motivate you to create the life you want. For this overview, we’ll separate these statements into two groups: those geared toward ending negative patterns and those meant to encourage helpful attitudes. This is based on Bishop’s two steps to achieving freedom from the thoughts that are holding you back:

  • Step 1) Stop whatever you’re doing that’s keeping you stuck.
  • Step 2) Start doing the things that will get you where you want to go.

Take Control of Your Self-Talk

Before we get to the power statements, it’s important to understand what self-talk is and how it affects us. The term self-talk covers everything we think to ourselves internally—and Bishop argues that it has the power to support or sabotage our efforts to make progress. He explains that self-talk is powerful: The content of what we say to ourselves and the tone we use has a huge impact on our emotions, moods, and how we perceive the world around us. This, in turn, affects our choices and actions. 

The Power of Positive Thinking

In Unfu*k Yourself, Gary John Bishop says studies show that people who have positive self-talk are not only happier and more confident but also more productive. The opposite is also true: If you speak harshly to yourself and generate a constant stream of negative messages, you may internalize them, become depressed, and see your performance suffer. 

Most of our self-talk happens automatically as we go through daily life. Bishop calls this narrative mode because it comprises the meaning we’re assigning to our experience as it happens, as if we’re telling ourselves a story. Though we’re usually not aware of it, this stream of internal commentary plays like a soundtrack underneath all the scenes of our lives—and it’s often negative. Instead, Bishop proposes switching to assertive self-talk, which is active rather than passive. In assertive mode, you choose what to say to yourself, controlling the message you receive from your own mind. 

For example, imagine you’re working at a job you find unfulfilling. You might go through your day thinking, “I can’t believe I’m stuck in this crappy job! How do I always end up in these situations? What’s wrong with me?” Now imagine you’re at the same job, but all day you have thoughts like this: “This job is only temporary! I know I can find something better. I deserve to feel inspired in my work.” With that kind of encouragement from your brain, you’re more likely to feel motivated to work on your cover letter when you get home, which gets you one step closer to getting a new job.

As the example illustrates, it’s not your circumstances (like a frustrating job) that make you unhappy—it’s the way you frame them. Bishop’s power statements are meant to help you intervene in your negative, narrative self-talk with self-affirming messages. By focusing on these statements, he argues that you can gradually build the habit of using positive, assertive self-talk, profoundly shifting your way of interpreting yourself and your life. Put another way, the power statements are a way for the conscious mind to speak directly to the unconscious. 

Additionally, all the statements are in the present tense, Bishop stresses, because they’re designed to be a forceful intervention in the moment, not a description of what you’re hoping to be or do in the future. If you continue to reinforce these statements, they’ll eventually become as automatic and effortless as your negative thoughts are now.

Step 1: Stop Holding Yourself Back

According to Gary John Bishop’s Unfu*k Yourself, in order to pinpoint what’s prevented you from achieving your goals so far, you need to identify and transform any beliefs you have that might be holding you back. This is the first step to freedom. It involves a lot of deep reflection, and Bishop says you’ll need to make sure all parts of you, conscious and unconscious, are fully on board and ready to tackle the challenge. The first three statements we’ll look at will guide you through an honest self-assessment and motivate you to take action. 

Change Is Your Responsibility

Power statement: “I am willing.”

Best used: To assert that you’re ready to change

Bishop tells us that willingness is an energized, empowered state from which you can take action. To reach this state, recognize that no matter what happens to you that you can’t control, you can always choose how to respond. Claiming that power includes accepting that your own choices have brought you to wherever you are today, and you can’t place the blame on other people or outside circumstances.

Your Brain Wants to Be Right

Power statement: “I am wired to win.”

Best used: To motivate you to change your beliefs

According to Bishop, this power statement serves to remind you that what you believe internally will determine the life you build externally.  By “wired to win,” Bishop means that our brains are set up to prove themselves right, subtly directing you to create a reality that confirms your unconscious beliefs. Therefore, in order to achieve the life you want, you’ll need to make sure you have the beliefs to match, even at the unconscious level. 

It Is What It Is (Not What It Should Be)

Power statement: “I expect nothing and accept everything.”

Best used: To challenge your expectations

Another aspect of our unconscious mind that plays a big role in how we relate to our lives is our expectations. Without being aware of it, we hold expectations about what should happen or how we thought things would go, and we’re constantly comparing reality to that ideal. Again, Bishop instructs, consider an area of your life that isn’t going well, and you may discover that your dissatisfaction is a result of expectations you’re unaware you were holding. He recommends writing down what you thought this part of your life would look like, and then writing down a description of how it actually is. The gap between the two is most likely what’s making you unhappy.

Step 2: Ensure Your Success 

So far, we’ve examined three power statements Gary John Bishop offers in Unfu*k Yourself for identifying and changing unconscious thought patterns that might be holding you back. Next, we’ll look at the remaining four statements, which describe the attitudes the author urges you to cultivate in yourself in order to achieve happiness and success. Each statement addresses a type of resistance you will encounter as you go after your goals. Basically, the solution is the same in each situation: do it anyway, and don’t give up.

You Can Handle This

Power statement: “I got this.”

Best used: When things don’t go your way

This affirmation is all about putting challenges into perspective, not letting them loom larger than they really are. You’ve dealt with setbacks and found solutions before, Bishop counsels, and you can do it again. The key is taking each problem on its own terms, not allowing feelings of overwhelm or failure to spread and affect your overall outlook. 

Bishop explains how to use actual evidence from your past to give weight to the statement, “I got this.” Imagine your whole life stretched along a timeline from past to future, and visualize yourself walking along, reviewing all the times in the past that you had problems and overcame them. Along with the disappointments, this helps you review your greatest successes. The point is that life is full of ups and downs, and eventually the current incident you’re dealing with will take its place in the gallery with all the rest. Use this statement when unexpected challenges pop up, and don’t let yourself get derailed. 

Just Keep Going

Power statement: “I am relentless.”

Best used: When you feel like giving up

If you cultivate the ability to keep going, regardless of the odds or the obstacles you face, you can achieve great things. Bishop says that progress is not always obvious while it’s happening, but if you refuse to give up, you’ll reach the finish line eventually. Bishop offers this statement as a tool to keep you moving forward even when you lose motivation, or when other people doubt or discourage you. Every time a problem gets in your way, he advises, direct all your energy to solving it, and don’t stop until you do.

You Don’t Need to Be Sure

Power statement: “I embrace the uncertainty.”

Best used: When you’re tempted to stick with what you know

Bishop maintains that any growth or achievement requires you to go beyond your comfort zone and accept some amount of risk. In order to pursue your dreams, you need to be able to push on despite uncertainty. Doing so is uncomfortable, because your natural tendency is to stay where you’re safe, but Bishop advises working against this tendency. He says the ability to tolerate uncertainty is a quality many highly successful people have in common. 

You Are Stronger Than Your Negative Thoughts

Power statement:  “I am not my thoughts; I am what I do.”

Best used:  When motivation runs out and negative thoughts take over

Bishop insists that your actions don’t have to match your thoughts and feelings—so you can still act in your best interest, even when you’re feeling low. In fact, he says, by taking productive action, you actually build confidence and self-trust that reinforce the positive beliefs you’re working to instill. 

Unfu*k Yourself by Gary John Bishop: Book Overview

Emily Kitazawa

Emily found her love of reading and writing at a young age, learning to enjoy these activities thanks to being taught them by her mom—Goodnight Moon will forever be a favorite. As a young adult, Emily graduated with her English degree, specializing in Creative Writing and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), from the University of Central Florida. She later earned her master’s degree in Higher Education from Pennsylvania State University. Emily loves reading fiction, especially modern Japanese, historical, crime, and philosophical fiction. Her personal writing is inspired by observations of people and nature.

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