Book Summary: Girl, Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis
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- 1-Page Summary
- Introduction: You Choose Your Own Happiness
- Lie #1: Outside Factors Are Making Me Unhappy
- Lie #2: Flaking on Myself Is OK
- Lie #3: I’ll Never Be Good Enough
- Lie #4: I’m Superior to You
- Lie #5 : The Way He’s Treating Me Is Fine -- I Love Him
- Lie #6: Being Told No Means You Should Stop
- Lie #7: I’m Failing at My Sex Life
- Lie #8: I Have No Idea How to Be a New Mom
- Lie #9: I’m a Bad School Mom
- Lie #10: I’m Not Far Enough Along
- Lie #11: Other People’s Home Lives Are Perfect
- Lie #12: You Have to Diminish Yourself to Make Others Feel Better
- Lie #13: Daydreams Are Just Daydreams
- Lie #14: I’m Not Talented Enough
- Lie #15: I Will Never Get Over a Trauma
- Lie #16: I Can’t Be Truly Honest About What I’m Going Through
- Lie #17: My Weight Is an Important Part of Who I Am
- Lie #18: Alcohol Can Help Me Cope
- Lie #19: Only My Way of Life Is Correct
- Lie #20: I Need to Be Rescued
1-Page Book Summary of Girl, Wash Your Face
Girl, Wash Your Face drives home an important truth for women: you are in control of your own life. You are responsible for your own happiness and the person you ultimately become. But too many women can’t embrace this truth because a slew of painful lies gets in their way, destroying their self-worth. These 20 lies, which are thrown at women by society, the media, and even their families, can be disarmed by the following ideas:
- Don’t compare yourself to others.
- You are in control of your life.
- You’re better than you think.
- Be unapologetic about your ambitions and goals.
By dissecting these 20 lies, shedding light on the truth, and sharing the strategies she used to overcome them, Hollis hopes to inspire women to reach their full potential.
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
The Lie: Outside Factors Are Making Me Unhappy. From the outside, other people’s lives can look perfect -- home, children, jobs, relationships. This can make you feel like a failure.
The Truth: We’re all falling short. If you’re unhappy, it’s on you. You are responsible for your happiness, and life doesn’t have to be perfect or like anyone else’s for you to be happy.
The Lie: I’ll Never Be Good Enough. Women are often conditioned from childhood to believe nothing they do or become will ever be good enough. This can lead to a drive for achievement that leads to self-neglect and even illness.
The Truth: You are loved, worthy, and good enough just as you are. It’s critical to take care of yourself, listen to your body, and put yourself on your own priority list.
The Lie: I’m Superior to You. Women all too often tear each other down, gossiping and talking behind each others’ backs. We compete with each other out of insecurity.
The Truth: This behavior hurts all of us and destroys the ability to make friendships. True friendship comes with keeping an open mind, looking for commonality instead of differences.
The Lie: I’m Not Far Enough Along in My Career and Personal Life: Women often beat themselves up about all the things they haven’t yet accomplished, fearing that the life they wanted has passed them by.
The Truth: Goals don’t have an expiration date; you can continue to strive to reach them. Not being where you thought you should be may be the best thing to happen to you.
The Lie: Other People’s Home Lives Are Perfect: Many women are struggling to keep up with the demands of parenthood, home life and work. Other people’s lives look calmer and more organized; this can lead to a sense that you’re failing.
The Truth: We all are living in a state of chaos, no matter how things appear. When we learn to embrace and even love the chaos, we can find joy in our daily lives, no matter how messy.
The Lie: Only My Way of Life Is Correct: We can find ourselves surrounded entirely by people who look, think, and act like we do. But when everything looks like us, we start seeing the world as “us” and the “others.”
The Truth: When we stay in our own lane, we miss out on the richness and beauty of a diverse world with amazing people of all races, religions, political affiliations, socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual orientations and any other category.
The Lie: I Have No Idea How to Be a New Mom: When you feel like you’re not succeeding as a new mom caring for an infant -- something women think they should innately know how to do -- it’s easy to feel like a failure. Other moms seem to be handling it better.
The Truth: It’s hard being a new mom. A new mother should have two goals only: take care of the baby, and take care of yourself. Nothing else -- laundry, losing weight -- matters.
The Lie: I’m a Bad School Mom. Being a mom during the school-age years is demanding. No matter how much you give, other moms seem to be giving more and doing better.
The Truth: Comparing yourself to other moms and families is a recipe for feelings of guilt and inadequacy. There is no one best way to parent; there is no one best way to be a mother.
You Are in Control of Your Life
The Lie: Flaking on Myself Is OK. Many women freely make and break promises to themselves. They talk about going to the gym, walking a mile in the morning, training for a marathon, or whatever their goal is, but then don’t follow through.
The Truth: When you become intentional with your promises to yourself, you set a standard for the type of person you really are and who you will practice being every day.
The Lie: Being Told No Means You Should Stop. When pursuing their dreams and coming up against a roadblock or rejection, many women give up.
The Truth: Being told no doesn’t mean it’s time to stop. It means you have to change course to make it to your destination.
The Lie: Daydreams Are Just Daydreams. Women may think daydreaming about their lives and goals is useless.
The Truth: Visualizing your goals in intricate detail is actually a powerful tool on the road to achieving your dreams.
The Lie: I Will Never Get Over a Trauma: Many people have been through something traumatic and the idea of moving past it and thriving seems impossible.
The Truth: Living, and even thriving, after experiencing something awful is possible if you find the good that came from the experience. When you make it through a trauma, you take back your power and know you can rely on your own strength.
The Lie: I Can’t Be Truly Honest About What I’m Going Through: Sometimes sharing the whole truth about a painful experience can be difficult. You feel as though hiding the truth will somehow make it less painful.
The Truth: When you share you own painful truth, you show others that you are someone who keeps showing up and trying, with courage and honesty, even when things get difficult.
The Lie: Alcohol Can Help You Cope: Many women use alcohol as a coping mechanism for the challenges of life. Drinking is an easy fix; just a few sips can dull the edges of anxiety.
The Truth: If you mute your feelings with alcohol, you don’t learn the coping skills to deal with future problems. Fighting through hard times is how you get tougher.
The Lie: My Weight Is an Important Part of Who I Am: Many women have a difficult relationship with food, weight, and body image, often turning to food as a coping mechanism.
The Truth: You don’t need to be thin, but you do need to be healthy. If you truly want to love yourself, do the work to figure out what’s causing your weight/body issues in the first place.
You’re Better Than You Think
The Lie: I’m Not Talented Enough: Sometimes women tend to hold other people’s opinions ahead of their own, especially when it comes to something they are creating.
The Truth: While you can’t make people like or understand what you’ve...
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Girl, Wash Your Face Summary Introduction: You Choose Your Own Happiness
This book drives home an important truth for women: You are in control of your own life. You are responsible for your happiness and for the person you become. And you are capable of more than what you’ve become right now..
Unfortunately, many women can’t embrace this truth because a slew of painful lies gets in their way, destroying their sense of self-worth and impeding their ability to reach full potential. These lies, thrown at women by society, the media, and even their families, include:
- You’re not good enough.
- You’re not thin enough.
- You’re a bad mom
- You’re bad at sex.
- You’re not lovable.
Women too often absorb these lies as truth, leading to self-destructive behavior. They let others treat them badly and accept less than they deserve. They buy things they can’t afford to impress others and self-medicate with alcohol, food or other distractions. They even buy their kids’ love instead of parenting.
But it doesn’t have to be this way; women can change their trajectory and improve their lives. The first step toward gaining back power and strength is identifying and acknowledging these lies.
The journey to a new life is a long process and it won’t be easy. Change doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll try out different tools and techniques; some will work and some won’t. You’ll fall short at times on your journey. But when you grasp that you are truly in control, you’ll get up and keep trying until being in control feels natural.
Author Rachel Hollis speaks from experience. She has overcome pain and struggle in her life and has emerged a better and stronger person. She, too, has shames, flaws and insecurities, but has learned to love herself despite it all. She knows she is in control, so she’ll never give up on trying to improve herself and solve her problems.
As a lifestyle blogger, her job includes sharing images of perfection -- perfect meals, chic images of family life, fashion, and travel. This kind of lifestyle imagery often sets women up for unrealistic expectations of what life should be like; they feel bad...
Girl, Wash Your Face Summary Lie #1: Outside Factors Are Making Me Unhappy
From the outside, other people’s lives can look perfect -- home, children, jobs, relationships, looks. This can make you feel like a failure -- you’re just not measuring up. You can’t be happy if you feel like a failure.
The reality is, we’re all falling short. Even people who look like they have it all together have their own struggles. Hollis is a lifestyle blogger married to a successful executive. His job means she gets to attend the Oscars in glamorous gowns. Her job means she’s often surrounded by images of home-life perfection. She makes a living telling other women how to make their lives better, advising them on workouts, skin care, cooking and parenting.
Though her life might appear perfect, she wants women to know the truth: she’s falling short every day. She’s not a perfect wife, mother, friend, boss or Christian. She struggles in life and fails repeatedly. Though life isn’t perfect, she doesn’t let setbacks deter her and steal her happiness. Her goal is to be a better version of herself every day; she knows she can try again tomorrow if she falls short.
If You’re Unhappy, It’s on You
Society puts enormous pressure on women to look, act, speak and parent perfectly. Sometimes it’s too much pressure and women stop trying entirely. But giving up on a joyful life is a waste. Life is meant to be lived, not just survived.
If you are unhappy, it’s on you. You are responsible for your life and your happiness.
You can’t blame your unhappiness on where you live, how you look, or any other perceived flaws in your life. Unhappiness is a sense of discontent, frustration and anger that makes us want to “hide from our lives” instead of embracing our life. (Caveat: Unhappiness is not to be confused with depression or true sadness, which must be felt, processed and treated.)
Life doesn’t have to be perfect for you to be happy. Hollis’s life is imperfect, yet she has learned to be happy. She explains how she claimed a happy life despite her struggles. Her childhood, growing up in a chaotic home with anger and violence, was traumatic....
Shortform Exercise: Finding Happiness Where You Are
We easily fall into the trap of thinking something else will make us happy.
The author thought leaving her small town behind and arriving in Los Angeles would make her happy, but her internal struggles followed her. Have you ever made a change in your life that you thought would solve all your problems? What was the change?
Girl, Wash Your Face Summary Lie #2: Flaking on Myself Is OK
Many women have developed the bad habit of making promises to themselves and then breaking them. They talk about going to the gym, walking a mile in the morning, training for a marathon, or whatever their goal is, but then don’t follow through. Often the excuse for breaking a promise to yourself is flimsy -- you just didn’t feel like it, or something good was on TV. Women go to great lengths to keep our promises to others, but break promises to themselves easily.
Blowing off a commitment to yourself -- working out, cleaning your closet -- doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it is. You’re teaching yourself not to count on you. Yes, life does sometimes interfere with our plans, but if breaking promises to ourselves becomes a regular thing, we need to be aware of it.
If you continuously break promises to yourself it becomes a deeply ingrained habit that will be difficult to overcome. Our subconscious holds a history of how we’ve responded to challenges in the past. The standard we’ve set for ourselves in the past is where we’ll end up -- unless we push through and make a change.
For example, if you decide on a goal, such as running a race, what happens if you’re tired after four days of training and don’t feel like doing your workout? Do you push through anyway? Or do you make an excuse and put it off? Your subconscious remembers what happened last time you were in a similar situation. If you are used to putting off the difficult task, it’s more likely you’ll slack off again. But you can push through and create a new standard, setting yourself up for success the next time.
Imagine you had a friend who constantly flaked on her promises and commitments to you because she didn’t feel like it or something good was on TV. What if this friend announced a new diet every three weeks and never stuck to it? This is likely someone you wouldn’t respect and wouldn’t trust or count on. Just as with a friend, when you are the one flaking on promises to yourself, you begin to lose faith and trust in yourself.
Now imagine a friend who always keeps her word. She...
Shortform Exercise: Stop Breaking Promises to Yourself
What will happen if you keep all the big and small promises you make to yourself?
The first promise the author made to herself that she vowed to keep was giving up Diet Coke for a month. She focused on this small goal, pushed through, and was successful. Is there something unhealthy in your life you’d like to give up? How about setting the goal of doing without for just 7 days?
Girl, Wash Your Face Summary Lie #3: I’ll Never Be Good Enough
A drive for accomplishment can cause emotional and physical harm if it stems from a place of never feeling good enough. These feelings of inadequacy are often rooted in childhood and can make you feel like you’re falling short at home, work, or in any other area of your life.
Hollis and Workaholism
The author shares her struggle with workaholism to illustrate this concept and show other women that it’s important to take care of yourself, listen to your body, and accept that they are good enough. She often felt compelled to work nonstop until she was ill, exhausted and even angry. This is a problem she’s constantly working on.
Part of this stems from a good place: She loves her job. Her team is great to work with and her work is fulfilling. Her dream of lifting up other women is succeeding and she is rewarded by the online and offline support she receives.
Part of her workaholism, however, stems from a place of insecurity. Her home life can be chaotic; raising four young children and maintaining a good relationship with her husband is hard. So when choosing between success and rewards at work and the difficulties and chaos of home life, she got in the habit of turning to work. She felt like a success at work and a failure at home, so she chose to work more.
This obsession with and drive for accomplishment is rooted in her childhood. As the youngest of four children with unhappily married parents, she was largely ignored. She realized that success -- good grades, scoring in the soccer game -- brought attention. But the moment the praise went away, she stopped feeling liked and accepted. In order to be loved, she felt she needed to produce something.
In adulthood, this deep-seated belief led to a drive for constant achievement without enjoying any of the victories -- just heading to the next goal. This frantic need to achieve began affecting her health. In times of work and relationship stress she developed facial paralysis (Bell’s Palsy). Later she developed debilitating vertigo and no doctor could find the cause.
Finally, a homeopathic...
Shortform Exercise: Put Yourself First
Have you made it onto your priority list?
Do you ever find yourself overwhelmed with responsibilities, both inside and outside the home? What physical symptoms have you experienced because of stress?
Girl, Wash Your Face Summary Lie #4: I’m Superior to You
Women all too often tear each other down, gossiping and talking behind each others’ backs, even making fun of other women. This behavior is usually traceable back to insecurities that developed in childhood. In pointing out someone else’s flaws, we somehow think we can diminish our own.
Judging and Competing Ruins Friendships
Women judging other women is a hurtful, spiteful impulse; the fact that everyone does it doesn’t make it OK. It keeps us from building stronger friendships and from connecting in deeper ways.
The author was once on a plane with a horribly behaved little boy who screamed nonstop. She kept wondering why his mother allowed this behavior. When he was quieted by a bag of candy, Hollis was even more judgemental. Sugar? Rewarding his behavior? But at the baggage carousel she was struck by the look in the parents’ eyes-- overwhelmed and near tears. It hit her that she didn’t know this woman’s story. Perhaps the child had special needs or struggles no one was aware of. Instead of offering help or simply giving this mother the benefit of the doubt, Hollis judged her and found her lacking.
Women competing with each other also needs to stop. Instead, we should focus on supporting each other. Hollis experienced this when she joined a group of friends running a race. An avid marathon runner, she focused on being her friends’ support system this time instead of making it about herself. Though it wasn’t easy to sit on the sidelines, she ultimately had an incredible experience cheering on her friends. She would have missed so much if she’d only been out there for herself.
With her blog and website, Hollis found that the number one thing women ask for advice about is friends -- making them and keeping them. Ironically, their judgemental and competitive behavior is keeping many women from building friendships.
True friendship comes with keeping an open mind when you meet someone, looking for commonality instead of differences. Ignore outside factors like hair or clothes, and instead focus on inside factors like heart, character and...
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Shortform Exercise: It’s Not a Competition
Judging other women hinders friendships.
Have you ever encountered catty women who judged you? What did they say about you or to you? How did the experience make you feel?
Girl, Wash Your Face Summary Lie #5 : The Way He’s Treating Me Is Fine -- I Love Him
In relationships, many women become versions of themselves they don’t recognize, sacrificing their self-worth to keep the love of a man. If a woman isn’t taught to love herself, she may go to great lengths to keep the love of a man.
Dysfunction begins the first time a woman allows herself to be treated badly, sending the message that this is an acceptable way to treat her; sometimes the blinders of love let this behavior continue.
The truth is, people will treat you with as much or as little respect as you permit. As long as you allow someone to treat you badly, they will keep doing so. If you don’t value yourself, no one else will value you.
Dysfunction Disguised as Love
The author illustrates the concept of “allowing someone to treat you badly” with the story of the beginning of her relationship with her now-husband.
She met Dave through work when she was 19 years old. While he was older and, she thought, “out of her league,” she fell in love. She had no dating experience but gave out a mature, responsible vibe in the professional world. Dave didn’t realize how young she was and they began seeing each other. When she finally told him her age, he was wary -- she was too inexperienced and he didn’t want to be the guy who hurt her. In her naivete, she was baffled: How could he hurt her? This was love!
A month into the relationship, she introduced him as her boyfriend at a party. He was angry -- he didn’t even think they were “dating”! In hindsight, she realized that to him, she was only a “booty call.” She was so deeply in love she couldn’t see the reality of their relationship.
When they were together, he was sweet and loving, so she made excuses for the fact that he didn’t call, didn’t acknowledge her during the day, and allowed his friends to mock her. She still drove over and spent the night whenever he asked. She took whatever scraps of attention he threw at her, and she was thrilled to get them.
In hindsight she understood that she was never taught to love herself, so she was desperate to receive love from a man. The relationship...
Shortform Exercise: Value Yourself First
A dysfunctional relationship begins the first time you allow your partner to treat you badly.
Has a romantic partner ever treated you badly on a consistent basis? How long did this pattern continue? Is it still continuing?
Girl, Wash Your Face Summary Lie #6: Being Told No Means You Should Stop
When pursuing their dreams and coming up against a roadblock or rejection, many women give up. But “no” doesn’t have to be the end of your dream. You can either listen to the “no” or refuse to believe it. No is only an answer if you accept it. When you refuse to believe the “No,” you are not letting someone else manage your dreams; you’re saying you are in control of your dreams.
Being told no doesn’t mean it’s time to stop. It means you have to change course to make it to your destination.
Changing Your Perception
If you shift your perception to the idea of life happening for you instead of life happening to you, you can stop accepting “no” as the final answer when you run up against a roadblock and instead start looking for new directions.
Perception is seeing things through the lens of what you feel and believe. Many of our perceptions are rooted in past experiences. If your past experience tells you nothing ever works out for you, you are less likely to keep fighting for your dream when you get a “no.” A shift in perception can turn around this bad pattern.
There are three main reasons people give up on their biggest dreams:
- Voice of authority says no.
- It gets too hard/takes too long.
- Real-life disaster gets in the way.
Voice of Authority
Some people quit striving for a goal because a “voice of authority” tells them to. Perhaps a boss tells you a job isn’t right for you, or a parent tells you not to try. The voice of authority can even be your own internal negative self-talk. When you change your perception and stop accepting no as a final answer, you can override the voice of authority and find new avenues to take.
The author tells the story of how she overcame the “no’s” and fulfilled her dream of becoming a published author. As a celebrity party planner, she was approached to write a “roman a clef” to share some juicy stories from her years of handling celebrity parties. She knew exactly what she wanted to write: her story as a naive, virginal, fish-out-of-water thrust into a world of A-list celebrity...
Shortform Exercise: No Just Means Finding Another Way
Don’t give up when you hit a roadblock.
Think of a time you were told “no” on your way to a goal. Did you give up on that goal? If so, think of an alternative route toward that goal. What’s another direction you can pursue?
Girl, Wash Your Face Summary Lie #7: I’m Failing at My Sex Life
Many women feel insecure about their sexuality, going through the motions to please their partners but not fully enjoying the experience. This problem gets worse as they have children, their bodies change, and life gets busier. But it is possible to work through your insecurities and fears and create a great sex life for yourself and your partner.
The author also experienced insecurity about her sexuality. She stopped enjoying sex as her relationship left the honeymoon phase; their sex life petered out and got worse after having babies. She went through the motions, but was less and less comfortable, not enjoying the experience. She began to resent the feeling of obligation.
She didn’t want to hurt her husband’s feelings, but when they finally did talk, she was shocked to hear that he no longer enjoyed intimacy because he could tell that she was stiff, uncomfortable, tired and unenthusiastic.
Tips for Making Your Sex Life More Enjoyable
With effort and love, she was able to turn things around. To help other women, she shares the seven steps she took to create an exceptional sex life:
- Change how you view sex. She decided that sex was going to be a fun experience, more compelling than anything else she could be doing at the moment -- watching TV, reading a book. She stopped making sex “second fiddle” and began to look at it as an awesome opportunity -- making it more likely she’d choose it.
- Figure out how to enjoy sex more. She realized if you’re not enjoying yourself, you’re not having good sex; the only thing holding you back is you. She opened up to her husband about feeling nervous, shy, and uncomfortable, and they worked through it together.
- Reconcile Christian beliefs with having great sex. She realized she had hangups because of her Christian faith, but had a breakthrough after reading Hebrews 13:4: “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the bed be undefiled.” She...
Shortform Exercise: Make Sex a Priority
Many roadblocks can get in the way of a healthy sex life.
The author found herself going through the motions with sex, pretending but not truly enjoying the experience. Have you ever experienced a lack of interest in sex with your partner? What do you think is getting in the way?
Girl, Wash Your Face Summary Lie #8: I Have No Idea How to Be a New Mom
When women become new mothers, it can be overwhelming. Caring for a newborn is exhausting; you’re navigating a world where your body has morphed and nursing is relentless.
It’s easy to feel bad about yourself because trying to keep up a perfect home, look great, keep your marriage together and be a perfect mother is daunting.
When you feel like you’re not succeeding as a new mom caring for an infant -- something women think they should innately know how to do -- it’s easy to feel like a failure.
The author shares her experience as a new mother to help other women understand they’re not alone, and to offer advice on succeeding at new motherhood.
Unprepared for Feelings of Inadequacy
Hollis suffered through awful pregnancies, including morning sickness that lasted for 9 months, varicose veins, and terrible anxiety over what could go wrong. When she had the baby, she was unprepared for how inadequate she felt. Her terror over what could go wrong was magnified. Breastfeeding was hard and the accompanying exhaustion was soul-sucking.
Her husband wasn’t helpful, leading her to feel she was doing it all by herself, which caused resentment and anger. She remembers once getting so angry with him she shouted, “I never thought I could hate you as much as I hate you right now!”
As the baby got older, she was focused on housework, chores, and keeping up perfect appearances. She never simply enjoyed her time as a new mom; she didn’t feel connected to her child. This pattern kept up after the birth of her second child, when she suffered from postpartum depression.
Her reality of motherhood didn’t match up to the images she saw in magazines and online, and she felt she was failing at the one thing she was supposed to be good at.
Advice to New Moms
But she learned important lessons she wants to share with new moms to save them some of the angst she went through. First and foremost, understand that a new mother has two goals only: take care of the baby, and take care of yourself.
Everything else -- laundry, cleaning, losing weight -- doesn’t matter....
Girl, Wash Your Face Summary Lie #9: I’m a Bad School Mom
Once you get past the baby stage and you’re a seasoned mother, there’s more bad news: You can struggle as a mom in general. Being a mom, especially during the school-age years, is demanding. You’re faced with a slew of paperwork, events, and demands on your time, and no matter how much you give, other moms seem to be giving more and doing better.
It’s easy to feel like you’re falling short, missing out, and not doing as good a job as other moms. But comparing yourself to other moms and families is a recipe for feelings of guilt and inadequacy.
Hollis experienced these negative feelings because, as a working mom whose life is a juggling act, she wasn’t as present at school activities as other moms. She tried to make up for it by volunteering as much as she could, but still felt she wasn’t doing enough.
She came to the realization that to be a successful mom, she didn’t have to be like any other mom; loving her children and doing the best she can is all she or any other mother can do.
In fact, what made her “different” in the eyes of her kids will make her cool and unique later. She decided that she and her family were doing “pretty good,” and pretty good is better than trying to fake perfection.
Parent in Your Own Way
The author shares the lessons she learned in the hopes of uplifting other mothers who may feel like they’re falling short.
- Being a perfect mom is a myth, but being a pretty great mom most of the time is doable. Parent in the way that works best for your family. There is no one best way to parent; there is no one best way to be a mother.
- Stop worrying about other people’s perceptions of how you’re doing. The goal is to raise good people; your daily work will make sure that happens. Some days you’ll kill it, others you’ll fail. There’s always tomorrow. Keep trying.
- Focus on the things you’re doing well, which are evident in the traits of the children you’re raising. Imperfection is OK. Some moms are awesome at some things; you’re awesome at others.
- Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint. A handful of...
Shortform Exercise: Stop Beating Yourself Up as a Mom
You have to take care of yourself to be the best mom you can be. (If you're a new mom and you’re reading this summary and doing exercises to get the most out of the experience, you are an amazing human being who is making herself a priority and becoming the best mom you can be. As the author said, you’re already the best kind of parent!)
Do you ever feel like a failure as a mother? Make a list of all the things going right for your family and all the ways they are doing well.
Girl, Wash Your Face Summary Lie #10: I’m Not Far Enough Along
Women often beat themselves up about all the things they haven’t yet accomplished.
Some even dread birthdays because they serve as a reminder of things they haven’t checked off their to-do lists -- and time is growing short.
Women may feel they’ve fallen short on career, financial and personal goals. They’re not a partner in the firm by 40, married with kids by a certain age, or haven’t lost the baby weight. This can feel like you’ve broken promises to yourself, and with every passing day and week you can feel farther and farther behind.
Hollis also fell victim to this line of thinking, and through her experiences urges other women to stop focusing on what they don’t have, give themselves credit for what they have accomplished, be open to new dreams, and have faith that things are turning out just as they are meant to be.
Goals Don’t Have an Expiration Date
Negative self-talk about what we have and haven’t achieved is damaging. Imagine a baby taking her first steps, but her parents demand that she start running. Ridiculous, right? Yet we set these unrealistic expectations for ourselves all the time, criticizing ourselves for what we’re not doing without celebrating what we have accomplished.
Goals don’t have an expiration date; you can continue to strive to reach them. Try to relax about the goal-achievement timetable you’ve set in your head and understand that “God has perfect timing.” For the non-Christian, think of it as “Everything is happening exactly as it’s supposed to.”
If you are depressed about what you haven’t accomplished by a certain age, perhaps you don’t yet have the life experience to reach this goal. Just like a baby learning to walk, maybe you need to get your bearings for a while. Maybe that particular goal wasn’t meant to be -- something else might be coming for you down the road. Maybe you need to be in your current situation to be ready for your future.
Along with your list of goals, you have to give yourself some grace; beautiful things you never planned can happen in life. When you’re agonizing over...
Shortform Exercise: Keep Working Toward Your Goal
Things may not go according to plan, but they can work out as they were meant to.
Do you beat yourself up about something you haven’t yet achieved -- a goal you thought you would have reached by now? What is it?
Girl, Wash Your Face Summary Lie #11: Other People’s Home Lives Are Perfect
Many women are struggling to keep up with the demands of parenthood, home life and work. They feel like they never get a moment’s peace. Other people’s lives look calmer and more organized; this can lead to a sense that you’re failing.
In truth, we all are living in a state of chaos, no matter how things appear, and we handle it in one of three ways:
- Ignore the chaos. Keep your head down and pretend the chaos of family life isn’t there, and work even harder. The problem with this method is that chaos is stressful, and stress can manifest in physical ways. (The author experienced Bell’s palsy and vertigo.) Insomnia, headaches and hives are some physical manifestations of stress.
- Battle the chaos. We do everything in our power to maintain a picture-perfect existence, furiously cleaning and trying to keep up. The problem with battling the chaos is that we always lose. Life is crazy, stressful and overwhelming, and losing battles against everyday life can make us feel like a failure.
- Drown in the chaos. When we’re overwhelmed by housework, work, kids, friends and obligations, it can feel insurmountable, so we give up and wallow. The problem with drowning is that we let the chaos win and can’t do the things we need to do -- raise our kids and pay our bills.
All three of these coping methods -- ignoring, battling, drowning -- can lead us down the path of substance abuse, using alcohol, food or pills to deal with the stress. The problem with these three methods is that they imply that you are in control of the mess and chaos around you, but much of this is not in our control. While we may be in control of ourselves, we can’t control much of what we’re dealing with -- the actions of others, our children’s moods, problems that crop up. Thinking we can control everything is a recipe for anger, frustration and stress because we are not in control of everything.
How Do We Learn to Accept and Embrace the Chaos?
The answer is to embrace the chaos -- see the beauty in the chaos. This requires a shift in thinking. Our current...
Shortform Exercise: Seeing the Beauty in a Chaotic Life
Life is messy; cut yourself some slack.
Think of a time you used an ineffective strategy to combat chaos -- ignore, battle, or drown. Which did you turn to, and what was the result?
Girl, Wash Your Face Summary Lie #12: You Have to Diminish Yourself to Make Others Feel Better
Many women consciously or unconsciously make themselves smaller to make others feel more comfortable. Becoming smaller means they downplay accomplishments and goals to be better liked and accepted. They mute themselves for fear of being criticized by others.
For example, the author met very accomplished entrepreneurial women who called their businesses a “hobby” to keep expectations low or because they were afraid of being judged.
Some women hesitate to try something new because they fear failure. They stay silent when they have so much to contribute. They hesitate to admit their dreams out loud out of fear of being judged or mocked.
Part of the problem is that when other people don’t understand us, they’re not fully supportive. Working women fight their way through a patriarchal system of men who don’t understand ambitious women. Working moms get backlash from stay-at-home moms and others because they don’t understand a woman’s desire to work. To gain the support of others, we try to be what they want, often hiding parts of our personalities and who we truly are.
Hollis also spent years making herself smaller to fit into the expectations of others. Her father wasn’t verbal with praise unless she did something well, but mostly he wanted silence. She learned not to make noise if he didn’t want to interact.
Her dad didn’t understand his young daughter, so he unintentionally muted parts of her that made him uncomfortable. He called her “little girl” disparagingly, implying she didn’t know what she was talking about, didn’t understand life.
This attitude affected her into adulthood, with the tendency to make herself small showing up in various ways. For example, if you asked her what she did for a living, she’d say she had a lifestyle blog -- not a media company she built from the ground up with millions of visitors, while also speaking, writing and raising a family. She had learned not to be boastful, because as a child she was told she was just a little girl who didn’t know what she was talking about.
She turned down many growth opportunities for her...
Shortform Exercise: Stop Making Yourself Small
You can’t be big and small at the same time.
Women sometimes downplay their careers to avoid being boastful and not make others uncomfortable. Have you ever made yourself small in order to make someone else feel more comfortable? What did you say or do to minimize yourself in the eyes of others?
Girl, Wash Your Face Summary Lie #13: Daydreams Are Just Daydreams
Fantasy and imagination can be instrumental in helping women achieve their goals, as the author learned from her own experiences. When she first moved to LA, her admittedly ridiculous goal was meeting and marrying the actor Matt Damon. Though this was an unlikely scenario, her belief got her to Los Angeles and led her to landing a great job, which led to her event planning career and her future husband.
With no clear direction, she just made one up. Once she had a direction, she was able to get moving and make progress in her life. When she gave up on marrying Matt Damon, she began obsessing about an expensive Louis Vuitton handbag. She imagined it in great detail and vowed to buy it after her first $10,000 check. Through years of hard work and progress in her career, she kept her eyes on the prize -- and achieved it. Her purse represented more than just a purse; it was the culmination of an enormous amount of hard work, career progress and success.
Visualizing Your Goals
The author attributes her ability to imagine her dreams in intricate detail as a big factor in achieving those dreams. Big goals, such as “career success,” can feel overwhelming, vague and challenging, but if you break a big dream down into bite-sized goals, as she did with her purse, it feels achievable.
When setting a goal, spend time focusing in intricate detail. What does it look like? How does it feel? Visualizing in this level of detail makes the goal feel real. It will be different for everyone; it’s about finding the motivation you need to make a move in your life. Whether or not that exact dream comes true isn’t the point: what is important is having a clear direction.
Life gets hard and many things can get in the way of your goal, but with a clear vision, you have something to focus on. Your big goals can keep you going when you’re tired and discouraged, and when they are imagined in crystal clear detail, it’s easier to hold onto them.
Daydreams can also be used as a distraction technique. For example, during a strenuous workout, you...
Shortform Exercise: Fantasies Can Be Instrumental in Goal Achievement
Can you daydream your way to success?
Big goals can feel overwhelming, but broken down into chunks, they seem more manageable. The author focused on being able to buy the purse of her dreams. Think about a big goal you have. What is a smaller, more tangible chunk you can focus on?
Girl, Wash Your Face Summary Lie #14: I’m Not Talented Enough
Sometimes women tend to hold other people’s opinions ahead of their own, especially when it comes to something they are creating. It could be writing a book, building a company, creating art, or even their fashion sense.
You want your work -- what you’ve created -- to be recognized when it’s sent out into the world, but there’s no guarantee it will be liked, appreciated or even understood. It’s hard to find the courage to complete something because fear of criticism can be overwhelming.
While you can’t make people like or understand what you’ve created, you still have to put it out there because your ability to create is a God-given gift.
As a writer who receives good and bad reviews, Hollis has to fight the tendency to believe the negative criticism. She holds onto the mantra, “Someone else’s opinion of you is none of your business.”
Focus on Creating, Not Opinions
Women must send their work out into the world without fearing negativity or criticism because pushing your work our into the world is more important than how it will be received. Creating for the sake of creating is the point, not outside validation.
But worrying about criticism is a hard habit to break. Whenever Hollis writes about something new or controversial, she wonders if people will get it or like it. She’s worried about making people mad and has to fight the tendency to believe that she needs public opinion to validate her work.
To counter this, she asks herself, **would she...
Shortform Exercise: Stop Reading Your Bad Reviews
Create for the sake of creating.
The author faces potential criticism when she releases her work. She releases it anyway. Think of a time you held back from releasing something you created out of fear of criticism. What was it? What specific type of criticism did you want to avoid?
Girl, Wash Your Face Summary Lie #15: I Will Never Get Over a Trauma
Many people have been through something traumatic -- whether big, small, childhood or adult, they all are members of a club they never asked to join. People who have been through trauma find comfort and solidarity in knowing they aren’t alone and hearing others’ stories.
An important element of surviving trauma is looking for whatever good came out of it. Though difficult, looking for the good in a bad situation means the experience wasn’t wasted.
When you make it through a trauma, you take back your power and know you can rely on your own strength. The path through hardship is difficult, but the only way to get to the other side is to fight through, even when you feel like you’re drowning.
Getting Through Trauma
Living, and even thriving, after experiencing something awful is possible. To illustrate this, the author shares what she went through when her older brother committed suicide.
She was very close to her brother Ryan until she was about 12; then Ryan fell victim to mental illness -- borderline schizophrenia, depression, and obsessive compulsive disorder. He shot himself, and she, at the age of 14, discovered his body. This trauma caused nightmares and crippling fears, leaving her carrying horrific images and guilt.
She didn’t think she could get through it, but she did, forging her way through the trauma because she decided to take her power back and draw strength from her tragedy. She looked for the good that came out of the bad and found a sense of strength that she used to get through other hardships in life. She used that strength to get through some of her most challenging times -- navigating life in LA at 17, making it through a difficult labor and birth, running marathons, and building companies. She knew she was capable of it all because she’d already lived through worse.
Embrace the good that comes from the pain because otherwise, the experience is wasted. Tony Robbins said: “If you’re going to blame your hard times for all the things that...
Girl, Wash Your Face Summary Lie #16: I Can’t Be Truly Honest About What I’m Going Through
Sometimes sharing the whole truth about a painful experience can be difficult. You feel as though hiding the truth will somehow make it less painful. But in reality, when we hide things, we give more power to fear and negativity.
Instead, sharing your story shows your strength and courage as well as empowers others, helping them through a similar difficult experience. When you are able to share you own painful truth, you show others that you are someone who keeps showing up and trying, with courage and honesty, even when things get difficult.
Navigating a Difficult Journey
Hollis tells the story of her family’s adoption journey because, though it was incredibly difficult and painful, she hopes to empower and inform other potential adoptive families.
While pregnant with her third son, she and her husband decided they wanted to adopt a little girl someday. They decided on international adoption in Ethiopia because they were moved to help the orphan crisis in that country in a small way. After two years of paperwork, blood tests, interviews and all the red tape required by international adoption, they were informed that Ethiopia was “pausing” its adoption program. They had faith and stayed in the program, but six months later, the country permanently closed adoptions to the U.S.
Still believing they were meant to find their daughter, they decided to pursue adopting through foster care in the U.S., knowing how many children were in need of love and care. But they had no idea how difficult the foster-to-adopt program would be, including managing relationships with biological parents and experiencing the trauma of children being transitioned out of their home.
They were called to care for a medically fragile baby, then asked to take her toddler sister, becoming a family with 5 children overnight. After those children transitioned out of their home, they were asked to care for newborn twin girls who would be available to adopt. Despite prior hurt and misgivings, they accepted and were thrilled.
While caring for the twins, they found out they were...
Shortform Exercise: Drawing Positives From Painful Experiences
Sharing what you’ve been through can help others and bring you greater insight.
Think of a difficult experience you went through. What is something positive you can pull from the lessons you learned?
Girl, Wash Your Face Summary Lie #17: My Weight Is an Important Part of Who I Am
Many women have a difficult relationship with food, their weight, and body image. Often women turn to food as a coping mechanism, abusing their bodies to help deal with trauma or difficult issues from their past.
After weight gain, it is common to turn to diets and diet aids, which don’t work and often leave you heavier than before, creating a yo-yo situation that is unhealthy and leads to feeling bad about yourself -- which in turn can lead to more comfort eating.
Hollis has also dealt with weight issues, identifying at an early age that thin women equaled beautiful women -- they were the ones who would find love, she thought. She had body image issues as a child, but they took a dramatic turn for the worse after an experience with her father trying to teach her how to drive a stick shift turned ugly, as he screamed at her for not handling the car properly.
After this incident, her food issues, including binge eating, escalated. A bout with mono brought her a skinny body she thought would change her life, but after eating solid food again she gained it all back. She turned to diet pills and suffered from paranoia as a side effect. Later, pregnancy and weight gain affected her self image.
She overcame these struggles, coming to her own personal truth and realizations about diet, exercise and weight that differ from common motivational messages.
A Different Take on Loving Yourself
She agrees with the common motivational message of “weight does not define you,” and you are good enough and worthy enough as you are. However, she has a different take with more of a tough-love angle: While who you are today is incredible, she believes that humans were not meant to be severely overweight and out of shape.
While weight does not define you, she believes that the care you put into your body does in fact define you.
This message may be criticized and seen as victim blaming. She understands many people abuse their bodies because they have lived through trauma and face difficult times. Some people turn to food and gain weight as a result of a trauma....
Girl, Wash Your Face Summary Lie #18: Alcohol Can Help Me Cope
Many women use alcohol as a coping mechanism for the big and small challenges of life. Drinking is an easy fix -- just a few sips can dull the edges of anxiety and frustration.
Many women struggle with how much they drink, fearing that it’s turning into a real problem as they gain weight, spend more money, and feel less in control. But women struggling with alcohol are not alone; it’s a common challenge that can be worked through.
The Spiral Into “Needing” Alcohol
Through teenage years and young adulthood, alcohol wasn’t on Hollis’s radar. Then she had kids. Parenthood can lead to being exhausted, overwhelmed and on edge, and alcohol smooths these feelings. In the movie Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Big Daddy, played by Burl Ives, talks about a “click” that happens when he drinks enough. She grew to relate to this click -- it’s the moment when the wine kicked in and she felt herself relax.
Her wine consumption steadily grew from a glass a night to a heavy 7-day-a-week habit. She would wake up hungover, but blame hormones or exhaustion. She began pounding cocktails at social gatherings to relax -- alcohol gave her the courage to parent, have conversations with strangers, and feel sexy, washing away anxiety, fear and frustration.
But she checked herself when she caught herself saying, “I need a drink.” The idea of “need” terrified her because she had alcoholics in her family and didn’t want to become one. She gave up alcohol for a month and felt more in control, confident she didn’t “need a drink” and wasn’t automatically turning to alcohol when she felt stressed.
Then she had foster kids, and her stress level shot through the roof. Though they welcomed the new children, daily life was chaotic and they existed in survival mode. The children’s special issues added to the stress, as did dealing with troubled biological parents and navigating the hurdles of the foster system. She turned to vodka, because wine couldn’t touch her new levels of exhaustion, fear and overwhelm.
She realized that drinking the way she was drinking was a form of medication,...
Shortform Exercise: Stop Taking the Easy Way Out
Fighting through hard times is how you get tougher.
Do you have an unhealthy crutch you turn to when life gets tough? What is it? How does this crutch hurt you?
Girl, Wash Your Face Summary Lie #19: Only My Way of Life Is Correct
Sometimes we stay safely inside the lines that have been drawn for us by our childhoods and families. We surround ourselves with people who look, think, and act like we do. But when everything looks like us, we can develop an unconscious bias, seeing the world as “us” and the “others.”
When we stay strictly in our own lane, we miss out on the richness and beauty of a diverse world with amazing people of all races, religions, political affiliations, socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual orientations and any other category. We miss out on the chance for understanding and respect, richer relationships, and the chance to grow as a person.
Challenging Your World View
Hollis understands what it’s like to grow up firmly believing there is just one way to be. Her small town in California, Weedpatch, was white, low income, conservative and Christian, full of people deeply entrenched in their religion and cultural traditions. She didn’t think that being “other was wrong,” she simply didn’t know that “other” existed. A junior high trip to Disneyland opened her eyes. She saw every ethnicity, a gay couple, and individual styles and could only stare and try to take it all in.
One way may be all you know as a child, but we can’t claim this ignorance forever; we grow up and understand that many people on earth are very different from us. When you stay inside your own bubble, you miss out on rich friendships that can open your eyes and stretch your worldview. Stretching yourself comes from experiencing things outside your comfort zone
As an adult and in her career, Hollis sought out and embraced diversity, believing that being in community with people who aren’t like you helps you stretch and grow into the best version of yourself. One of her best friends is Mexican, Afican American and gay, and from this friend she learned about strength, history, truth and courage. She would have missed out on so much if she didn’t actively explore this friendship.
She makes an effort to raise her children without the homogenized worldview she grew up in and too many people stay in....
Girl, Wash Your Face Summary Lie #20: I Need to Be Rescued
Women can fall into the trap of waiting for someone else to fix their lives, or they simply exist, assuming that life will magically improve on its own. We look outside ourselves and see something else as the solution -- if only we had the right job, man, house, or car, then life would be what we’ve dreamed of. But women can leave this trap behind and take responsibility for their own success.
The author’s own journey to becoming a runner is an example. Never athletic as a child, she first challenged herself to run a half-marathon, despite hating running, after her husband ran one when she was pregnant. She did this for a few reasons. She was jealous of his energy and health, and wanted that for herself. She wanted to prove to herself she could do it, and prove to her kids that dads and moms are strong. She also wanted to see if she truly wasn’t athletic or if that was a narrative she had always believed about herself. She successfully ran the half-marathon.
Her first full marathon brought her to the epiphany that she and she alone was in charge of her destiny. She went through agonizing training, drawing on the strength of her past accomplishments -- enduring a 52-hour labor and building a business from the ground up.
Getting through the race took everything she had; at mile 11 she found a song to inspire her, Bonnie Tyler’s “I Need A Hero.” Singing along with the lyrics, she was struck by the thought that in fact she didn’t need a hero -- she was her own hero. She had done the work and was reaping the rewards. She pushed herself to do something she never thought was...
Shortform Exercise: Only You Have the Power to Change Your Life
Take responsibility for your own success.
Think of a time you looked outside yourself for a solution to your problem. Looking back, what actions could you have taken yourself to make your life better?