Book Review: We’re All Mad Here by Claire Eastham

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Claire Eastham’s (blog here) book We’re All Mad Here promises to be a complete, no-nonsense guide to living with social anxiety. And in a lot of ways, that’s exactly what this book is. And in a lot of other ways, it’s not. In short, I have a lot of feelings about this.

First, let’s talk about the good

Claire is a very personable, witty author. I admire her honesty and vulnerability when talking about her own mental health. She isn’t scared to share funny little anecdotes where she might have made a bit of a fool of herself, and I thought that was great. More than once, this book made me laugh out loud. It’s like you get to know Claire just a little bit better, and I really enjoyed that.

“At this point most people would probably accept that shit was about to go down, but not me. I like denial land – I’m all about denial land!” 

I also though that most of the advice she gave was very actionable and clear. Claire never leaves you hanging with the question ‘What can I do about this problem?’ I particularly liked the advice she gave about the cognitive behavioural therapy exercises that she likes, as well as what she had to say about public speaking. In the book, Claire also reminds you that you’re never alone. That, for example, It’s normal to feel nervous when you get into an important meeting – plenty of people feel the same way. I really appreciated that.

But there were also some things I didn’t like..

Don’t get me wrong. I thought this book was okay, and some parts I even liked, I would probably rate it 2.5 out of five stars, but I didn’t love this book the same way as some people love this book. Even though I tried really hard. There were a couple of things in this book I took issue with.  Continue reading


My (Somewhat Unconventional) Reading Goals for 2018

I wanted to write a post talking about which books – and how many – I’m planning to read in 2018. Maybe I’ll make it to 52, or even 60, I thought to myself, feeling excited. Until I started to really think about that goal. We’re talking about reading books, immersing ourselves in stories and reflecting on them afterwards. Books are (in my opinion) meant to teach you something, meant to leave a mark on you one way or another. Meant to make you feel something. Then why would I make it a goal to read as many books as possible?

To quote this very profound piece published in The Guardian, ”literature is one of the few areas of modern life where it’s not all about the numbers. Of course figures matter to bookshops, publishers, writers and even libraries, but if we enjoy reading – if reading is in some sense good – it doesn’t make any sense for the reader to say that if you double the number of books you manage to get through in a year, it will be worth twice as much.”

Stop worrying about how much I’ve read, or haven’t read

If a ”read x amount of books a year” challenge works for you, then more power to you! but I’ve noticed that around the internet – on YouTube, blogs, Goodreads, etc – it has somewhat become a competition to read more. I often see people read novella’s or graphic novels (that you can read quickly) just so they can finish their reading challenge. Personally, that competitive mindset isn’t for me, not when we’re talking about books. So one of my goals for next year is to completely stop worrying about how much I’ve read, and especially haven’t read.

I’m still going to set myself a ”loose” goal of reading at least one book every week which will land me somewhere between 25 and 52 books at the end of the year. But that goal is meant to keep myself in check and practice my reading habit. The most important part for me is to not beat myself up if the one-book-a-week doesn’t work out, as long as I’m enjoying my book. Continue reading

5 Important Life Lessons I’ve Learned In 2017

Now that it’s December, I’m more in self-reflection mode than ever. This happens every year, but especially this year I’m in overdrive. That’s because 2017 was such a defining year for me, much more defining that 2016 or even 2015. A long-term relationship ended early this year (on good terms! Thank you for still sending my pictures of your cat, Nick) and something new and beautiful has started. I also decided to go back to school at the age of 21 for another degree, and I’m now knee deep into homework and exams.  In short: I’ve learned a lot this year, some of which I want to share with you today.

People cater to strength

I’ve learned that you must be your own source of strength while you navigate through the world. I mean that in all ways possible. Be physically strong enough so you know how to defend yourself, but also be someone who doesn’t let other people’s opinions define them.

Be strong enough to choose your battles and know when an argument is pointless. Be strong enough to step away from something if you need to – if you know that something isn’t good for you. You’ll notice that if you’re strong, people will also respond to you in a positive light and that they will respect your strength.

Short-term hustle and long-term patience are each others best friend

A while back I read a reddit comment that talked about the concept of ‘zero days’.

”There are no more zero days. What’s a zero day? A zero day is when you don’t do a single fucking thing towards whatever dream or goal or want or whatever that you got going on. No more zeros. I’m not saying you gotta bust an essay out everyday, that’s not the point. The point I’m trying to make is that you have to make yourself, promise yourself, that the new SYSTEM you live in is a NON-ZERO system. Didn’t do anything all fucking day and it’s 11:58 PM? Write one sentence. One pushup. Read one page of that chapter. One. Because one is non zero. When you’re in the super vortex of being bummed your pattern of behaviour is keeping the vortex going, that’s what you’re used to. Turning into productivity ultimate master of the universe doesn’t happen from the vortex. It happens from a massive string of CONSISTENT NON ZEROS.”

This is what I do. I try to become better every day, even if it’s just 0,1%. But at the same time, I’ve become content with the idea that I don’t need x amount of money or x amount of (page)views to be happy and successful. Instead, I focus on enjoying the process and working towards my goals on a consistent basis. I focus on being thankful for the things I’ve learned and I try to become better for my future self. Also: I’ve learned that there are no shortcuts to get what you want. You need to put in the work.  Continue reading

The Other Side of Self-Care: Because It’s Not All About Yoga Classes and Glittery Bath Bombs

real self care

As a social work student, self-care is one of those terms that’s just overused. If you don’t practice self-care, you’ll get a burnout is something that is often said by my professors. And that is absolutely true. But we often talk about self-care in the sense of (instant) gratification. We talk about that things that bring us pleasure, like eating a dessert or soaking in a bubble bath. Treat yo’self style. 

And while this is absolutely a form of self-care, I feel like there is often an entire side of self-care forgotten. A side that isn’t as photogenic and won’t look cool on your Instagram.

I realized this myself when I went through a rough patch a while back. Feeling bad every day is exhausting, and it makes you want to indulge in these pleasurable activities like it’s a lifeline – and sometimes it is. And while these activities have their place in self-care, it didn’t help me to feel better in the long run. Instead, some of it made me feel even worse.

Self-care is often an ugly thing. It’s making a spreadsheet of all your bills and/or debt, enforcing a morning routine even though you don’t feel like it, going for a run in the pouring rain, cutting out a toxic friend, cooking yourself healthy meals when you feel like eating fries and above all: being honest with yourself. 

Pleasurable activities have their place in self-care, but only after you practice making the conscious choice to tell yourself the truth, and to work on building a life that you are comfortable in – a life you don’t need to escape from. It’s being okay with not being everything all at once. Accepting your flaws as they are and knowing that your past mistakes don’t define you.

Because if you only spend time on the pleasurable activities, you’ll get the instant gratification, but not the long-term benefits. And in my opinion, those long-term benefits are what self-care is really all about.

The Truth About ‘The Secret’ (The Most Terrible Self-Help Book I Have Ever Read)

Why I Hate The Secret

I hate The Secret. There. I said it. Can’t go back now.

I know I’m a self-help blogger, and this book is like a bible to those who like to consume self-help content, but I hate it. It’s a godawful book and I feel like I need to tell you why.

I feel like every generation has it’s own self-help book, at least in the past century. In 1936, Napoleon Hill did it first with Think And Grow Rich. Hill was also a fraud by the way, which shouldn’t be all that surprising. This is a really interesting 20,000 word longread I recommend. Twenty years later, The Power of Positive Thinking was all the rage, written by the guy who was also Donald Trump’s pastor when he was a child. Which is just a weird fun fact I wanted to share.

And for our generation, it’s Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, a short book that describes the so-called ‘law of attraction’. A philosophical concept that basically comes down to this: if you want to attract positive things, you need to think positive thoughts.

Each of those self-help books, from Napoleon Hill to Rhona Byrne and many books that were published in between, focus on the same ideas, each tailored for its own generation. Think and Grow Rich was released in the time of the Great Depression, and mostly focused on making money. ‘The Secret’, launched in the age of social media and the smartphone, reads very self-centered. It’s full of questionable advice, superstitious bullshit and entitlement. I believe that anyone who reads this and applies the advice given will be off worse in the end. But first, let me explain the main points in the book, so you don’t have to read it and instead, can read something that’s actually worth your time.

What’s ‘The Secret’ anyways?

The book is simply a rehash of ‘The Law of Attraction’: the belief that whatever consumes your thoughts will be what you end up getting in life. So if you only focus on the things you don’t want, you will only get those things. And if you focus on the things you do want – a nice house, lots of money, happiness, a good job – you will get those things.

“Thoughts are magnetic, and thoughts have a frequency. As you think thoughts, they are sent out into the Universe, and they magnetically attract all like things that are on the same frequency. Everything sent out returns to the source – you.” ― Rhonda Byrne, The Secret

There aren’t many self-help books that bother explaining why the law of attraction works, but Byrne gives some half-ass explanation about the universe and how it’s made up of energy and that all energy has a frequency. Your thoughts also emit a certain frequency, and therefore the frequency of your thoughts will resonate with the frequency of other energies. Or something like that. It sounds just as weird as it is.  Continue reading

How To Get The Most Out of Self-Help Books: 5 Tips

You know how some people treat their books like sacred beings that need to be protected at all times? Yeah, that’s not me.

I’ve been reading self-help books for a long time, and throughout the years I’ve perfected the way I’m reading them: because in the end, it’s not about reading the book, it’s about applying what you read. 

So I thought I would share five things I do with every self-help book I read, to help you get the most out of them!

Read actively

Don’t be afraid to highlight passages that you like and write notes on the pages. I do it all the time! I believe reading should be an active experience, not a passive experience. Doing this somehow helps me to take in the information better and it’s a nice point of reference if I ever want to go back to the book – something I often to with self-help books.

Stop reading shit books

Give it 50, maybe 75 pages. If the book is not for you, put it down. Seems really straightforward, but many people are so determined to finish a book when they start, and it’s a waste of time! We’re all individuals, and some self-help books are not for us. That’s totally okay. Life is short, read books that matter to you. Some books that I’ve been loving recently:

Continue reading

Building Confidence And Self-Esteem: 3 Things That Helped Me

In my opinion, the importance of confidence and having a high opinion of yourself is vastly underrated. We act like having confidence would be nice, but it’s not a necessity.

Guess what. It totally is.

I think there is some confusion as to what it actually means to have self-esteem. Some people think that having lots of friends and being successful will improve our self-esteem. Others think that losing weight will get rid of their low self-esteem. Or that you have to actually accomplish something in order to be able to have self-esteem in the first place.

None of that is true. Put simple, Self-esteem just means that you appreciate yourself for who you are, including your faults and flaws. Self-esteem means that you know you are worthy, that you are good enough and you deserve everything you have.

In the past few years, I’ve really improved my self-esteem. I went from being a girl who thought she wasn’t worth the space she took up in a classroom, to a passionate, much more confident person that has come to appreciate her own strong personality. Of course, not every day is amazing, but I mostly feel good about who I am and I take pride in the things I stand for and my abilities and accomplishments. Today, I want to share three things that have really helped me get there.

Take a self-esteem inventory

‘You can’t fix what you don’t know’ is a sentence one of my therapists once said to me. It always stuck with me. Before we can start working on our self-image, we need to identify irrational thoughts and negative self-talk.

When I was in therapy at the age of fourteen, my therapist made me draw a line on a piece of paper. On the left side, she wanted me to list 10 strengths, and on the right side 10 weaknesses. I didn’t have a lot of difficulty coming up with ten weaknesses, but it was hard to come up with the strengths. My therapist made me look at it from a different perspective: had others told me they thought I was a good at something? I recalled times where people had called me smart, witty, a good writer. People had told me that they enjoyed my blog posts (man I’ve been around for a while) and they thought I told cool stories. Viewing it from this perspective, it was much easier to come up with 10 strengths.

Continue reading

Why Thinking Positively Doesn’t Always Work (And What to do Instead)

positive thinking

As a self-help blogger, something I see a lot in this community is the notion that ”positive thinking” can change your life, and that it’s all you need to change your life.

Personally, I believe that positive thinking has a place in this community, and it’s important to take a critical look at your own thought patterns, but it’s not the end-all solution to all of your life problems.

[unpopular opinion] Positive thinking will not solve all of your problems. In fact, thinking that positive thinking is all you need to feel better and become this success machine is quite a dangerous way of thinking. [/unpopular opinion]

But please don’t crucify me just yet.  Continue reading

I Have Concealed Anxiety, Here Are 5 Things You Need To Know About It

I have anxiety.

But you would never know unless I told you.

That’s because just like many others, I conceal my anxiety. And although I consider myself to be pretty good at it, that doesn’t mean my anxiety doesn’t influence some of my decisions and behavioral patterns. I’m trying to open up more about my struggles with my mental health on this blog, which is why I want to talk about my anxiety today.

Of course, my experience with concealed anxiety might not be the same as someone else’s, but I can really only speak for myself, ane maybe a tiny bit for the other people in my life that I know that suffer from (concealed) anxiety. Here we go.

They come across as introverted and outgoing at the same time

It’s not that people with concealed anxiety are anti-social (at least I don’t consider myself to be anti-social), it’s that I often get overwhelmed easily. Whenever I spend time outside the house, I need time to recharge myself. Alone. But I love going out at the same time, so sometimes it annoys me that I need to do that. If I don’t take the time to recharge myself, I become a lot more irritable, tired and emotional.

They’re hyper-aware of their surroundings, but you would never know

Anxiety naturally makes you hyper-conscious of your surroundings, as it is an evolutionary function that is essentially meant to help us stay alive by being aware of other people’s motives. Of course, it’s not not that great when your anxiety is through the roof and you can’t manage is effectively. But you might notice every once in a while that I pay attention more than you’re used to from other people.

I kind of like that about myself, I’m very detail-oriented and I will often notice things about someone no one else does.

They’re not always panicking on the inside, anxiety manifests itself in many different feelings

Having concealed anxiety doesn’t mean that I constantly panic about every little thing. My anxiety manifests itself in constant worry, making things bigger than they are, and just competing thoughts in general.  Continue reading