Whether it comes from friends, family or a self-help book, we all need a little guidance now and then; but if you’re the kind of person who cringes at ‘go-get-it’ quotes, Gary John Bishop’s guide to building a life you want to live might resonate with you.
The personal development mentor is on a mission to help us realise we already have everything we need to be happy. With a tough-love, no-nonsense approach to advice, we spoke with Gary about his latest book, Unfu*k Yourself…
What’s the concept of Unf*ck Yourself?
It’s about making your life one you actually want to live. Your experience of life, how you feel, your emotional states, actions and inactions, is driven by your own internal dialogue. And that dialogue basically runs your life, so reprogramming it can change everything. The book is there to spur you into action and open your eyes to things you didn’t think were within your grasp.
What are the common issues you see in the clients you mentor?
Being stuck, unfulfilled, self-critical and caught in a loop. Interestingly, all my clients are people society would refer to as “successful”, but ultimately they’re just as frustrated and dissatisfied as everyone else.
Your book is laugh-out-loud funny…
In the cold light of day, when we’re faced with the meaning we unnecessarily put on certain areas of our lives, it’s hilarious, in a British-black-comedic-tragedy kind of way. When I’m most stressed I see what I’m doing to myself, laugh, call myself an a**hole and move on.
What's your advice on...?
Firstly, it’s made up, self-doubt is not real. It’s an automatic trigger based on past events and perceived failures. Secondly, stop trying to work on your self-doubt. It’s like trying to heal a wound by picking at it. Let it be. Finally, practice new actions in the areas of life where you feel most gripped by self-doubt and act in ways that contradict with how you feel.
Dealing with one’s inner career critic
Go for it. I know it’s simplistic, but that’s how it is. People are looking for a complex solution to a simple mechanism. New results only come from new actions. If you’re waiting to change how you feel before you act, it’ll be a long wait. Feelings are important in our lives but you have to find ways to work with them rather than be dominated by them.
Comparing yourself to others
Everybody’s doing it to one degree or another. When this life is reaching its conclusion, you’re going to be left with what you didn’t do not what you did do, so ask yourself, “Is what I am engaging in, worthy of my life and who I say I am?” Make sure the answer is yes, have at it, and there’s no need to compare.
Being over sensitive
We need to be responsible for what we are doing to ourselves. Don’t hold others responsible for your emotions, be they happy, angry, disappointed, or guilty. Those are all on you and you should be happy to own them.
Feeling stuck in a rut
You have the life you are willing to put up with. Either accept things as they are or change them. Personally, I think most people would rather be miserable than do what they need to do to be happy. Start by changing the word “control” to “have a say in”. Start having your say.
So, ultimately you’re saying we’re all in control of our lives?
You are either living by default or living a life you’ve created. If you want to get beyond your default life, into a life of the unknown and the new, it will take planning and a significant amount of personal integrity, i.e. building a muscle for doing what you said you would do. You can choose to sit back and manifest yourself into a frenzy of mindfulness and tapping into your spirit animal, but that’s not going to pay your credit card bill every month, is it?
You moved to the US from Glasgow with $800 in your pocket and are now hugely successful. What’s your secret?
Success is completely subjective, but it comes down to realising you’re a human being, emphasis on the being. The more you understand your ‘being-ness’, the more you’re able to play with it and risk your comfort levels. Also, I’ve come to love the whole idea of being alive, and for someone who is not imbued with sugary positivity, that’s quite the accomplishment.
What qualities do you think make a person successful?
They are usually relentless to the point of obsession.
Realising the future is not the key to happiness. It’s about being grateful for the opportunity of being alive and recognising that happiness and contentment are available in the present. I say to people: do one thing every day that builds a case for how you want your life to be. Whether it’s laugh, tell someone you love them, keep your credit card at home, forgive, accept, say you’re sorry, whatever, start to form the kind of life you want and act upon that form. And give yourself a break, you’re a human being, not a robot.
It all comes down to actions – anyone can have the life of their dreams but they must be taking real-world action to get there. Mostly, people are taking the actions that mirror the life they already have, rather than the life they want. That has to change right now. When I say right now, I mean go do something that changes your future now. Right now. Go.
Unf*ck Yourself by Gary John Bishop is published on 27th July by Yellow Kite