Just like Adele, Glennon Doyle’s memoir Untamed changed my outlook on life
When Adele says “I am so ready for myself after reading this book!” you listen. Though not normally into the self-help genre, this memoir had our writer exclaiming in agreement.
First things first, I am not really a self-help book kinda gal. Not because I don’t need help (because I definitely do) but for some reason they usually rub me up the wrong way. But then Untamed by Glennon Doyle came along and changed all of that.
After hearing recommendations of the book by seemingly every person on the planet, mortal and celebrity alike, including Adele who said to her millions of followers on Instagram: “If you’re ready—this book will shake your brain and make your soul scream. I am so ready for myself after reading this book! It’s as if I just flew into my body for the very first time.”
I decided that I had no choice really, I simply had to read it (plus it is also a memoir and I LOVE memoirs).
And as trite as it may sound, this book made me fist pump, it made me scream out “f*ck yes”, it made me nod in absolute agreement, it made me stop and think, it made me (just like Adele) highlight actual sections of text so much so that whole pages of my copy of the book are fluoro orange.
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Without exaggeration, Untamed changed my outlook on life. It changed it by confirming beliefs I already had but that I wasn’t quite sure about or confident in, it changed it by offering new perspectives and it changed it because, like most others who read it, I can identify with Glennon Doyle and her honest, relatable and funny insights into serious and complex issues. Here’s how.
1. I’ve finally understood the purpose of pain and its significance in living
“In my thirties, I learned that there is a type of pain in life that I want to feel. It’s the inevitable, excruciating, necessary pain of losing beautiful things: trust, dreams, health, animals, relationships, people. This kind of pain is the price of love, the cost of living a brave, openhearted life — and I’ll pay it. There is another kind of pain that comes not from losing beautiful things but from never even trying for them.”
For me, pain is something that, this year especially, has been an ongoing occurrence and feeling. I have lost three people close to me and I nearly lost my own mother in September as well.
It has often felt as if pain has been pulling me down under the water where I cannot breathe as I frantically try to pull myself back to the surface. It seems often pointless and it is exhausting.
After reading the book though, specifically this passage, it made what I was experiencing, not go away or feel less intense, but it helped me understand why it is that I am experiencing it and that I am not alone in feeling this way; that pain is an important emotion to ‘feel’. It means we are truly living.
2. I accepted the yin and yang of mental health issues
“Being both depressed and anxious is a bit like being Eeyore and Tigger at the same time. It’s like always living a little too low and a little too high. It’s always struggling to be at the level where life happens, which is here and now.”
As someone who suffers from both depression and anxiety, Doyle’s insight into these conditions hit home.
Her exploration of the complexity of mental illness and how it plays both a positive and negative part in who we are as a person is perfection. It said exactly what I had been thinking, for as long as I can remember but could never find the words to articulate it (despite also being a writer). Sometimes having a person do this for us can do wonders for legitimising our own emotions, which although may sound silly, for me, it makes a big difference in helping me deal with them.
“I am a clinically depressed inspirational speaker. I am a diagnosed anxious person whose main job is to convince people that everything’s okay. Please note that if I can be these things, anyone can be anything.”
The way she also finds the humour and irony that often comes with being the sufferer of mental health issues was also incredibly identifiable and really screams to me – you can do anything!
3. I have accepted that being an introvert makes me who I am
“I love humanity, but humans are tricky for me. I’d die for you but not meet you for coffee”
As someone who is happy to share her opinions in an article or via a text message to a friend but would do anything humanly possible to avoid social interaction in person (or on the phone for that matter), Doyle’s honest, yet hilarious observation was one of my fist pump and ‘f*ck yes’ occasions.
4. It showed me why integrity is far more important than what other people think
“People will like me or not, but being liked is not my One Thing; integrity is…I’m willing to lose anything that requires me to hide any part of myself.”
As someone who still struggles with being liked, or more importantly, not, this quote was like a warm hug, a reassurance that being yourself is more than okay, it is essential.
It gave me the confidence that my integrity is much more important than what others think of me because ultimately that is what I can control, and it says far more about the real me than others opinions.
5. It validated why truth is uncomfortable but essential
“What is better: uncomfortable truth or comfortable lies? Every truth is a kindness, even if it makes others uncomfortable. Every untruth is an unkindness, even if it makes others comfortable.”
This was one, if not ‘the one’ major element that I took from Untamed.
As a person who has been lied to considerably by those close to me and by those who are a part of my life, my decision to not do this and be brutally honest and open instead, sometimes leaves me concerned that what I am doing is not the right thing.
What I realised from Untamed is that being honest isn’t a question of right or wrong, instead it’s a question of comfort, and sometimes what I do or say will make me or others uncomfortable but ultimately the truth is what matters most.
Shona Hendley is a freelance writer and ex-secondary school teacher. You can follow her on Instagram: @shonamarion.
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