“Calm the F*ck Down” Review
If you read my “The Books I Picked” post for January, you know that “Calm The F*ck Down” by Sarah Knight (provided to me by the publisher) “is a tongue-in-cheek guide to accepting the things you cannot change, finding the courage to change the things you can, and using straight up logic to tell the difference.” Sounds familiar right? Besides being a nice idea, one that relies on your own powers of logic instead of waiting on the gift of wisdom from a higher being, Knight’s NoWorries Method for calming the f*ck down works; at least it works for me.
I have control issues, which seems common among us anxious types. I too often think that if I can control everything in my life I won’t be anxious anymore. If everyone else would just do what I want them to do everything would be OK. Not only is that unrealistic, but it also makes me and everyone around me miserable. Because I tend to crave control, Knight’s suggestion to focus on what I can control is a great strategy for helping me calm the f*ck down.
Keep in mind that Knight is not a psychologist, she is an anti-guru, and “Calm the F*ck Down” is no substitute for true medical help if/when you need it. That being said, “Calm the F*ck Down” is helpful for dealing with the stress and tension of everyday life. The fact that it could be a helpful addition to therapy for capital-A anxiety sufferers, as Knight refers to us, is icing on the cake. If you’re interested in getting a peek at how the NoWorries Method works, check out Knight’s “How Do I Calm the F*ck Down?” flow chart on her No F*cks Given Guides website. The NoWorries Method seems a little convoluted but when you read the book, it makes perfect sense. I also simplified and adapted The NoWorries Method to suit my particular situation and hang-ups, so don’t be afraid to do the same.
Why the NoWorries Method for Calming the F*ck Down Works for Me
I can’t argue with logic. It’s easier to deal with things if I take my feelings out of the equation. The NoWorries Method distracts me from how terrible I feel by forcing me to focus on what i need to do to logically sort out the offending situation. It is the antidote to wallowing. In Knight’s words, “It’s harder to stay anxious about any particular thing when you don’t allow yourself the mental space to dwell on it.”
I like the emphasis on personal responsibility. Knight writes, “worrying is a waste of your precious time, energy, and money. And worrying about things you CAN’T CONTROL is the biggest waste of all. This is true of low-level anxieties and high-probability sh*tstorms, from existential angst to all-out catastrophes. Whether they be problems with your friends, family, boss, coworkers, car, bank account, boyfriend, girlfriend, or tarantulas—the ones you have the power to solve, the worries YOU can discard and the responses YOU can organize are the ones to focus on.” Claiming personal responsibility for the way I behave regardless of how I feel has helped me move past some of my bigger issues. Though this strategy may dig others deeper into the pit of despair, it’s my ladder out. The NoWorries Method helps me take control of what I can—and I can always control my own actions—when everything around me is falling apart.
Knight’s delivery, however silly, is entertaining. The NoWorries Method reminds me of CBT, though it is NOT CBT. CBT is serious business. It may be helpful, but, in my experience, it’s not entertaining. Conversely, the NoWorries Method is a fun albeit sick way to challenge your thoughts. It turns sh*tstorms into puzzles to be solved, as you’ll see in the “Choose Your Own Adventure” section at the end of the book.
Limitations of the NoWorries Method for Calming the F*ck Down
If you have capital-A, anxiety you’re only going to be able to use the NoWorries Method if you have the emotional space to think logically. I’m not sure the NoWorries Method would have been terribly helpful to me ten years ago when I was at my worst with my own capital-A anxiety. That being said, maybe “Calm the F*ck Down” is the kick in the pants you need to start feeling better.
The NoWorries Method can’t be the only arrow in your quiver. It’s been my experience that no one method of dealing with anxiety works every time or makes me feel completely better, but I do anything and everything I can to move past my anxieties and get on with my life, so I’m happy to add the NoWorries Method to my repertoire of anxiety reducing strategies. Knight also admits that her method isn’t foolproof, but the techniques work for her “a lot of the time, and that’s way better than never.”
The NoWorries Method is helpful for situational anxieties. It’s less helpful for the general sense of impending doom and resulting clenched jaw that perpetually nags at us anxiety sufferers. I have yet to find a fix for that. If you know of anything (legal in Pennsylvania) that helps, please share!
Although “Calm the F*ck Down” is specifically for people who want to better deal with the anxieties of daily life, it also reads like a grown-up version of “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck”, which is aimed at a broader audience. We could all stand to give fewer f*cks right? Although I like both books, “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck” could lead you down a path of giving too few f*cks and creating a very small world for yourself. (Knight does not endorse doing that though.) The spirit of “Calm the F*ck Down” is less antagonistic than “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck” but equally funny, and I find it more helpful. I only wish Knight sold full-size posters of the “How Do I Calm the F*ck Down?” flow chart.