The works of Brene Brown, Simon Sinek, and Elizabeth Gilbert have changed my worldview and, consequently, my life--absolutely for the better--so when I saw that all three recommended this book, I decided to give it a read. Unlike many of the reviewers I've read so far, I'd never heard of Marie Forleo before this week.
I want to preface my review with a bit of my personal standpoint, because I do think that's relevant when it comes to self-help books. Most that I've read (or read many reviews/quotes of and then decided NOT to read *cough*Rachel Hollis*cough*) were either heavy on the "pull yourself up by the bootstraps and get it done" mentality, or focused on slow, methodical healing of the mind and soul (often with the help of real-life therapies). As both a passionate entrepreneur and PTSD survivor, I personally tend to prefer books that fall somewhere in between--doing hard mindset work while also honoring your past and working through it, even when it means you are not creative or productive for a period of time. I am not a fan of the "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" method because when you leave the uncomfortable mental health stuff behind in favor of productivity, you end up falling short at some point. In other words, it's a method that works well, but it doesn't work long term. I found this book to lean toward a "leave the past in the past and do something with your life" mentality. Although there is plenty of mindset work within it (it's almost all mindset work, really)--it only very briefly hints at the idea of actual healing of the mind or soul. It's also generally pretty heavily steeped in positivity culture.
My issue with this book is that I think ANY book that touts itself as being instrumental to helping overcome mental health, addiction, relationship problems--basically anything that has a high possibility of being rooted in depression or trauma--has. a. responsibility. The entire time I was reading this book, I was waiting for a mention of mental health: a chapter or blurb or even some "first steps" on how to first treat your depression, and then move on to Marie's methods for working through the accompanying addiction, relationship problems, getting back into the workforce, etc.--because at face value, her methods are nearly impossible to apply when creatively blocked due to depression (that's right, folks, telling yourself to just stop letting the past effect you WILL NOT help you process trauma!). I want to point out that Marie gave many examples of people who dealt with mountains of trauma and continued on to be highly productive, successful leaders in the world. And I think that's wonderful, but I believe using examples of overcoming trauma to promote any MINDSET work without acknowledging the effect that mental health has on the process is harmful... because trauma and depression live in the mind. It is true that at a few times, she even hinted at mental healing as being the "goal" that you're focused on while reading her book. But again, applying her methods to any mental health goals would be a pretty far reach because the work she's asking you do comes after healing, not before.
I read this book pretty quickly because I found that most of Marie's advice just isn't applicable to me RIGHT NOW, as my current focus is my mental health (and again, from what I read about this book before purchasing, I was fully expecting this to be part of the book's journey). Marie instructs readers to stop and do the prompts (writing, not just thinking), and I did with the first two sets, but then decided to go back and do the rest further into my healing. Sure, I could in a pretty abstract way apply her "everything is figureoutable" theory to healing, but honestly, I found that this book mostly made me feel pretty bad about myself and my inability to focus on and complete her prompts. I truly believe that this book could do more harm than good for some people who are reading it with hopes of "figuring out" their depression, addiction, or relationship/social issues--and Marie does claim several times that her method works for such issues.
I want to clarify that I don't think this book was bad, but I do wish that it were more specifically aimed at a productivity sector of self-help. I picked it up knowing that it was not specifically aimed at mental health, and that Marie is not a psychologist (as far as I know), but still hopeful that it would simply inspire me in the ways that other broad-spectrum self-help books have at times. Instead I found it a bit ableist and, because of that, hard to stomach.
I WILL reread this book when I am able to follow along with the prompts and make use of it. I did find it inspiring and motivating at times. I found several methods and philosophies that I'm looking forward to applying in the future, particularly when it comes to making career decisions. As an entrepreneur, I absolutely 100% see the value in Marie's work, and I am even considering investing in her B-School in the future. I just don't think it's a healthy book for anyone who is struggling with mental health or trauma without a treatment plan already in place, and it will be particularly harmful for anyone who also struggles with feeling that their productivity is tied to their self-worth.
It's very hard for me to apply a star rating to this book, because when I imagine any of my friends who struggle with mental health and self worth reading it, I want to give it 1 star. But the ambitious entrepreneur in me wants to give it a rave review and 5 stars, knowing that I have a whole other set of friends who would benefit greatly from this read. IF this book was being sold as a business/productivity book and not a broad-spectrum self-help book, this would be a very different review. But again, I think authors who are claiming their methods work for addiction and mental health issues have a responsibility to proceed with caution, and I don't feel that Marie did. Still, I am grateful to have discovered her work and look forward to applying it in the future.