• First, We Make the Beast Beautiful

  • A New Journey Through Anxiety
  • By: Sarah Wilson
  • Narrated by: Sarah Wilson
  • Length: 9 hrs and 5 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (540 ratings)

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First, We Make the Beast Beautiful

By: Sarah Wilson
Narrated by: Sarah Wilson
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Publisher's Summary

The New York Times best-selling author of I Quit Sugar transforms cultural perceptions of the mental health issue of our age - anxiety - viewing this widespread condition not as a burdensome affliction but as a powerful spiritual teacher that can deepen our lives. 

While reading psychiatrist Kay Redfield Jamison's groundbreaking account of bipolar disorder, An Unquiet Mind, Sarah Wilson discovered an ancient Chinese proverb that would change her life: 

To conquer a beast, you must first make it beautiful. 

Wilson, a best-selling author, journalist, and entrepreneur, had spent years struggling with her own beast: Chronic anxiety. And the words of this proverb would become the key to understanding her condition. 

First, We Make the Beast Beautiful charts Wilson's epic journey to make peace with her lifetime companion and to learn to see it as a guide rather than as an enemy. With intensive focus and investigatory skills, Wilson examines the triggers and treatments, the fashions and fads. She reads widely and interviews fellow sufferers, mental health experts, philosophers, and even the Dalai Lama, processing all she learns through the prism of her own experiences. Pulling at the thread of accepted definitions of anxiety, she unravels the notion that it is a difficult, dangerous disease that must be medicated into submission and reframes it as a divine journey - a state of yearning that will lead us closer to what really matters. 

Practical and poetic, wise and funny, First, We Make the Beast Beautiful is a small book with a big heart. It will encourage the myriad souls who dance with this condition to embrace it as a part of who they are and to explore the possibilities it offers for a richer, fuller life. 

©2017 Sarah Wilson (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about First, We Make the Beast Beautiful

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  • Overall
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Can’t do it!

The voice is too ‘wet’ for those
Of us with ocd. It’s driving me
Batty

13 people found this helpful

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Lots of honesty, but not enough structure

Let me start by saying I really admire the author for writing this book. She is wildly honest about her anxiety and depression within it, and that takes a heck of a lot of courage. It’s tough to be yourself in a society that doesn’t really understand mental illness. Wilson doesn’t let that hold her back here, however, as she shows you the good, the bad, and the ugly of life with it.

In terms of the effectiveness of this one, I think it will come down to what you’re looking for; a traditional self-help book with lots of takeaways is not what you’ll find here. Instead, you’ll get a train-of-thought narrative that’s high on helping you feel less alone, but low on structure and “sink-your-teeth-into” advice.

The author does address this at the beginning of the book, so I can’t be too mad about it, but that also doesn’t magically turn this one into a gem for me. It really could have used better editing and more cohesiveness, in my mind.

The three best things about this book, in my opinion, are: Wilson’s honesty, the vast amount of research and studies she cites, and some of the sporadic insights she makes about living with anxiety and depression. There are, undoubtedly, some things to take away here, even if they are hidden within a manic memoir narrative.

Now, with that said, I have to stress that the lack of structure really plagues this one at times. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that it sometimes drowns out the effectiveness of the honesty, studies, and insights. After reading it, I really don’t know how to feel. It’s almost like 10% of it was great and the remaining 90% was frustrating, at best.

Thus, overall, I don’t know if I can fully recommend reading this one, but I really do applaud Wilson for writing it. Maybe it just wasn’t for me. Who knows. I do feel like her editor should have reeled her back in a bit more. A little refinement and this could have been a good one. It will start some conversations for sure, however.

-Brian Sachetta
Author of “Get Out of Your Head”

6 people found this helpful

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Not for the unanxious

If you do experience a great deal of anxiety, this may be a great book for you.

I got this book because I am not an anxious person and wanted to better understand those who are. At the end of chapter 3 the author describes people who are dispositionally unanxious as life naturals. This book, she says, is not for you.

Having listened to the first three chapters I'm afraid I must agree. In those chapters she made comments and described experiences that we 'all' go through. I kept thinking "But I don't!" or "Wow, that's never bothered me!" I simply couldn't relate. After enough of these sorts of comments I gave up.

I would still like to better understand anxiety but I guess I'll take my life naturalness and look for that elsewhere.

6 people found this helpful

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Brilliant

What a profound book this was for me. An awesome look at anxiety and mood disorders in general. I bought 3 hardcopies. 1 for myself so I can go through to highlights and make notes in the margins, and 2 for gifts.

6 people found this helpful

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highly recommend!

This was the best book I have read in a long time. Sarah is not only brilliant, but also so very brave. Her book is painfully honest at times... yet she continues to show up for the readers in an authentic way. She is right: more transparent conversations like these need to be happening!

6 people found this helpful

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I got this book because of the octopus

I think the octopus is super cool, and I also have anxiety issues. What's not to love, right?

Sarah Wilson may have anxiety but it's not the same anxiety as mine. If you have nearly debilitating social anxiety like me, I don't believe this is the book for you.

She seems to have had a very full life, which I envy many parts of. Her life seems so unrelatable, however, that I had to set this book down, all the way down, only a few chapters from the end. It distracts from the important information of the book, which I honestly can't remember much.

4 people found this helpful

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Fantastic

As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a specialty in treating anxiety I was so impressed and encouraged by this book Hearing this author speak of her experiences with such clear, courageous confidence And self compassion ! I listened to it and swallowed it over 3 days . I will be recommending this to my clients and pretty much everyone I can Thank You and Finally 🙏

4 people found this helpful

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Made anxiety worse!

This book is overwhelmed with facts. And research is a bit scattered & not fully accredited. Some is just writers opinion. I thought this would help with my anxiety but made it much worse. There are many other books out here that are much more suited for those of us who are anxious.

4 people found this helpful

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Clear understanding of anxiety!

Sarah fully explains anxiety in a way anyone can relate to and understand. This books doesn't just clarify what it is, but also how to live with anxiety. If you or someone you love has anxiety, I strongly recommend this book!

3 people found this helpful

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Highly recommend!

I read this hoping to find insights and tools to use, as I am dealing with more and more anxiety. I want to get a handle on it before it becomes too big a "beast." I also wanted to learn more, as I have a family member whose anxiety has affected her life greatly, and has become paralyzing at times. This book gets five stars on both counts. Sarah Wilson has done the research and lived it, providing valuable insights into the what, why, and how to work with managing anxiety. I'll take this information with me and use what I've learned to "roll up my sleeves and do the work" to better my life, and to see others with anxiety with more compassion and instead of being totally bewildered by their actions, know how to help them tame their beasts. I consider this a must read for anyone battling anxiety or who knows someone who is.

3 people found this helpful