F*ck Feelings (Well, At Least to Some Degree): A New Book

…I think the words “feel” and “fair” are dangerous 4-letter f-words, and urge you to avoid them, together with “should” and “why.” Michael Bennett , MD, “F*ck Feelings: Our M*nifesto”

If you’re skeptical that a self-help book can really help, psychiatrist Michael Bennett and daughter/comedy writer Sarah Bennett, non-readers themselves of the genre, believe they can offer you something different. But it’s still in the form of a book, which is called F*ck Feelings: One Shrink’s Practical Advice for Managing All Life’s Impossible Problems.

Go to Dr. Bennett’s website and you’ll find that he uses Dr. Lastname as a pseudonym for the purposes of doling out advice. “Why? Because real doctors go by their last names, and you shouldn’t let the Phils, Lauras, Nicks, and Drews cause you more pain.”

Kirkus Reviews: “First, a word about the invectives here: they are legion. ‘Given life’s cruelty and unfairness,’ the Bennetts believe that ‘profanity is a source of comfort, clarity, and strength.’ They may be on to something, for the liberal sprinkling of profanities is not only pointed, but they ring loudly in your head so as not to ring loudly at those with whom you have issues, which rarely improves matters.”

Some of the specific bits of guidance? For one, figure out what you can’t control. From their FAQ:

The Serenity Prayer, which insists that you should always give first priority to identifying and accepting what you can’t control before deciding what to do next, is a useful way of approaching many of life’s seemingly insurmountable problems. If you don’t learn to move beyond what you can’t control about a problem, be it an addiction or a difficult relationship, your wishes and expectations become dangerous. Although this prayer is most often used by people in recovery from addiction, the principle of confronting your limitations prior to setting your goals is essential for all constructive problem-solving.

Additional elements, as gleaned from an interview with the Bennetts by Olga Khazan, The Atlantic:

  • Using common sense
  • Having a sense of humor about “how much life sucks”
  • Practicing not always saying what you really feel to others. Dr. Bennett says, per Sarah, “it’s like letting go of intestinal gas: It leads to a moment of catharsis but it poisons the air for everyone around you.”
  • Sarah states that the common approach of getting someone to admit wrongness and then beg you for forgiveness lacks legs. “When you’re dealing with someone who’s an asshole, that’s never going to happen. Let it go in a way that you don’t feel compelled to [wait] for them to have that revelation. Because waiting for that is probably going to be painful or disappointing.”

And more from Alexandra Tunell, Harper’s Bazaar, who lists “five refreshingly blunt takeaways” from the book (click on the link for details):

1) Realize that The Secret is bullsh*t.
2) Embrace your negative side.
3) Accept that addiction, by nature, is uncontrollable.
4) Erase the word ‘closure’ from your vocabulary.
5) It’s okay to hate people you love.

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