Book Review: Sh*t Your Ego Says

Illustrations by Tahlia Kristjansson

Illustrations by Tahlia Kristjansson

If you're living in Australia, you’ll have noticed the recent rise of all things promoting self-improvement. Acai bowls, hot yoga and chakra-aligning podcasts are among the many avenues for exploiting personal enlightenment. And if eating acai bowls and wearing yoga pants mean your life is changing for the better, keep going - I’m behind you. Sometimes though, it’s hard to distinguish between the stuff that aims to develop your character, and the only-worth-ascribing-to-because-it-looks-good-on-Instagram stuff.  Don’t get me wrong, Instagram is an awesome platform to showcase your life improvement quest, but if you’re serious about becoming a better version of yourself, sometimes you’ve got to filter through the bullshit.

A visit to your local bookshop’s ‘Self Help’ aisle will most likely overwhelm both you and your budget. With an enormous array of books aimed to change your outlook on life, it’s tricky to know where to start. You want something that is genuine, but not too dense, something that will challenge your comfort zone, but do so realistically. That’s where Shit Your Ego Says: Strategies to Overthrow Your Ego and Become the Hero of Your Own Story by James McCrae proves worth a buy. Both funny and captivating, it takes concepts you’ve heard about but aren’t sure of and embellishes them with magical prose and sentences you have to read twice, all while teaching you how to challenge what you think you know in a totally achievable way.

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The concept of the ‘ego’ is not new; you probably wouldn’t struggle with identifying an egoist in your life if asked either. Shit Your Ego Says, however, asks you to think about what your ego is saying and what impact it is having on your life. For New York based writer and creative strategist James McCrae, the concept of his own ego was foreign until a breakdown on a Puerto Rican beach had him questioning everything he knew of himself and of life. Following said breakdown came years of introspection and contemplation, and McCrae’s guide to acknowledging, understanding and managing our ego was born.

As simple as an existential meltdown and years of internal analysis sounds, before you can even contemplate changing your life, you’ve got to wrap your head around the idea of the ‘ego’; a voice inside your head responsible for your self-doubt, harsh scepticism, jealousy and fear. That voice is only one component of your consciousness, meaning there are others – I’m sorry, what? Fortunately, McCrae very eloquently unpacks the idea of the ‘ego’, drawing on his own personal experiences of the influence of ego on his life in both good and difficult times. Then once you think you’ve wrapped your head around that, McCrae introduces an opposing force; the ‘Higher Self’, another component of consciousness, an intuitive voice that speaks quietly but surely to you, a manifestation of the notion of ‘it will be OK’.

Once the concepts of ‘Ego’ and ‘Higher Self’ are understood, McCrae writes of the influence that acknowledging these facets of consciousness can have on one’s being. Examinations of scenarios where ego commonly takes hold of our thoughts and consciousness are focused on in the book, with sections titled ‘I Can’t Change’, ‘Fear the Unknown’ and ‘Don’t Be Weird’ among many others. If ‘Higher Self’ has you rolling your eyes, I can assure you that at least one component of this book will be the slap in the face to make you examine your beliefs about yourself and the world; see chapters ‘I Hate My Job’ and ‘The City is Killing Me’.

It is worth mentioning that the language in Shit Your Ego Says can go over your head if you’re not focusing. It may take you time to read, think about and digest, especially those concepts that challenge you (and your ego). Stick with it though, for every chapter you read, you’ll discover another thing to think about. It helps that McCrae entwines humorous stories and historical fact into the book to break up large, dense passages of text. Oh, and keep a notepad handy. You’ll want to write many of McCrae’s words down before you turn the page.

Whether you’ve jumped on the self-improvement wagon or have been looking for the no bullshit ticket to get you on board, I implore you to take a moment in that ‘Self Help’ aisle to discover McCrae’s work. Shit Your Ego Says is a book that will encourage you to challenge your belief systems and undoubtedly alter your perspective on yourself and your life. A must-read for anyone open-minded enough to both buy an acai bowl for brunch and be accountable enough to say ‘maybe the way I’m doing life isn’t conducive to who and where I want to be’, all in the same day.

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Rating: 4/5

Shit Your Ego Says: Strategies to Overthrow Your Ego and Become the Hero of Your Own Story by James McCrae can be found in any good bookshop, RRP $22.99.

Hay House, released 01.05.2017, ISBN 9781401951191

Sophie Cubit-Jones