Updated: Nov 10, 2020
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5 out of 5. I would recommend You're Not Enough (And That's Okay) to any woman frustrated with the message the world is sending them today. And who is even more perturbed with the message seemingly Christian influencers like Rachel Hollis, Jen Hatmaker, and Glennon Doyle are sending them today.
Description (from Amazon.com): "We're told that the key to happiness is self-love. But the promise doesn't deliver. The truth is we can't find satisfaction inside ourselves because we are the problem. The answer to our insufficiency and insecurity isn't self-love, but God's love."
Allie's Eating Disorder: Bulimia
A few places in the book, Stuckey talks about a past eating disorder and how it was an attempt to love herself: "I think part of my motivation for my weight loss was wanting to somehow make up for how unattractive and unwanted I felt in that moment [a breakup]. I thought that if I were skinnier, I'd be more lovable. The attention I got from guys as a freshly single girl affirmed that mentality." (pg. 58) "I'd convinced myself that being skinny was the thing making these new friends and flings possible." (pg. 22)
I want to hear more about her eating disorder because it sounds similar to my own story - I thought if I were skinny, I would fit in. Skinny meant love for me. I was trying to fix all of my problems by changing my weight. I thought I was loving myself and becoming my best self when I was destroying myself.
I don't think eating disorders are often addressed this way - from the aspect of self-love. You might think that an eating disorder is a form of self-hatred, but that isn't the case. It is inherently selfish, just like self-love. From the lies that we tell ourselves to the actions we take in the name of thinness, an eating disorder is all about becoming our best selves. In a twisted way, it's all about self-love.
Stuckey is real and raw with her eating disorder. I think she does an excellent job of debunking some of the lies society tells us about self-love when it comes to eating disorders and the lies we tell ourselves through our eating disorders.
Cult of Self Affirmation / Meology
What is the Cult of Self-Affirmation? Stukey says, "The Cult of Self-Affirmation is composed of a ubiquitous network of self-help gurus, self-development experts, and even Christian teachers who pervade social media, line the top charts of Amazon and the shelves of Barnes & Noble and populate many of our pulpits and even the halls of Congress, all working to affirm the supremacy of the self...In the cult, the god is self, "doing you" is the standard of righteousness, and "following your heart" is the way to salvation. The two key tenets of the cult are Authenticity and Autonomy - being true to yourself and maintaining control over your life. Anyone or anything that attempts to limit who you believe you are is immediately categorized as "toxic" and "judgmental" and is thus pushed to the side." pg. 36
What is Meology? Stukey explains, "...many popular devotional authors and preachers today simply don't teach the Bible. Instead, they preach what I call meology - or me-centered theology. Rather than teaching what Scripture means and what it says about God, they highlight what Scripture means to us and what it says about us. Meology seeks to comfort at the expense of conviction. This results in readers who are both misinformed and uninformed about the nature of God. The consequence is people who are unsure of the truth he offers." pg. 64
I believe both words justly define what is happening in our culture today. They are prominent in our culture and need to be determined. Both Cult of Self Affirmation and Meology can be used, though not interchangeably, to warn people against self-love dangers.
Part of stopping the Cult of Self Affirmation is calling out the people who push it. Allie Beth Stuckey criticizes Rachel Hollis, Brene Brown, Julianne Hough, among others, for their self-love rhetoric. I like that Stuckey includes famous figures in the Cult of Self Affirmation.
I have been a prominent Rachel Hollis critic for a while now. She is part of the self-love, self-help community. Stuckey addresses Hollis's views in the section "You're Perfect the Way You Are," though Stuckey could debunk her ideas in every area of the book.
Stuckey quotes the introduction of Hollis's book, Girl, Stop Apologizing, where she asserts that "When you came into the world you were totally and utterly yourself. It wasn't a conscious decision to be exactly who you were; it was instinct. Then, something happened." It sounds good, but Stuckey argues that "who we really are isn't some flawless goddess marred by unfair societal standards or unhealthy relationships."
Stuckey brings to light how easily Meology can creep into everything. Hollis's book is "a shame-free plan for embracing and achieving your goals." Most of the advice is generic and meant to encourage, but the underlying themes are dangerous.
Rachel Hollis says, "You are enough." She has a whole chapter about using the excuse "I'm not enough to succeed," where she tells her readers that their problem is that they don't give themselves credit for everything they have done. Hollis's message is you already have everything inside of you to succeed.
Allie Beth Stuckey is a warrior for the average Christain woman hearing all these feel-good messages from influencers like Rachel Hollis. Stuckey combats our culture with grace and scripture.
Allie's First Job
One of my favorite sections, "You're Entitled to Your Dreams," is where Stucky talks about her first job because I can relate to the pridefulness. For a big chunk of my career in the corporate world, I thought I was the best employee and that I would find success immediately after starting a job. When in reality, I didn't know what I was doing, and I needed time to grow.
"As hard as that job was for me, I learned a valuable lesson: I'm not entitled to success - even in the areas I typically excel in. I assumed professional success would just happen and that I'd be fulfilled by my work automatically. I thought I was enough to get what I wanted on my own terms, on my own timeline. It makes sense that a lot of young people - young women, especially - think the way I did. The #girlboss culture on social media and in the blogosphere makes us feel as if we have to be both obsessed with and totally satisfied by our work in order to achieve any sense of accomplishment in life...I learned that I don't have to love my job for my work to be good and important." pg. 133 - 134
"There's a subsection of our generation that believes work isn't inherently important: that we should only be obligated to do what brings us joy, whether it meets a market need or not. The rise of socialism has brought this idea mainstream." pg. 135
I never put two and two together that the world was telling me I would succeed instantly. After my last job ended so disastrously, I did a lot of self-reflection about work. I came to many of the same conclusions that Stuckey does. I wish I had read her story before I started working.
My Favorite Quotes:
"Nearly a half-century of psychology has focused on high self-esteem as the solution for society's problems - from academic failure to crime. This made me wonder: If self-love isn't a new phenomenon if we've been taught for decades that our lives will be made better just by loving ourselves more and feeling confident, why hasn't it caught on? Why aren't we all happier?" pg. 6
"The logic goes: because you are complete, perfect, and sufficient on your own, you don't need anyone else to love you to be content. All you need is yourself...The self can't be both the problem and the solution. If our problem is that we're insecure or unfulfilled, we're not going to be to find the antidote to these things in the same place our insecurities and fear are coming from." pg. 9
"What happens when we place too much importance on "being yourself" is that we justify choices that hurt us and other people simply because it's "true" to who we are. We convince ourselves that as long as our choice falls in line with who we claim to be, it's good." pg. 39
"And if we put ourselves on the throne of our own lives, deeming ourselves our own arbiter of truth, our heart, thoughts, intuition, feelings, and desires are all we have to lead us. We're stuck looking to ourselves for insight that just isn't there. On our own, we don't know where we're going. To reiterate: we'd make terrible gods." pg. 56
"The paradoxical messages tend to sound something like this: "You're perfect...and this book will help you realize it." "You're perfect...and you need to understand your sign to manifest that perfection." "You're perfect...and repeating these ten mantras will convince you it's true." "You're perfect...and mastering your personality type will prove it." "You're perfect the way you are" is often a Trojan horse for a product or a program that promises to make our lives better." p. 99
"But none of these things will ever make us perfect because "who we really are" isn't some flawless goddess marred by unfair societal standards or unhealthy relationships. You are not perfect the way you are, and you never will be." p.g 101
"It's important to distinguish between real and valid. Our feelings may be real in that we truly feel them, but they're not valid if they're not based in reality. Our feelings can be very much irrational. If followed, they can send us into a spiral of discouragement and despair." p.g 113
"While all valid feelings are real, not all real feelings are valid. That means we can acknowledge our emotions without affirming them. The question of "Why?" can help us determine the difference between valid and invalid feelings." pg. 114
"...to commit to self-love is actually to commit to selfishness." pg. 148
Overall, You're Not Enough (And That's Okay) is an easy read. Clocking in at 190 pages, it takes an afternoon to finish the book. Allie Beth Stuckey is a great communicator. She presents these ideas in a digestible, understandable way.
I love Allie because she isn't an advice-giver as many self-help gurus are; she is a truth-teller. She speaks the truth in love and wants to teach us the Gospel. Part of me hopes that Allie doesn't get too popular because when some influencers grow too big, they lose their authenticity and spark. I love what Allie is doing, and her voice is needed right now, so I hope God continues to keep her humble and content.