Book review: 'First, we make the beast beautiful'


Sarah Wilson lays her whole journey bare. She’s incredibly vulnerable in her book, detailing her journey with anxiety, OCD and bipolar disorder (among other things). Sarah opens up about her darkest times, ongoing struggles and her extensive research into philosophy, science and hacks that have assisted her in making ‘the beast’ (anxiety) beautiful in order to thrive with it, not in spite of it.


I chose this book for two reasons, one is that I myself experience anxiety and, like Sarah, have proactively worked on it for many years. Reading this book was another opportunity to seek new perspectives and new research. The second is that many of my coaching clients are high performers, highly intelligent and perfectionistic. They are often on their own journeys with anxiety. You can’t know too much about a topic like anxiety, especially not when statistics tell us that 1 in 6 people living in the west will experience anxiety at some point.


Ok maybe I chose it for three reasons… the cover is enchanting.


Sarah writes incredibly conversationally, it made me chuckle and cringe. It felt like a chat with a friend (with the amount of reading I do in personal development this is fast becoming my preferred style of writing!).


The challenge in reading a book on anxiety of course comes from the sometimes heaviness of the topic itself. I found myself fatiguing halfway through and sometimes even feeling my own anxiety triggered by reading about Sarah’s experiences. I’ve spoken to a number of people who have read this and shared of a similar experience.


It’s yet another book in which the author congratulates you for getting to the end, showing appreciation for the intensity of the topic at hand, no matter how relaxed the writing style is.


I won’t spoil the ending… but I’m glad I pushed through. It’s uncomfortable. But in a good way. In a way that could shake up your approach to anxiety and change your life.


Ultimately the message of Sarah’s book is that you’re not alone and that it’s not about ridding yourself of anxiety. It’s about understanding the beast, making it beautiful – that is, seeing how this anxious disposition adds value to your life and then learning to coexist with it, to release the striving, sit in the discomfort and be at peace with the journey.


Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. BUT. Yes… there’s a but… But only if you read it the whole way through. Hear Sarah out and experience how she ties all of her experiences, research and wild tangents together. Without committing to the full read this book could be stressful and triggering and we all know that’s the last thing you need!


Have you read Sarah Wilsons book ‘first, we make the beast beautiful’? I’d love to hear your experience, email me your thoughts.



Ciao, Steph x

p.s. If you want to talk about how Life Coaching could help you to create cohesion in your life then get in touch to arrange a curiosity call with me. Whether it turns into coaching or is simply an empowering chat, I'd love to talk with you and support you on your journey!


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Author: Steph Edmunds

Certified Professional Life Coach

Steph Edmunds is SESC's incredibly passionate, experienced Certified Professional Life Coach based in Launceston, Tasmania - coaching clients across Australia and the world via Zoom to achieve balance, confidence and high performance. .



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