What Does It Take To Be Untamed?

Or in other words, how to be brave?

These are the themes in Glennon Doyle’s Untamed, a 2020 memoir of life events, decision conflict, and generally getting s*** in order.

4.6 on Amazon, 4/5 on Goodreads, and 7 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list. Objectively rave reviews, clearly doing something right. When the title came recommended my way, imagine how happy this life-long learner felt!

Yet… upon reading, there was… Well, in the face of a few dangers, let’s talk about my feels and thoughts, a seemingly rare perspective. Stick with me here – there are a lot of subjects to iron out:

  1. Preamble: Written With You in Mind*
  2. One More Word on Structure
  3. Perhaps the Most Important Lessons: What Not to Do
  4. What to Do, Re Living Et. Al
  5. A Talk About the Feels
  6. Dynamics of Gender
  7. For the Men: Salt Grains
  8. Take a Deep Breath

Preamble: Written With You in Mind*

* If a woman.

From the onset, Untamed stations itself as a book from a woman for women. It wants to tackle societal, systemic, and psychological impasses the chosen audience is like to face in at least the Western cultural context.

As a cishet male (me), there was a lot to grok. Despite being a highly sensitive empath, at many points I just did not get it.

I let my recommending friend know I was struggling, not even halfway through the book. With the writing being all over the place, blatantly petty and premeditated bad decisions failing to build a protagonist in my mind, and straight-up wrong claims over a couple of concrete topics… Getting that far was a struggle.

Yet I persisted. I am glad I did. The book and I changed.

What I came across in the last-half/-third of the book is what I want to share with you today, specifically my non-audience perspective.

Untamed has been touched on by many readers as can be seen in public reviews and easily google-searched articles. Going over these, I was at once taken aback by the lack of male authors – but perhaps that makes my voice in this article all that more important.

Regardless of having read the book or not, your gender, or other predispositions, my aim is to communicate core relevancies I found in Glennon’s work with you – takeaways I hope you can apply in as much use as I have.

One More Word on Structure

Again, the last-half to last-third is practical advice and thought exercises. Here lies words of affirmation.

When compared to the first part, the last has few recounts of self- and societally-inflicted disaster. Instead, this half elicits calls to action that someone like I – a person biased towards explicit, rational candor – can, well, act on.

If / When you pick up the book for yourself, fast forward to what will most benefit you, be it the anecdotes from Glennon in the first or the prescriptions in the second!

Perhaps the Most Important Lessons: What Not to Do

Glennon’s life up until at least late 30s and 40s was a mess.

So many actions through the 20s and 30s were either negligently – or willfully – destructive to herself and those around her. Tldr; read how convicted I am on the topic of Suffering.

A lot of the trouble comes around Glennon’s relationships. Below are cases in point, but in general, checkout a 2021 post, an analysis of group consensus, or the recently written-about divorce lawyer’s insights on keeping *waves hands at everything* together:

  • Using children to keep a marriage together / having children to avoid addressing the hard discussion of stasis in a relationship.
  • Forgetting to grow with a partner, i.e. stay interested and stay interesting.
  • Knowing things could be better, yet choosing not to improve because the actions / patterns are so-far tolerated. (Lots of words for “taking good things for granted.”)
  • Shutting up and shutting down in the face of conflict.
  • Passive aggressiveness throughout life.
  • Failure to introspect, or if doing so, frequent failure to take responsibility to address and think out the consequences afterwards.
  • Making false claims about child psychology and moral universality.

No one should be recommending a life that shares any of the above without consistent addressing and improvement. These things are what to avoid at all costs. Yet without these experiences, Glennon admits she would not have come to advise what follows:

What to Do, Re Living Et. Al

See those previous relationship posts on this blog for a few of these tidbits. I restate them here as Glennon wrote about because they are so, so important to keep in mind:

  • Be truer to your emotions. Gut feelings matter – try not to overthink impressions.
  • Beware the “shoulds” and avoid directions from those who have never been on the journey to where you are going.
  • Express what you want and (with a grain of grace) what you feel early and often, often and early with those you interact with, especially those you care for.
  • Disappoint as many people as necessary to not disappoint yourself, i.e. your authentic soul.

Here be Glennon’s take on suffering, having suffered and continuing to in her own unique way we humans all share:

  • By trials you are revealed. Then are you able to be known to yourself.
  • As you have gone through and done hard things, so too allow others to witness their own strengths and endurance under duress. Yet, serve as sentinel and guide and safety net as needed for them.
  • Those that have suffered tend to be better people (or at least, more visible monsters). (An image comes to mind that shining light in dark places is virtually always a good thing: it may reveal treasure and ways forward, or reveals the hidden traps and dangers.)

Untamed finishes commentary about the human condition in the way of grace: Ultimately, we are divine and whole unto ourselves. So long as we are alive, we have the chance to make things better through sacrifice or presence. (This is a message of possibility we ought readily get behind!)

Closing note here: I would add that the discovery of our innate godhead is a never-ending journey of revelation. Just as in the Jesus story of a man going to Hell only to return divine with more work to do, so too after trial might we keep striving, and never stop believing in our own immensities.

A Talk About the Feels

Thought we were done talking about relationships? Surprise!

The book aims to both heat up the emotions of the audience while at the same time honing that boost of energy stemming from indignance.

As it applies to emotions, it is the reader’s responsibility to tackle the sharpness of personal feels. Success (or at minimum progress) here enables one to be emotionally vulnerable and available to others. In short, there is no ‘healthy’ relationship until you first have one with yourself!

After working on that part of yourself, show up. Passivity, comfort, coasting-through-the-motions is death in so many ways to so many things.

In the ways of passion, get to heartbreak faster. As a shrooming friend of Glennon’s put it, work towards the step after the ‘high’ of the honeymoon phase; make sure that the essence of a joining of things is just as good if not better after coming off the buzz.

Dynamics of Gender

This section is a combination of Untamed, a resource I came across somewhere, and my own pattern-recognition. Take all of this – none purely from any single author – with a few salt grains.

Equality is not the term to strive for when equity gets to the heart of the matter. This applies to the genders of society – the qualities of context make comparisons of A and B as useful as apples and oranges. To continue this produce metaphor, we have to abstract to the fruit of the matter; in this case, masculine and feminine core competencies. (For ease of writing, I will use the terms “man” and “woman,” as limited as the language is.)

Every person can be gauged on four axes of competencies. Your boss, your partner, yourself. (Use whatever numerical degree you like – 1-to-10-sans-7 is a fine heuristic.)

Between men and women, three axes are for the most part shared:

  • Are they a quality Mother / Father figure? Is this person the person to raise children? Do they have kindness and compassion for all children and those in need of guidance and protection? I.e. not only those of their blood and immediate guardianship?
  • Are they a quality Lover? As it comes to excitement, invocator of lust or envy, and a challenge to stay sharp? Do they remain interesting and drive you to improve so much as to remain interesting?
  • Are they a quality Partner? An equal, stable, there to support your endeavors, a unique asset such that one-plus-one is greater than two and more?

The set-apart axis comes in large part from the fundamental differences of men and women:

  • To qualify men: Can they provide? Are they a provider of resources, societal rapport, and economic opportunity? Have they shown they can secure a future?
  • To qualify women: This is the grace of being a woman and gets a full pass. This takes on the form of the pain of being: Discrimination, the dangers of childbirth, etc. These difficulties give women full marks on this axis, 100%.

Aim to keep those that specialize in certain areas around in your life. Glennon did just this with her ex husband Craig for being a superb Father and Provider, yet who went elsewhere for a Lover and was an incompatible Partner to Glennon (e.g. more a friend and sincere caregiver during marriage than fully-meshed counterpart).

As for those that score highly across the board, more than others, and give that positive ‘gut’ reaction, GO GET THEM RIGHT NOW. Do not wait on sharing your affections and appreciations and getting involved in their life!

Falling back on a previous point, if you need to start disappointing others, do it – for Glennon, Abby Wambach did for her just this, leading to a divorce from husband to fulfill a truer calling. (Read Untamed for the deets.)

For the Men: Salt Grains

(Really on this “grain” kick today…)

Glennon advises her audience to get angry, be furious, untame timidness and unshackle reservations and be audacious in getting space and needs and wants met.

Pause now.

Remember the audience: this is a book from a woman for women about the experiences of women. There are but a few paragraphs in regards to men in Untamed, these though only calling out how sons and brothers are left behind by the book, Glennon’s real-life care, and society’s expectations.

Listen up, men: you do not get to do all this unhinged.

Men are more likely to be aggressive and angry. For biological (see more on testosterone) and societal reasons, this is true.

In my own observation, no woman has high regards for the company of an angry man. No matter the trigger or target of the fury, its mere presence is intolerable. A compassionate man then will aim to be aware of these disturbances, thereby not induce suffering into the world because of their baser nature and uncontrolled impulses.

So what? Does this mean “conceal, don’t feel?” What happened to all the talk about emotional expression? Is the advice here to be a limp biscuit, a pushover, self-emasculate?


Nor an answer to these refutations. Yet.

Perhaps in time, another post to answer what is means to be Western men or pointed guidance to those better versed in the mortal issue of men being left behind/unaddressed in Western society’s cultural growth.

While that pends, listen to age-old advice:

[B]eware. Anger, fear, aggression. The Dark Side are they.

Yoda, Star Wars

And do improve as a modern man ought. A lack of improvement is no-one’s excuse.

A few starting points: listen, express feelings, become attractive to yourself, find out what is and always work towards being attractive to others, climb the degrees of the axes above, and ultimately check yourself before you wreck yourself.

The information is out there, the means ready. It is up to you to put yourself into and/or pull yourself out of the trials. You got this.

Take a Deep Breath

That is it. This is the end of the article. Through the advice and the take-aways and the analysis of what is and what is not, thank you for reading this far ❤

Glennon Doyle’s Untamed is a heck-of-a-read. I haven’t come across anything like it, though I hope to find similar in the future. (Recommendations are open!)

Though sometimes clogged with didn’t-sit-well-with-me stories, the work pleasantly reveals itself to be chock full of actionable insights. Over the last 1900 words, I trust you have been reminded of what it takes to be untamed and how to be brave in the face of the world and trials before you.

I say it again: You got this 🔥❤🔥

If you also have suggestions for further reading, comment below or hit me up directly! I am off to rally myself to bravery and audacity (within reason) – cheers to all you get after, being as brave and untamed as you are ~

Published by

Jimmy Chattin

Processor of data, applier of patterns, maker of games and stories.

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