This guide works when bad things happen. Someone trolls you online? Read this. Someone hates your writing, your product, or your business? Read this. Get fired from a job or by a client? Read this. Zombie apocalypse? What’s probably more important are zombie-smashing devices and non-perishable provisions (but afterwards...read this).
1. Everyone Is Always Offended
We’re all set in our ways. As much as we tout how open-minded we all are, we all have little nitpicks about everyone else. This shouldn’t stop you from doing what you’re doing, but it also shouldn’t come as a surprise when someone tries to tell you how offended they are by what you just did.
2. Someone Being Offended Means They Took Notice
They noticed you, paid attention, and consumed what you made. Sure, they expressed their offended-ness at you, but now you’re wasting even more of their time because they’re telling you how much or why they hated it. Life will continue, the planet will keep spinning, and no one but you will be the wiser that someone was offended.
3. Not Being Noticed Is Universal
If no one hates you, no one is paying attention. Every single person that you’re currently paying attention to, at some point in their lives, was in your exact position. They kept at it and worked enough so that others started listening. If no one is watching yet, you can experience true freedom—dance in your underwear, write entirely for yourself, be weird.
4. You Will Be Judged
Fear can make us afraid of what others will think. It’s not a question of if people will judge you, because they definitely will judge you. People are judgy, and that judgment is scary. While we all care what others have to say, it becomes dangerous when we value their opinions more than our own. The list goes, in order of importance: 1. Our opinion of ourselves, 2. (which is a distant second) Everyone else’s opinion of us.
5. There’s a Difference Between Respect and Judgment
Being judged and being respected are not the same thing. People can think you’re an awful person and still hold you in high regard. Conversely, if someone judges you as a nice person or a decent human being, it doesn’t mean they respect you. People walk all over nice and decent human beings all the time. On the other hand, people don’t tend to walk all over people they respect.
6. Self-Respect Leads to Universal Respect
If you’re respecting yourself—publicly and proudly—chances are, others will follow. And even if they don’t follow, hey, you’ve got yourself a nice big bowl of self-respect, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
7. Entitlement and Self-Respect Are Different
Self-respect means you know what you’re willing to do and what you’re not willing to do. It’s honor and dignity that makes you you. Entitlement means you think you deserve something. Basically, you deserve your own self-respect and to be treated decently by others. Anything past that—you’ve got to work for it. And even then, even if it doesn’t work out the way you wanted, that’s just the way the cards fall sometimes.
8. You Don’t Need Those Who Don’t Respect You
The good thing about people not respecting you is that unless they’re actually causing you some sort of harm, you can ignore them completely. They’ll never support your work or make you better as a human being, so you drop them as quickly and silently as possible. They’re dead weight.
9. The People Who Respect and Value You Are Royalty
These are the most important people to you on the planet. They’re the ones who not only pay attention, but are interested. Treat these people like royalty, because to you, they should be. Make things for them, be generous toward them, and basically make sure they know how much you value them.
10. Confidence Is for Everyone
You don’t need to be loud to be confident. Sometimes the most confident person in the room is the quietest. Confident people know what they know and don’t need to share it to build confidence. Confidence comes from within. They share when the time is right or when they’re asked. They also share it in a way that works for them.
11. Giving a Damn
“Giving a damn” is your life’s currency. If you give a damn about everything and everyone, you’ll quickly run out of damns, or even worse, go into damn debt. Your time will be spread too thin, you’ll stress about tiny things and insignificant people, and external factors will rule your life and run it into the ground.
12. Care About What Matters
It’s OK to give a damn when you truly care about something. If you care about nothing, you’ll quickly become too cynical and jaded. Have a handful of people and causes you actually care about.
13. Not Giving a Damn Is the Opposite of Apathy
Apathy is the indifference you feel when something just doesn’t matter. Not giving a damn means you’ve stopped yourself from making something matter that shouldn’t matter. Not giving a damn is strength in the form of willpower, whereas apathy is just not feeling anything. This is a key point to understand and reflect on.
14. Be Foolish and Stupid as Often as Possible
Honestly, no one truly knows what they are doing. Experts, thought leaders, those who seem like they have it all—there are too many variables to account for what specifically worked in creating their success and what didn’t. The only difference between them and someone who hasn’t seen success is that they tried a whole bunch of ideas and didn’t stop trying until something worked. They’re more concerned with “What could happen if I...” than “What will others think if I...”
15. Everyone Is Weird, Awkward, and Different
You are too, so use it to your advantage. The only way to stand out, or stand apart, is to be your real, weird self. Otherwise you blend in. Embrace what makes you different, even though it’s difficult and stressful to do. Everyone you admire or look up to does this. Think about it. They all take the reins of what makes them different and use it to their advantage. No one that you’ve heard of got there by being like everyone else.
16. Don’t Let Anyone Set Your Boundaries
If someone tells you “You shouldn’t do that,” or “That can’t be done,” assume they’re talking out their own experience until you’ve proven otherwise for yourself. People are well-meaning, but their advice is clouded by their own ideas, their life experiences, and their choices. Never let someone else draw your line in the sand. That means it’s their line, not yours, and you’ve just been following their lead.
17. Know Who You Are (and Who You Are Not)
In having self-respect and setting boundaries, it helps to know a little about yourself, so you can make these decisions. Be clear about who you are and who you aren’t. First with yourself, then with others. Honesty is a lot easier than you playing a role because you think it’s a role you need to play.
18. Honesty Doesn’t Give You License to Be a Jerk
Being honest isn’t a license for you to run your mouth with impunity, and then end things with, “Hey, I was just being honest...” No, you were being a jerk. Don’t be a jerk. Not even jerks like other jerks. The best way to know if you’re being honest or just being a jerk is to think first, then speak.
19. Expectations Are Inversely Related to a Sense of Accomplishment
The Bhagavad Gita states that we’re only entitled to the work, not the fruits of that work. Don’t do anything because you expect something to come from it—do it because you really want to do it in the first place. It’s like writing a book because you really want a bestseller. It’s impossible to guarantee that. Write a book because you want to write the book. That way, regardless of what happens next, you’ve already accomplished what you set out to do.
None of the above points can happen without you paying attention. Paying attention to others, paying attention to what you care about, and—most importantly—paying attention to yourself. You’re the one in charge of your life, so take charge of it already.
That’s it. Nineteen difficult rallying points for mastering your own life. Now stop reading listicles on the internet and get back to being awesome.
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