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Month: September 2014

How to Stop Caring What Other People Think

How to Stop Caring What Other People Think


I wrote a little in my previous article Challenging Assumptions about the tendency to really invest in what other people think about us and this caused me to ponder about the crux of that worry. Where does all of that come from? Can I track my own insecurity to the source and learn to let it go? So this week I present you with my two part solution to less worry and more joy: Stop giving a fuck about what other people think and stop feeling sorry for yourself. This may sound a little severe. However I think we when you begin grappling with the subject of insecurity I encourage if only for a few moments a day to look into the puckish influences in your world. A large part of what got to me to come around to this idea was the suggestion that maybe just maybe, I was taking things a little too seriously. There is freedom to be found in finding the humor in the world. Levity is one of my core values followed closely by freedom. Specifically freedom from the garbage we clutter our minds with. We create rigid patterns of behavior for what is acceptable, or expected as we become adults and those ideas keep us from enjoying the awesome things around us.  In this article I offer up some of my personal experiences on my quest to freedom from the fucks I give and the journey out of self pity.  So let us begin.

All around me I hear worries and frets about judgement. From my coworkers, my family, even my boss a few times. And within my own mindspace I found myself paying extra attention to that inner critic who delighted in mentioning how I had screwed up in various situations. I listened to all of these searching for some sort of correlation between the worries and their causes, ultimately seeking a solution.

“What if my boss thinks…”’

“What if they are talking about me?”

“I’ll bet they are saying…”

“I just want them to recognize what I do.”

“Am I pretty enough?”

A myriad of influences is constantly reminding us that we are not good enough. So much money is spent on advertising designed to remind us that we are not content or complete. One almost cannot escape inundation of ads. Our social media targets ads to us based on our interests, magazines at the checkout, billboards on the drive home. All playing on the idea that you are not complete and maybe with new underwear or a piece of furniture we would not feel so alone. It is impossible to seduce people who are secure and content in their lives, but suggest they are missing out or somehow deficient and you have created a loyal customer. I could use this moment to take a cheap shot at men’s magazines which offer the same message repeatedly: “YOU AREN’T GOOD ENOUGH, BUY SOMETHING TO FILL THE EMPTINESS!” or “LOOK AT THIS PERFECT BEARD YOU DO NOT HAVE.” but won’t. I am not here to blame advertising, the music industry, or social media for making you feel insecure. Don’t get me wrong, they are diabolical at best. But I hold you accountable for your own feelings, my friend. I think you are smart enough and capable enough to see the folly of falling into the tar pit that is advertising. Hold yourself responsible for the way you respond, feel and take action. See if you slowly feel a change in the way you perceive the world by simply taking notice of the pressure from your culture, peer group or television. So here is my prescription to all the internal trepidation. My two part solution to being happy in this world: Stop caring about that which truly does not matter and stop feeling sorry for yourself.

Next time you’re in a situation which makes you uncomfortable, maybe you are meeting your girlfriend’s parents for the first time, or maybe it is a social gathering that has you in a tizzy, or perhaps you are thinking of a way to start a conversation with that cute girl from work, in that instance consider for one second: No one really cares what you are doing. Not even a little bit. In fact they are more than likely wrapped up in their own fear and insecurity and terrified that you can see that they feel weird wearing a new shirt. They are worried about the same stuff you are worried about. Think of that: everyone is afraid and their fear makes them closed off.  So what can one do to stop the cycle of fear? First step in breaking the cycle of fearing what other people will think is to change what you normally do when you are afraid. For example, think about the last time you were in a social situation and you noticed someone who was kind of on the outside of the action. Perhaps a fellow who kept to himself and all the interactions he had with people seem very surface level and short. Often a self fulfilling prophecy going on in these instances. If this man perceives that no one at the party is talking to him because he is boring or unattractive, then he begins to come across as boring fellow you do not want to talk to. We can very easily convince ourselves of the things we worry most about. We spend so much time thinking about all the things in the universe we don’t want, only to be surprised when that stuff shows up. What would happen if we spent half as much energy thinking about that which we do want to bring into our world and working toward those goals? What does life look like when we turn our attention toward what we do want rather than what we fear? Then to take it a step further what would happen if we stopped playing an observer and shifted into action? What does our world look like then? So instead of simply noticing this man who seem to unable to make a connection what if we approached him and began a conversation? Or perhaps we notice that we are that person at the party, we feel cut off and only able to make surface interactions? What would happen if instead of withdrawing into the self and conjuring a story about why no one is approaching us, instead we recognized that as fear and began to behave just a differently? How would you act if you didn’t take everything, especially yourself, so seriously?

This is where part two of this article comes into play: Stop feeling sorry for yourself. We have a tendency when we are afraid of under stress to fall into victim thought patterns. We become certain that no one speaks to us at the party because we are weird looking. Or maybe we take it a step further and become combative; no one spoke to us at the party because clearly they cannot recognize our genius and everyone at that party must have been a bunch of blockheads.
Horseapples. Stop it. Stop it right now. Victim style thinking keeps us small and reaffirms that the whole world always wins and we always lose. Those thought patterns are cyclical and it is possible to live our whole lives in those patterns. There is little fulfillment is a life filled with those ideas, there is no adventure in turning yourself into a martyr. I want you to step outside your own story for a moment and I want you to observe yourself. When you perceive yourself as a victim, how can you enact change in your world? So the next time you are in a social situation and you notice yourself beginning to feel dejected because no one has engaged you in conversation, or your begin telling yourself there is no point in speaking to anyone because they will probably reject your brilliance anyway, I want you to halt those thoughts. Just for a moment recognize them as victim level thought patterns. So many people avoid actual connection or intimacy out of fear of being rejected. we avoid growth. So I encourage you again to approach someone and begin a connection. Even if the outcome is not exactly what you want, you will not spontaneously combust because that person wasn’t interested. You will not die. It is scary as hell to approach people, no joke. I recognize this as one of the biggest lessons we learn, one of the biggest obstacles to overcome. In the moments you are terrified, or in the moments someone is not interested in you, remember it is not about that person. This process is about creating experiences. The more experiences you create less fear you hold on to, and as your fear diminishes the cycle of victim thinking begins to evolve into something else. Do you begin to perceive that there are fewer negative situations you have to “deal” with and more adventures? The benefit to not caring what other people think is you are free to pursue life for the sake of experience, for the sake of adventure and growth. As you let go of victim thinking your entire world opens up into infinite possibility.

Now when I suggest a stepping stone on your way to leading a happier life is to stop giving a fuck what other people think I am not suggesting a diversion from the path of growth. I am not advocating the path of least resistance, couch surfing through life. Quite the contrary. I want you to focus in on your goals with an intensity that is intimidating and chase them down like a lion after a gazelle, but take the self doubt and worry about the thoughts of other out of the whole equation. You are the only person in the world responsible for your growth, you are accountable to yourself. No one else is walking your path, chasing your particular gazelles, so why get bent out of shape about the opinions of others? Consider this: There is only one person in this world you trying to make happy and that is yourself. I postulate that there is a fallacy behind the search for happiness. It is an illusion because it is suggesting that happiness is some mystical force outside of yourself that must be caught. Happiness painted as something to be found at the end of a grand adventure, or in another person, or in physical possessions. And I really do not believe that to be true. I operate under the philosophy that happiness exists, along with everything else you need, within you. You are whole. One simply needs more practice with the skill set of growth. That is what the process of developing the self is all about, practicing with new tools. Buddhist teachings tell us that grasping and chasing things is a major source of unhappiness. We live in a society that is obsessed with productivity, quarterly reports and achievement. There is nothing at all wrong with productivity or hard work. The trouble comes when we are doing those things without awareness which leads us to neurosis. We place such value on “getting” to the next level of reward or status that we create a cycle of strife simply by continuing to chase temporary things. Often those things are not even determined by us, they are dictated to us by other people. Happiness is not some illuminated state wherein you reach that understanding nothing else in the world is difficult. Happiness, like enlightenment is a moment, and we have to make a practice of cultivating those moments within. So go out! Leave all the fucks you give at home with your victim thoughts and go have an adventure.


Toxic Relationships and Deprogramming

Toxic Relationships and Deprogramming


I want to speak a little bit about a concept known as deprogramming. This is a phrase you hear often in connection to those who have been excommunicated from a particular branch of belief. It has also been used in a very forceful way against those who have entered New Religious Movements, often times where a person is abducted and put through a resocialization process until they agree to leave their group. Now there is a whole world of things that are fascinating and horrifying about that concept but I will leave that for another article. I would like to use this space to talk at length about a mental technique which I find to be quite valuable when one finds themselves having left an unhealthy situation. As some of you may be aware, I was previously a member of a cult. This experience influenced many facets of my thoughts and systems of belief. But I am not here to tell you gooey details of a very interesting period of my life, those truly are a story for another time. I am here to speak about a method which helped me begin to sort through the nonsense of someone elses paradigms and assisted me in the reconstruction of my own views. The wonderful thing about these methods is their usefulness is a wide variety of situations.This is a mental exercise of decluttering and organizing which can be used for anything from a break up, shifting your attitude toward a work situation, or even just a yearly practice of internal house keeping. So for the purposes of this piece we define deprogramming as a mental exercise to first identify thoughts and practices which no longer serve the individual on their journey toward a productive existence and second to find practices which serve the best version of you.

Step one: Deconstruct

The deconstruction of our thoughts can be a very positive and liberating exercise. And you do not have to be running away from an oppressive dogma to find benefit from the practice of beginning to take notice of how our thoughts and behavior serve us. No matter who we are from, whatever place our experience has taken us, eventually we will find that we are carrying around thoughts, beliefs and assumptions that do not serve us in our quest for higher understanding. This may manifest after a romantic interaction comes to a close and your find yourself thinking that other person’s thoughts, or hearing their commentary in your mind, even though those ideas do not resonate with you. Or perhaps you have recently found yourself in a new city with no close friends after moving away from your college town for a job opportunity, you may find that there are modes of thinking which are holding you back in some way. Or like myself, maybe one day you leave an organization which was becoming destructive and you feel lost suddenly without that reaffirming and charismatic leader to tell you what to think or who you are in the cosmic scheme of things. My suggestion is to always begin small and work your way up. Begin in a quiet place for a set amount of time. Ten minutes a day would work perfectly as a starting point. I want you to use these ten minutes to examine what sort of thoughts come to your mind. As each thought arises mentally examine it in great detail, as though you are a jeweler inspecting a gem for flaws. Some questions you may ask yourself may be:

How does this belief affect my behavior?
Where did this belief originate?
How does this thought move me toward my ideal future?

Each time you run into an idea that is not contributing to the person you want to be, mentally set that belief to the side. And when that thought or pattern of behavior returns(and they often do) simply take a moment set it aside. You are not judging the behavior or yourself for having the thought, simply stopping the destructive thought as you notice it. Continue to practice this deconstruction in various situations. Do you notice a pattern when the thoughts seem to be particularly invasive? What are the most common ones you notice? Make time for chipping away at your thoughts each day, especially those you find particularly invasive. The bottom line here is this: If a paradigm is no longer useful to propelling you forward then lie it down. Even if you must do so a hundred times a day, each time you notice the thought pattern sneaking in to shift your behavior, stop for a moment and put it down.

Step Two: Rebuild

As you become more comfortable with the deconstruction exercise, then comes the process of finding ideas which serve you best. I find this section particularly exciting! Your mindset is always in flux and by bringing awareness to the parts which are not functioning the most efficiently, or simply harbor an old world thinking pattern we wish to re-frame, we allow for growth. With these exercises I found it helpful to imagine I was taking apart a large structure I have built over time with my thoughts. And in the reconstruction stage I liked to think of it as building of book shelf. As you become used to placing your unhelpful thoughts in time out, spend some time thinking about what sort of thoughts would best serve your ideal self. Think of this as the skeleton or frame of your bookshelf. When you are in the process of rebuilding take some time to observe those who have a positive influence on your life. Observe those people who you perceive to be successful, read biographies, or if you are up for an adventure; go to a public place and observe the strangers you encounter. What are some of the characteristics of successful people? Describe the behavior and mannerisms of different types of people: happy, powerful, etc. And most importantly I want you to ask yourself what sort of person your ideal self would be. What would that person act like? What does the ideal self enjoy doing? How does your life look different when you are operating in that mindset?

Step Three: Make a commitment to seeking and speaking truth.

The most important part of my transition out of the group had to do with finding a voice. There was a huge focus on keeping secrets and information being wielded as power. There were countless situations in which we were encouraged to never reveal to anyone, especially to people who were outside the group. So as I began the process of putting my head on straight again my first step was to find situations in which I could tell the story. There is something cathartic about telling a story. Build a practice of seeking out the truth and speaking about it. Within unhealthy situations it is common that we become used to keeping secrets or diluting truths. In this stage I found a profound curiosity has served me in my quest for truth. Find something that arouses your passions and follow the threads of that to the truth. And along the way as you gain understanding begin to vocalize little truths. Even if it is something as simple as answering a stranger who asks “How are you?”
Our tendency would be respond immediately “I am fine.” or something similar. But I encourage you to take a moment and consider what is actually true within your thoughts. Do you feel a bit sickly at that moment? Are you enthusiastic about something fantastic that happened at work? You do not have to tell your life story to a total stranger, but the exercise of examining what the truth is a fantastic beginning. A journal of your daily truths is a very helpful tool in this stage. I encourage you to find the opportunities to speak truths you are finding for practice. Keep in mind at this point, we have just deconstructed a system you found to be unhealthy so I caution you not to rush to rebuild another system. Allow the truth to be fluid for now.

Step Four:Observe your Language

Whenever a significant shift happens in our life we often begin to notice forms and patterns of language that do not serve us. This step goes very well with the previous commitment of seeking truth. Find that within yourself that is holding you back. Find the words that make you feel trapped or as though you are functioning withing old world paradigms. Some words to be aware of are:


Ought to

Supposed to




Consider these automatic phrases, what they mean and where they fit in to your previous world view. How do these words serve the current view you are seeking to build currently? What phrases or words could you use in their place to create more empowering interaction?

What now you ask? I have been working on the steps above, and i am not sure if i am doing everything right? What should i do now? Simply put: Give yourself a break.
Take each of these exercises slowly and deliberately, and do try to keep judgement of the self out. This is not a competition or a race, this is just you building a bookshelf. Create a strong frame to rest your shelves upon and over time your will find ideas which serve the person you want to be. I suspect this article will soon have a companion piece about the further steps and exercises i found useful during my journey. In the mean time I encourage you to continue to seek the truth within any situation and to find the voice learning to speak those truths.

The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level

The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level

Written by: Gay Hendricks

Publisher: HarperOne; 1st edition



The most amazing thing I found about “The Big Leap” was the simplicity of the suggested program, and that is what makes this more than a self help book. Hendricks, a PhD in Counseling Psychology from Stanford, and then a Professor at the University of Colorado for 21 years, manages to talk us through our most common fears with an ease and calm I find admirable. The principle surrounds the idea of the “upper limit” as a form of self sabotage. This book deals heavily with what he called the Four Fundamental Flaws, which are as follows:
Feeling Fundamentally Flawed
Disloyalty and Abandonment
Believing that More Success Brings a Bigger Burden
The Crime of Outshining
But the idea which makes this particular book stand out is the solution to all of the things which make us a feel small: abundance. Hendricks suggests that we are whole and complete as we are and that abundance is simply a patterns of thinking.