“The fact that I suspect I’m an asshole means I probably am not, because a real asshole doesn’t think he’s an asshole, does he? Therefore, by realizing that I’m an asshole, I am in fact negating that very realization, am I not? Descartes’s Asshole Axiom: I think I am; therefore I’m not one.”
― Jonathan Tropper, The Book of Joe
In this third installment of “An Occasional Asshole’s Guide to Being a Decent Human Being” I’m going to tear back the curtain and let you into the world of the sporadic asshole – that part of each and every one of us that is fitful, feels isolated, and is unpredictable. That part of each of us that becomes an asshole because we’ve forgotten our own personal power. We become afraid and so we need to appear powerful.
It’s really that simple, isn’t it?
This isn’t anything new, of course. We all just forget. So, today is all about remembering the personal chokehold you really have over your reality and the potency with which you move through your world.
So, let’s start with this . . . instead of driving yourself and the people around you mad by being “nice,” do this: Ask yourself what you’re afraid of. I personally guarantee that, when you come to realize what scares the hell out of you (about a situation, a person, your life), and you realize there’s really nothing to be afraid of, you will start being kind. People who are assholes usually afraid of something . . . of looking foolish, of losing a client or customer, of losing money, of being taken advantage of, etc. There are as many reasons for an asshole to be afraid as there are assholes. What’s yours?
Instead of shelling out hundreds – if not thousands of dollars – for counseling and therapy just to find out what you hate about yourself, do this: Accept the fact that it’s really okay to feel unkind feelings and think unkind thoughts. You can think harsh and edgy thoughts and feel uncaring emotions. It’s okay. Really it is. We all get scared (see the paragraph above) and we all feel hurt at times. There’s nothing wrong with you. Feeling asshole-like thoughts and feelings is part of being a human being. The “decent” part comes from our next step . . .
Instead of buying books from people who don’t even understand the ramifications of the “niceness” they are selling, do this: Act with confidence. When you are confident (not cocky, arrogant, or self-important and certainly not a bully), you find yourself content and relaxed. This automatically puts you in a powerful position to better the world around you (and the people in it). But be warned, acting with real confidence will change you in delightful and wondrous ways. Because acting with real confidence imposes “you” into your world.
Now you must be saying to yourself, by now, “Scott, what qualifies you to spout off about all this?” Well . . . I’m an expert . . . at being an occasional asshole. Hell, I’m an attorney (and some of my opponents will likely tell you that I’ve been a freaking asshole at times). The funny thing is that most of the people who advocate the absolute anti-asshole concept in the business world are being artful but not candid. Get them alone and they will also tell you that, when push comes to shove, they definitely want “their” lawyers to be assholes. Nobody hires me to lose. Would you? Nobody hires me to be “nice.” I can certainly start off nice and cordial with someone. But, in the end, my clients bring me on as their hired gun and their two-by-four.
Yes, I’d say that makes me an expert. Yes, indeed.
The challenge, of course, is to not let the “occasional” become the “usual.” And, I hate to admit, I’ve done that, too. Hmmm. Perhaps what I’m really an expert at is learning to be kind. Because there was a time when I forgot. And I had to be reminded. And it was painful. And scary. And I’ve had to do a lot of soul searching and reprogramming.
I’m still a student (just like the rest of you). And I’ve come to realize this good news . . . it’s simple to be a decent human being . . . it’s hard to implement unless you make the commitment . . .
So, next week, I’m going to help with all this. We’ll be exploring “The Truth About Being an Occasional Asshole.” Until then, start exploring the triggers that excite your assholiness emotions and you will be well on the path to becoming (or remaining) a decent human being.
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