What If You Are the Asshole?

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    115 people had breakthroughs this week. Will the next one be you?

    Three things for you to think about

    The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties—but right through every human heart—and through all human hearts.

    Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

    Evil people do not believe they are evil, they believe everyone else is evil.

    David Foster Wallace

    Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

    Friedrich Nietzsche

    Reflect: Then consider sharing this thought with others.

    One thing for you to ask yourself

    Think of a moral cause you believe in. As a thought experiment: what if that cause was actually making you a worse person? What would that look like? Is that a possibility?

    Recommended: Use these as journaling prompts for the week.

    One thing for you to try this week

    Perhaps the hardest mental exercise for any of us to do is to take a critical look at our own moral beliefs and question whether they are correct and/or helpful to us and the world. But today, I want to challenge you to do that. Not only is it healthy in a modern, diverse, and democratic society, but it is a necessity for our own mental health.

    Think of some belief you hold (or held) as sacred. What if it was wrong? What would that mean? Write out your answer and see how it makes you feel.

    Remember: Small changes lead to lasting breakthroughs. Reply to this email and let me know how it went for you.

    Last week’s breakthroughs

    In last week’s newsletter, I asked you to stop bullshitting yourself, to face your problems as they are instead of over-complicating them.

    Taylor is cutting through the crap and getting things done at work:

    I realized after reading your message that I have a tendency to make problems seem bigger in my mind than they are in reality. I have a big work project that just got scheduled on a tight deadline. I’ve done a similar project before, so I know it will get done. But even though I know that, I’ve been worrying about it nonstop. I’m bullshitting myself and worrying I won’t get it done. I think it’s a twisted way of softening the blow if I don’t get the outcome I hoped for. I’m gonna stop BS-ing myself, I’ll get it done.

    While at home, a mother is calling bullshit on her busyness:

    This may not be the juiciest breakthrough but I’m a mum to two small boys. I absolutely love it but before this I was a very active and healthy person, now I constantly BS myself telling myself ‘I don’t have time.’

    I don’t have time to go for a run. I don’t have time to do that hour-long yoga workout from my favorite studio that I pay to have virtually sent to me every week. I don’t have time to make a salad—a grilled cheese is much quicker.

    It’s all lies. Because I do have the time. I just don’t have the motivation. And motivation is a choice. I need to choose to ask my husband or a friend to watch the kids for an hour while I go for a run. I can do a yoga class while my boys play beside me in the lounge, and I can certainly put a damn lettuce in the cart rather than a loaf of bread.

    The truth is it’s easier to bullsh*t myself and sit there scrolling on my phone or tidy up the toys for the millionth time than it is to prioritize myself and get my ass moving. I do have the time, I can make healthier choices, I just haven’t been putting them first because ‘I’m a busy Mum!’ is a great excuse.

    I’m off to make a smoothie for breakfast rather than toast right now.

    Bullshit is so often caused by a lack of motivation. But it’s also caused by something even worse: anxiety. Our next reader, Julika has been suffering from her own bullshit around a major relationship decision. And at the end of the day, the only real issue is that she’s nervous:

    I’ve been bullshitting myself a lot lately and it’s mostly related to the fact that I am moving in with my boyfriend next year and I am scared because we are both so young. Both of us have never gone this far with someone and even though I feel great excitement, I’m also terrified as shit.

    So I start to overthink our entire relationship. ‘Am I making a mistake? Am I missing out on other opportunities? Am I not realistic enough about what this can and can’t be? Am I looking at the situation through rose-colored glasses? Am I naive to think that young love could ever last?’

    I get so wrapped up in my own head and think back to every argument we’ve ever had, every little thing that is still unspoken. Now every small inconvenience makes me put our relationship into question. If things are not constantly perfect with us, we can never work out.

    This is where the bullshit lies. I am being unfair to both him and me. Because instead of thinking of every reason why we chose to be together, I am searching for any imperfections I can find. ‘Shouldn’t I discuss all of my issues with him? Why do I rather feel like sharing this with a friend?’ and so on.

    Because the truth is: I have no idea what a relationship is supposed to look like. And maybe that’s fine. I’d rather find a relationship that works for the two of us than judge ours by what I’ve been told it has to be. I never want to lose sight of the reason why I love him.

    I now feel less scared to take this step with him. Where it will take us, I don’t know. And isn’t that exciting?

    Newsflash Julika: none of us know what the fuck a relationship is supposed to look like. We’re all making it up as we go along. And, in fact, that’s part of the joy of it—making it up together.

    As always, send your breakthroughs by simply replying to this email. Let me know if you’d prefer to remain anonymous.

    Until next week,

    Mark Manson

    #1 New York Times Bestselling Author
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