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152 people had breakthroughs this week. Will the next one be you?
One thing for you to think about
Don’t make the mistake of comparing someone else’s external life to your internal life. Each person’s life appears coherent and certain from the outside and feels incoherent and uncertain on the inside.
Also, don’t make the mistake of assuming somebody doesn’t have a messy and uncertain internal life. We all fucking do.
Reflect: Then consider sharing this thought with others.
Three things for you to ask yourself
Social comparison is inevitable—we can’t help that. What we can help is the nature of that comparison. Are you making unrealistic assumptions about someone else? Are you fully aware of their internal struggles? Are you sure you’re better/worse off than they are?
Recommended: Use these as journaling prompts for the week.
One thing for you to try this week
Think of someone you compare yourself to regularly. In what ways might you be wrong about them? How might they be struggling more than you suspect? What would that mean about you if it were true?
Suddenly that comparison isn’t so upsetting, is it?
Remember: Small changes lead to lasting breakthroughs. Reply to this email and let me know how it went for you.
New This Week
How to Reprogram Your Brain (ft. Derek Sivers) – The first episode of my new podcast where I sit down with the famous author and entrepreneur Derek Sivers to talk about self-belief, self-sabotage, the limitations of our understanding of ourselves, and what thought convinces him to get off his ass and exercise each morning.
5 Harsh Truths That Changed My Life – The second podcast episode, where my producer Drew and I break down the most impactful (and painful) realizations I’ve had throughout my life. Might want to bring your safety harness for this one.
Last week’s breakthroughs
In last week’s newsletter, I asked you to be a bit less nice when a situation calls for it. Bonus points if you don’t apologize.
Claire realized her being too nice was hurting her son, and decided to stop and set some boundaries instead:
For months I’ve tried to arrange a playdate with the boy who’s been my son’s bestie since birth. Since the boys started different schools this year, the window of opportunity has shrunk, and hasn’t been helped by the other boy’s mom repeatedly proposing playdates, only to cancel last minute for a variety of bullshit reasons.
This last playdate was arranged a month in advance on a date she’d proposed, to celebrate his 6th birthday. Thinking we couldn’t get much safer, I told my son and let him get excited for it. So when the mom canceled the day before because of a ‘scheduling clash,’ I thought about your newsletter and said no, actually, we won’t be rescheduling.
I explained that her choice to repeatedly disappoint my son put me in an uncomfortable position, and I wasn’t prepared for either of us to suffer because of it anymore.
I realize this is probably the end of the boys’ friendship (and whatever was left of mine and the mother’s, who was my bridesmaid!), but I’m tired of being a doormat; my lovely son doesn’t lack for friends, and I certainly don’t need a friend who treats me or my child like that.
Kristin (and Tucker) have started being less nice to other dog parents:
I live in an apartment where everyone has dogs but not everyone is a responsible pet owner. Because I live alongside all these folks, I always lean toward being nice because who wants to piss off your neighbors?
But reading your message (and the fact my dog just got attacked by two dogs who were off-leash) made me realize that when it comes to my pet’s safety and safety all around… it might help to be a bit more confrontational with owners. Reminding them to pick up their poop, leash their dog, be mindful of children and other dogs in the area when out walking.
This is an area where I’ve been too nice for far too long and it’s time to stand up for being a responsible pet owner!
Lilley is going to stop being nice at her own expense:
I’ve been sometimes allowing my clients to call me about a situation without charging them for a consultation. I do HR consulting on the side, and the owner of one of my client companies, as well as her floor manager, will sometimes call me about something during my day job without making an appointment, or after hours and on weekends.
I’ve recently decided that I’m either not going to take the calls, or I’ll tell them that I’m busy and that they can schedule a session with me if they need to discuss something. This will serve both as a healthy boundary, and as a way to get paid for my advice as would happen any other time I do a session that is booked.
Last but not least, this next reader opted for “truthful” over “nice,” and ended a friendship that wasn’t working:
I am definitely someone who is a people-pleaser, even though I actually really appreciate people who are upfront and brutally honest with me. Over the years my compulsivity to be nice has resulted in inner frustration, because I would grit my teeth and smile and be agreeable when inside I was screaming in anger.
Recently, I decided to end a friendship, because I realized that although I cared about this person, I just didn’t like them, and I would react to their behavior so badly that it was impacting my mental health.
I felt bad for hurting them, and sad that it turned out the way it did, but ultimately I am proud of myself for telling them the truth as gently as I could. I feel like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders because I don’t have to pretend anymore, and I don’t feel so two-faced anymore either. In fact, I feel like I can genuinely be friendly on the odd times that I see this person by chance, because they’re brief interactions and I don’t feel obligated to talk to them longer than is necessary.
Being truthful instead of nice isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s better for everyone, because they know where they stand, even if that sucks for a while.
As always, send your breakthroughs by simply replying to this email. Let me know if you’d prefer to remain anonymous.
Until next week,