The Paradox of Cringe

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

    Two things for you to think about

    If you cringe at your former self, that’s good—it means you’ve grown. Never stop cringing.

    It’s impossible to be a life-changing presence to some without also being a complete joke to others.

    Reflect: Then consider sharing this thought with others.

    One thing for you to ask yourself

    What has your fear of embarrassment held you back from doing? What if you simply… well, didn’t give a fuck?

    Recommended: Use these as journaling prompts for the week.

    One thing for you to try this week

    Go be cringe this week. I give you permission. And I promise I won’t post about it on TikTok…

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

    New This Week

    I’m Hiring! – My team is growing and I’m looking for more talented people to help out. I’m hiring for two senior positions (marketing and operations) as well as looking for some help in video production in the Los Angeles area. If any of that sounds like you, then head on over to the jobs page to learn more. 

    The Self-Improvement Paradox: When Trying to Get Better Feels Worse – This week on the pod, I take on some fan questions about a strange paradox: What do you do when trying to improve your life makes you feel worse?

    What if trying to be better comes across as ‘try-hard’? What if setting more goals is just your way of avoiding your own bullshit? It’s “The Self-Improvement Paradox”—or in other words, why sometimes trying to be better makes you feel worse. It turns out improving yourself is nuanced and complicated. Who would have thought?

    Last week’s breakthroughs (and a question answered)

    In last week’s newsletter, I asked you which emotions you found yourself apologizing for and how that affected your life and relationships. An anonymous reader has decided to finally start being okay with not being okay:

    I’ve been struggling with negative emotions (sadness, anger, fear, etc.) for a while now.

    I’ve been going to therapy for over a year and made progress. But your simple words this week gave my brain permission to feel okay being angry, sad, fearful, etc… Those emotions aren’t bad in themselves, but rather, it’s my bad reactions towards them (mostly suppression).

    I mask my true feelings every day because I fear my friends or family will feel jealous of my success. They are unhappy people, and I feel the need to apologize for my happiness. It’s as if ‘happiness’ is something I don’t have permission to feel for more than a few minutes.

    So thank you again Mark. This has been a lifelong struggle since childhood. But today that changes by taking small, consistent steps.

    Kristen decided to stop apologizing for not being outraged over politics, a wise lesson as we head into election season in the US:

    I have often felt that I needed to apologize or justify my lack of outrage about political events. At University I was surrounded by people who were constantly furious about everything in the news. I studied American political history and civil wars [in school], and when you spend every day reading about this stuff, you become much less surprised when powerful people do bad things. My reasoning was always that unless I could actually do anything actively about it, I was not going to waste a lot of my energy being angry, and instead focus on areas of life I could actually control.

    The other side of this was that those peers were willing to march and yell about people on the other side of the world, but did nothing when I had a crime committed against me. They rage about injustices in the abstract, they endlessly talk about ‘community’, but they do nothing about wrongdoings and suffering in the lives of those around them. These are not serious people that will actually make anything happen in the world.

    This is an angle that I had not considered when I wrote last week’s newsletter—the toxicity of many of the political movements today. And I use the word “toxic” in the same sense that a toxic romantic relationship will shame you for what you think/feel, a toxic political movement will also try to shame you for the same reason.

    And finally, Avaline has a question related to the point I made about being drawn to chaotic partners because we think they “need” us:

    My ex-boyfriend told me he is not ready for commitment and I’ve been trying to share with him the good points of being in a committed relationship, but I still can’t manage to change his perspective.

    Why do people choose to be alone? Why can’t they see the beauty of being in a loving, committed relationship?

    Is it wrong for me to stand by his side as he goes through this phase? If it is, why is it so hard for me to let go? I know he doesn’t need me, but does he not see he is self-sabotaging himself?

    When someone tells you that they are happier not committing to you, you should believe them. The reason they give is unimportant. Their issues or history are unimportant. Trust that they know their emotional needs better than you do—because they probably do.

    Are you “wrong” for waiting? You can do whatever you want. But I’m telling you: the chances that you’re only going to be hurt even more by this are very high.

    There’s a temptation for martyrdom with this kind of stuff—the more you torture yourself waiting for him, the more romantic and glorious it’ll be when he finally comes around and changes his mind and realizes he wanted to be with you all along, right?

    Unfortunately, that stuff only happens in Disney movies. It is not reality.

    In reality, love is not scarce. There are many men in this world who are fully capable of loving you right now, this minute, without you waiting for it. And the more time you spend waiting for this guy to potentially change his mind, the more you unnecessarily delay the relationship that will actually make you happy.

    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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