The Harsh Truth Everyone Needs to Hear

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

    Two things for you to think about

    Your anxiety lies to you. It tells you the world is going to laugh at you when in reality no one gives a shit.

    “You’ll stop worrying what people think about you when you realize how seldom they do.”

    – David Foster Wallace

    Reflect: Then consider sharing this thought with others.

    Two things for you to ask yourself

    In what ways are you overestimating how much people care about something you do or don’t do? How has this inflation in your mind affected your life?

    Recommended: Use these as journaling prompts for the week.

    One thing for you to try this week

    Ask people if they would care if you did something you’re nervous about doing, then, let me know when they don’t give a shit.

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

    New This Week

    How Bad Therapy Can Ruin a Generation (ft. Abigail Shrier) – If the story of humanity is about loss, privation, suffering, and resilience, why are kids having nervous breakdowns about bad grades? In a spicy podcast episode, I talked to Abigail Shrier about what parents and mental health experts are inadvertently doing to rob young people of the resilience and grit that past generations had. An important conversation worth having. Enjoy.

    Last week’s breakthroughs (and a question answered)

    In last week’s newsletter, I asked you to do something difficult to flex your self-discipline muscle. Our first reader went in for a difficult conversation:

    I’m a 52-year-old female who grew up in a household where issues and dysfunction were swept under the rug. My father was emotionally unavailable, which has impacted my intimate relationships with men.

    I was crying to my friend about my latest dating issue and how I knew it was just a repeat of my ‘daddy’ issues. Her response was brilliant: ‘Why not go to the source? Why don’t you ask your dad what it was like for him being a dad? Maybe if you knew him better it would help you understand.’

    So I did. I called my dad and told him that I never felt all that close to him and would like to get to know him better. I explained that it would be helpful for me to have a father-daughter conversation and to hear what he thinks of me. Is he proud of me? Does he think I’m a good person? Would he be willing to tell me about his relationship with his parents?

    The answers to these questions and others not only helped me understand why my dad was emotionally unavailable, I realized that he loves and cares for me deeply and always has; he’s just not the greatest at communicating it (he even admitted that and said he would do better because I told him I needed to hear it!).

    It was an amazing conversation and we both walked away saying we want to have more of these father-daughter conversations. When I hung up, I felt a freedom and lightness I hadn’t felt before. I think this might be the last missing piece I need to heal the pain I’ve been carrying around since I was a little girl.

    For Gwen, doing something difficult literally saved her life:

    Your comment on discipline brought me back six years to when I was recovering from tongue cancer. Before surgery, I had asked a PA what characterized those who came through successfully, and she replied, ‘Those who follow their doctor’s orders.’

    I thought, ‘Well, of course!’ but didn’t realize it would be so hard to eat when every bite hurt, to go every day for six weeks for radiation treatments that burned my neck, to get out for exercise when you’re unable to sleep and exhausted from the body’s work to heal.

    But she was right: now I’m cancer-free, and in many respects stronger for the experience. And living proof that you don’t know what you can endure until you have no other choice!

    Last but not least, a question from Yan:

    Raised in an Asian household, self-discipline is just ingrained into me.

    I would attribute a lot of my success in life to developing that grit early on. On the other hand, I feel as though the price of such a disciplined childhood was my mental health, feeling the need to strive and over-achieve all the time.

    Is there a happy medium?

    There is a happy medium. The toxicity of self-discipline occurs when it is shame-driven, when you buy into a narrative that you are worthless or a failure for not being disciplined.

    I try to view both self-discipline and self-care as tools/skills. It’s important to be able to do hard things when necessary. But that doesn’t mean doing hard things is always necessary. Similarly, it’s important to be able to slow down and enjoy yourself when necessary. But that doesn’t mean slowing down and enjoying yourself is always necessary.

    People who have shame-driven discipline tend to feel worthless and guilty if they ever engage in self-care. People who have shame-driven self-care tend to feel incapable and terrified if they ever try to do anything that requires discipline.

    The key is in being capable and confident in both.

    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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