Tag Archives: idiot

Stop Talking to Yourself

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Happy Monday, reader!  How was your weekend?  

Everyone talks to themselves from time to time, and that’s totally fine.  It becomes slightly less socially acceptable when there are other people in the room, and it’s definitely frowned upon at formal occasions – funerals in particular are a no go.  In general, talking to yourself is not a problem, as long as you’re being nice to yourself.  It might sound a bit strange, but a lot of us use talking to ourselves as an opportunity to be defeatist or cowardly.  Here are five things that we really need to stop saying to and about ourselves:

  • “I’m such an idiot”
    No, you’re not.  Everyone has stupid moments from time to time.  That doesn’t make you an idiot.  Even if you were a idiot, do you really believe that telling yourself so is going to make you any smarter?  If you really think that you could stand to be more intellectual then read more books and listen to Radio 4.  Also, having an emotional response to something is not stupidity.  Trusting someone who ends up hurting/deceiving you or getting carried away by a crush is not an indication of cognitive impairment.  If someone else has made a mockery of your trust/feelings/Oyster card then they’re the idiot, not you.  
  • “S/he would never like me”
    Two words: watch Hairspray.  We have no idea how the human heart works, what makes people fancy each other or why couples stay together forever.  Oh, sure, there’s all the science about genetic compatibility and how we’re subconsciously attracted to the best candidates to continue the species with.  But if you convince yourself that you’re not worthy of someone’s affections then you’re creating a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you don’t believe that you’re worthwhile then how is anyone else supposed to?
  • “I’ll never get that job”
    Again, you never know.  It’s always worth applying for stuff that you’re a bit under-qualified for, because some employers see potential and like to help you realise it.  Also, it doesn’t matter how amazing the job is: if an employer rejects your application then either you weren’t right for the job, or the company wasn’t right for you.  Why would you want to work for a company foolish enough to reject you?  Why would you want to do a job that you weren’t right for?  Exactly.  Stop worrying about it.
  • “My mean parent/teacher/friend was right about me”
    No they flipping were not.  I know it’s much, much easier said than done, but you absolutely have to let go of nasty stuff that people have said about you.  This is for two reasons: firstly, those words were probably said out of anger, bitterness or malice, and therefore have less to do with you than the unhappiness of the person who said them.  Secondly, letting nasty comments take hold of your self-worth means that nobody wins.  
  • “I could never do that”
    Do what?  Travel the world?  Go skydiving?  Become famous?  Get out of your overdraft?  You are capable of anything you can think of, and I don’t just mean that in a cheesy, “live your dream” kind of way (although that is part of it).  Anything that you want to do with your life can definitely be done, and you know that to be true because someone else has done it before you.  Loads of people, in fact.  If they can do it – whether “it” is learn to tap dance or go into space – you can do it.  

Have a highly amusing Monday, and I will see you tomorrow.

Jeremy Bentham Could Do With A Hug

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Hello and welcome to this year’s gazillionth bank holiday Monday!  I hope that you’ve got some lovely activities planned.

Altruism is a very tricky business, and lots of people don’t really believe that it exists.  The philosopher Jeremy Bentham argued that humans exist to maximise their own pleasure and minimise their own pain, and that supposedly selfless acts are nothing more than our attempts to feel good via other people’s gratitude, social status, smugness, etc.  (Does anyone else get the feeling that poor Jeremy hasn’t had a lot of love?  Someone give him a cuddle.)

Bentham’s bleak assertion may not sit well with some of us, but it actually taps into something that we’ve all experienced in some way.  We all know the phrase “nice guys finish last”, and that’s a pretty fair summary of how we feel about unrewarded kindness: it’s not fair, and if it’s not fair, why should we bother?

Firstly, life is not fair, and we already know that.  We’re working within an unfair system where hard work is not always rewarded with promotion, love is not always requited and people don’t always say thank you when you hold a door open for them.  Therefore, choosing how to treat others based on what’s ‘fair’ is arbitrary and a bit useless, and deciding whether or not to perform a selfless act based on the injustice of the world is ridiculous.  “I will not help that small child get safely out of the path of that speeding car, because last week a child just like him bashed into my knees at the supermarket.  Fair’s fair.”  Fair is stupid, so forget about it.

Secondly, if you’re that fussed about getting rewarded in the first place, then you’re not being altruistic.  That’s not a criticism of you personally, by the way: after all, who doesn’t like to be rewarded?  Altruism is essentially being kind, generous etc. without any notion of reward: a truly altruistic act is performed by someone who does not even think about the pay off, let alone seek it.  This is sometimes difficult to imagine, and it can get very complicated when we have the best of intentions: making some we love feel better when they’re sad isn’t even altruistic, because their happiness makes us feel happy, because we love them.  Aren’t we selfish gits?

So it may not be real selflessness, and it may be that altruism doesn’t exist at all, but being kind and generous without requiring anything in return is very important.  This is partly because we all have systems of morals, and the one thing that just about every religion in the world can agree on is that being kind to people is important, but also because it means that we can be proud of who we are and how we behave.

Let’s be honest: showing someone love, kindness, sympathy and support can be very demanding, and if the gesture is either refused or ignored we end up feeling foolish.  I don’t know about you, but one thing I hate is being made to feel like an idiot (largely because I can do it just fine by myself without any help from others, thank you).  But showing someone love does not make you an idiot: it makes them the idiot if they don’t appreciate it.  And why would you want gratitude from an idiot?

If you’re still feeling a bit under-appreciated, I could always make you some biscuits.  How’s that?

Have a spectacular Monday.