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Warning: naughty language ahead!
Mark Manson, author of best-selling books The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck and Everything is F*cked: A Book about Hope, looks at self-help with a cold eye.
He believes that happiness requires struggle and that positivity is a side effect of handling the negative things in our lives.
Many of us have ventured into the “self-help” world and quickly realized that improving ourselves is more complicated than it’s made out to be. While it’s tempting to leave the “old us” behind and reinvent ourselves in shiny new versions, that just isn’t the way it works.
A simple choice to view the world differently may be what we need, but it’s quite a bit harder than waking up and deciding to be a “new you.”
Truth is, it’s fucking hard. It takes real courage to acknowledge and accept what we don’t like about ourselves. Self-help gets problematic when we try to disregard who we are and attempt to be something we are not. It’s a process—it won’t be quick and it won’t be easy.
But we don’t get the benefits of growth and healing without putting a lot of work in first.
Self-awareness and self-acceptance are the meaningful parts of the healing journey. Rather than move away from who we are, they require us to embrace all of ourselves, especially the traumatized, shame-filled parts we’ve tried to leave behind.
The growth and healing we experience comes from dealing with this pain and struggle. And it’s the most empowering gift we can give ourselves.
While quotes won’t solve our problems, they can provide a useful list of reminders and guideposts to help focus our efforts. Here are the Mark Manson quotes I found to be most helpful:
1. “As an adult, it’s your responsibility to figure out which of your traits are toxic and are negatively impactful towards other people and the ones you love and to eventually learn how to fix them.”
2. “The problem with the self-esteem movement is that it measured self-esteem by how positively people felt about themselves. But a true and accurate measurement of one’s self-worth is how people feel about the negative aspects of themselves.”
3. “Self-awareness is like an onion. There are multiple layers to it, and the more you peel them back, the more likely you’re going to start crying at inappropriate times.”
4. “You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon. And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of fucks to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a fuck about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice—well, then you’re going to get fucked.”
5. “The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.”
6. “Unhealthy love is based on two people trying to escape their problems through their emotions for each other—in other words, they’re using each other as an escape. Healthy love is based on two people acknowledging and addressing their own problems with each other’s support.”
7. “This is the most simple and basic component of life: our struggles determine our successes.”
8. “Being open with your insecurities paradoxically makes you more confident and charismatic around others. The pain of honest confrontation is what generates the greatest trust and respect in your relationships. Suffering through your fears and anxieties is what allows you to build courage and perseverance.”
9. “Acts of love are valid only if they’re performed without conditions or expectations.”
10. “If you’re stuck on a problem, don’t sit there and think about it; just start working on it. Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, the simple act of working on it will eventually cause the right ideas to show up in your head.”
11. “Some choose to believe that there is nothing they can do to solve their problems, even when they in fact could. Victims seek to blame others for their problems or blame outside circumstances. This may make them feel better in the short term, but it leads to a life of anger, helplessness, and despair.”
12. “The more something threatens your identity, the more you will avoid it.”
13. “A lot of people hesitate to take responsibility for their problems because they believe that to be responsible for your problems is to also be at fault for your problems.”
14. “At some point, we all gotta start making ourselves better individuals. If you truly believe you don’t have to change anything yourself, even at the very least the worst in you, and that people will just have to deal with it, then sorry you’re still a child.”
His words aren’t wrapped in candy-sweet ribbons. They’re harsh and direct. And they just might provide the kick in the ass that many of us need to get to work on ourselves.
This shit is hard, and it’s real—it’s supposed to be. But it’s also incredibly rewarding for those brave enough to face our issues and give real healing a chance.