When is it ok to not give a damn?

Posted: January 25, 2014 in The Human Side
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Rottenecards_76210012_zr644jdxpfHave you ever felt like you are so worried about pleasing everyone else that other things around you start to fall apart?  How about being so concerned with what others might be thinking about you, that you start to drift away from being the person you really are?

Kind of heavy huh?  Maybe so, but I think this is a problem that a lot of people have and some struggle to find a way to deal with it.  I used to be one of those people and sometimes I still struggle.  Inherently I believe most of us want to be liked.  I don’t think anyone who is truly honest would say that they don’t give a shit if someone likes them or not.  Living a life 100 percent by that sword may lead to a lonely life.  However, I do think there is a balance that we should seek.  That balance will lead to a lot less stress and ultimately a happier place.

The key to finding this balance is first understanding a few inevitable facts of life.  One is that not everyone will like you.  Some may even act like they like you. But when your back is turned they are throwing you under the bus.  Those are the ninjas that can do the most damage and you must identify them as soon as you can.  Another fact to remember is that it is impossible to please everyone.  No, seriously.. that is a fact.  Just look in the mirror and tell me how it’s working for you if you are in fact trying to accomplish this feat today.  There are too many different types of people out there. You are just one person and we are all human..so it’s just not possible.

OK, So what?

Why is this important?  Why am I even writing about it?  Well, it boils down to this.  I see people I care about struggling with this and since I have been through it, I want to try and help them.  I want them to see that it’s normal and can be overcome.

When I was first married.. (way back in my early 20’s) I was smack in the middle of it all.  I had a career that I was trying to cultivate, a new wife and new life.  I was barely out of college and here I am starting the first big chapter in my adult life.  I didn’t realize it until much later, but I was in this weird tug of war.  On one hand, I am in my 20’s with no kids and a good job.  I had money to spend because my wife and I were diligent about saving and had a house with little overhead other than a mortgage and the usual expenses.  I was on the corporate softball team, I was playing hockey, going to the gym and still felt the need to fit in office happy hours and nights out with my buddies from time to time.

This was a problem and it had not yet hit me.  I had this beautiful wife at home that was also starting the same chapter in her adult life.  However the plot line for hers was not in perfect parallel to mine and it should have been. I was still too naïve to see it.  I still felt like I had to keep up with my single buddies.  I felt like I was missing something if I wasn’t hitting the happy hours.  To be totally honest, I wasn’t showing the Mrs. that the first thing on my priority list was being a husband.

I felt like I needed to keep up with everyone so that they would like me.  I wanted to stay relevant with the social crowd.  I even conned myself into believing that running with this crowd was helping me in my career. I thought that if I can be a family man, a corporate guy and “one of the guys” and with out skipping a beat, I would somehow win everyone over.

Little did I know, but I was failing on all fronts and it took me several years and a few life experiences to figure it out.

How the hell could I be a good husband and give my wife the life that she deserved while I am out at the bar with my buddies?  How could I be giving 100% on the job when I am spending more time with my extra-curricular activities than focusing on work..

Fast forward to today…

Here I am, in my 40’s.  I have 3 kids and I have experienced a life time of events in that relatively short span.  I’ll share some personal things to put it into perspective.  Several years ago, I had to bury my first two children.  Like many, I have been through financial good times and bad.  I have dealt with loss of other loved ones and I have dealt with more family Cancer scares than I care to admit.

It was the loss of my first two children that really opened my eyes.  It was a very succinct and immediate smack in the face that had me thinking what is really important?  If I can make it through losing two children, then I certainly can get some focus on what is real and what is not.  From that period in my life until this very day, I have learned that there are only a few things in life that (really) matter.  For every person I believe those things will vary.. what’s important to me may be different for you, but you get the point.

A very important lesson that I learned through all this was that I no longer wanted to surround myself with people who did not exude the kind of traits or qualities that I liked.  If you are overly negative, I don’t have time for you.  If you are hyper-critical or obnoxiously opinionated, nah beat it.  If you can’t like me for me, no problem.  Good luck with your life.  I use words like “hyper” and “overly” because not everyone is perfect, I get that.  You can’t possibly be awesome 100% of the time.  But the right people with the right attitude (right for YOU that is) will understand and having them in your life becomes .. easy.

You see, that is the key.  Being someone’s friend, a true friend should be easy.  If it’s not easy, then immediately stop..and question it. Why is this person in my life?  Why do I want this person in my life?

If you struggle to find good answers to these questions then I would argue that you don’t need them.

I look at my personal network like a bull’s-eye.  In the center I have my wife and children.  The next ring is for my parents and siblings.  Each ring after that is for my closest family and friends.  Often I find that people jump in and out of different rings and I think that is ok.  People’s lives change and people mature at different rates.  But the common theme prevails.. if you are an asshole or don’t fit the mold of the kind of person that is going to be constructive for me and my loved ones, you are out!

Finally, it’s important to note that adopting this kind of thought process doesn’t give you a license to be an asshole.  When I first lost my sons, I didn’t like anyone.  I had no filter what so ever.  Didn’t matter if you were my mom, my best friend or my boss.  I called it like I saw it and didn’t care if you didn’t like what you heard.  That was wrong!  That is no way to go about life, because I still believe you should be a good person as much as you can.  There is nothing wrong with a filter.  There is nothing wrong with finding a creative way of making your point or disagreeing without being a dick.

The bottom line is this.  Try to be the best person you can be and remain true to yourself. Then surround yourself with people who make you feel good being YOU.  If you can do this, then you are on the right track.  You will start to see that all the outliers are a waste of your time.  If you can’t feel good around someone then kick em to the curb.

My Challenge for you!

1. Mentally or on paper, create your own bulls-eye and figure out who belongs

2. Think about who the people are that cause you anxiety.  Try to make an immediate assesment as to if they deserve to be tolerated.  If they don’t.. cut them out of your life.  

3.  If you find someone that you want to give another chance, confront them.  Tell they what they are doing that bothers you.  If they are truly your friend and deserving of your love/friendship they will get it.. if they don’t, then see #2.

You don’t have to do this alone.  I got your back!  Feel free to chat me up about this if you want.. Im a good listener and I will encourage you if I can.


  1. emsalbert says:

    I agree with you 100%, and live by your three rules already. 🙂

    You and your wife are definitely in one if my rings. Love you guys!!

  2. emsalbert says:

    I whole-heartedly agree with you ! I have had a similar stance in my own life for the last 5 years. Thanks for sharing.

    PS – I’m so happy to have you and your wife are in my “good friends you love and can count on to make you smile” ring. Love you guys!

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