Assholes In Life Teach Us A Lesson #MOMF #Asshole

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I’ve been lucky. There are only two times in my life when I’ve been stuck working with an asshole (or toxic person). Both times were extended, and both times were hell. Now that they’re over, I can look back and find some appreciation for what I learned.

As with most things in life, we have the choice of whether or not to let something poison us, tear us down, or make us stronger. I like to think of stressful events in life as wearing us down a bit so we can grow back even stronger. I know it’s hard to feel that way in the moment. While I am a realist, I do find positive thinking helps to survive life.

My reaction to an asshole used to be, “What did I do wrong?” I would try harder to win approval. That was a failure, but what a great lesson to NEVER do again.

My response became, “OMG. This is miserable. I hate this person. They are so awful. My life is awful. Poor me.” This was a failure because the asshole became a poison in my life. I became consumed with sadness and fantasies of revenge.

Then, my response evolved into, “You are an asshole. I am not an asshole. I will not let you bring me down because I am smarter than you. I am going to manipulate you and the situation to get what I want. You won’t know that because you are…. an asshole.”

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Now that my work life is asshole free, I have time to reflect, and I am actually glad that I had these interactions because I learned a lot. I learned about myself — how other people treat me is about them and how I allow them to treat me. I learned that life is full of assholes, and I either had to master working with them or be turned into one myself. I chose the latter.

You see, I know exactly the kind of person I want to be because I clearly know the alternative. I know how NOT to act. You may be thinking that I was already taught polite behavior as a child, and you’d be right. It’s different to experience it in action.

I believe to my soul that power or praise or attention has the potential to corrupt everyone — even me. As long as I keep my experience with assholes as an anchor for what I don’t want to be and keep in mind that I, too, am vulnerable to that, I can guard against it.

I think the core traits of assholes are combinations of arrogance, selfishness, and a belief that they own the truth. Be very careful about the belief that you own the truth. Have you ever known and insisted that you were right about something only to find out later that you were wrong? There are lots of areas in life where I don’t know that there is one truth. There are multiple truths. No one owns it. Better to admit that up front rather than be embarrassed later.

In contrast, I am seeing a lot being written about great leaders having humility — the understanding that we are all fallible (crazy motherfuckers on the bus). Humility is defined as a lack of arrogance or pride. We won’t always be humble because there are times we will be and should be proud. However, humility is about knowing and accepting that you will be wrong. The opposite of asshole.

The assholes in my life have been confined to work, but the same lesson applies outside of work. If you can’t walk away from an asshole, it is important to externalize the poison and reflect on how you want the experience to affect you because you can control that.

As Viktor Frankl said, the one thing we can control is our mind. If we give up control of our minds, we’ve lost everything. If the assholes take over your mind, they win. Perhaps the antidote is embracing your inner crazy motherfucker. Sounds like humility to me. Keep MOMF’ing.

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Author of Move on Motherf*cker: Live, Laugh, and Let Sh*t Go. Using CBT, mindfulness, humor, and profanity to feel better. jodieeckleberryhunt.com

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Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt, Ph.D., A.B.P.P.

Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt, Ph.D., A.B.P.P.

Author of Move on Motherf*cker: Live, Laugh, and Let Sh*t Go. Using CBT, mindfulness, humor, and profanity to feel better. jodieeckleberryhunt.com

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