The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck… my take

I probably couldn’t rave about this book anymore than I already have. Sometimes I think books resonate with you because of where you are in your life, or sometimes we are searching for answers and something seems to click within the words of the page. This book struck a chord in me. I’d like to say that I’ve never cared that much about what others think, but that wouldn’t be true. I’ve always wanted to be the “nice guy”, but sometimes it is true the nice guy finishes last. I’ve let a lot of people walk all over me because I thought I was taking the higher road, and as a consequence, I would let others make me feel small. What I have come to realize, with the help of this work, is that I am completely in control of my power. I’m not in control of everything that happens to me, but I am totally in control of how I react to every situation.

I have read a lot of self-improvement books. Most of them are super heavy, and they have made me I feel like I’ve just watched the movie Stepmom on my period. This book, however, is the perfect balance of humor and awesome points. To really get down to it, the book explains that we are all in control of what we care about. There are certain things and situations that we put a lot of energy into, and at the end of the day, it’s important to question why you care so much about them. It doesn’t suggest you not care about the things you do, but it does suggest that you are probably wasting a lot of energy on things that, overall, are not going to have any true impact on your life.

Another good book called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has a similar concept (the book goes into great depth into finding what defines every person’s character) and digs into what your values and morals are. Once you know what you really care about and bring awareness to it, then you can build what’s important in your life around it. So, let’s be real… The opinions of my closest friends, my family, my wife, and myself, are what matter to me. I love social media as much as the next person, but often people put images out into the world in hopes of getting certain responses, and if they don’t get what they wanted, they get upset. I have some haters. Who doesn’t? It is what it is. I am not going to change who I am because someone didn’t like something I put up on twitter. I’ve also realized that sometimes saying what you really mean, even if you fear it will be confrontational, is actually more respectful to yourself and whom you are talking to than not saying anything at all.

This past year I’ve had some interesting times. I’ve told a few people my true feelings about certain situations that didn’t sit well with me. I expressed myself with no holding back, no anger, and each time it brought me closer to those people. Now, I know I’m lucky because sometimes those tough conversations create a drift between people, but if you can’t be real or honest with the people you care about in your life, then you should ask yourself – why are they in your life? My friend group has gotten a little smaller over the years, and sometimes that has been hard, but when you find people that align with who you are and what you value, the bond becomes stronger and you don’t need a million friends, just a few good ones.

During one of my recent Periscopes, I read part of the chapter on failure from Manson’s book, and what I love is the quote “if she is better at something than you are chances are she has failed at it more times than you”. When I read that the first time I was like, hello, that couldn’t be more right. One of my biggest strengths as a keeper is taking crosses. I cannot tell you how many times I have been schooled and flat out embarrassed on crosses. For as long as I can remember, I have trained myself to think making mistakes is the worst thing in the world, so when I casually say, “I’m just going to fail,” I know it’s a lot easier said than done. That goes for all I’ve said. I’m still a human being. I’m vulnerable most of the time. I can get angry and upset, and as much as I want to snap out of certain moods, sometimes it feels close to impossible. As I shared during a Periscope, after listening to Pema Chodron’s audio book and interview, “Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better”, for the past year I have tried to train myself to not be insecure. In the interview part of the book, Pema Chodron goes on to tell a story about the Dalai Lama and his regrets. What I found interesting about the story was the Dalai Lama was asked how he got over his feelings of regret, and he simply answered that he hadn’t. In fact, he always lives and sits with those feelings and is grateful for them as they are a reminder of how he would approach the same situation differently the next time.

This ties in perfectly to The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck as Manson suggests that death is a constant reminder to live, to truly live. I have been “working on myself” for a really long time. The more I do, the more I realize it’s less about changing who you are and more about accepting who you are. My insecurities have gotten me here. Now when I feel insecure, instead of trying to fight it and pretend to be something I’m not, I literally sit with it. I sit with those feelings of hurt, jealousy, or shame, and eventually they dissipate. Then, those feelings of insecurity aren’t “the big bad wolf” instead they are an opportunity to practice self-compassion.

My sports psych once told me to picture a five-year old version of myself sitting on the couch next to me. Every time I made a mistake, or felt insecure, imagine talking to five-year old Erin. At the time it broke my heart as I recounted all the horrible things I’ve said to myself when I’ve made mistakes, done things wrong. Whatever the case, I have been unkind to myself. Now, I practice compassion. Yesterday I was feeling insecure about something, and my wife reminded me to listen to the advice I’m putting out to the world. I pictured five-year old Erin sitting right there with big eyes, an open heart and hanging on every word. When you’re five you don’t care what is cool or not cool, what’s right or wrong. At that five, you are you, uninhibited. If you are lucky you can get back to that place, but it really takes practicing not caring about what everybody thinks.

Manson makes three points about not giving a f*ck in the first chapter:

  1. “Not giving a f*ck doesn’t mean being indifferent, it means being comfortable with being different”.
  2. “To not give a f*ck about adversity, you must first give a f*ck about something more than adversity”.
  3. “Whether you realize it or not, you are always choosing what to give a f*ck about”.

This introduces the concept of not giving a f*ck and how to apply it to relationships with yourself and others, your career and even death. What I found intriguing and extremely helpful was Chapter 3, which explains how no one is a unique victim. Despite how huge a problem or how deep a suffering someone is experiencing, chances are they are not the first to go through it. For example, I missed the Olympics, and I was heartbroken. I have since met and talked to at least five people who have gone through the exact same thing. When we feel isolated or alone when bad things happen to us, we feel like no one else understands how we are feeling. People do go through horrifying experiences, and there’s no arguing that. The point is, we always have a choice in how we react to those situations. When I got hurt, I was caught up in doing anything I could not to lose my spot on the National Team instead of doing everything I needed and wanted to do to be the best me. I was pissed about life being unfair and was convinced I deserved to be at that Olympics more than anyone. I chose to see the situation that way. Now I choose to see the situation differently. Again, it’s not easy. I still slip into some moments of being angry and play the victim, but then I come around. What I have been given is another chance to play the game I love: That’s what I’m choosing to give a f*ck about. What are you choosing to give a f*ck about?

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