How to Feel Successful, Increase Self-Esteem and Eliminate Envy

all-i-do-is-win-win-win-no-matter-what

I know a guy who almost never loses a game of pool.

He’s one of my dad’s closest friends. He’s awesome in all of the ways which matter, and I love him like family.

But if you didn’t know him and love him like family, he might seem to you like just another guy. He manages a hospital maintenance staff. I’m not super-familiar with his financial status, but I’m not under the impression people who care about net worth would be overly impressed.

My father’s social circle has a lot of three kinds of guys: Guys with really nice cars who race as a hobby, guys who are awesome golfers, and guys with—at least by Midwestern terms—kind of a lot of money.

But the hospital maintenance manager isn’t really any of those things.

I don’t know whether he sits around thinking about this. As if he’s somehow deficient because he isn’t up to the same standards in those super-specific silos as most of his friends. I hope not, and doubt it.

When I was younger, I—objectively speaking in the context of 1980s Americans—didn’t have money in my family. My parents were young, divorced, and at best, lower middle-class. I ate a lot of free school lunches in my early years.

Some of my friends did come from families with—at least from my narrow perspective and life experience—a lot of money. Big, awesome houses I’d visit and sleep in on weekends, and nice, expensive cars.

Maybe feelings of inadequacy and insecurity started back then. I’m an only child and didn’t have a big brother or sister to help prepare me for The Things That Happen Next in your growing years, and I did a crappy job being transparent with my parents, choosing to live inside my own head rather than talk things out with people who loved me and probably knew Things.

But I don’t remember feeling particularly inadequate or insecure back then. In fact, I feel as if I had a charmed childhood and social life through my school years. Whatever my neurotic hang ups might have been, I can’t recall a time I felt intentionally excluded from anything that mattered to me. I felt well-liked and reasonably popular, which are fun things to feel.

It was during the slow death of my marriage where I developed some insecurities and self-confidence issues which are very un-fun things to feel.

Some combination of failing to rise to the level of Very Successful, Special and Unique Snowflake I’d always imagined for myself, and losing my job with a new baby at home, and feeling my wife pull further and further away while seeming to like, respect and want me less with each passing day, turned me into someone else.

Every Facebook or Instagram update from someone I knew with their smiling and happy family on another vacation or in their super-nice home proved to be another reminder of what a loser I’d really turned out to be.

Must be this tall to ride.

Before the hospital maintenance manager and family friend I know was someone who I knew and loved, he was a total stranger. Several years ago when I met him, he was a new addition to my father’s vibrant social circle.

I didn’t know a thing about him, except what a few guys in the room were telling me: “See that guy? He never loses at pool. He’s an absolute badass. One of the best I’ve ever seen or heard of.”

I’m not a particularly skilled pool shooter. I’m okay. I’m kind of okay at everything. I tend to be average at most things, and great at none. But if there’s an impromptu pool tournament, sure, I’m in.

My dad has a couple tables. He’s good, as are many of his friends. They all have their own, expensive cue sticks, rarely miss shots, and never take them unless they know where the cue ball needs to be to make the next one or two. They’re high-level players.

But none of them are like our friend, The Badass. The unassuming hospital employee. When he’s on, he’ll make other awesome players look average, and average players look weak and pathetic.

Generally, if you miss even one shot against him, you’re finished.

Ignoring that material and superficial things lack meaning and rarely move the Happiness needle on our lives, he can’t hang with the other guys on the golf course, nor can he buy a bunch of expensive cars, nor is he going to elicit financial envy from any of them.

Compared to them in those very specific areas, he might appear or even feel lacking.

But at a billiards table? You’re in his world.

A world where he’s king.

Who Would You Trade Places With if You Had to Take All Their Baggage, Too?

James Altucher, one of my favorite writers, was having dinner with another excellent writer, Ryan Holiday.

Holiday asked Altucher whether he ever feels envious of others.

“Yes,” Altucher said, “I’m envious of people.”

Holiday shared his mental strategy for eliminating feelings of jealousy or envy, and Altucher wrote about it in his recent post, The One Cure For All Envy and Jealousy:

“Here’s what you do, Ryan said. If you are envious of someone, you can’t just pick one or two things about them. Because it’s their entire history that has got them the one thing you are envious about.

“So, he said, picture that you can change places in every way with them. But then it’s forever.

He said: Would you do it?

“While he asked that, the hostess of the restaurant came up to us, She looked at me and asked, are you on TV?

“No.

“You’re Ted Mosby, right? From the show ‘How I Met Your Mother.’

“No, I said, but I’ll take it as a compliment.

“She kept staring and then walked away.

“Let me think, I said to Ryan. What about X, would you change places with him? – And I named someone we both admired.

“No way, he said, look at A, B, and C with him. Would you want those?

“Hmm, no.

“Who else do you admire? he asked.

“I had to think for a long time. There’s a lot of people I admire but which among them do I envy.

“I named some more people I envied but for each one, he named some attributes that I would definitely not want to have for myself if I switched places for that person.

“I guess you’re right, I said. I’m happy being me. Otherwise I wouldn’t be having such a fun dinner right now with you!”

I often wonder why it feels like I know several people in real life who would make AMAZING political leaders, but I often find the people I actually have to choose from to be deficient in several areas. I know people who you’d want to run through walls for in an effort to elect them President of the United States. People with unquestionable leadership skills, charisma, and as much integrity as you’d require from a public figure.

But they’ll never be president. There are a TON of brilliant and amazing people out there. Entrepreneurs, doctors, educators, business leaders, etc. But nobody like them ever runs for president.

Why?

I figured it out several years ago: Because none of the really smart people want the job.

It’s shitty! Have you ever studied the gray-hair quotient of presidents entering office versus leaving it? It’s a stressful, shitty job where half the world hates you, where you’re headline news almost every day, where your private life is almost always on display, where people don’t believe good things which are true about you, where people believe bad things which aren’t true about you, where you receive death threats all the time, and aren’t even paid particularly well in the context of being that famous and powerful.

In many ways, being President of the United States is one of the best jobs in the world.

In many ways, it’s also one of the worst.

Would you trade places with someone else? Even if you had to take on all the bad parts, too?

Bring Others Into a Place Where You are Master

Another of my favorite writers and thinkers, Tim Ferriss, taught me how to stop comparing my life to the highlights of other people’s lives I might see on social media, and feel more gratitude and pride about the things which make me, me.

This is The Secret to Feeling Successful, and you can start RIGHT NOW, and all you have to do is ask yourself a better question.

Ferriss’ focus was on business success, but it won’t take a business degree to understand how this mental trick can apply to ANYTHING in your life, and essentially be summarized as Enjoy Being the Big Fish in a Small Pond.

From Ferriss’ New Research and a Dirty Truth: Read This Before Chasing the Dollar:

“What to do? There are a few ways to use the currency of time, and awareness of positional economics, to your advantage to beat the Joneses on new terms:

  1. Focus on “relative income” — defined as hourly income — instead of “absolute income,” misleading annual income that doesn’t factor in time. If you assume a 40-hour work week and 2 weeks of vacation per year, estimate per-hour income by cutting off the last three zeros and dividing in half. Thus: $50,000 per year –> $50 divided by 2 = $25 per hour. Relative income can be increased by increasing total income for the same hours, getting the same income for fewer hours, or some combination thereof. More options with more life.
  2. Determine your precise Target Monthly Income (TMI) for your ideal lifestyle — the goal of most rat-race income competition — and focus on structuring mini-retirements to redistribute retirement throughout life. There’s an excellent Excel spreadsheet here for calculations.
  3. Determine your “where” of happiness. It’s not necessary to permanently move to a country with depressed currency, but even temporary relocation to a domestic (check out Forbes’ publisher Rich Karlgaard’s Life 2.0) or international location with a lower cost-of-living resets your peer group and positional economics barometer. Being perceived as rich often translates into perceiving yourself as rich. Neat trick and a hell of a lot of fun. Two of my top picks for positional resets are Argentina (see “How to Live Like a Rock Star (or Tango Star) in Buenos Aires”) and Thailand.
  4. Develop appreciation in tandem with achievement. Subjective happiness depends on appreciating what you get as much as getting what you want. The first step to true appreciation is perception: cultivating present-awareness. I recommend experimenting with lucid dreaming as tested at Stanford University, in particular the “reality check” exercises of Dr. Stephen Laberge.
  5. Develop competitive social groups outside of work. Participate in games outside of income mongering. Train or compete in a sport where income is a non-factor. That dude makes $1,000,000 a day as a hedge fund manager? I don’t care–his golf swing sucks and he has love handles. Here, it counts for nothing. Oh, and her? I know she just got promoted to national manager for IBM, but so what? I just scored 5 goals on her. In this world, I rule.

“Don’t let rat racing be the only game you play against the Joneses,” Ferriss wrote. “There is always someone willing to sacrifice it all to earn more, so let them. Just remember: it is entirely possible — in fact, common — to be a success in business and a failure in life. Take the red pill and think different.”

I’d like to believe that how we feel doesn’t really matter, since our feelings wax and wane all the time, and it’s hard to trust our own emotional swings.

But the truth is, how we feel DOES matter. Our feelings affect pretty much all of our decision making, and our decision making affects pretty much everything that happens to us.

Some people might roll their eyes at the idea of using Jedi mind tricks to feel better about their life. Like it’s fake. Like they actually have to do something more or different or better to ACTUALLY be better.

And I’m saying that’s bullshit.

Go chase whatever sets your heart on fire. I’m not suggesting we all sit on the couch, do nothing, and celebrate it.

The truth is true no matter what we believe: We’re already tall enough to be Jedi.

We already win. And we might as well enjoy it.

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64 thoughts on “How to Feel Successful, Increase Self-Esteem and Eliminate Envy

  1. Travis B. says:

    Matt said,

    “I tend to be average at most things, and great at none.”

    You sneaky little compliment fisherman you. ;-) $100 the next ten comments mention how great you are as a writer and/or representative of the male species.

    Like

    • Matt says:

      We all take the stuff we’re good at for granted. Everyone does, because whatever that thing is feels easy. And much like the guy who founded Match.com at the beginning of Tim Ferriss’ post feeling poor compared to his super-wealthy Silicon Valley counterparts, I read a lot of brilliant, excellent writing every day, and notice each and every way in which it’s superior to this stuff.

      But thank you, good sir. I do appreciate the kind words.

      But I don’t accept your bet, which is a sneaky attempt to win $100 by planting greedy seeds.

      Like

    • Donkey says:

      Hello Travis!

      This is not related to this post (great post Matt, I think I also wanted to be som kind of Very Successful, Special and Unique Snowflake :)), but if you’d be willing, I’d very much appreciate it if you could explain some shitty husband behaviour to me. You have succeeded well in doing that before. :)

      Matt has a post about leaving his crying wife in the hospital after giving birth/having a C-section. Lisa said her husband did something similar (he now can’t believe how he could do that, so credit to him and Matt both for having realized the extreme shittiness of that. Grrrr. Honestly, thinking about it just makes me feel som kind of immense primal rage).

      Do you have any idea as to the thought process of a shitty husband (who isn’t a Dick who gets off on abusing his wife) who makes that ok in his mind? That after 9 months (usually) of pregnancy and the woman, really, risking her life during childbirth/ c-section often suffering through a lot of pain, and then is also left alone with their newborn, it’s ok for him to go to get a good night sleep and leave his crying wife who’s begging him to stay alone?

      I can understand that some people wouldn’t be hurt by a dish by the sink and all of that (and we’ve already had the conversation about accepting influence even if you don’t understand), and I remember Matt saying it was hard for him to empathize with people’s physical discomfort that ha couldn’t relate to. I understand that men can’t really get how pregnancy/birth feels like. But still, isn’t childbirth very much accepted as a VERY Big Deal, a painful and stressful and high risk deal in our society, and that the role of the modern man is to support his wife however she needs? I would think leaving your wife alone after childbirth when she’s crying and begging you to stay would be just as obvious a faux pas as cheating (again, for me, I believe I’d rather have the father of my child cheat on me with 10 prostitutes than leave me crying alone in the hospital after having our baby).

      Matt, if you have any more explanations of your thought process you want to share, I would appreciate that too of course.

      I’m really just trying to understand the (faulty and frankly, like Lisa said, narcissistic) thought process, because I just don’t get it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sue says:

    Well, since I want Matt to win the $100 bet, I won’t mention the alluded to strengths and just say ‘THANK YOU’ …

    I needed to read this today …

    Liked by 1 person

  3. anitvan says:

    I must have super good self-esteem or something because I secretly think I’m freaking awesome 😀

    I *like* who I am as a person and as far as I’m concerned I’m already successful. It’s not really about *what I achieve*. Its about *who I am*.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. bygeorgeithinkyou'vegotit says:

    I was reading James’ today too… he’s pretty brilliant.

    Funny you mention playing pool today. When I was 16, I used to regularly go to the local pool hall with a games’ worth of change and would put it on the table to reserve my spot. I would often play all night as I would win game after game. I would never continue to play after I lost a game only because I knew I couldn’t afford it. Point is, it was very exhilarating to win (say sometimes 20) games in a row to “hot shots”.

    I rarely play now and have lost my touch, but recently played at my brothers favourite bar. I put my name down on the board. Played the “hot shot” and lost. So I put my name again. Played the same guy. Kicked his ass throughout the game (I had solids)… Then just before I slammed dunked the 8 ball, he says to me. “Didn’t I have solids?”. I clearly KNOW I wasn’t stripes because I like them better and I was surprised that I was kicking ass with the solids. Anyway, this guy kinda ruined it for me, but in the end, I felt sorry for him for having to try to manipulate the game in his favour because he felt the need to keep his “hot shot” status.

    Oh well…

    As for doing things that don’t cost a lot of money and will make us feel better about ourselves is one of the biggest things I think most lack today. It’s really quite simple and very little effort has to be put into it because we like to do it in the first place! Wether it be doing a sport, hiking, biking, drawing… the list is endless, and the rewards are awesome!

    I am for sure going in this direction!

    :D

    Like

    • Travis B. says:

      bygeorgeithinkyou’vegotit said,

      “As for doing things that don’t cost a lot of money and will make us feel better about ourselves is one of the biggest things I think most lack today.”

      I have never been able to fathom why so many people think the formula to success is to devote more and more time and energy to their jobs to fund lifestyles they (because of said investment of time and energy) are less and less available to enjoy. I discovered a long time ago that money is one of the incentives which motivates me the least.

      Liked by 1 person

      • bygeorgeithinkyou'vegotit says:

        Exactly!

        But yet we spend hours watching Netflix, or Facebook etc…

        I used to enjoy life a lot more when I was 16. (even if I lived on my own). I had NO money ecept for basic needs, but did things that I liked doing.

        I recently put out my instrument that I played in my high school band. I played for 10 years total, but put it away the entire time I was married. I’m going to get it tuned soon and put it back to use!! My son had no idea I could even play! It’s crazy how we neglect these things.

        Also, I really liked drawing when I was a kid, but I never “tried”. So last time I was on a trip down south I had taken a photo of this beautiful little bird taking pecks at my coconut drink so I decided to draw it while we were down there on a rainy day. Turns out in 20 min I was able to replicate this bird pretty well! My kids were like “WTH mom! We didn’t know you could draw like that!” And I was like “Neither did I!!” :D

        Going forward here! I’m struggling with my physical self a bit now due to an injury, but when I’m stronger, I’ll be able to join free hiking adventures, birding groups… who knows what else!? YAY ME!!

        La joie de vivre is on it’s way!

        Like

      • bygeorgeithinkyou'vegotit says:

        Also, I was thinking…

        HEDONIC ADAPTATION does not usually apply to these “smaller enjoyments” of life. These are the things to strive for IN a relationship TOGETHER.

        The more we apply these, the less we would bore of of our partners.

        If a husband or wife put all their time and effort into making more money to enjoy say “a membership” at the golf club. Or money into a “bad ass” classic car, chances are, the one, the other, or both will feel abandoned because money becomes more important.

        If a couple both want to have a “bad ass” classic car. (I would like a MG). I would have liked to have picked something out we both liked, bring it home and restore it together. Even if that took a decade, the memories of restoring it together would of made the long effort worth while.

        So many strive to make tons of money, buy stuff RIGHT NOW and tire of it so quickly… the disconnect of what is ACTUALLY valuable. The people closest to us and our natural environment.

        Money ruined my marriage… money, greed and power.

        Life is too short!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. latenightblond says:

    Perception. Focus. I enjoy getting your posts for a few different reasons, but I find the main one is that I’m always left with Something To Think About and Stuff To Chew On. Thank you Matt.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “Some people might roll their eyes at the idea of using Jedi mind tricks to feel better about their life.”

    Not me! I am all about the Jedi mind tricks. Fake it at first if you must, because the authenticity will soon follow. Well done, Matt. Envy can be a tough one for people.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Linbo says:

    Just to contradict you ever so slightly, here is a Brene Brown Quote ” The irony is that we attempt to disown our difficult stories to appear more whole or more acceptable, but our wholeness-even our wholeheartedness- actually depends on the integration of all our experiences, including the falls.”

    Like

    • Linbo says:

      Matt,
      You know what? I am kind of sorry I posted this. There are tons of legit things you were describing. What I was thinking, though, was that real security doesn’t come from how well you’re doing compared to the rest of the world, no matter how you frame it. (Like with the “determining your where of happiness”…even though I have thought about Belize a zillion times.. :). But the last one, like your friend,- competing in things where the dollar sign doesn’t count is an excellent way to demonstrate skills, but more- just be a person, with diverse social classes… so you know that you really are equal.

      Money/economy is like a trap that we have set for ourselves. Trade is good, sure. It can foster cooperation and hey- if you have a bunch of stuff others want you will likely be assured to get the things you want.
      The problem with it though, is that man made it and now man is a slave to it.
      Seriously, we spend our lives chasing money either to just pay the bills, or to make our lives more comfortable. It is not a good measure of anyone’s real value and worth.

      What Brene talks about (I know you have read some of her stuff) is about whole hearted living. Being exactly who you are, and being ok with that.
      It seems like the Jedi Mind tricks can keep you competing in a game that really isn’t worth winning- whether that is money, or doing/being something super exciting, or whatever..

      Does that sound like boring, weak, woosified drivel? …it totally could be…

      Anyway, I know its too late for the bet you didn’t take, but still- You’re a freakin awesome writer and thinker, not to mention a mostly all around good guy :)

      Like

  8. ifonlymommy says:

    There are so many “what ifs” and “wouldyas” in this world. Have we always envied other people’s lives? It’s kind of sad, when you think about it. Let’s flip it…maybe it motivates us.
    Who knows. Maybe I’ll just carry a mirror around with me to view and envy my own life for a while 😉.
    “The less you want, the more you got, so don’t you cry for more”
    *Matt, you are a well above average writer. Is the bet still going on? Do we have a winner.
    I’m a winner. Are you a winner?
    Envious 😉?

    Like

  9. emilyguybirken says:

    I often say to my husband (and myself) that life isn’t a buffet. This started when my husband, who is an engineer and makes a good living, would express envy over the fact that his best friend M (also an engineer) is married to another engineer, G. M and G take expensive vacations and live very well financially.

    I am a writer and I am pretty damn successful, but I do not yet command the equivalent of an engineer’s salary–though I will. My husband would lament over my lower income by saying he was jealous of what M and G can do financially. I finally asked him if he wanted to be married to G, because life isn’t a buffet, and he can’t have me as his wife and an engineer as his wife at the same time.

    My husband suffers from pretty extreme financial anxiety, which I have compassion for. But his treating life (and me) as some sort of buffet where he could choose the best parts and leave the shit behind (even when the “shit” was years of hard work in building a career i love that strikes him as non-traditional) hurt like fucking hell.

    Like

  10. zombiedrew2 says:

    Comparison is one of the biggest things at the root of unhappiness in my opinion, and it’s a broken thing because we don’t even do it well.

    As you said, we can’t just pick and choose the parts we like and ignore the parts we don’t. Yet that’s exactly what people do, and how they compare.

    We’re unhappy about X in our partner, especially when we see joe or jane over there who seems better at X. So we imagine that life could be better if our partner would be more like joe or jane. However our partner also has great qualities A, B and C, but we’ve taken those for granted so we no longer even see or appreciate them. And joe or jane has a number of not so desirable qualities, but we don’t actually see those, because we are only focusing on the quality that we feel is missing or lacking in our partner.

    I think this is one of the biggest issues with “the grass is greener” syndrome. And one of the big reasons why people get out of a relationship, convince themselves it was a good thing when their new relationship fills that gap that was missing, but then end up just as unhappy 2 years down the road once they find out that their new partner has their own share of not so desirable qualities.

    We are all flawed, we all have good and bad traits. And you can’t have just the good without accepting the bad too.

    Like

  11. Lisa Gottman says:

    Interesting topic! I agree with your post and other commenters that awesome Jedi mind tricks like gratitude practice and perspective exercises are helpful to help us see that things we envy are not always better than what we already have.

    But what do you do when there really are things that are better? What do I do if I would answer yes I really WOULD want to trade places with that other person? That is an interesting question! What Jedi Mind Tricks are helpful in that case?

    I’ve been doing to fix my marriage and my generally screwed up sense of what is healthy. I am but a humble Padawan in knowledge so these are random thoughts that I think apply to envy.

    Should emotions be divided into good and bad catagories? Is envy ever a good thing? Why do we have “dark side” emotions?

    “As neuroscientist Antonio Damasio reminds us, humans are not either thinking machines or feeling machines, but rather feeling machines that think.”

    He studies the purpose and power of emotions and how we can’t make decisions only on cognition. People whose brains are damaged and can’t access emotions literally cannot make good decisions.

    His work combined with Daniel Kahneman’s framing of two systems of the brain operations helps me see how all emotions are helpful. It is just a matter of the proper intensity and application. I’ll throw out some external thinking on that in another comment.

    Ok how can envy be helpful? It tells you what you want.

    Here’s quotes from a Wall Street Journal article about how envy can a better motivator than admiration. Like the research about loss aversion, our brain is more motivated by “negative” emotions than “positive” ones. So envy can be good!

    “Psychologists classify envy in two ways: malicious and benign. With benign envy, you are motivated by another person’s success and strive to emulate it. With malicious envy, you want to cut the advantaged person down so you look better by comparison.

    Let’s say you feel pangs of envy after your rival at another firm gets promoted. Malicious envy might drive you to undermine his success, but benign envy would inspire you to work harder and get promoted, too.”

    “Studies show benign envy can be a great motivator. In a 2011 study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, researchers in the Netherlands conducted a series of experiments with more than 200 university students.

    Researchers found that when they triggered feelings of benign envy—as opposed to admiration or malicious envy—in the students, it drove them to want to study more and perform better on a test measuring creativity and intelligence.

    While admiration may feel better, the researchers found, it doesn’t motivate performance like the pain and frustration of envy.”

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304279904579517903705459222

    Like

    • Lisa Gottman says:

      I’m curious if anyone can think of an example of when envy was a good thing?

      In my own life, I am envious now of women who have good relationship skills and know how to make their husbands feel loved and understood but also have good boundaries.

      This helps me see what I want and focus on how to get it. There is no reason they should have these skills and I don’t.

      I am using my envy to motivate myself. And in cases where they have advantages I don’t like family support that just means I have to work harder and find more Jedi Mind Tricks to work around those.

      So that someday someone can envy my relationship skills. And use that to motivate themselves.

      Like

      • Linbo says:

        Inciting envy is actually recommended in the bible…
        I guess I’m envious of people with really long “life time” relationships and friendships.
        I really don’t envy money or looks- never have.
        Maybe certain personality traits- like being more fun and light hearted.

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Linbo,

        Do you find yourself motivated by that envy?

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Lisa,Hmmm…I guess is some ways, yes.
          I mean, I am much more willing to participate in things that don’t bring me immediate happiness (I may not be super interested in a game of dominoes, for example) in order to build the relationship.
          But, to be honest sometimes I feel like the perception of my lack also causes me to shut down and feel negative. As in- “I cant relate to you because I haven’t had the same experience as you!” Instead of creating a new experience right there in that moment.
          So, what? Maybe I should “lean in” to my feelings of envy and chose to be motivated to continue the work?
          That may be a good way to think about it…

          Like

      • Linbo says:

        Lisa,
        Did they talk about those who are prone to the more malevolent forms of envy? Is there a certain personality type or pathology that would cause envy to be more harmful?
        I think it is common to see that displayed in some office politics, and maybe even how we are taught how to win now days. I’m thinking of Trump, and of bully’s, and of the thought that is more popular today than it was when I was growing up that getting for yourself is more important than relationship, or fairness, ect.
        I’m assuming that all of those things stem from some sort of envy. ..

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Linbo,

        That’s one way yes. I think envy is helpful in that when I feel it that means that’s something I value. What I do next depends.

        Is it something I am willing to sacrifice and work hard to obtain? If yes then that’s a focus.

        Is it something I want but I don’t have the ability or willingness to make the necessary changes right now?

        Then I note my desire for that thing and think about small things I can do to move towards it. And I focus on gratitude and kindness for others to make sure my envy stays benign and doesn’t intensify into wanting others to suffer so I’ll feel better.

        It’s always a balance for me to work on being content with myself and happy for others. But also motivating myself change.

        I struggle sometimes with the hope part so that’s where envy is helpful to me. It helps me see that other people like me have it so I can too. For me it’s a form of hope. I want what I see they have. I want us both to have it.

        Can you relate to any of that? It’s not like I have it figured out I’m just trying to not keep doing what I know doesn’t work.

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Yes, I think I can relate.
          Would you consider envy an emotion? I’m trying to really tune in to what that feels like for me. You were also saying something about the importance of emotion and “sub conscious” thinking. Can you expand on what youre learning from that?
          If envy is an emotion, I can see it as an indicator light. It (emotion) is the alarm signal for your brain maybe? …And that can create the motivation and the drive to get whatever you are envious for.
          I am reminded of the theory that “true emotional insight” is the top tier thing that brings about behavior changes.
          So, if envy would be considered an emotion that would really fall into line with that.
          But there is also this-
          Men are typically more competitive. I don’t find myself being very competitive- not in the outward “I’m out to win” sense. My drives aren’t geared towards being better than someone else. Things like running are typically non-competitive- except with yourself.
          I recently commented about hormones being a cause of some of the differences in men and women. I may have not stated it that explicitly and I was actually thinking of the male hormone, testosterone. Does that make men more prone to competiveness or experiencing certain emotions more strongly? Just some random wonderings. …
          Anyway- I would be interested in hearing about what you are learning about emotions being a key player in our thinking.

          Like

      • Linbo says:

        Lisa and Donkey-
        Also, if ya’ll are interested in a “boundary update”- I have this…
        So, I have a date tonight.
        He wants to pick me up at my house “to see my garden”. Answer- “Why don’t we meet at thus and such”.
        He wants to take me on a day trip on Monday, before I start working on Wed. Answer- “Why don’t we talk about that during dinner.”
        So far, so good- no? :)

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Linbo,

        You said “Did they talk about those who are prone to the more malevolent forms of envy? Is there a certain personality type or pathology that would cause envy to be more harmful?”

        Here’s a quote from the NYTimes that sums it up.

        “People who believe that hard work brings success do not begrudge others their prosperity. But if the game looks rigged, envy and a desire for redistribution will follow.”

        Yes, the difference seems to be if we think the system is rigged or not. It’s a big theme of the US Presidential election this year on both sides of the aisle.

        If I admire someone that will inspire me but not motivate me as much as envy because admiration is focused on someone who is not like me. I admire Olympic athletes but they are really not close enough to my level to motivate me to fitness.

        But the mom in my neighborhood who worked hard and lost 30 pounds? She’s close enough to me to inspire envy. If it’s properly channeled I will see it as motivating for how I can do it too did to improve my fitness.

        If it’s not properly channeled I might avoid her because she makes me feel bad and secretly I hope she gains it all back.

        If I compare myself to a fit mom who has won the genetic lottery and has 4 kids but can eat whatever she wants this will not motivate me.

        It is indeed unfair. I will have to practice kindness and black belt relationship skills to not have evil envy because the genes are rigged for her and against me. Most especially if she is smug and tells me it is all about willpower.

        But I know this is just my brain at work and I can redirect it with my knowledge to not compare myself to her at all but to the person who is more like me. That will not feel rigged against me and will motivate.

        The difference is do I relate to that person so it seems possible and do I focus on skill based ways of achieving the thing I envy or do I use it as a way of bringing the other person down because I don’t think I have the ability to change.

        Whenever my brain thinks the system is rigged I have to find ways to change the system or redirect my brain. Otherwise I will be fighting a losing battle against my more powerful unconscious and emotions.

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Linbo,

        Have a lovely time on your date! It sounds like good boundaries in action. Being accomodating but clearly expressing your needs.

        In terms of envy and competitiveness, I think that depends on the person. It’s really important to be emotionally intelligent and be able to label and identify the emotions I feel.

        But for some people a wistful sadness can be paired with envy. Like an infertile women getting a baby announcement. She is happy for the mom but sad and envious that her own dreams of a baby are not realized.

        Antonio Demasio said that there are only a finite number of basic emotional scripts in our “unconscious” brain. Like fear and a flight, fight, or freeze response that is automatic. But our triggers for there scripts are individualistic. One person might be freaked out by spiders and someone else not.

        And our Hebb’s law (neurons that fire together wire together) responses are quite different too because of a lifetime of different experiences. This is partly why you get different response to a dish left by the sink.

        It triggers different meanings for us based on what we associate with it. That then triggers different emotions and actions. Often none of this is conscious until we are already angry or hurt or some other emotion and we have already sneered in contempt.

        There do seem to be some gender differences both nature and nurture too partly as you said having to do with testosterone levels and other hormones.

        But I think most of the differences are often overstated. We have to get the balance right for the real underlying causes and they can be influenced by gender differences but are usually not caused by gender differences.

        Everyone has to figure out their own ways of expressing various emotions. And their own triggers for those emotions and how to manage them. Many, many people have no language or ability to know what they think or feel.

        They might only be anger or joy and that’s it. It prevents empathy too because if you can’t identify your own emotions you certainly can’t identify someone else’s.

        Like

      • Linbo says:

        Jeez- Posted in the wrong place:
        Lisa,
        That makes a lot of sense. I remember hearing references to the election and the rigged system, but I have not read the article. ..And oops I’m just now seeing the link to the article related to the difference between admiration, benign envy and malicious envy. I’ll go read through that.
        In the end though, especially for women and weight – which is so, so common..
        wouldn’t it be better to just accept who you are (the genetics and even some of the habits) and make the work about being healthy?
        I think what happens is we see that woman who lost 30 lbs in our neighborhood and yes, it can motivate us to lose to our ideal body weight, but then what is the motivation to continue?
        Are you going to want to deprive yourself of Doritos for the rest of your life?
        Probably not if that gives you more happiness than being a size whatever.
        Because being a size whatever is subject to the whole hedonic adaption thing. After 4 or 5 years it turns in to “so, I’m thin, so what?” It doesn’t feel like it makes me any more happy.
        Same with money, or marrying that certain person, and on and on.
        If, in the case of weightloss, you just worked on starting healthier habits- like walking, or cooking and eating healthier things, there is more of an intrinsic reward. Walking at the park is relaxing, you feel more energetic, etc. Cooking at home is less expensive, you can be creative and try new things, etc. There will likely be weightloss, too- but the goal is not to be thin. The goal is to be healthy.
        And healthy people enjoy Doritos every now and then : )

        So, what I’m saying is- maybe envy is a good starter motivation, but it may not be a sustainable one.

        Like

      • Linbo says:

        Lisa, you really should be teaching this stuff somewhere!
        Or how about this idea:
        Travis, Drew and Matt collaborate to write a relationship book for women,
        and you, Lisa write a relationship book for men. (Because youre a woman and can do it all yourself :)

        Like

    • Lisa Gottman says:

      This was supposed to say:

      I’ve been doing reading on neuroscience and behavioral economics to fix my marriage and my generally screwed up sense of what is healthy.

      I mean why do we keep doing stupid things and how do we stop? I am finding it has lot to do with how the brain works and my incorrect understanding of the importance of emotions and unconscious “thinking”.

      Like

    • Linbo says:

      Lisa,
      That makes a lot of sense. I remember hearing references to the election and the rigged system, but I have not read the article. ..And oops I’m just now seeing the link to the article related to the difference between admiration, benign envy and malicious envy. I’ll go read through that.
      In the end though, especially for women and weight – which is so, so common..
      wouldn’t it be better to just accept who you are (the genetics and even some of the habits) and make the work about being healthy?
      I think what happens is we see that woman who lost 30 lbs in our neighborhood and yes, it can motivate us to lose to our ideal body weight, but then what is the motivation to continue?
      Are you going to want to deprive yourself of Doritos for the rest of your life?
      Probably not if that gives you more happiness than being a size whatever.
      Because being a size whatever is subject to the whole hedonic adaption thing. After 4 or 5 years it turns in to “so, I’m thin, so what?” It doesn’t feel like it makes me any more happy.
      Same with money, or marrying that certain person, and on and on.
      If, in the case of weightloss, you just worked on starting healthier habits- like walking, or cooking and eating healthier things, there is more of an intrinsic reward. Walking at the park is relaxing, you feel more energetic, etc. Cooking at home is less expensive, you can be creative and try new things, etc. There will likely be weightloss, too- but the goal is not to be thin. The goal is to be healthy.
      And healthy people enjoy Doritos every now and then : )

      So, what I’m saying is- maybe envy is a good starter motivation, but it may not be a sustainable one.

      Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Linbo,

        It is all very individualistic for what motivates people.

        Some people are motivated to get fit for a variety of reasons. To feel sexy, to fit into jeans, to be healthy, to reduce diabetes risk, to be able to run around with your kids.

        It doesn’t matter what it is. There is no right answer is what I am saying, irbid whatever it is motivating to you and your brain. I will fail if I try snd be motivated to be fit for a reason I don’t care about.

        That’s why all that stuff about being healthy so often fails. Most people are not motivated by that even if they “should” be. If someone is great!

        But if my main motivation is to fit into a pair of jeans I bought (I am making this up) than great! Who cares what the motivation is and we there it is noble or not

        I am trying to learn about how our brain works and use that to not keep doing stupid stuff. It works even better to activate loss aversion which is why some people find public accountability or bets to increase motivation.

        If my biggest motivation is to fit into jeans than that is what has the best chance of being successful. Lying to myself and saying my motivation is to get healthy is a waste of effort because I will fail.

        I am advocating really understanding what motivates us and using that for good. Not trying to get myself to be motivated by something I “should” be motivated by because then I am only using willpower and that is finite and likely to fail.

        If my motivation changed next year then change the plan accordingly. But I am in tune with myself to know what to change.

        All this stuff will only work if I really want to change. By the way, I am not motivated to be fit right now do it is theoretical.

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Linbo,

        Ok a little rant here not related to you but to the waking trigger. What people find relaxing is individualistic too. I have a drinking game now for all the doctors and therapists who tell me to take a walk.

        They don’t ask me, they act like I’ve never thought of it or its some new thing to walk. They don’t ask what I enjoy it discuss various option they just tell me to take a walk.

        Really you went to medical school for that? I’m so glad I came here so you could stupidly advise me to take a walk like I’m an idiot who has never walked before or considered walking as an option.

        I hate walking as exercise. It is not relaxing to me for a variety of reasons. And yes I know the research about exercise so I do other kinds.

        Anyway, taking a walk is second only to me to people telling me I intellectualize in my most hated things people say to me. Why they say it so often puzzles me.

        Not at all directed at you though just venting.

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Lisa,
          I’m sorry. Walking is relaxing for me. Your right, it isn’t for everyone. I got off on that tangent because I struggle with my weight, too. I’ve gained almost 15 pounds over the last 3 years and I’m not super motivated to take it off, either. I like your idea that motivations change, so just go with what the current motivation is. I think I have listened a lot to the poster child peeps that tell me how to have a happy, full life. But- they are the poster children, and not the average person, and of course-they are not me. I think that may be a big factor in my regressed motivation.
          I will, in good humor, call bullshit on you saying your anger isn’t directed at me. Of course it is- I’m the one who stuck my foot in it.
          It’s ok. I just hope you accept my apology and know that my intention wasn’t to insult you in any way.
          I really do appreciate all you share. You shame me in the amount of information you know!! And, I do understand it- its just somethings are easier to respond to, while other things need to get processed. So, it may seem like I am missing the point. I’m not -I just need time to think of an intelligent response to it, that fully integrates what you are saying. I guess the responses I give are mainly because I feel like I need to respond right then.
          So, maybe I should wait it out before I attempt to respond.
          Anyway!
          I appreciate you letting me know how you respond to the stuff I say. It helps me understand how to other people may see things, and things I need to consider.
          Love and Peace to you, Lisa!
          I’m going to go read over the links you shared.

          Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Linbo,

        I am saying that having a goal of being thin is just as good as having a goal of being healthy.

        Who cares as long as it sets you up for success. Whatever the person is motivated by is what should be focused on.

        Are you familiar with motivational interviewing? They use it a lot in medical settings. I love that because it gets to this idea. Instead of imposing motivations on the patrient, you help them uncover their own motivations. Much more successful results.

        I studied that a bit to help my son with some anxiety issues. Trying to help him uncover his motivation to change rather than my motivations for him to change. Much better when he focused on what motivated him.

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Lisa, motivational interviewing I do know well!
          I really wasn’t trying to MI you, though- I was just talking about women’s obsession with weight.- because that is a big envy instigator in us. But I do get what you were saying about your response.

          Like

      • Donkey says:

        Linbo: Best wishes for your date, and good job setting boundaries that you’re comfortable with from the get go! :)

        Lisa: I’m Jungian-ish-inspired, there’s no telling me that all emotions don’t have their use . :) At their very least they’re pointing to a place where we need healing, or the emotion itself can have its use in other situations.

        The rigged system theory is very interesting. When someone else has what I desperately want but haven’t been able to get even if I’ve worked hard, it can be very tough, and yes especially if I feel the system is unfairly rigged. :p

        This can be a motivator for harmful/hurtful behaviour towards others too. If you feel the system has been unfair to you, you may wish to take and justify taking from/hurting someone else (maybe someone you rightly or wrongly feel has been treated better by the system, or maybe someone else period) to make things more fair in your own mind. I read this in an excerpt from a book written by a step mom (she wrote about common struggles for step moms in blended families, that’s why I mention it).

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Ok last comment before I have to go.

        This is an except from Karla McClaren about envy and its proper use.

        “The genius in envy

        Envy is similar to jealousy in that it contains a mixture of boundary-restoring anger and intuitive fear. The difference between the two emotions is that envy helps you identify risks to your position and your security in your social group, rather than in your most intimate relationships. Envy alerts you to betrayals and affronts to your well-being, but it does so in connection to the fair and secure distribution of resources and recognition, rather than to threats to your reproductive survival or your security as a mate.

        Envy is powerful because it responds to powerful threats to your social position and your connection to resources (money, food, privilege, protection, belonging, and social standing). Envy stands up for you in instances of unfairness or favoritism, or when resources have been (or seem to have been) pulled from you in deference to another.”

        http://karlamclaren.com/the-social-genius-of-jealousy-and-envy/

        Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Linbo,
        I wrote another comment that will show up later because I typed in the wrong email.

        It was a mistake to use a weight loss example because that is tied into too many Hebb’s Laws associations I think. And it is not a real life example for me because I am not trying to lose weight now therefore it does not inspire motivation. I used that example because I was trying to use a rigged system of a person who has a genetically gifted metabolism vs a normal person.

        But what I was trying to say is that like in Motivational Interviewing, we need to uncover the intrinsic motivation for change in ourselves or others. Not to work with someone else’s motivation or what we think should be our motivation. Because our brain knows that is not our real motivation.

        I am trying to learn to work with my brain not against.

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Lisa,
          I get it. It would be like someone telling me that I just need to “get over” some emotional response that I had. Just not appropriate.
          I’m good. Hopefully no hard feelings. Eating this no negative emotion stuff up:)

          Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Linbo,

        I am sorry if I came across as angry at you on the walking rant. Really I’m not. It just triggers me when in any context someone says or writes that walking is good. Really, I have to laugh at myself at how ridiculous it is.

        It’s all Pavlovian based on inexplicable responses I have so often gotten from therapists especially who tell me to take a walk. It makes me angry and Lisa is a bit like the Incredible Hulk. Sadly, I’m Bruce Banner looking for the cure to ridiculous Hulk triggers.

        Even though I don’t scream or throw things, my nervous system is often flooded with stress hormones and I know that’s not good.

        So I am working on reconditioning my responses because it’s ridiculous how easily ins triggered into fight mode on many, many topics. That why’s I am researching the brain to figure out how to rewire my brain.

        I appreciate your comments so much. Really you motivate me with your story of how you were treating your mother with kindness despite a terrible childhood.

        Have a good weekend and a great date!

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Lisa,
          Triggers- I have them,too :)
          Hope you have a really good afternoon. ..just started raining here- good reading weather.

          Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Linbo,

        Oh my you don’t in any way need to apologize! Everything you commented was very appropriate and on point. I am just commenting to thrown out thoughts as I process them and sometimes I indulge in rants that are just triggered randomly not based on the actual comment but something it reminds me of. (Like the walking thing).

        Plus it’s not like I know how to do all this stuff anyway. Clearly I do not as a person who cannot hear the words take a walk without turning into a green Hulk. Yeah, a little craziness going on in this head over here.

        But I’m trying to figure out how to get better.
        That’s why I am throwing out random articles for feedback from others. I’m an external processor. I really wish I wasn’t. I wish I had more live people who would listen to my theories and ideas endlessly but they can only handle so much so I come here.

        I have been thinking about the idea of my error in classifying emotions into good and bad catagories which is why I threw those comments out there since the post topic was envy.

        Anyway, I apologize if I made you feel like you needed to apologize to me. ;) You wrote comments and thoughts in response to my stuff which I appreciated.

        Like

        • Linbo says:

          Lisa,
          I apologize that I made you apologize for me apologizing.. :)
          Seriously- I’m ok and I hope you are, too. I’m an external processor, too- I think that is why we go off on tangents.
          Sometimes I worry that I am hitting on things that are not so important.
          But, on the other hand it does allow us to get to things that we are really thinking- which is really important to understanding what this stuff brings up for us, and even how to apply it in our lives.
          I truly enjoy what you share. And you know it well enough to bring us (me at least) back to the original thoughts. You can apply it in different situations, when people ask a question or make a statement. That helps me make sense of it. I’m learning a lot from you!
          I get your human and have emotional responses, I do, too. In “live” relationships that helps us know one another better. Is that important here? *shrugs shoulders* , I think it is with whoever I interact with.
          I’m all ok with everything.
          If we were in the same room, now would be the time that we hugged (if youre a hugger??) and we went on to something else.
          You’re a great person, Lisa. And I have benign envy for your willingness to educate yourself and make positive changes in your life. Me, too! Me, too! Me, too!
          :)
          Nothing but love for you!

          Like

      • Lisa Gottman says:

        Linbo, you said”Lisa, motivational interviewing I do know well. I really wasn’t trying to MI you, though- I was just talking about women’s obsession with weight.- because that is a big envy instigator in us.”

        Oh I didn’t think you were MI ing me (which always makes me think of mission impossible!)

        When you have time, I would love to hear your thought of how motivational interviewing can be applied to relationship skills.

        Just the little bit I know seems to really show practical step by step ways people can learn how to listen to another persons different point of view and learn to ask questions to understand and motivate change.

        I think it would be so helpful in all kinds of relationships but also marriage. I wonder if you think it could be used by frustrated wives to figure out a husband’s motivation to change?

        Like

  12. Lisa Gottman says:

    Karla Mcclaren has a great website and books that describe each emotion and their proper use. She talks her about the error of separating emotions into good and bad categories. All emotions are useful in the proper context and correct intensity.

    “Here’s the problem: If you believe that emotions are positive or negative, you’ll tend to focus on the allegedly positive ones and avoid the allegedly negative ones – and you won’t develop a full range of emotional or empathic skills. You might be able to work skillfully with the emotions you identify as positive, but you might be clueless about the emotions you identify as negative.”

    “You may think, for instance, that people are trustworthy only when they display emotions that you approve of; but that people who display emotions you don’t like should be avoided, shamed, or changed.”

    “However, without them, you would have no instincts or intuition (fear), no capacity to set boundaries or protect your (or others’) voice, standpoint, or sense of self (anger), no capacity to manage your behavior (shame).

    When any of these emotions are necessary – when any of these actions are required – then each of these emotions is the most positive emotion possible. When any emotion is necessary and appropriate, it’s always positive (if you really need to use that word).”

    http://karlamclaren.com/four-ideas-that-lead-directly-to-emotional-confusion/

    .

    Like

    • Lisa Gottman says:

      Why does this matter?

      Well, in our common dishes story of stupid divorces, part of the husbands motivation is to avoid his wife’s negative emotions. He just wants her to not be upset and just be happy.

      He avoids the shame he feels when she expresses her sadness or hurt. Because shame is not a happy emotion. He will often redirect it into anger because although not happy it is at least coded masculine.

      Like

  13. Donkey says:

    …one more thing about boundaries Linbo. This may very well be obvious to you, and everyone, so sorry if it seems condescending.

    I believe it’s just much easier to get people to respect your boundaries when you establish them right away, or at least very quickly (of course we can go overboard with boundaries too, so a bunch of boundaries isn’t always better). When it becomes ingrained over the years, there’s just so much resistance to change, entitlement, pride, inertia and what not. believe many (not all) of the same people who would protest after years would have accepted the boundary pretty easily had it been laid out from the get go. It’s quite confusing to me, but it’s still my belief, at this point. :p

    It absolutely does NOT make it impossible of course (although some people will rather disappear from your life than respect your boundaries), but it will usually be harder. And of course, it’s easier to let go of a relationship, romantic or otherwise, where your boundaries are not respected if it’s relatively new.

    Of course, this requires a great deal of knowing what you will and will not tolerate, and the willingness to stand up for yourself. And in our not yet emotionally healthy society, many people only learn about boundaries, or are willing/able to practice them, when they’ve been stepped on for ages and are exhausted from not having their needs met and having been taken advantage of.

    Many things we won’t know are a deal breaker for us until they happen quite a few times. And some things we thought were deal breakers turn out to be something we can work through/with. People change aswell. We can’t wait to form human relationships until we’re perfectly healthy and have everything figured out. :p So some kind of balance must be found, where we know some of our important deal breakers/boundaries, and are willing to stand by them. And then we’ll have to figure the rest out as it happens, as best we can. :)

    Ok, I think I’m going off into a rant here. but because of the wisdom I’ve gained here, in this case from other people’s experiences, I believe I have a new boundary. If I ever decide to try to get pregnant (assuming I have a willing man, want to myself, and are of a fertile age and all of that), I will ask the man (before we start trying!) to promise to not leave the hospital after I’ve given birth/had a c-section, no matter how tired he is, unless I say it’s ok. I will tell him that I’ve heard of this happening, and that I find it absolutely horrid and that this is NOT acceptable to me. If he can’t promise me this, sorry man, this treasure chest is CLOSED FOR YOUR BUSINESS! NO BABY FOR YOU BY WAY OF MY UTERUS!!!!

    Of course, I can’t be sure that he keeps his promise. If he breaks his promise, it doesn’t necessarily mean the relationship would be over. But some SERIOUS amends would need to be made! Grrr. I know I’ve said this before, but I just can’t get over (as of now anyway) that this has happened (not to me, I don’t have kids). Grrr.

    Like

    • Linbo says:

      Donkey (and Lisa),
      I’ll respond when I get back. But just a side note- you know you’re getting older when you need to tweeze your nose hairs before a date. Lol. Ok, maybe TMI- but I thought it was funny:).

      Like

    • Lisa Gottman says:

      Donkey,

      Good stuff about boundaries.

      In terms of your having a baby, defintely you’ll know some things to talk through and possibly see a counselor to talk through all these common things you’ll know about because you are smart to think in advance.

      Like

    • Lisa Gottman says:

      Donkey,

      Just as a detail my husband did not leave me crying after my C section. So at least he has that going for him!

      One of my stories it that while I was lying in bed with an IV in my arm to try and induce labor, I suggested nicely he go home and grab his laptop to do some work since it was likely to be a long wait. (I’m thinking of his comfort). He was still not back almost 2 hours later from a trip that should have been 30 minutes.

      I was crying and mad when he got back because he clearly was not thinking of my comfort. But I would have been ok if he had really apologized in a way I could understand.

      But he said he was sorry he got distracted reading email. Shame avoidance caused him to try and move on quickly. (I understand this now, I could not understand anything then). And he’s right it wasn’t a true medical emergency. But WTF?????

      I can tell you that was a pivotal moment in our marriage’s decline. I couldn’t trust him in a really basic way. So I had to watch my own back with him. That’s the message he gave me in that hospital room.

      Ok, I have a message to men out there as a public service announcement.

      Your wife has to go into painful labor and or have major abdominal surgery to have your child.

      All that is required of you is to be in the room the whole time. That’s it. It is not optional for you to screw this up in any way. I mean really men it is not optional unless she for some reason explicitly asks you to go.

      Whatever your wife needs before, during, and after birthing your child should be the least you can do. Ask your wife what she needs and whatever it is just do it. Do not be selfish in any way.!!!! That is your role since you get out of pregnancy and labor. It’s a pretty damn good deal. I would have switched places in a second with the unselfish man role. I always try to be gender balanced in presenting shitty marriage problems but this stuff really doesn’t have another side.

      And all you men need to talk to your brothers and sons and friends and tell them this message. It really should be logical and simple. Do not encourage them to get sleep or work or whatever else they might think is more important. Tell them to be grateful they get the much easier role of unselfishly supporting their wife who has to endure labor and or a C section.

      If any man is reading this that has screwed it up on the past. Go to to your wife and beg her forgiveness with true sincerity. Do not think she has forgotten because I guarantee if you were not there for here fully during a miscarriage or pregnancy or labor or birth or postpartum depression there is still a gaping wound that needs to be healed.

      She can’t fully trust you unless she understands you really get how much you hurt her and how stupid and selfish you were. And most importantly how you will never do that kind of shit ever again.

      I will say my husband was my hero in the way he later handled a miscarriage at 11 weeks. Totally there for me in every way. I think back about how painful it was to open the mail and get these baby formula updates about “your baby is 16 weeks old!” when my baby was dead.

      My husband took those papers and called a bunch of people and made sure I never had to open one of those again. It fills me with such love and happiness to think about how he handled that because that’s how it’s supposed to be. When we face hard things both of us there to have each other’s back. No questions, no begging. Just what do you need? Ok, it’s done.

      Like

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