I have a recently-ex friend of mine who really gives me the shits. Let's call him “Garry”... because that's his name. Garry is what I call a “successful loser”. He worked hard, became successful and made a lot of money; but then threw his success away because he was unhappy. Ever since I've know him, he's been at a bit of a loose end trying to sort out what to do with his life. Restless and unhappy, he spends much of his time spreading his misery and unhappiness to others. But this morning thinking about Garry inadvertently led to the epiphany which I am convinced is going to change my life.
Garry complains about everything, but doesn't create anything himself or contribute much to other people. His presence may be welcome at first, but after a while becomes irritating. Garry is defensive and judgemental. He cracks jokes that are only amusing to himself, and uses humour as a way of avoiding his painful feelings. Garry considers other people's emotions to be “self-indulgent” and actively avoids dealing with his own emotional upsets by projecting them onto someone else. He criticises other people who delve deep into their emotional pain in order to heal it, while he wallows in the shallow end of his own misery, never really getting to the root cause of his emotional problems. As a result, he never really heals his own pain. He doesn't listen, especially when confronted by reality. Instead, he says “No no no!” when faced with the truth and stays stuck in victim mode unable to move forward. He is chock full of limiting beliefs and will actively argue for their validity when challenged. He'll even encourage you to take them on too, and criticise you when you don't adopt his own cynical beliefs and negative world view. He has a misplaced sense of entitlement where he acts as if the world owes him somehow, yet doesn't seem to believe that he deserves to be happy. He makes a half-hearted effort at everything in life which pretty much guarantees that he won't be successful at anything, then blames other people for his own failings. He's fundamentally ungrateful and untrusting. He's done just about all the personal development program and read almost every self-help book on the planet, yet hasn't learned a damn thing because he never puts what he learns into action. Instead, he has come to the conclusion that none of it works. He hasn't read my book on confidence for men which would definitely change his life, because he knows that if he did, he would end up being accountable for putting what it says into action because he knows the author. Plus he's a cheapskate and doesn't want to fork out the lousy $27 bucks for it. Garry hates taking risks, and only ever takes action when he knows it has a guaranteed positive outcome; which in real life means almost never. Instead of taking responsibility for dealing with his issues, he just goes around broadcasting misery to other people.
(That's what my ex-flatmate Paul used to call a “free character assessment”)
The truth is that Garry is so annoying precisely because he reminds me of the part of myself that does all these things too. It's not just about Garry; it's about me.
Garry reminds me of George Castansa from Seinfeld; only not so funny. This morning I remembered that episode where George realises that since he's a complete loser, he should always do the opposite of his normal inclinations. As a result, he stumbles on unexpected success all over the place. If Garry's life choices have led him to so much misery, the obvious answer is to do a George.
This led to a major epiphany where I discovered the question by which I'm going to lead the rest of my life:
What would Garry do?
Just ask this question in any circumstance where I have a choice to make, and then do the opposite. Byron Katie came up with four questions that changed her life, but I reckon I've refined it down to just this one. I don't think it even requires much conscious choice to do the opposite to be honest; just asking the question itself is probably enough:
When the going gets tough, what would Garry do? He'd give up.
When things aren't going my way, what would Garry do? Blame other people.
When the girls I like don't seem to like me, what would Garry do? Whine and complain.
Next time I decide life is all too hard and I want to give up on my dreams, go look at porn, declare everything hopeless, renege on some promise I've made to myself, quit before I've even started a new project, or give up on it before giving it a decent chance at success, I'll just remind myself:
That's what Garry would do!
Now I know all this sounds pretty harsh, and would probably hurt Garry's feelings a lot if he were to read this. After all, deep down he's a sensitive soul like me. But I don't care. No more Mr Nice Guy for me. The guy needs a shake-up anyway.
I don't want people like Garry in my life any more. I have enough irritation, cynicism, resentment and resignation in my own head thanks very much, I don't need an added dose from anyone else.
From now on, I'll be listening to that voice in my head called Garry... and doing the opposite.