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Beware of shit everybody says

Beware of shit everybody says. What is this shit that I speak of? It’s the things that people reflexively say in response to situations, regardless of knowing the full context.

It’s our language’s one-liners and our metaphors. It’s the shit that we’ve all heard so many times that we all continue to say them, almost, it seems, without even thinking about what we are saying.

Some examples:

“There’s never a good time to have kids.”

“Buying a house is better than renting.”

“Say yes now and figure out how to do it later.”

The tone/context in which these statements are usually made implies the following: “You might not feel comfortable, but just do it.”

Sure, “Just do it” can be helpful advice. It can help you conquer fears. It can help you push past barriers that you didn’t realize were holding you back. But, it can also be harmful. It just depends on the situation.

And, that’s where these one-liners break down. We seem to apply these statements to decisions without actually looking deeply into the situation. Our brains think decision A is like decision B, so we can just use this shortcut to get to the answer.

Additionally (and what really frustrates me) is that we so easily use these one-liners as excuses to avoid listening to our emotions. And that really sucks, because our emotions offer extremely valuable insights about the decision we’re trying to make.

Think about the examples above. There are situations where this advice could be helpful, and there are situations where this advice could be harmful.

But many of us seem to press on, completely happy to use “easy answers” to life’s very complicated decisions — decisions that have significant side effects far into the future (and often widely outside of ourselves). And then, we share these “answers” with others. It’s like a disease.

There is a lot more to talk about here, and I think this is probably going to become a regular topic on my blog. So, I’ll leave it at this for now: Beware of shit everybody says. If you find yourself justifying a decision based on some one-liner that everyone seems to say, take a closer look.

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