I am a recovering @#$hole

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Some people are uncomfortable with using the “@#$hole” word. In fact, I am not sure if I am allowed to use it, so let’s call me a jerk. Yes…it is true! For many of you who know me, you might be asking, how is this possible? You are one of the nicest people I know. Well guess what? I was not always this nice. The first 24 years of my life, I was definitely a bit of a jerk. You may think I am exaggerating, but if you ask anyone who met me during that time they would concur. Unfortunately, I grew up thinking I was smarter and better than everyone else I knew. I was rude to people. I was condescending. I was selfish. Now granted, there were moments where I was nice, but they were fleeting. You can imagine just how much fun it must have been to work with me during those years (to my old colleagues – I apologize!).

So what happened? What changed? I shifted my perspective. I was able to see myself through other people’s eyes and understand that it was not fun to be around me. Now, 10 years later, I am still a work in progress. Sometimes I feel like a painting that has to have white paint thrown all over it and be completely reinvented. I know that I have a dark side, yet I choose not to let it run me. Once I realized that I had been a jerk, I also realized that I had an opportunity to be responsible and not let “being a jerk” run me.

It came up today when one of my clients was explaining to me how “challenging” and “demanding” a particular attorney was. She mentioned that this particular attorney would be nice most of the time, but then send scathing emails that really upset the people with whom he worked. I took a deep breath and admitted I have been there, and was in fact, a recovering jerk myself. I have been the one writing most of those emails throughout my career, so I shared with my client how I could relate to the attorney’s frustrations. Even to this day, with all of the self development courses I have taken, I have still been known to send a hurtful email every now and again. The biggest difference is that now those emails happen much less frequently, and if and when I do send a hurtful email or say something hurtful, I typically take responsibility very quickly and apologize. Though the end goal is to not send the emails or say the hurtful things to begin with.

Why might you ask? Why would I still send these emails despite all of the transformative work that I have done? Ego. It all boils down to ego. When our ego is running the show, there is no stopping it. It takes over and makes sure that everyone else feels like an idiot and is put in their place. When I write these emails or say hurtful things, I look back and ask myself: Was that even me?

So what can you do once you have discovered that you have been complete jerk?

I will share with you, what I shared with my client:

Here are the 10 steps to take you from being a Judgemental, Egotistical, Rude  Killjoy to someone who is Accepting, Nurturing, Thoughtful, and Inspiring.

  • Step #1: Admit that you have been a JERK
  • Step #2: Understand that being a JERK is a choice
  • Step #3: Make a choice to be something other than a JERK
  • Step #4: Take a hard look at yourself and see what triggers you to become a JERK and be willing to do the work to stop from getting activated and start being proactive about the things that trigger you
  • Step #5: Admit to other people that you have been a JERK and ask them to help call you on it when you are in “JERK mode”
  • Step #6: Pick five people in your life and ask them, “What did you think of me when we first met? Where have I surprised you? Where have I disappointed you? What is your impression of me now?” Ask these same five people these questions every six months to check your progress. It is their job to tell you if you are still being a JERK
  • Step #7: Make a list of everyone you were a JERK to and make  amends with as many people as possible in person or over the phone and find out the cost and impact that your being a JERK had on them
  • Step #8: Work on yourself every day. Pick a perspective to come from each day that empowers you and those around you (i.e. gratitude, acceptance etc.)
  • Step #9: Find a mentor or a buddy to hold you accountable so that when you catch yourself wanting to fall back to becoming a real JERK you can call them for guidance
  • Step #10: If and when you become a JERK (which may still happen), take responsibilty, apologize and take inventory of what was misssing that made you fall back to being JERK

The next time someone is being a JERK, remind them how to be the ANTI-jerk.

For my whole story as a recovering @#$hole check out my Podcast on the Sam & Kelsey morning show (my part of the interview starts at about 11 minutes in: