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Dear McDeath: How to Stop Being an Asshole

Updated: Jan 19, 2022

00:30 Hello, welcome to today's Blogcast. This one I think is hopefully going to be a fan favorite. I think it's going to be one of my favorites to record just because it's a really fun question to talk about. So the question I'm going to cover today is, how do I stop being an asshole. This actually came as a request from somebody, they asked me if I'd be willing to do a podcast on it because I went on a rant about how people could stop being assholes. So this one came as a request. Hopefully, it does that original rant and conversation justice. A couple of things to break down in terms of being an asshole.

What Do I Mean by "Asshole"?

01:20 What do I mean, when I'm saying “You're being an asshole”, or “I'm being an asshole?” Essentially, the original question came about because of judgments. So we're very judgmental people. Any single person has judgments, there's no way around it. Judgments are kind of our way of categorizing our world. We feel like we need these categories in order for our brains to effectively function throughout society, right? Like a dog and a cat. They're two different categories of animals. Judgments come in when we're referring to things as good or bad or right or wrong. And so, a lot of times when we're engaging in judgmental thinking, what we're actually doing is labeling something as good, right, desirable. Or the opposite, as in bad, wrong, undesirable. Raise your hand if you've ever thought any of those labels. Labels really can come down to it in terms of societal context too. When you think smart versus dumb, which one do you put on the good side of that? And which one do you put on the bad side? Let's be honest.

Who's susceptible to Labeling?

02:20 Anytime you're like categorizing something, in essence, you're labeling it, and you're kind of giving it this rating of desirability, right? So what happens when we label things and we create these judgments for ourselves, is we start to create this sense of an in-group, “We can get along with those people. We like those people” And an out-group.”Fuck those people get them as far away from me as possible. Don't let them near me.” We're being judgmental assholes when we're stuck in our heads and can’t sit in our reality. When I refer to somebody, or myself, as being an asshole, I'm just saying that they're being super-critical of other people. At that moment, being super judgmental. I ask again, raise your hand if you've ever been an asshole to somebody, whether in your head or out loud. I mean, you guys can't see it right now. But I have both hands up. Because even in my best of moments, even being a counselor, I have a past. I am not the best of people. Nobody is. There have definitely been times where I have been judgmental, and I have been an asshole in my head. And there's also been times when I've been an asshole to myself, putting those judgments on myself and saying to myself; “God, you're so stupid, you're so worthless. You have no common sense.” ~Sidenote: That is something I still say regularly to people. I say it more as a joke now than I did back then, but I still talk about having no common sense. You can ask me to do something, and I will have no idea what the most logical way of doing it is.

Needless to say, It's okay. If you raised your hand to being an asshole, or you know, your hypothetical hand because you're somewhere where you can't actually raise your hand. If you didn't raise your hand, or your hypothetical hand, you're probably lying to yourself. Even those of us who are really well trained in curbing judgment and refraining from them, still have judgments. There is no way to operate in a society and with our brain structures without creating judgments. And without creating these boxes essentially, that we categorize people into.

Is it possible to stop?

05:20 I don't want anybody to feel like there's a perfect system. That there's a perfectly non-judgmental person out there, because we all do have our judgments. It's about how much you allow those judgments to influence your mind and your every day. I started to allude to this concept of being judgmental towards others and then also being judgmental towards ourselves. Like I said, there are people that are judgmental of others and will label the shit out of other people even in their heads. Essentially bad mouth them in their heads. Then there are those of us that just really love being judgmental of ourselves in the worst kind of ways.

*Listen to the full podcast below or on Spotify.

The thing about that is, is that there is a significant overlap between judgments of others and judgments of ourselves. So the more we judge other people, the more likely we are to judge ourselves like the more likely we are to turn that language internally. When we're looking at ourselves, and vice versa looking at them. The more you're an asshole to yourself, the more likely you're going to be an asshole to everybody else. Being an asshole to yourself just makes you miserable. It just makes you hate everything pretty much.

Why am I pointing this out, you might ask? I'm pointing this out because you can't just challenge or start to change judgments towards one party. If you really do want to stop being an asshole to other people or to yourself, you have to change that language all around. You can't just change and be non-judgmental towards others and still harbor those judgments towards yourself. How we view the world, how we talk about the world in our heads, is how we talk about ourselves in our heads too.

The more times you use judgmental language in your head, the more times it'll happen. Don't think about a white elephant. What do you think? You think of a fucking white elephant! If you're sitting in your head, and you're saying to yourself, “I'm stupid, I'm so useless. What's so wrong with me?” What are you going to reflect towards other people? Well, if you're coming up with those labels about yourself, you have the opposite, right? You can't have a concept of right without the concept of wrong. You can't have the concept of bad without the concept of good. It's one of those things that when you reflect those labels inward, you're going to reflect them outward because there has to be an opposing feature in nature. If you're using labels such as fat, ugly, bad, wrong, worthless, useless, all of those labels that you're reflecting, have their opposing nature. Leading to you labeling others with those opposing natures.

08:20 If you want to stop judging others, or even yourself, you have to plan on doing it to both parties, like you have to plan on decreasing your judgments about other people and yourself at the same time. Okay, so who's on board to stop being a judgmental asshole in your head, or even out loud? Hope on the magic school bus, and we'll talk a little bit more about how to decrease those judgments.

No right, No wrong

09:40 So, you've come to the consensus. I don't want to be judgmental. You're right. I hate hating people. I hate thinking that the world sucks. I hate hating myself. I want to work on decreasing these labels and these judgments. But how do you do it? So like I said, judgments are how we categorize things right? Desirable versus undesirable? Good, bad, right? Wrong. What if you just took those labels out? Think about it. What have you existed in a world where there is no right or wrong? There just is or there's right and wrong, hypothetically, at the same time in the same place. That's getting into Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). But normally we try to teach that there is no right and wrong. There just is. Who tells us what's right and what's wrong? Who makes that decision?

The trick answer to that is like nobody. Nobody actually tells us with dead certainty that something's right and something's wrong. Right and wrong, good, bad. It's all culturally subjective. Meaning that whatever culture you grew up in, created this dynamic of right and wrong, good and bad in your head. It told you what was right, it told you what was wrong.

For those of you who really like nerd rants; moral constructivist theory is a theory that believes our morality literally just came from our desire to create tribes for ourselves. The theory breaks down six moral concepts and the dichotomies of them, and how we divided into tribes based on those dichotomies and where we fell in them. If you look at it even if you're looking at religion there are certain religions that view certain things as right and certain religions that view them as wrong. The moral constructivist theory is a mind-blowing thing. Part of what got me to actually buy into this whole concept of “There's no, right there's no wrong”, was when I looked at the research, and I looked at the theory and said to myself, “Holy shit, they are right”. Like, not right in a moral sense, but right in the factual sense, or at least I like to believe so. Anyways, they're correct.

If you look at how we have divided as humans across like the course of history, it all comes down to this moral constructivist theory of everyone deciding where we wanted to fall on certain features of morality. We found our in-groups we found our tribes to fall in with based on how we viewed our morality. I'll end my nerd rant there so I don't get too long winded about it, because I could probably go on for another five minutes solid about how cool it is, and how nerdy I get about it.

Judgments are just what we made up to try to create groups within ourselves to try to figure out where we fall and in the grand scheme of human existence. Now, for those of you who might be trying to argue and like, find something that you're saying to yourself, “No, this is, this is a guaranteed right.” Look at the instances of killing somebody, right? Most of us can agree that you shouldn't kill other people. There's not the right thing to do morally, but what about instances of self-defense? Is it okay to kill then? Most people would say yes, most people would say they don't view it as a morally wrong thing to kill in terms of self-defense. When you look at things like, you know, the death penalty, we have instances where we do kind of give the thumbs up to killing. It feels like; ”I wish that we wouldn't have been drawn to this line. But since we're here, all right, we have to do it.” And it's not right or wrong. It just is what it is. They're exceptions to the rules of right and wrong, that that's why, once again, there's nothing that's 100% right or wrong. There are always those exceptions, those outliers, those similar to this case. And again, it's all culturally constructed for us.

Reframing your thoughts

14:10 You really want to work on reducing those judgments and not being as much of an asshole. Work on reducing that labeling work on not labeling things as right or wrong or good or bad, desirable or undesirable. And any labels that you can tell have a positive or negative charge, like fat, or ugly, like really working on curbing those and just saying like, I'm attractive to some people. Or if you can find an alternative to describe your body that is healthier for you like I'm thick,” or, “My body type is desirable to certain people.” It's really about reducing the charge of what you're saying to yourself and what you're saying to other people. The difficult part will come when you find somebody that has an extremely opposing view, to something that you feel strongly about. It's about figuring out how will I look at that person, as a whole person. How will I respect their opinion, while disagreeing with it, while viewing it morally not the thing that jives with me. I will admit that is an extremely difficult thing. Even as a therapist, sometimes there are moments where I have to talk to people that are homophobic, or I have to talk to people, who you know, have very condemning views of others. And I have to sit in that and try to recognize what brought this person to this place in their life? What has led them to feel this way about these people? And how do I accept them, while internally disagreeing with their viewpoints? Without condemning them in my head. It's about how do I find that space, where we can both exist together. They feel that safety, that sense of security, because they don't know my opinions. They don't know where I fall in on anything, and so how can we both exist in that to try to give them the empathy and compassion that I think every single person deserves. Because if we had a more empathetic and compassionate world, we might have less problems, we might have less division. Now, that's not to say that, you know, we wouldn't have different problems. We could totally have different problems. We're human, we fuck shit up all the time. I do think that the world would be a better place if people were more compassionate and empathetic. Like I said, it is extremely difficult to think about sitting there and like recognizing somebody that's spewing hate out of their mouth, as a person that's deserving of compassion and empathy. I totally recognize the the magnitude of how difficult that is.

What's arguing with them going to do, though? How will that persuade them? How will that get them to see the error of their ways? And most of the time, the answer is, it's not. It's not going to help them, it's not going to persuade them to think any differently. I mean, if you look at any research on dogmatic thinking, and very like polarized subjects; The more you try to argue, the more people sink their heels into the mud and just dig in. It's like when you sit there, and you're decide, “Alright, well, this person essentially hates me, because as a bisexual person, they are hating on me when they're homophobic. But I have to recognize them as a person that's deserving of compassion, empathy, the greatest likelihood for them to change or to start to be more open minded about diversity or anything, is to really meet them where they're at.

That sounds backwards. I know it does, trust me. But when you meet people where they're at, it gives them the opportunity to let some of those defenses down. You might learn something along the way, you might learn why those defenses exist, you might learn why they view something as right or wrong. And you can can see it from their perspective, and also work towards, you know, maybe altering their perspective, if that's your overall goal. Because if somebody is conveying a judgmental attitude that is that is really truly harmful to other people, then it in my opinion, (this could be completely wrong in anybody else's opinion). But in my opinion, if somebody is harboring a judgmental view that's harmful of others, then yeah, we should try our best to change it like it, it would be healthier for everybody if we tried our best to change it. But you don't need to carry the judgment around in order to be motivated to change that. You don't need to carry the judgment around of viewing somebody as wrong. To think that the way that they are thinking or the way that they're behaving, is unhealthy.

When should you try to change someone's mind?

18: 40 That's kind of what I try to teach clients; It's not about right, wrong, good, bad, desirable, or undesirable. It's it's really about what's healthy for you. It's healthier for me, personally, to be thick. I have tried to starve myself, I've been one of those people that's been in the gym for three hours a day and no matter what I do, I'm thick. There's no getting out of it. Anybody that I talked to about my body would say, “Yeah, you wouldn't look good if you lost more weight than you already have. You're at a good weight. I wouldn't even recognize you, and it wouldn't look right.” So I had to accept that I was thick. Accepting that's the healthy thing for me and accepting that might not be the healthy thing for other people. So it's not about good, bad, right, wrong. It's about what's healthy, and what's unhealthy. Not just in our health, but everybody's health in general. When you look at systemic racism - it is not fucking healthy. It's not healthy. It's horrible. Don't change people's minds, because it's a bad negative viewpoint, change their minds because it's a really unhealthy viewpoint. It's really detrimental to the health not only of African Americans, but it's detrimental to the health of everybody.

When you look at a concept like racism, you know, we could label it bad, we can label it wrong. But we can also label it as unhealthy. And when we label it as unhealthy, it takes a different context to it. It's no longer about telling racist people, “You're wrong!” It's about telling them “You're being really unhealthy, not just for yourself, you're being really unhealthy for those that you're discriminating against.” How is that affecting the health and the well being of our society as a whole, to have this oppressed group, this marginalized group, that is suffering detrimental health effects? They're not getting their basic needs met at the same rate as those that aren't marginalized, when you look at how much is that impacting what they can contribute to our society? If you want a healthier society, then stop fucking being racist! Stop marginalizing people. When we look at it in terms of health, it really gives us more of a leg to stand on, and it creates less room for argument. Could people still argue with it? Yes, they can.

There are a lot of diverse perspectives on what's healthy and what's not. For instance, if you look at the BMI chart, I classify as obese. But if you ask anybody that see me in person, they say, “No, that's crazy.” Knowing that, health can have some subjectivity to it as well. But when we look at it from a health standpoint, (and maybe it's just my personal bias, I'll recognize that), when we look at it from a health perspective, we look at it for more of a “let's solve this together, instead of let me put you down and raise myself up.” It's more of a “Let's solve this. Let's all work towards being the best versions of ourselves.” Maybe that's an overly optimistic perspective to take. Who the fuck knows, none of us have the right answers to life, there are no right answers. I do believe it's worth thinking about, at least. For everybody to think about classifying the things that they try to judge in their heads as healthy or unhealthy. Or, just don't try to label. You can straight up describe something without trying to label it. Normally, when we're transitioning into this non-judgmental headspace, a lot of people still do need something to kind of cling to in terms of labels.

But if you could get to a point where you don't need any labels, even healthy or unhealthy, that's fabulous. Like when you get to a point of recognition of like, it just is, it might be different from me. By the way, it is okay for something to be different from you. You don't have to put a quantitative more or less on it.


24:04 When I was in junior high, I think it was seventh grade, I had this social studies teacher. One day, he wrote “weird” on the board. I'm imagining he heard that word come out of a lot of kids mouths. I mean, I grew up in Iowa. It was like a 95% white community. So there was a not much diversity there. It was a very homogenous community. Naturally, in social studies you learn about a lot of different cultures, you learn about a lot of different places in the world, and how they might operate differently than the place that you currently live in. He wrote the word weird on the board, and he's goes; “I don't want to hear this word. Nothing is weird. It's just different.” I think that was the first time the concept of multi-culturalism really started to sink into me at 12 years old. I still didn't fully open up to it until, you know, college. But I started to understand that nothing's weird, things are just different, people are different. And that's okay.

It's okay for people to be different. What's not okay is harming other people, because they are different. And when I say harm, I mean, physical, emotional, mental, financial, occupational, environmental. Harming them in any capacity, oppressing them in any capacity. That is not okay. It's not okay to harm other people, just because they're different from you.


25:45 There is one last point that I wanted to touch on when it comes to judgments. And that is to bring up the concept of blind spots. Blind spots are things internally we can't see within ourselves. We all have them. I'm a trained counselor, I have been doing this for seven years now. And two more on top of that, if you count my master's program. Even I run into some of my blind spots, sometimes. I'll catch myself and be say to myself, “Oh, shit, that was a judgment. That was super judgy in my head right there.”

The concept of blind spots was originally formally introduced to me in the first multi-cultural class I ever took. Our professor at the time made us write down our cultural biases were. We had to write down groups we had internal biases against. It was mandatory, you could not say, “Nope, I have I don't have any biases.” You had to identify where your biases were. At first I didn't understand it. I asked, “What do you mean? What if I don't have any?” and she replied, “Everybody has them.” The longer I sat with it, the more I realized, holy shit, I do have some biases, I do have some judgments. Sitting with it and acknowledging it is the first step in combating the biases. Acknowledging that you have some biases towards certain groups of people, and being able to work towards addressing those and challenging them. Continuously challenging them, to the point that they don't affect you. That being said, we all have blind spots. To this day, I'll notice a judgment pop up in my head, and I'll be say to myself, “Oh, shit. That came out of nowhere.”

Even if you work on this, even if you work on being less of an asshole in your head, there will still be moments where judgments pop up. And that's okay. Don't be an asshole to yourself because you had a judgment pop up out of nowhere. As I stated, in the beginning of this blogcast, you can’t completely rewrite the way your brain tries to organize information. Which is to categorize and label things. You can not rewrite all of the influences that society has had on you, and culture is hard on you. Like I tell people all the time; don't expect perfection. I don't expect it, you shouldn't go there. Iit's not possible. It's not possible to completely be void of all or any judgments. Just acknowledging there might be moments where you have blind spots, there might be judgments that pass in your head that you saw yourself and realized, “Oh, shit, I didn't even realize that I was judging them in that moment.” You might not realize it until the aftermath. Or, you might not notice it at all. There will be moments like that. And that's okay. There will be moments where you'll naturally hit a blind spot.

Maybe you need an accountability buddy to acknowledge you and be able to say, “Hey, you just hit that blind spot. You just judged that person.” Even if there is a accountability, you can't erase them completely. You can do your best and you can decrease them. I shouldn't say we can't, but it seems like an impossible feat for us to live in a world where people don't judge each other. That being said, the less you judge, the healthier your mindset will be. And the healthier your relationships will be. You'll be more understanding and compassionate in your relationships. You'll have more self fulfillment internally. There are a lot of reasons we should try to reduce judgments. It would be healthier for us to try to reduce judgments. But again, nobody's perfect. So, it's okay if you hit a blind spot. It's okay.

If you missed a judgment, and it just slipped under the radar because our brains get creative and tell us that it wasn't a judgment when it really was. I just don't want you judging yourself if a blind spot comes up, and you didn't catch it, or you didn't correct it, because it happens. Remember what I said about having to work on judgements internally and externally simultaneously?

I think I have rambled on long enough, at least for now. This is a topic that I can probably go on for hours about in terms of reducing judgments and being more compassionate to yourself and to others. So I will try not to continue going and be long winded like always. Moral of the story, if you want to not be such an asshole at times, start working on reducing those judgments towards yourself and those judgments towards other people. By accepting that there is no right or wrong, good, bad. There just is. And we're all just trying to do the best we can.

Well, that's all we have for today villains. So if you liked what you heard today, other ways you can find us come find us at our website We also have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Also crazy enough, we have a TikTok where you can watch like stupid funny videos about mental health.

If you didn't like what you heard today. That's fine. You do you boo. Hopefully we answered some questions for you and did it in a little less stabby manner than like, you know, your average reality check. Or maybe we did it in a more stabby manner than your average reality check. Maybe you can figure some life shit out on this blogcast. Maybe you can get all of the answers to all the awkward crazy questions of life. Don't worry, we'll have plenty more excruciating answers for you. on Dear McDeath

The fucking end.

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