The Ultimate Guide to Cutting the Crap and Getting Real


An old friend of mine, younger than me, smarter than me, more giving than me, is in her final days on this planet, due to terminal cancer.

It’s nothing even close to being fair, but this isn’t a post about her, it’s a post about you.

Life has nonsense embedded in it. It’s everywhere. The Kardashians. Religious dogma. Self-appointed “mavens”. The list of nonsense could fill the whole of the Internet, and actually, comes pretty damn close to doing so.

But life is short. And sometimes it’s useful to cut the crap and get real.

Here’s a primer for you…

Quit lying to yourself

We all lie to ourselves about certain things – eating this extra piece of pie doesn’t mean I’m breaking the diet. I’ll just hang on for a few more months to see if things turn around. It’s the wrong time to make my move. I really do want to be with them.

Lying to yourself is only ever about creating a narrative that affords you safety, regardless of how the story you make up might be hurting you.

So ‘fess up.

If you’re spending too much, own it. If you’re miserable, step into it. If you’re being someone else, see it.

What aren’t you accepting about yourself? What are you choosing not to see? How are you making it okay to hide?

None of us are getting out of this thing alive, so lying to yourself while you’re here is nothing but crazy.

Quit wasting time

Wasting time and treading water is the last resort of the terminally indecisive.

Putting off a decision, deciding to wait a bit longer to make a decision or waiting for the perfect alignment of circumstances IS making a decision. Don’t fool yourself that it’s a positive choice, it isn’t.

When there’s a great opportunity coming your way or when a little patience will pay off it can be a good strategy to hold on. But there’s a huge difference between holding on and wasting time, and here’s how you know the difference:

If the choice you’re making to stay where you are is really about keeping you safe and not changing things, you’re just wasting time.

Time is the one thing you can’t buy more of, and wasting it is depriving the world of what you can offer.

Quit listening to assholes

There are a lot of people who will say what you want to hear. There are a lot of people who will offer the earth, take your money and deliver dirt. There are a lot of people who will give you advice that’s self-serving. There are a lot of people who will put you down rather than lift you up. And there are a lot of people who spew ignorant bile disguised as insight or truth.

Whether there’s someone close to you who only ever gives you their worst, a colleague who takes from you and talks you down, or just the shouting, clamouring garbage of 24 hour rolling news, check the messages that you’re taking in.

If you’re only taking in messages that you want to hear or fit with the way you already see things, get real. If you’re only taking in messages that run you down or keep you small, get real. Or if you’re only taking in messages that stir the worst in you, for the sake of everyone around you, get real.

Seek out the genuinely insightful, interesting, expansive and valuable people out there with great messages and great gifts.

Quit chasing a lifestyle

Seems like Facebook and the rest of the Interwebs is full of people trying to sell you a lifestyle, people who would have you believe that their lifestyle is one that you should want. They say “Look at what I’ve done, look at how I live my life – don’t you want that too?” and then proceed to sell you stuff that promises to give you the same.

Honestly, if I hear the term “lifestyle design” one more time I’m going to hurl.

You can’t buy a lifestyle as a solution to the problems in your life. Doesn’t matter if it’s location independence, entrepreneurship, working 4 hours a week, buying a tiny house or going paleo, your life will still be your life.

Quit chasing a lifestyle as a goal, and start dealing productively with the texture of your experience, right now.

Design meaning. Design nourishment. Design value.

Quit needing to be right

Being right is fun, and it sure feels good to know that we correctly called it before anyone knew for certain. Being right also leads people to do crazy shit in pursuit of that outcome, like undermining other people, engineering or “rigging” social encounters or taking a shortcut towards a cheap result.

The urge to be right drives people to engineer circumstances and stories that allow us to feel good about ourselves.

But being right doesn’t mean anything and it certainly doesn’t equal self-worth. In fact, if you place your self-worth on being right the whole time, you’re just masking a deep feeling of not being good enough and the fear of being found out.

So quit it. There’s tangible value in admitting that you’re wrong; value you’ll never realise if you’re continually caught up in the bullshit factory of being right.

Quit making shit up

I’ve fucked it all up. I’m not pretty enough. Other people get all the best chances. He’s horrible for doing that. She’s just a bitch. I can never forgive them for how they hurt me.

Stories, stories, stories.

Your brain is a story-making machine, churning out narratives like shitty airport fiction.

Storytelling is how you try to make sense of the world and what happens to you in it, and your brain will weave stories designed to do 2 things: minimise danger and maximise reward. The stories you tell yourself will be threaded with those principles, whether or not the story serves you well or fucks you over.

Some stories sell you way short, because that’s how you stop trying. Some stories will cast you as the victim, because that makes what happened undeserved. Some stories will fuel indecision, because that keeps you away from risk. Some stories will engineer blame, because that makes you right. And some stories will cast you as the hero, because then it’s always about you.

You are not your narratives. Quit making up stories that represent the very worst of you.

Quit feeling broken

Sometimes, you’re just a hot mess.

In those dark moments where it feels like you’ve fucked it all up or that you’ll never have the kind of life you wished for, it just feels like you’re missing something, like there’s something broken in you that makes it impossible to live a sweet and beautiful life. That there’s something wrong with you.

Newsflash. We all have that feeling. Every. Single. One. Of. Us.

It’s part of being human. The fear that everyone else has figured out what we never will. The fear that we’ll never be good enough for our hopes. The fear that we’ll never be loved because we’re flawed and broken.

The good news is, those flaws and imperfections form part of a whole that would be a hollow, grotesque construct without them.

You’re not broken. It just feels that way sometimes because you’re human. It’s one small piece of the whole that you already are, and having that one small piece become your truth is doing yourself a massive disservice.

A quick word on getting real…

Hanging out in the crap and the fantasy of life is pretty great. Zero responsibility and all the fun of dreaming and wishing.

It’s also a great strategy for deep regret and a diminishing soul.

It’s  a choice you have to make.

Do I keep hanging out, lying to myself, wasting time, listening to assholes, chasing a lifestyle, needing to be right, making shit up and feeling broken, or do I take a stand in my life?

Cutting the crap won’t fix stuff in your life or automatically make you a better person. That still needs work and practice.

But what it will do, is:

  • allow you to take off the armour that weighs so damn heavy
  • stop things from feeling like such a fucking drama the whole time
  • put you in the perfect place to take meaningful action
  • provide a foundation for bravery
  • give you a sense that, actually, you’re doing pretty great

And smack my balls with a sledgehammer if that doesn’t sound like a pretty damn wonderful place to be.

So. Are you ready to cut the crap or what?

  • love this post Steve!! although will pass on smacking your balls with a sledgehammer if thats all the same to you 🙂 🙂 sometimes we need to hear things in straight up no bollocks words!

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