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Why Bother?
Advice from your Inner Voices

Some might say the advice we offer is pessimistic. To them we say: What's your name - Pollyanna (or Pollyandrew)? We see it as part of our duty, as your inner voices, to counteract all those ridiculous it's-all-good self-help gurus out there. As you'll see, usually when there's a problem, there's no perfect solution, so - why bother?

We are always ready to help you to see the difficulties of your situation from every possible angle - even those that seem at first glance to be incompatible. We also urge you to consider the hopelessness of taking action: so often, nothing will really improve the situation, so there's no need to rush to decision!

Have a question for us? We're happy to help! Email us: .

Cheating, rejection and more.

How to handle those delicate situations.
Keeping your nasty - but better than no - job.
Take a look at your innermost self.
Miscellaneous Advice
Social trends, coaching, etc.


on dealing with rejection?
See #3 in our
Unresolved Traumas Series,

And the helpful advice continues in the rest of our Unresolved Traumas series:
learn how to leverage your traumatic past.

Dealing with Rejection, Part 1

Dear BoM:
I've been dating this guy for about 2 years now. I'm crazy about him. We moved in together about 6 months ago. Since then, things have somehow turned bad. He hardly talks to me anymore, except to yell at me. He hasn't said he wants to break up, but it seems like only a matter of time. What went wrong? How can I fix it?

BoM replies:
Before you do anything else, read the first part of our advice in Dealing with Rejection Part 2 below - the bit about whether or not to take things personally. To summarize: "don't take it personally" is a load of hooey, and useless besides. If you are wondering whether this is about you or not, use this handy rule-of-thumb: everything is about you.

Now, with this realization firmly rooted, what you must do next is crystal clear: you must find out exactly what it is about you that's bugging him. To do this, we suggest the following:

  1. In every spare moment, go over and over in your head any recent conversations with him, any of his facial expressions that perplexed you, any remarks he's made about your personal appearance or habits, about living with you, about your relatives - in short, anything that might give you a hint about what he's thinking - and investigate all the possible interpretations of his words or actions.
  2. Note that the above process is so important that you may even want to skip some of your regular daily activities - like work, showering, cleaning, etc. - so you have more time for it.
  3. Now that you have some ideas of what he may be thinking, ask him about it - and don't let him off the hook! Especially good times for these conversations include when he's working, when he's with friends, or immediately after waking him up in the middle of the night. Don't be afraid to go over this again and again with him. In fact, don't talk about anything else until you are completely satisfied that you know exactly what's bugging him about you - in every detail, in every nuance.

Then, once he breaks up with you (because he's undoubtedly going to), you have everything you need to take full advantage of the rejection. The obvious gain, of course, is you now have a rich buffet for your reflections on what's wrong with you - always a worthwhile exercise! But there's more! Again we refer you to Dealing with Rejection Part 2 for more on these 2 less-recognized benefits to rejection:

  1. You have an excellent justification for all of your failings. Rejection is devastating, and requires a lot of attention - how can you be expected to do anything else well?
  2. Each rejection gives you another technique to add to your arsenal of ways to reject someone else. Learn how to do it in the most devastating way.

We also refer you to #3 in our Unresolved Traumas Series, which deals entirely with rejection. In it you can learn in much greater depth how to get the most out of the experience of rejection, and the vast hidden benefits of holding onto it (as opposed to "getting over it").

(Contributions by The Processor, The Realist, The Critic, The Rationalizer)

Dealing with Rejection, Part 2

Dear BoM:
I just had a devastating break-up with my girlfriend. I thought things were going great - she said she loved me. But then, suddenly, without warning or explanation, she just threw me out. Now I see her at the coffee shop hanging all over this buff woman who's always riding a bicycle. I just can't get over the fact that she left me for a woman. How can I deal with this and get on with my life?

BoM replies:
You will hear people who call themselves your friends say to you, "Don't take it personally, Bob. She just likes women." Bob, that's a load of baloney that's been in the truck way too long. Ask yourself the following questions before you fall for that "don't take it personally" crap:

  1. Who was the last man she was in relationship with before she went over to the other side? (You.)
  2. Who was the last man who was unable to satisfy her in the ways she needed? (Again, you.)
  3. Are you buff? (We're guessing not.)

How, then, is this not about you? You are clearly totally to blame for her switch-hitting. If not for you, she'd probably have been happily married years ago. Her reluctance to talk with you about all this is not a sign of her lack of courage or communication skills; no, it's about the depth of trauma you caused her. In fact, the trauma you've caused in her life is probably such that you should, if you have any conscience at all, offer to pay for her next ten years of therapy.

When you have a question about whether to take something personally in your life, whether something is "about you" or not, use this simple rule-of-thumb: everything is about you.

But there - we often get carried away when this absurd "don't take it personally" thing comes up. You actually asked how you could get over your rejection. Let's address that.

on dealing with rejection?
See #3 in our
Unresolved Traumas Series,

Don't. Don't get over it. Here's why.

First of all, rejection is a trauma that goes deep. That's partly because it often reflects some fundamental and unchangeable flaw in character, and people instinctively recognize that. Are you an insensitive slob? A girly man? IQ of a brick? Sexually somewhat less than a raging bull? Can't focus on anything but sports? Any of these can win you rejection, and rightly so - and you should feel it. Just let it stew inside you - the longer you can keep it brewing, the better!

Second, rejection as a life trauma has many benefits. Here are just two of them:

  1. You have an excellent justification for all of your failings. Who can really work at full capacity when they are dealing with being dumped yet again? How is it possible to dream your dreams, much less pursue them, when you know from experience that you're not even worthy of more than 5 dates with the same person? Why bother trying to get your employer to recognize your value when your own mother won't even talk to you?
  2. Each rejection gives you another technique to add to your arsenal of ways to reject someone else. At some point, you will end the cycle of being rejected and become the rejector. When that happens, you will absolutely know how to do it in the most devastating way.

So, by all means, get on with your life, but hold onto that rejection! Nurse it, stew it, feed it - and it will bring you benefits and skills you can use your entire life. Happily ever after? Well, no - but how realistic is that, anyway?

Special note from The Rewarder: Rejection, especially repeated rejection, also gives you unimpeachable reason for indulging. You know what we mean: TV marathons, food, alcohol, mind-numbing drugs, etc. After the pain you've suffered, you deserve some self-indulgence, right?

(Contributions by The Realist, The Critic, The Rationalizer, The Escalator, The Rewarder)


Note: We found this in "Dear Abby" August 15, 2010. Abby herself declined to advise the writer, but WE will be happy to! We've presented the question and Abby's response in full, along with our advice.

Dear Abby:
An old friend I'll call "Bud" used to take my ex-husband and me out for dinner and drinks. About 15 years ago, he met a woman. She moved in with him and then they got married. They have been married a long time now and I hardly get to see or talk to Bud.

I am now divorced. I have always had "feelings" for this man, and I want what Bud's wife has: She has a new car, a beautiful home, he has a new truck, they both work and seem to have everything.

I don't love Bud, but I know him from way back and I want to break them up. Can you give me any advice on how to? -- LOSING OUT IN SPRINGFIELD, MO.

Abby's response:
DEAR LOSING OUT: You must not be a frequent reader of my column. In a case like this, I think I'll take a pass.

BoM replies:
Dear LOIS-MO - We honor your honesty. After all, how many people who want to break up a relationship are willing to admit that they just want the stuff that the other person has? You are well on the way to a well-adjusted relationship - meaning one in which you are immune to all that mushy, ridiculous, short-lived "love" stuff, and you are the person in charge. You could be our poster girl. We want to see you succeed.

Remember: success is not necessarily measured by whether you break up that relationship or not. If "Bud" insists on staying with his current wife, you have that much more heartbreak and disappointment in your life, and you can make a very great deal of that. Repeated disappointment in life is a fabulous justification for not trying anymore - why bother?

Here is what we advise:

  1. Insinuate yourself. Call Bud with some legitimate matter (you should be able to come up with something). Remind him of the good times you had years ago; then hint at the horrors you suffered with your ex-husband (note: obviously, you can make these up, too, if necessary).
  2. Find the cracks. Wait a while - a month or two - then call him again, and ask his advice on something. This time, see if you can get him to tell you about his wife. You are listening for two things: his vulnerabilities, and her vulnerabilities.

    If it seems like there are no cracks, just go back to the old reliable: men really just want sex, and women really just want money. (Alternate version: he is probably just like your ex, and she is probably just like you.)
  3. Insert yourself. Begin to call more often, and find ways to run into him "unexpectedly." Work those cracks, and look for more.
  4. Break it open. At some point, the pressure will become too much for the system, and one of two things will happen:
    1. They will break up, and Bud will be yours (make sure he has a good lawyer, so he can retain all those goodies you're angling for!).
    2. They will unceremoniously, acrimoniously, throw you out of their lives.
  5. Follow through. This depends on what happens in (4):
    1. You get Bud. Now your job is to figure out how to keep him under your thumb, so that he will give you what you want, and also so no one can use the same techniques you did to steal him from you (make sure you have a better lawyer than Bud's, who can get you an advantageous prenup, though, just in case!).
    2. You lose Bud. In this case, your job is to figure out how to spin the story so you are the one wronged, maximizing the sympathy you get.

In either case, note that in this whole process you will probably have developed a strong, if suppressed and rationalized, sense of guilt and shame. We note that buried guilt and shame are prime fuel for self-righteousness, which will help you to justify anything you do for the rest of your life. Congratulations! You win!

(Contributions by The Rationalizer, The Escalator, The Realist)


Dear BoM,
There's this girl I really like, a co-worker of mine.  And I think she kinda likes me - the vibes are there, you know?  But even though I'd really like to kiss her, I keep finding myself holding back, waiting for a better time.  Do you think it's best to take things slow like this?  Or should I just make a move?  Also, I'm wondering if listening to Abba will help or hurt in this matter.

BoM replies:
Dear Whoever-You-Are:

The fact that you are afraid to sign your name just confirms everything we see in your question. It's an unwillingness to commit - and a very good idea, too.

Situations like this require lots of thought, reconnaissance, and constantly shifting strategies and tactics. It is critically important that you know exactly what she's thinking, at any given moment, so you can understand and choose your own best moment to make your move. Because moving at the wrong time, in the wrong way, as you know, can be disastrous, blasting all your prospects.

So, to help you in this matter, we suggest you consider the following:

  • Who is she really? Check her background, as best you can, without actually talking to her about it. Talk to her friends, look her up on the internet, consider hiring a private detective. (You can't be too careful.) But, as we said earlier, make sure you don't talk to her. You don't want to tip your hand yet.
  • What kind of work does she do? Investigate whatever she's working on, talk with others who work with her. Is she a manipulator, a seducer, a slacker? Again, don't let her know you're checking this out.
  • Watch her carefully to determine her biorhythms. This will help you choose the best time for making your move. Also consider: is it better to move when she's at a low, and so less energized to reject you, or when she's at a high, and thus happier and more open?
  • Track how she looks at you, how many of your jokes she laughs at (and which ones), which of your mutual co-workers she likes or dislikes (and how that overlaps with your own preferences), how tidy she keeps her workspace compared to yours, whether she tends to be early or late, what she eats for lunch and with whom, what she wears - in short, every little thing about her. This will help you determine if she is or could ever be interested in you, and how the romance would be likely to turn out.
  • If you can swipe something of hers - doesn't have to be big, a pencil she's used would do - you can hold the object and try to feel her vibes from it. Ask it if she's interested in you.
  • Plan carefully how happy your life could be together, and what you would do if she rejected you.
  • Above all, don't make a move yet, and don't let her know how interested you are. In fact, you might even want to distance yourself a bit while you continue checking her out.

Regarding ABBA: any and all love songs can help you to get different perspectives and to find more good questions to ask yourself about whether or not this will work, and how to proceed. We highly recommend listening to nothing but love songs - but don't neglect the ones about love gone bad, because most of the time that's how it goes, and we wouldn't want you to go into this too optimistically.

    (Contributions by The Planner and The Realist)



Cheating boyfriends

Dear BoM:
I’m pretty sure my boyfriend is cheating on me.  What should I do?

BoM replies:
Your boyfriend is in all likelihood cheating on you, whether you suspect it or not.  There are many possible reasons for this, including but not limited to:

  1. All men cheat on their girlfriends/wives.  You know it’s true.
  2. You are just too unattractive to keep any man interested for very long. 
  3. Your particular boyfriend is a jerk, an asshole, who doesn’t deserve someone as wonderful as you.  In fact, what man does?  You’ll never find anyone worth committing to, and will die lonely.
  4. You never bothered to clarify with him that you wanted an exclusive relationship.  Really, very stupid of you.
  5. You did tell him you wanted an exclusive relationship, forcing him, in his need for variety, to go behind your back.  How can you expect a man to hold to an agreement like that?  Wouldn’t you really rather just not know?

Now, as to what you should do about it.  Again, there are many possibilities, and one of the best strategies is to switch back and forth between several of these, as rapidly as possible:

  • Wake him up in the middle of the night, preferably with a phone call, to ask who he is with and make accusations of infidelity, then hang up.  Or, if you are together, you can either leave (if you are at his place) or throw him out.
  • In a public place, perhaps even his place of employment, scream an accusation at him then break down into tears and beg him to forgive you and stay with you.  Promise to be better (in bed, in the kitchen, whatever occurs to you).
  • Stop speaking to him, but don’t tell him why.  Or, tell him he already knows why.
  • Alternate sulkiness with brave perkiness.

on relationships?
See our
Extra Special Double Report,
The Horrors of Intimacy and 5 Ways to Stay Safe in Relationship.

If you follow our advice, your boyfriend problems should resolve quickly - if painfully. But relationship is painful, too, so pick your poison.

Remember, intimacy is a dangerous thing.  Best is simply to avoid it.

(Contributions by The Realist, The Escalator, The Critic, The Rationalizer, The Expresser)

Dear BoM,
My neighbors are always wanting to borrow things. I dread seeing them, because the moment they lay eyes on me they ask for something. If it was just a cup of sugar, I wouldn't mind so much - but they're usually after more substantial things like my chainsaw, tennis racket, shoes, bicycle. Sometimes I never get the thing back. Sometimes they deny they ever borrowed it. What can I do?

BoM replies:

First, we'd like to point out that you are inviting this, and you are obviously succumbing to it. This shows us two very important things:

  1. you are a sap, and
  2. you are a sap

Meditate on this, and on the unlikeliness that it will ever change. (If you look into your past, you will certainly find a pattern of giving in to others' ridiculous requests.) Now, remember that you can ALWAYS count on people to take advantage of you to the fullest extent possible, like vultures on roadkill, and you will begin to understand your situation. In fact, you should stop whining, because you are experiencing a miracle: your neighbors are (apparently) the only ones capitalizing on your weakness. We don't understand why everyone you know isn't. We would. In fact, it's likely that everyone else is, and you just haven't noticed yet because it isn't as blatant.

Now, listen carefully. Given your susceptibility, there's only one thing you can do, excluding voluntary commitment: plan. We suggest the following:

  • 1st line: Avoid. Plan your schedule so that you never see your neighbors, and make sure you have caller id so you can avoid their phone calls as well
  • 2nd line: Evade. Develop several disguises, including indecipherable foreign accents, and never venture out without them
  • Final defense: Strike back. Frame them for theft (you should be able to do this, since they keep your stuff) or some other serious crime, and so get rid of them forever.

Note what works and hone it, because you, with your great weakness, will probably need these plans for the rest of your life.

(Contributions by The Critic, The Realist, The Planner, The Escalator)

Self-Image and Self-Care

Dear BoM:
I’m too fat, and I can’t seem to lose weight and keep it off.  Why is that, and what should I do?

BoM replies:
It’s good that you recognize that you’re too fat.  One of the worst things in the world would be for you to walk around thinking you’re ok, when everyone who sees you immediately thinks, “Wow – what an incredibly, disgustingly fat person!”

There are many reasons why people such as yourself can’t lose weight (not that there are that many people who can’t lose weight - in fact, you may be the only one).  Here are a few, and they are not mutually exclusive.

  1. You have an incurable disease.  You may die of it, or you may grow old, just becoming more and more hideous and disgusting as you age.
  2. You have the willpower of a gnat.  You’ll never amount to anything, because you can’t even generate the inner strength to say no to a bag of potato chips.  And it’s not like they even need to be good potato chips.
  3. You think you care about other people, your job, your dog, your house – but all you really care about is your next bite of ice cream, chocolate, steak, or perhaps your next beer.  Nothing else really matters to you.  Nothing.  If it did, you wouldn’t have this problem.

As for what you should do about it – well, you’ve already tried everything, right?  And nothing worked.  So just give it up and get used to being fat.  While you’re at it, you might as well have another snack – at least there’s that one thing left in life that you can enjoy.

Remember: change is unpleasant, and rarely worth it.  Stay safe!  Stay the same!

(Contributions by The Realist and The Critic)


Dear BoM:
I was just talking with a co-worker about my boss, and I expressed myself freely.  You know what I mean.  Well, it turned out she was standing around the corner and heard everything.  How can I salvage this situation?

BoM replies:
Wow.  You must be one of the stupidest people on the planet.  It’s actually a little hard to believe you’ve survived to adulthood. 

First, there’s really nothing you can do.  You are screwed, nailed, pasted, hammered.  Not only is your boss rightfully out to get you, but all your co-workers will now turn against you for their own survival.  We hope to God you’ve got references from some other job, because otherwise no one will ever hire you again, and you’ll end up in the gutter – where, in all honesty, you belong.

The best thing for you to do would be to retreat into your cubicle.  Don’t apologize – that shows weakness (and frankly is unnecessary, since your boss's reaction, though predictable, is totally unreasonable). Just don’t say anything.  Sulk, if you like.  And withdraw.  That way, even if they say mean things about you (and they will), you won’t hear.

(Contributions by The Realist, The Critic, and The Rationalizer)


Dear BoM:
I have an etiquette question. I forgot my mother's birthday last week. I could call now, but I know she'll be hurt, and I don't want to deal with it. What do you recommend?

BoM replies:
The easiest and best solution is to let this simply slip from your mind. If she ever mentions it, just tell her you tried to call but no one picked up. If she presses you, bring up something she has done in the past that hurt you. The more emotion you can squeeze into this, the more likely you are to divert her attention. 

(Contributions by The Forgetter, The Escalator, The Rationalizer, The Expresser)

Miscellaneous Topics


Dear Board of Mis-Directors,
I'm sure you've heard about this whole coaching craze, hiring someone to advise you on things like better job performance or leadership development or attaining life goals or stuff like that.  Do you think it really works?  Or is it just another way for people to charge you money for telling you what to do?  (At least I'm the one who gets the money when my boss tells me what to do.)  A friend of mine hired a coach last year and she swears by it - but, then again, she always has been a follower, you know?  I'm a take charge kind of guy.  Sure, my life isn't perfect, but what can a stranger tell me that will make a difference?

BoM replies:
We’re really glad you asked that. 

You may have noticed that you already have a built-in set of coaches: us.  And, in all honesty, we have to say that we are pained and offended that instead of listening to our excellent advice, you are considering paying someone else – a stranger, as you say - for the same help we’ve been offering your entire life.

Listen – we grew up with you.  We know you. We know what’s good for you.  We know what you should be doing, what’s beyond you, when you’re wasting your time, when you’re making a fool of yourself.  And we, unlike any weasely life or business coaches you might hire, are not afraid to tell you.

There are several problems with coaching:

  1. This coaching profession is made possible by an insidious misconception (vigorously perpetuated by coaches themselves) that, with the right assistance, it is easy for people to change.  If that were true, everyone on the planet would be perfect, and we would be able, finally, to have our vacation in Miami.

    It just isn’t true.  No matter how hard you try, no matter how many people and books and DVD’s and talk shows you have helping you, “turning over a new leaf” is about as likely as that camel through the eye of the needle thing.  We’ve been trying to get you to change for years, and see how far we’ve gotten?
  2. Knowing you as we do, as soon as someone tells you to do something, you compulsively  do the opposite, just to show them how “independent” you are. Since most people have their own version of that, coaches essentially get paid to drive people even deeper into their bad patterns.  Then they really need a coach – and the cycle continues.  Why pay someone for that, when we’ll do it for free?
  3. What it comes down to is that coaches make you feel better: they listen to you, they make “helpful” and “supportive” suggestions, they even praise your efforts.  But that feeling of betterness is hollow, merely the result of your coach indulging your childish need for attention and approval.  It creates a little fantasy world for you that distracts you from your shortcomings.  Can this possibly make a positive difference?  No.  (Note that we don’t baby you with that “helpful” and “supportive” crap – we tell you the truth, straight up, no matter how distasteful!)

So, in short, we agree with you that coaching is a waste of time and money, made even more poignant by the fact that every single person who hires a coach already has, and has always had, the best possible team of coaches at his or her disposal: US

(Contributions by The Realist, The Critic, The Rationalizer)

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