Who do you hate? (Or “How to get unstuck”)

I hate BonoHere at Screw Work Let’s Play HQ we’ve been busy getting ready for the Screw Work Let’s Play Programme which starts tomorrow.

On the 8 week programme we deal a lot with the internal blocks that stop people getting the working lives they want.

As a result, we’ve learned a lot about why people get stuck…

Sometimes we want something so badly – to make more money, to be recognised for our best work, or to slow down and enjoy our lives more – and yet whatever we do, we can’t seem to get it.

To explain why I think this is, I need to talk about Bono, lead singer of U2.

A lot of people find Bono annoying, particularly in Britain where hating Bono has become something of a national sport. There are T-Shirts, blogs and more than one Facebook group.

Why do people hate Bono?

Whatever you might think of his music, when the strength of feeling is far out of proportion to what he does you can be sure it’s not simply a matter of taste. (Let’s face it there are far more despicable people out there in the world)

Bono is hated in Britain in particular because he breaks the rules of British culture. He gets ideas above his station, he behaves as if he actually is all that. And this is the great taboo of our country – to boast, to be arrogant, to believe you have the right to change the world.

The cost of this taboo is that we Brits err towards being apologetic, downplaying our abilities, and suppressing our own power. It is a culture of playing small.

When a natural part of our personality (in this case, our confidence and willingness to acknowledge our own talents) is suppressed at an early age, we see it all the larger in others. And we hate it.

It’s a universal (and uncomfortable) truth that the solution to our block lies in that which we hate. Wherever your life is stuck, whether it’s wanting more confidence in your work, making more money, or allowing yourself to relax, you have locked away the part of yourself you most need.

How do you find out what this part is? Look at who you hate. Whoever you find most irritating or infuriating will represent the part you have hidden. If you’re suppressing your own confidence, it might be Bono. If you’re suppressing your desire to be better compensated for your talents, it’s the shop that charges a premium price for its goods. If it’s allowing yourself to relax, it’s the guy at work who seems to do no work at all and gets away with it.

How to get unstuck

Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting you become exactly what you hate. (You may not want to start wearing wrap-around shades indoors.) Mixed in with your prejudice, there may be some very valid reasons for disliking someone. But you can still use that person as a pointer to what you need.

Look at this person that irritates you, ask what it is that gets your goat, then ask yourself what part of your own personality might you be suppressing that this person represents? Then ask “If I could access that part of my personality (confidence, ease with making money, the instinct to treat myself more kindly), would that help me get what I most long for in my life?”

I bet the answer is yes.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

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  • Jeni

    Thanks John, this was very thought provoking and yes, the answer was ‘yes’!

  • I believe that everyone holds up a mirror for us too John, and that we can only see in others some aspect of ourselves to either appreciate, address or leave behind. I cannot say I hate anyone although I can certainly find them irritating. With irritants I ease them by engaging them in conversations that make me feel comfortable or else eliminate contact so as to avoid allergic reactions. If something or someone feels toxic to me and I feel no desire to work on myself in this regard then I will just move on and bypass them en route. I know ulitmately I have only the power to change myself and accept personal responsibilty for my own thoughts and actions. I trust my impact will be favourable although that is no always determined by me as each individual will receive me according to their own mind-set. Ok I hate Goats cheese!

  • Barbara Winter

    I had no idea that anti-Bono feelings ran so high, but your explanation makes so much sense. Time for Playing Small to become passe. It is, after all, so 20th Century.

  • Bex

    Ha, ALWAYS annoyed by the people who seem to get away with doing nothing….

  • Andrew Norris

    Nice blog. Such people are quite common in Britain for sure. They cannot see that it is part of the culture they have have picked up and are viewing life through that lens. They think it is just the truth, not even aware other countries think differently, or if they have they dismiss those countries. Even when you show them example of people who have done great revolution things from nothing recently, they still say, “but be real, it cannot be you”.

    If it is someone I want to get on with I spend the time to try to talk them round, and listen to their viewpoint. They tend to think these people were very gifted or very lucky. If it were that easy everybody would do it. But of course I never said it would be easy.

    I am currently trying to explain to someone that yes you can make money as an inventor these days. Of course the best way is to set the example, but until they see it in concrete form some find it hard to accept.

    Even at an invetor’s meet up group I have a patent lawyer telling me quite strongly that I could not make money off software patents.

    Others tell me I cannot start a start-up business, pie in sky stuff.

    Shows like Britain has got talent don’t help that much, as many of the people on there are crazy believing they have talent. And I am sure there are people who think they can invent etc, but are not really that good. But there are lots like that. If you take it seriously, know where your talents are, do the homework. You can pull off what many think is impractical for sure.

  • Andrew Norris

    This post is creative for sure. Turning something upside down / reversing – often yields a powerful solution. We do often miss something, some skill, and who we hate could be a big clue. I like how you encourage us to change, to be a bit more like the opposite personality. It’s a lot like Myers Briggs, I found I was a strong Intuitive type, and needed to be more like those seemed to dislike, the Sensate types.

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  • Thanks John,
    it is really an interesting topic.
    The quality I hate is manipulations. I just becoma very angry and I feel sick and helpless when I notice being cheeted again.
    Would like to explore more.

  • Anne Coghlan

    OK…Some Irish I met while there recently have the same opinion as The British….however, personally I think…this is plain old jealousy!!!!

  • I think the ‘pack mentality’ comes in to play with this kind of situation as well. Perfect example was the public hatred shown to a contestant on last year’s X-Factor. That quirky, blond haired singer, called Katie. Surely she couldn’t have been a reflection of something they disliked about themselves in all of the people who hated her?

    It seemed like joining the ‘I hate Katie’ club seemed the fashionable thing to do. Seems we haven’t evolved much since the days of the gladiators – cheering to put someone to their death!

    Great post – very thought provoking.

  • I don’t watch X Factor but it could be something like how naive and carefree she is. That then triggers the viewers’ resentment that they have quashed that part of themselves.

  • Deborah Henley

    Love it! Learning to shadow-dance. I am a big believer in the value of this. What do I hate – bureaucratic types that are unable to take command and make special dispecsations. Perhaps I ought to adhere to the rules more frequently…

  • Deborah Henley

    Love it! Learning to shadow-dance. I am a big believer in the value of this. What do I hate? Bureaucratic types that who over adhere to the rules and are unable to take command and make special dispensations. Perhaps I ought to adhere to the rules more frequently…

  • Great article, John.

    Thank you for clearing something up, which I had previously misunderstood. I was aware of the idea that “if you can see it in someone else, then it’s in you”, but the way I took that was: if you find someone annoying, then you’re also annoying, and you should stop it!!!

    Now it makes perfect sense. It’s what you find annoying in other people (their confidence, self-belief, relaxed attitude etc) that you need to find in yourself – AND you already have it.

    So I don’t have to stop being annoying after all…!!

  • Great article. I don’t Hate Bono, don’t like him much either and if I am honest, yes I envy the person who can acknowlege their worth! I am trying to but so many people want your skills for free as they see what you do as ‘not worth it’, whatever ‘it’ happens to be.
    Food for thought though, will be having a mull over that with a glass of wine later.

  • Deborah

    Love this! – I’m a psychologist and regularly use this as a training excercise BUT still managed to come home this evening ranting about a meeting with a teacher . Your post made me realise was the thing that angered me was not actually his approach which I could be genuinely angry about (insensitive attitude to kids and being plain rude)but his underlying, unswerving self belief – It is this simple rather elegant confidence (and my lack of it) that kicked off the big response.It also made me wonder what about me disturbs him so much??

  • Andrew Norris

    Reverse: maybe also we need to be less like the people we praise! Someone recently I had been following and praising I decided I had taken that philosophy too far that it had back backfired, in aspects I needed to be less like that! It was not you though John, honest !

  • Andrew Norris

    Deborah: yes! in psychology sometimes the reason we THINK we do things can be different than the reasons we actually do things. I also have a theory that multiple subconscious reasons can add up, and vote to make an action stronger. Seeing what is in out subconscious is a key part of growth. But like you say, knowing this is one thing, we must also regularly be present and watch ourselves doing it. Then become aware of it in a different light, and it will stop.

  • Fiona

    This was a very interesting read for me. Re Bono (I have no strong feelings about him in particular, actually), I know I’m not very good at blowing my own trumpet, even though people admire and buy my work, and it could help advance my career if I did. However, I find some famous people very annoying who just get on and say what they like without worrying what people will say/think of them. I worry about that too much!

  • KT

    A real lightbulb moment for me, and it brings 2 particular individuals to mind:

    1) Worked his way up from the factory floor and is now production director of a company. Very uncouth man, and not very clever. Is quite street smart and good at stealing ideas, implementing them and then passing them off on his own. From an early stage, he voiced his ambitions to become a director of the company and everyone laughed, but it has now come true. What annoyed me about him was that he was so thick, but had such determination and audacity that in the end he pulled it off.

    2) A former line manager was full of BS, but extremely clever, and very polished. Also very influential, and cocky. I despised him – I could see through the (fake) public schoolboy image and his midas touch and charm really irritated me. At times I thought, “Who do you think you are?”.

    I learned a couple of things:
    a) The people who are subject matter experts are not always the people who do well for themselves – it’s those arrogant SOBs that are full of BS that succeed! They talk such a good talk that no-one seems to notice when they don’t quite walk the walk.
    b) I’m very technically capable, but it’s how I come across that I need to work on – so determination, audacity and BS all the way!

  • Jon

    U2 confirmed at glastonbury – I love Bono

  • Maybe you just need to share your story with someone. http://www.whodoihate.com will certainly help with that

  • Interweb1969

    Where does it say that people hate Bono? People buy his music and go to his gigs in droves. Being confident in your own abilities is not at all unusual in showbiz. If people hate Bono (and you thought of this example so you must entertain some problem with him) then maybe you resent the fact that he honed his talent, took risks and worked very hard to make his band successful. It’s easy to pick on people who are famous for trying to even appear altruistic. Maybe the resentment is there because you don’t like people who make an effort. Blaming your feelings on things that are external to you is not healthy.

  • Interweb1969

    It’s whom do you hate….btw

  • I don’t have anything against Bono. Did you read my post? But a lot of people seem to dislike him. Hence the TShirts, blogs and facebook groups.
    So what’s pressed your button in this post Mr Anonymous?

  • Good point!