BD14: Self-Criticism

Welcome to Breakdown 14. Today we tackle 400 things. One of which is self-criticism.

say whatttt?

BD is where I teach my secret secret sauce: how to dissect a person's problem so you can give them the solution. Think of it a little bit like making an ice cream cake - I don't just show you the final cake but the recipe and mechanism that got me there.

If you can learn this skill then you can start helping yourself through your challenges and put me firmly out of business. I think anyone who offers to give you advice should be completely transparent about how they work and think.

If you'd like to have a problem of yours BD'd please feel free to just hit reply and let me know (I've currently got 10 in the chamber so no rush.)

THIS BD IS THE LONGEST ONE I'VE EVER DONE. I think I gave myself carpal tunnel typing this. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Estimated full reading time: A really long time. Like very long. They asked for so much help all at once. Blame BD. Not MJ. Down with BD! Long live MJ!

Estimated impact: Life changing. Easily. I hope. Otherwise I typed a lot for nothing.

For the oldies/those with the bad eyes


I struggle consistently with consistency (the irony is not lost on me). I work for businesses that I love, with people that I love. The businesses are challenging, and I I often feel overwhelmed or inadequate. But when I think about how I want to spend my time every day, or why I do what I do, I wouldn’t want to be working on anything else at this point in my life. The problem is, I can only ever seem to finish things 80% - 90% of the way. Or when I work well, I only do so for about 80% of the time. The other 20% I either really mess major things up, or I just ignore the problem completely. The result is that large things get missed, important clients don’t get called back, and the businesses fail to thrive. I can go for weeks at a time with good work, then have one week where everything just seems to fall apart.

I can only ever get 80% of the way there, in everything in life.

I mentioned that I work with people that I love, and this includes one of my business partners. I love him dearly, and value our relationship above all others in my life. He has gotten so frustrated with my work and the problems I’ve caused, however, that he has finally gotten to the point where he needs to talk to the other business partners about firing me from the businesses.

I feel like I can do so much better, and I don’t know what’s holding me back. Why do I only follow through up to 80% or why can’t I succeed and follow through ALL the time, not just occasionally? It hurts to have the people I love most not be able to trust me, can you help me do better?


Hello everyone, and welcome to this week's breakdown!

I have a sneaking suspicion that this is going to be easily the longest one I've ever written so don't say I didn't warn you. (UPDATE: Having now finished this article I can confirm it's very long.)


The most important mental model for us all to understand this week is something that is affectionately called “THE THING." I struggled with a name for it so long but kept saying the sentence ‘this is the whole thing’ so many times to clients that the name eventually stuck.

THE THING (yes all caps is necessary) is the process in which our mind interacts with the world and how that interaction creates our emotions. Once you manage to wrap your head around THE THING, you can start to understand that these things that happen to your mind are not you, they are simply processes that you’ve not taken control of.

THE THING has four steps: Event, Story, Emotion and Results.

As I explain this, I’m going to use an example event. Imagine your boss comes over to your desk today and says "You're going to have to do a speech later today in front of the CEO and the whole board. You’ve got 4 hours to prep."

Now if I asked you what the event was most of you would say that your boss came and told you that you needed to do a speech to the board. And you’d be wrong. That’s your interpretation of what happened. The actual event was nothing more than someone coming towards you, some sounds coming out of their mouth, and then them moving away from you.

That’s it.

Literally, everything else that you place on that interaction, the history, the perception of the meaning of the words, the comparison to see if anyone else is asked the same thing… ALL of it is a story and belongs in your mind, it doesn’t exist in the external world. Everything else that you place on top of that is actually your perception or your story.

Although it sounds a little stupid to pull that much context away from a human interaction, it’s stupidly helpful when you’re trying to get to the bottom of what’s happening in your mind so you can set yourself free of all of this. It’s worth realising that every interaction in your life when you walk around thinking you know what actually happened what you really have is your story of what actually happened.

EVENT: Someone made a sound directed in my vicinity

Whether you like it or not, in that moment your mind is going to create a STORY of what that event MEANS for you. You don’t tell your brain to create a story, it JUST HAPPENS. You have no control over the fact that it’s being created, but we sure as fuck do have control over what that story is.

Now, if you're like most of the people on the planet, the story is, "Oh, my God, I'm unprepared, I don't want to do this, I don't know enough about this. This is going to be the end of my life. I'm devastated already, I feel shattered inside, and I fucking hate public speaking."

A key fact to understand about the mind is that whatever story you decide to pick, your mind will make you believe that it’s true. It’s how the mind works that’s making you feel that way, not what’s ACTUALLY happening. We all have this thing called confirmation bias which dictates that however we want to look at the world our brain will make us believe that we are seeing the truth.

Our mind will actively filter out information that disagrees with our beliefs and our story. This is why you can present someone with evidence that climate change is real and if they are a skeptic it makes no difference. They literally do not see the evidence in the same way that you do.

Not because of any other reason than how the brain itself processes information.

It's a sigificant mind fuck to realise that everything you think to be true isn't because you're so smart and you figured it out but actually because of how your mind works. Once you wrap your head around that you're free to choose the most empowering truths and stories you can.

Now, that story filters information until you feel it's your lived experience. So our THING now looks like this:

EVENT: Someone made a sound directed in my vicinity

STORY: I’m going to fucking die in front of the board.

Whatever story you told yourself about the event is going to dictate your emotions. Not because we are so special, but because of our STORY. Not us. Our STORY. Think about that until you understand it.

Emotions are designed to evoke motion. They move us and motivate us and your mind uses them as rapid response fuel to do things. Your mind needs to be able to react to things incredibly fast because we grew up as a species in a pretty scary environment. We were not top of the food chain.

If you think that someone or something has it out for you, it’s safer to just assume that’s the case and react than it is to slow everything down and make sure you’re not crazy.

So our minds are designed to take us from story to emotion in an instant and this is the biggest thing that I think people don't understand about this process. Your story will dictate (and I use the word in particular) your emotions to you and it will happen faster than you can think.

So your story is, "Oh, my God, I hate public speaking, this is going to be the end of the world." What emotions do you think that will make you feel?

Scared, anxious, frustrated and basically freaking out.

So our THING now updates to this

EVENT: Someone made a sound directed in my vicinity

STORY: I’m going to fucking die in front of the board.

EMOTIONS: Anxiousness, frustration, stress, fear, freaking out.

And remember what we just said about emotions, they evoke motion. Our emotions dictate our actions.It's literally what they are designed to do - make us take action. So if you get up to speak publicly and you're stressed and you're anxious and you're frustrated, how do you think your speech is going to go?

It's going to go horribly.

EVENT: Someone made a sound directed in my vicinity

STORY: I’m going to fucking die in front of the board.

EMOTIONS: Anxiousness, frustration, stress, fear, freaking out.

RESULTS: A really awkward and bad speech.

So you now walk away from speaking and your brain has done a TERRIFIC job of just confirming the story you told yourself. You walk away thinking you're horrible at speaking in public and next time you’ll be EVEN MORE stressed than you were this time.

The key thing that we are unconscious of is that this has nothing to do with us and everything to do with THE THING and how our mind processes information. That’s just the biggest deal to get your head around because once it stops being about you and just about our quirky brain we can change this fast.

To show you a comparison, as someone who speaks for a living, my thing in that same situation would be:

EVENT: Someone made a sound directed in my vicinity

STORY: I was born to speak in public, let’s do this mofo's.

EMOTIONS: Confident, playful, joyful, and relaxed.

RESULTS: A really centred speech.

When someone tells me that I will speak in public, I get excited. I get excited because I tell myself a story that I love public speaking, I feel like it's one of the things I'm born to do, and it's an incredibly fun experience for me and it's something that I look at as part of my craft.

I've told myself this story so many times that THE THING has made me believe it's literally the truth of the universe. Not because I'm so special, I just understand this process and use it to empower myself always.

That story gives me a series of emotions like confidence and playfulness and joy, so when I get up to speak, I'm in a very confident, playful, and joyful mood which means my actions are very confident, playful, and joyful, which confirms the story that I'm an amazing public speaker because I give a very relaxed and centered speech.


You have one of two options with THE THING.

You're either going to be in a vicious cycle or you're in a virtuous cycle.

It’s either making you feel even more of a rockstar or making you feel even more of a dud. There's nothing in the middle. This single concept is the key to unlocking a new world for our BD.


The first thing that jumps out to me is that BD says that about 80 or 90% of the time they get things done, but the other 20% of the time they don't. I’d really want to know if there was a pattern in which 20% isn’t getting done because either they literally don't do anything to completion, or there's actually only a specific series of tasks that they don't get to completion and they are over exaggerating.

Knowing that would allow us to really hammer home the feedback, so instead the fact that they said that what they're missing out is important and is "a major mess when I don't do it," and there are feelings of overwhelmed, I'd say that a combination of both self-doubt and a fear of failure is crippling our BD. There has got to be something which is causing a fear of completing tasks and one of those bastards is a likely culprit of it.

What I mean by that it’s ruling the process of THE THING, the self-doubt or fear of failure makes them question their work, which makes them stressed, anxious and full of tension, which then makes them fail in the first place because they are so scared they either don’t do the work or do a poor quality and then whole shebang starts again.

It just gets worse and worse with each passing turn of the THING and our BD walks around thinking this has something to do with them and their brain, rather than realising this is just how EVERYONE'S brain is structured.

Our BD is using a story that places a tremendous amount of pressure on themselves. That much is obvious. They expect and demand an incredible amount from their work. I love the high standards but the vehicle they are using to achieve those standards isn't working. They place pressure on themselves to achieve and that's making them feel stressed, anxious and frustrated.

As a result of all that pressure, the story that they've used to describe their current life to me is a story of a lack, a story of inadequacy, and a story that is essentially devoid of joy. Think about how they have described their working environment and how that would impact THE THING.

“Overwhelming, inadequate, a major mess, important things don't happen, the business fails. Everyone's getting frustrated at me, they're talking about firing me. I don't know what's holding me back. I'm hurting people, why can't I trust me?"

Look at the language they are using in their story and ask yourself: how the fuck do you think that’s going to make you feel?

The thing that BD has to understand is that their fuel is not working. Remember our emotions are our fuel and clearly this fuel isn’t working or BD would have cracked this problem. So often in life, our problems that we think are killing us is actually just a lesson in realising you have a lack of adequate fuel.

They HAVE TO change their fuel because I’ve seen enough people to know by now this is a class A mental system to make you completely unfulfilled in life.

The second thing that goes along with all this pressure is the complete and utter lack of celebration that is in this breakdown. BD has a job that they love, they work in a business that they love, and they work with people that they love. That means they have a job that less than 1% of people on earth have.

BD loves what they do, who they do it with and wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. That’s what I call a BFD. A big fucking deal!

Not only that, they manage to achieve 80 to 90% of their goals on a consistent basis. That’s another BFD!

I bet you our BD has never stopped to realise how hard and difficult it is to do both of those things. There is no way in hell that they just accidentally fell into this work. It was probably a combination of luck and a significant amount of action over a sustained period to create and put themselves in their environment.

Yet, at no point in this email are they discussing the tremendous amount of work that they're doing, the tremendous amount of things they have to be grateful for, and the tremendous amount of things that they've actually achieved to even get into this position.


It’s absurd. Totally fucking absurd. Not in a mean way, but more in a ‘wake up and realise how incredible you are’ way.

This is where we get our fuel from. If BD started to celebrate the progress of getting to 80 and 90% done and stopped incessantly looking on what they haven't done, they would celebrate the process, NOTICE THEIR GROWTH, feel gratefulness, which they could use that fuel to then get the final 10 to 20% done.

Viola this shit goes away. If your story doesn't allow you to see your own growth, you won't see it and won't believe it exists. Gratefulness is one of the best fuels you can use because it forces you to appreciate yourself and this fuel starts to rapidly compound until it's massively affecting your life.

If instead of thinking, "I've only done 80 or 90%" if they said, "Holy shit, I've done 80 or 90%!!!!!!!" they would feel excited, they would want to celebrate, and they would have the energy to push through and actually get to the next level. THE THING would become a virtuous cycle and this vicious cycle would break.

Instead, BD looks at the fact that they still have a way to go, get frustrated, hurt, and upset, then get defeated that they didn't get it done. They don't realise it's because of inadequate fuel not because they're an inadequate person.

You're not inadequate, you're just using an inadequate fuel.

BD goes home and makes this all about themselves, and beat themselves up, which just makes their fear of failure and their self-doubt even worse, and then they come back the next day and the cycle starts again.

You're in a vicious cycle or a virtuous cycle, and this is the definition of a vicious cycle.

All of this then compounded by the fact that BD is in the presence of a true loved one, so now not only do they have all the internal pressure that they place on themselves, because they think it's going to be effective in helping them get what they want (even though it's not working.)

They have the extra stress, fear, and guilt to give themselves for not only failing themselves and their business but their business partners and the loved one. Isn’t it just fucking DANDY!

Now we can see why BD is so fucking frustrated and so hurt.

They feel trapped in a cycle where they're going around in a circle, failing everyone and they do not know how to get out. So now let’s talk about how to get the fuck out of this.

The way to get out of this trap is to realise that you cannot solve a problem with the tools that created it.

As a 14-year-old woman said when I spoke at her school this week ‘that was deep bro’ so let’s break that down as we have a perfect example of where you can actually see this in the email that BD has sent us.

I want you all to read OUT LOUD the two questions in the final paragraph of the problem:

1) "Why don't I follow through up to 80% of the time? "

2) "Why can't I succeed and follow through all the time?"

Try and think about why they are a bad idea. (HINT – it’s in the assumptions.)

Think about the answers that BD is going to get from those questions.

1) "Why do I only follow up 80% of the time?" Because you're unmotivated, because of your fear of failure, because you have self-doubt.

2) "Why can't I succeed and follow through all the time?" Because you're never good enough, because you're inadequate, and because you feel overwhelmed.

Think about how those questions impact THE THING and we have the definition of trying to solve a problem with the same tool that created it, and this is why BD is going in circles. They're stuck in a box and they're trying to use the box to help them get out of the box.


If BD wants to get out of this trap, they have to start doing something different.

Now, the first step in any change is to always remember that our first step is leverage. Luckily, you’re all spared another rant about leverage this week as BD has a shitload of leverage sitting in front of them. They recognise they're hurting people and they're clearly so frustrated that they're ready to make a change, they just don't know where to go. Good news.

The next step that we need to do is we need to realise that this is all about a process of self-love. If BD loved themselves and was able to actually embody that emotion, they wouldn't be worried about inadequacy, they wouldn't be feeling self-doubt, and they would not be fearing a fear of failure. All of these disappear because self-love in THE THING destroys the foundational stories that create all of those patterns.

To do that, we have to start changing our questions and using those questions to change our stories PRONTO. Instead of asking ourselves disempowering questions that are going to make us feel shit, we have to start asking ourselves higher powered questions which make us feel amazing.

New questions for our BD

1) What do I have to change to grow even more in my ability to have consistency and to execute in my business and in my life?

2) How can I grow even more in following through, in living up to my potential, and massively taking sustained action?

3) How can I feel even more gratefulness and joy in my work?

4) How can I celebrate even more of the amazing accomplishments that I have achieved in my life?

5) How can I celebrate even more of the victories that I have had today?

6) How can I be even more grateful about myself and about my abilities?

And most importantly number 7) How can I love myself even more?

BD needs to drill these questions into their brain so they stick forever.

I forget which step I’m up to and CBF to scroll up to check. So this can be step 5. Step 5 for our BD will is to is to stop using pressure to get themselves to do things. This will be the hardest step of them all even though it isn't working.

What BD has to realise is that instead of placing more pressure on themselves, what they need to do is connect with themselves more deeply. If BD was completely connected to themselves, the work would flow effortlessly. This is the biggest difference between people I see who operate consistently and those who don’t. Those who don’t obsess over ‘habits’ and ‘promodo’ whereas those who do obsess over one thing only – emotional states.

The question they needs to ask themselves is not, "How do I use even more pressure to make myself do these things?" but "What would have to happen for me to feel totally connected to myself at work? What do I need to change in my life so I use joy and compassion and gratefulness as my fuel to achieve things, and how can I appreciate even more of myself and the position that I'm in?"

The first couple of times BD asks themselves one of those questions, they are going to get nothing in response. That's because they never done it before. THIS IS TO BE EXPECTED. Keep asking the question until you do get an answer. Sometimes it’s like 50x before the brain says something other than ‘I don’t know’ or ‘you can’t.’ Tricky brain.

Not only that but they are going to be scared that if they stops putting pressure on that they are going to lose all their motivation. I’ve literally had entrepreneurs ask me ‘but won’t I just be a stoner and smoke weed if that happens?’

No. You’re not going to lose your motivation, it’s just going to change. You need to keep asking the questions and keep trusting the process until you feel the pressure starting to recede.

Step 12 is to then clear things up with the loved one. You need to go to him and apologise to him because you've realised you're being way too hard on yourself and you're going to stop doing that now, and instead, realise you're really amazing and you're going to work from that place rather than from a disempowering place.

Now, I'm actually happy to bet $50AUD to our BD that he has already said those words to BD. That's why we are saying sorry. I bet he has told our BD that they are too hard on themselves and they should stop disempowering themselves so much.

BD needs to go to him and say that they wants his help in being educated on how to do all of this. Now instead of something that drove them apart we have turned a problem into something that is going to draw them closer together.

Lastly, BD needs to then focus on building a new series of rituals so this sticks forever. They need to do exercises in the morning, exercises in the evenings, put reminders in their phone, reminders in their calendar, and build a system so this is constantly front of mind.

This is a solvable problem. If BD can start empowering, loving and connecting with the world, everything will change for the better.

Gratefulness is the answer.

Alright I think I’m done.



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