You’re a jerk.
You’re a big fat jerk, and you should be ashamed of yourself!
How does that make you feel?
Allow me to prove it to you. Take this quick quiz:
- Have you ever done or said anything that you later realized you shouldn’t have?
- Have you ever shared or repeated anything educational or newsworthy without FIRST investigating the source(s)?
- Have you ever made plans or committed to something without consulting others involved?
- Have you ever formed an immediate opinion about something or someone without really knowing much about it/them?
Answered “yes” to ANY of these questions? Congratulations, you’re a bonafide jerk!
Answered “no” to all of them? You’re a certified liar. Perhaps you should read my post: “How to stop being a horrible liar.” (forthcoming…maybe)
“But Taylor, I’m not a jerk… you JERK!”
Yes, you are! Stop resisting. And you’re right! It takes one to know one!
I’m a jerk. My girlfriend is a jerk. Everyone sitting around me in this coffee shop is a jerk. We’re all jerks.
In case you’re actually offended right now or can’t see where I’m going with this, let’s further define the type of jerk I’m referring to so you can have your “aha!” moment…The Knee-Jerk
We all do it, but I don’t think most of us realize just how much we do it.
A knee-jerk reaction commonly follows some type of external verbal or physical cue that presents a clear and visible opportunity for the jerk in question to commence knee-jerking.
For instance, if I told you that your mom is fat, your knee-jerk reaction might be to punch me in the face or call me a bad name.
In contrast, a more thoughtful measured reaction might be to tell me my mom is fat too (because you’re so original!), or politely ask me to refrain from “yo momma” jokes, as you don’t find them funny (you and I wouldn’t get along).
“OK Captain Obvious… tell me something I don’t know”
The knee-jerk happens in private too, without external input. It happens when you’re alone, in reaction to your own thoughts.
And it holds you back. A lot.
You think to yourself: “I should work on my business.”
Then you knee-jerk, open your laptop and begin non-income producing activities without even thinking, like reading your Facebook feed or an industry article.
It feels good to react this way, but it doesn’t move the needle forward. I’ve struggled with this reaction a lot.
You’re watching TV and catch a glimpse of that ultra-sexy celebrity you love… or whatever else might arouse you when you’re alone (put down the vacuum).
You knee-jerk and before you know it, you’ve just masturbated to your favorite bi-sexual dwarven bestiality porn… because you know, your taste in porn is so… um… ‘unique’.
You immediately took action on your unexpected arousal, but now have less in the tank for your partner later that night (I’ve also recently been considering the not-so-obvious effects of watching porn).
You see an article on your Facebook feed about how drinking water in the morning cures cancer.
The next thing you know you’ve excitedly commented on it, re-shared it with your Aunty Jebra (who has face cancer), and even educated your family about it at dinner that night like you’re Dr. Oz. All without thinking. Without fact-checking.
Innocent enough, right? Yep, if you want to risk unintentionally making your friends and family dumber... This is one of the WORST knee-jerks if you ask me. And it’s so prevalent nowadays.
There are too may examples to list.
Anything you DO or SAY in reaction to an internal thought, feeling, or external input, WITHOUT first considering what you SHOULD do or say…. is a knee-jerk reaction.
We’re all going to have knee-jerk moments every now and then. After all, there is only one appropriate knee-jerk reaction to someone jumping out at you from a trash bin.
So, the goal here is to stop being SUCH a jerk… to reduce our “jerkiness” factor.
Here are a few steps to help prevent us from being a jerk when it counts.
Step 1: Become hyper-conscious of your daily thoughts and actions
Before you can become less of a jerk, you have to first know what, specifically, is making you one.
Many of us sleepwalk through our days, allowing our sub-conscious mind to decide what we’re doing and how we’re feeling at any given moment.
Becoming hyper-conscious and learning to control your thoughts and feelings with purpose will better your life in many ways. But for the sake of staying on topic here we’ll save most of that for another article.
Snap out of your trance and try to truly identify anything you’ve done in the past few hours that could be considered a knee-jerk reaction, as defined above. Set an alarm on your phone if you need to. Try to have this moment of reflection at least a few times per day.
Step 2: Practice slowing down!
Instead of immediately going with your first instinct all the time, practice slowing down and replacing the knee-jerk with a quick evaluation of your options and associated potential outcomes. Getting good at this will go a long way to reducing your jerkiness.
Even in situations that require lightning fast reactions, such as sports, action games, or life-threatening scenarios — practicing at a slower pace can help accelerate your ability to succeed at a faster pace once choosing the right actions becomes more automatic.
Step 3: Become proactive instead of reactive
Being proactive is simply anticipating something before it happens, and taking action or planning an action on it ahead of time.
Here are some examples of how to be proactive for knee-jerks you may have identified in Step 1:
- Do you check your email or phone multiple times unnecessarily? What causes those reactions?
If it’s visual or audible alerts, perhaps you should shut those off in the settings. Then set your own “check-it schedule” on your own terms. If it’s simply because it’s there for you to see — HIDE IT!
- Do you have thoughts or ideas that you sometimes act on too quickly? Perhaps you’ve made plans without consulting your partner or their calendar. Or maybe you’ve made a big announcement to your customers too early and your team lacked sufficient details to answer the resulting avalanche of questions.
I commend you for taking swift action, but sometimes it can get you in trouble too!
Start to identify the appropriate people in your circles to discuss various topics with, and then commit to taking a moment to run it by them each time you have a “bright idea”. If it affects others, it’s usually better to have their support first, than to surprise them with a knee-jerk.
- Have you re-shared something on Facebook or repeated something you were told without checking facts first? Do you ever think about if it actually adds value for the people you’re repeating it to?
The proactive thing here is to first realize that not everything you read, see, or hear is true — and it’s an absolute tragedy to unknowingly spread lies in the guise of truth.
Always consider the source and then do a bit of digging around other trustworthy sources BEFORE repeating things you “learn”. Take it a step further and require yourself to have at least one reliable source handy when you’re tempted to share something new with someone.
Deciding what’s reliable versus what’s not is an entirely separate issue, but I can tell you this — it’s NOT Facebook!
Just yesterday at a coffee shop as I was writing part of this article, I overheard a girl telling her 3 friends that the “Dog Whisperer” – Ceasar Millan, is dead! D-E-D: DEAD! She was 100% certain of it! Read it online! Of course, her three friends were upset to hear this news and all took it on face value from their buddy. Sad times 🙁
Instead of sulking like a sad sap, I immediately took to my trusty Google search box and within seconds found out it was a big dirty lie. Just like Macaulay Culkin’s recent death. (Oh yeah, and Jackie Chan’s too)
I then swung around in my seat to face the four idiots gazing at each other with empty stares, and proceeded to perform a modern-day miracle for them by swiftly resurrecting Ceasar from his seconds-old grave. They were all thrilled to hear that our dog-loving TV hero is still alive and whispering.
Did you enjoy any part of this article? Then stop being a jerk and share it with your friends!