10 Ways to Forgive The Person You Want to Kill

I know exactly what I’m going to do. Don’t tell anyone. I’m going to  put on a ski mask, find where they live in Brooklyn, show up at their door when they leave for work about six in the morning, and hit them with a baseball bat.  I might not even wear a ski mask. I want the person to know it’s me.

And what did this person do to me? In this particular case, something small. Not even worth talking about. He blocked an opportunity for me that I no longer care about. But still, he did it. He did it to hurt me. And now I’m angry.

It’s not like other people in Brooklyn. People who maybe aborted my baby. Or people who fired me from a job. Or people  who wrote articles slandering me. I barely think of them. It was nothing like that.

What a waste of time, this anger thing is. It inserts itself into the oddest moments. It turns daydreams into nightmares. It turns nightmares into waking up in the middle of the night, heavy breathing, sweating, an erection.

And that’s this one person. What about the other people. “I did this, this, and this for him, and now he won’t even do X, Y, or Z for me.” I can sit here all day long with that. What a waste that would be. I can make a big list. I can be angry all the time if I want.

There’s my favorite Zen story: two monks by the river. A prostitute trying to cross. One of the monks carries her across, sets her down, then the two monks keep on going. The monk who didn’t carry her gets more and more agitated. Finally, “why did you do that? You know we are not supposed to even touch women like that!”

And the monk who carried her said, “I left her by the river. Why are you still carrying her?”

That’s the secret of productivity and forgiveness. To always think, why am I still carrying her?

But to elaborate further (like I do), I’m a strong believer in several methods of forgiveness.

(maybe she needs to be carried across that swimming pool)

A) Taking a break. I’m upset RIGHT NOW. So take a timeout. “I’m going to think about this later when I’m maybe more rational.” i.e. not three in the morning, waking up from a dream about a baseball bat. Blood all over my midnight hands.

Always think of the exact moment you schedule for yourself. 3PM today I will think about it. Then see what happens then.

B) Understanding. In the incident I’m thinking of this morning I know why the person is upset at me and did the things  he did. I went on two dates with his wife long before he even knew her. So even though I’ve never done anything to him, he has some anger towards me.  There’s nothing I can do about it. He feels he is the victim. But I don’t have to be a victim.

C) The Alien Technique. I like to wake up pretending I’m an alien. My mission from the mother galaxy is to land in random bodies across the Universe and figure out where I am and solve their problems. Today I woke up in this body. Odd, I feel anger about something.

I explore it in my body. Oh, it’s nothing. Better to focus on getting this body in shape, happy, productive. I have 24 hours in this body. Who is this beautiful woman lying next to me. What food can I eat today? What’s the best things I can do with it. Clearly the wrongs I suffered in the past are not worth spending time on. I’m an alien only here for 24 hours after all.

The Alien Technique is surprisingly powerful. I have modifications on it. But that’s for another post.

D) Forget. Someone  wrongs me. I say , “ok, I’m going to forget about this eventually”. And I always do. Some people say “forgetting is not the same as forgiving”. Who cares? I just want to think about other things today. The method is not so important.

E) Accept. They might be angry for things that have nothing to do with me. If someone is beaten or unloved as a kid, they are going to beat or punish in some way the people around them later. Doesn’t mean I have to be around them. But accepting who they are and their lot in life allows me to move past the small trivialities of how they treated me. They are the real victims, sadly, as I get to move forward in my life.

F) Relate. People might actually be justified in what they do to me. Maybe I really did wrong them in the distant past and now they want to punish me back. It doesn’t really justify what they are doing but I can relate. Heck, maybe I would’ve done the same thing. Relating makes the anger subside.

G) Expectations. Sometimes my expectations of people are too high. Most people are crappy people. They can’t help it. We have a big challenge in our lives.

Well then, what should I expect from people? Nothing. Every day I try to focus on having high expectations for myself. An easy way to do that is to lower the expectations I have for everyone else and not be so quick to judge their actions.

H) Kindness. Often I can forgive people by doing an act of kindness to them. You don’t always want to do this. It sounds like you’re kissing the ass of people who whip your ass. But often, if someone has made you angry, a simple “hello” or “good job!” will diffuse the situation. Kindness is the most powerful weapon created for humans when used correctly. And honestly.

I) Selfish. If someone has wronged me I can be completely selfish about it. It gives me the perfect opportunity to practice the principles behind “dealing with crappy people” (see above link). Every time I get to practice those principles, I get better at it.

The better I am at dealing with bad people, the more productive I eventually am (less daydreams about murder, for instance), the happier I am, the better I am able to move on and enjoy other things in my life. The less crappy I become. People can change. I’ve changed. This is how.

J) Pick Yourself. I hate situations when one person has decision-making authority over something important to me. Whether a company I have will get  bought. or a TV show I pitch gets picked up. Or a book I write will get published. Or a girl I like doesn’t like me back. Or  whatever. These situations sometimes make me angry.

The best way is to reduce the situations where one person has this power. If you want to write a book, then self publish. If you want to do a TV show or a radio show, just record yourself and put it on youtube. If you want your company to get sold, talk to 30 people, not just one (or keep improving your business). If you want a promotion, apply for another job. You’ll either get your promotion or you’ll get a better job.

In every situation you are in today, try to pick yourself where you can. Or figure out how you can make it a situation where you are picking yourself.

Right now I’m specifically thinking about four things I’m angry about. Maybe five. Ranging from tiny things to big things. But that’s great. I have ten ways above to deal with them. It might take a few minutes to figure out which technique i’ll use for each situation. Maybe I’ll use more than one technique for some of the situations.

But it’s early in the day. And I’ll have work, kids, food, writing, reading, laughing, to occupy the rest of the 24 hours I’m allowed to stay on this planet. And then I’m gone.

Then when the mothership lands I’ll prepare for my next alien mission.

See also: “The Crappy FAQ”


  • I do really dumb things when I’m pissed off.  Really dumb.  I regret them and I wish I could take them back almost immediately after doing them.  

    Once my wife and I were hiking with some friends.  At the bottom of a rather steep mountain she asked me – in front of everyone else – to carry her heavy backpack full of the crap I had told her not to bring along.  How could I NOT say yes?  I felt like a manipulated sucker.  As the hiking became climbing and the climbing became grueling with the heavy pack, I became angrier and angrier with each step.  All the while she was hopping from rock to rock, happy as a lark as she chatted with the others.  Nearing the top I was exhausted and furious as I crested a small ledge to find everyone sitting and waiting for me.  That’s when it happened.  With the whole group watching I turned around and threw the pack off the ledge.  Together we watched as it tumbled down, down, down, down…. torn to shreds, the contents certainly smashed.

    Not my finest moment.    

    It took me a while to realize that many of my greatest regrets revolve around times like this.  Times when I was furious.  More specifically they happened when that fury had time to simmer.  It would then boil over, causing me to do something out of character. 

    Now, I try to recognize when I am simmering.  I try to recognize that angry thoughts are spinning round and round in my head.  When this happens I know I am going to do something really dumb soon if I don’t take action.  I have to turn down the heat. 

    Distraction works best for me.  It’s like taking the pot off the stove.  I purposely shift my attention to something that makes me happy or some other non-angering problem that needs to be solved.  Of course, my mind wants to jump back to simmering.  Simmering can be addictive.  Sometimes I have to force it back to the thing I am using as a distraction. 

    If I am successful with my distraction and I turn down the heat on my fury, I often find that reasonable, rational solutions suddenly pop into my head.  Even in situations where I have no control or those where I was manipulated, something strange happens.  Knowing that I can use distractions to control myself is empowering. 

    The knowledge that I can control how I react, gives me power to avoid the fury.  I stop the anger from growing into the desire to kill anyone or throw their backpack off the mountain. 


    • I had a similar failure. My wife and I were flying and I told her to pack lightly enough that she could carry her bags (I had mine plus the kids). She didn’t and I ended up lugging everything. The failure? That was just one example of beta behavior, which would be endlessly repeated until she left the marriage. I could have handled it differently. I should have handled it differently. I had NO IDEA what to do, at least not back then.

      • I had a similar situation which ended up with the police escorting me to a hotel and forcing me to not leave the room for the night or else “we’ll throw you in jail”. 

        Life is hard sometimes. Whatever tricks we can do to get better at it worth cultivating. 

        • Anonymous

          Oh man, our family hike and bike quite a lot and and I can so relate to this. 

          The paradoxical thing is it seems our loved ones are designed exactly for this sort of aggravation.  You told them NOT to do something, then of course they proceeded do it anyway and you ended up cleaning up the mess.   A teen age kid seems to be designed to be expert on finding all the right buttons to drive you insane on a regular basis. When my son does thing like this, no matter how much I tried to practice patience and forgiveness, occasionally it turned me into a screaming idiot and I hated myself afterward.  It doesn’t end with teen age child.  My wife did it, my late dad, my mom.  All the loved ones. Also the closest associates in business, co-founder, partner, etc.  Heck I probably do it to everyone else around me without realizing it.  Though I am pretty sure I don’t.  But, who knows.

          I recalled reading a passage from Ram Dass’s book in which his beloved guru in India deliberately set things up to make Ram Dass did things that he hated or tried to avoid the most.  It bothered the heck out of him.  I guess the guru was there to set up an accelerated
          learning path to mastery in acceptance and forgiveness.

          Someone forwarded me a quote from a series of books called “a course in miracles” that essentially teach about ONE thing: forgiveness.  It says something to the effect:

          “Forgiveness is STILL and quietly does NOTHING.  It merely look, and wait, and judges not”

          I tried to practice that whenever I can but have to admit it’s supremely challenging at times.

    • Jerome Pineau

      Great anecdote with the backpack, quite honestly – are you still married? :)

      • Still happily married.  17 years. 

        I now know enough to understand that I can’t dictate what she can bring.  And I understand the value of allow her to carry her own bag. 

        • You really hit on it with the “value of allowing her to carry her own bag.”  You want her to have a good time and not be burdened with unnecessary crap that she shouldn’t have packed, so you take her bag — and simmer.  You have to let people learn for themselves without being upset about it.  I had to learn that one, too.  Now I am pretty good at sitting back and watching, without rancour, as loved ones do something stupid.  Later, if and when they are in a receptive mood, I calmly remark on the situation in a non-judgmental, non-criticising manner.  Usually, it’s something like, “So… How did THAT plan work out?” said with a wink and a grin.  That lets people criticise themSELVES and, in so doing, learn from the experience.
          God bless you and your missus.

    • Kareleebear

      You need permission from yourself to honor yourself as much as you tried to honor your wife. If you had honored yourself you would have been able to say to her that she needed to carry her own backpack. And she would have learned her own lesson. I also think that half of your fury was at yourself.

    • disqus_jYto2wlipd

      As I was reading I was already envisioning you pitching the heavy bag off of the cliff. Lol.

      I have been simmering and had an angry outburst early this morning. As I’ve only had an hour of sleep. Everytime I’d fall asleep, I’d hear gunfire or fireworks or the thots across the street that were drunk, two of them with four guys all yelling and laughing in the front yard up until after 4am.

      I get it people want to get drunk and do dumb shit on New Years and potentially mske a few enemies. I hadn’t rested the night before and came home on the afternoon thinking I’d get a nap, only to be awakened 30 minutes into my nap by the one of the thots loud guy friend revving his engine and laying on his horn.

      There was way more stuff needless to say my patience is paperthin and I was fighting the urge of reacting. One of the thots is a dramamonger, her husband took sole custody of the kids and she’s been a drunken slore ever since. Now I wouldn’t wish anyone to lose their kids, but I see why the kids are with him and not her.

    • NormanOsborne

      I do not think you were wrong throwing the backpack over the mountain. When in similar situations I just tell my girlfriend that its her stuff if she wants it she can carry it. She was in the wrong bringing it against your advice then waiting until everyone was there to humiliate you into carrying it for her. You were justified

  • The alien technique is brilliant – it lets a person be outside their self but still act in a manner that is conducive to the self’s survival and potential.

  • Great post. Helps me deal with current situation, when person I want to kill is spouse.

  • I always read posts like this because I’m still dealing with anger issues from a failed LTR. The problem is, my anger is entirely irrational – the LTR failed because she was mentally ill. It’s like being mad at your kid for coughing all night because he has a cold. But I still have intense flashes of anger about the way it fell apart, so any advice on how to deal with anger is good. There are a couple of things you suggest that I already know work, and a couple more that I will try. Thanks for the post!

    • Its hard. You can’t punish yourself for those flashes of anger. But, at the same time, you don’t want to live your life that way. Over time those flashes, when added together, add up to a lot of time. Time you could’ve been finger painting, for instance. Which is much more fun. 

    • Sschaloc

      Anger: Chain saw. Split wood. Split more wood. Stack wood. 
      Too F’in tired for anger.
      You are Southern – bust wood.

  • Hah! That’s probably my favorite Zen story, too. So many layers to it. Forgiving yourself. Forgiving other people. Choosing to do the right thing as opposed to *appearing* to do the right thing. Not projecting your own motives and issues onto other people. Regret.

    I’m actually a big fan of the Alien Technique, although I don’t call it that. Sometimes when I get badly stuck I imagine how I might act if I were a newly installed CEO brought in to do a turnaround on a failing life–mine. I like your concept better, though. It’s more all-encompassing.

    • Yes, there are many layers to that story and its amazing when you count up the number of situations they apply to in daily life. 

      I like your CEO approach also and will have to try that. One difference (and there’s both a pro and con to it) is that the CEO approach implies awareness of the history. So the CEO is going to come in and fix things. The alien is starting from scratch, with no awareness of the past, and just wants to live a healthy life that day. 

      • michael k

        i like the alien approach: it lets in a fresh point of view. it more easily sees the situation for what it really is.

  • I’ve met a few of those people in the past decade. They made me fantasize about violence. Sometimes anger can sneak up on you when you least expect it.

    I like the ‘pick yourself’ method the best. It’s all about empowerment. Anger gives you a delusional feeling of empowerment. But it’s actually a weakness inside. It takes away your power.

    I don’t want to be weak. I want to be strong.

    Forgiveness is true power. It’s divine strength. I try to cultivate that. Maybe someday I will fly.

    Now back to reality. I am still feeling a little angry. I am still weak.

    • Feng, forgiveness is SUPER HARD. On the one hand, you can turn the other cheek. But what if then you get hit right in the face? It’s very hard and we’re not jesus. Sometimes better than forgiveness is just to say, “ok, this guy or girl was a total jerk. I’ve got other things to do today that will make my life better. And maybe at some point in the future I’ll think about this person again. Or maybe not?” There’s no real requirement you have to forgive bad people in order to be happy. Sometimes just ignoring them and then forgetting them is best. 

      • Yeah, that’s true. I forget almost all of them eventually. But for some of the close ones like family members, I have to forgive. It’s not about letting them free, it’s about letting myself free.

      • Joe Smith

        Nice write up and I can relate to the hiking trip amd glad that im not the only one who still battles with this anger at times. Growing up when I was angry I expressed it. Sometimes alot more than others most times verbally when dealing with a bully I would deal with it physically both are damaging to the person receiving as well as the person dishing it. I know people today many years later who are still upset with some of the things I’ve said and done but for those people I pray that in time they recognize I said and did things as a self defense mechanism.

        However, after college I entered Corporate America and was shocked and some of the nonesense that goes on within these corporate companies. These passive aggressive assholes who do and say things that are not true about you with the intent of damaging your name. They know how to play the corporate game circumvent HR and any inquiries by HR. So for some time I remained quiet kept to myself and said in time they will pick a new target but they didn’t. They kept on with same shit week after week of throwing wrenches at me do everything they can to kill my morale and productivity so that they break me down always thinking to myself if only they knew the personal me and not the corporate version. Personal me would neve take that shit not for a minute. I was goo at leaving this anger at work as well. I finally confronted the individuals let them get a better understanding of just how things would be handled of we weren’t in a professional enviornment. For about a year I was held captive by this anger and frustration. I’m glad I did what needed to be done and I’ve promised myself never to be held captive by some jerks like that again. Anger, Fear or any other negative emotion you can think of is so harmful to carry with you. It’s important to find an outlet to channel that anger out because it’s not healthy to hold onto. I’ve gone on way to much about this but in a way this has helped me to heal that much farther.

    • Clark

      You’re weak because you don’t have the balls to fight back. There are plenty of crimes you can get away with, unlike murder (unless you have a lot of money to pay your way out of the death sentence like OJ Simpson). Either do something terrible to those who did you wrong or find a random stranger and hurt them if you can’t find your abusers. If more people stood up for themselves and committed crimes the less likely people will try to take advantage of them.

  • Altucher: I’m dealing with a crappy ex right now and feeling crappy myself, or maybe I was already crappy, whatever. I don’t want to be a crappy person, the more aversion I feel about being crappy the crappier I become, it’s an endless cycle! Life will be better without exes!

    Crappy Priscilla :(

    •  That’s how I felt like for most days in 2011. I now wish her nothing but the best. Thanks for many wisdom I learned from James. Hang in there. It will get better.

      • Thanks! The equation gets complicated when you add a child to the division.

        • Priscilla, sometimes when it’s an ex, there’s nothing we can do. You get so angry at first that the anger is uncontrollable. I’m guilty of it so many times I can’t even count.

          But I can guarantee you you are not a crappy person. Whatever you can do to survive those nuclear aftermath moments in the case of an ex, puts you in the category of the heroic. It’s after that initial period is over when you can finally decide, “ok, I’m going to try one of these things to see if I can reduce the anger and live a better life.” But dont pressure or punish yourself if you can’t be saintly from the first second. 

          • Thanks Altucher, at the end we are all in the same boat, trying to find happiness or be happy or at least be more content with who we are. And this includes all the exes in the world! :-)

          • It took me a loooooong time to forgive my ex-wife for hiding my son from me for most of his childhood.  She really messed him up, too.  But that’s HER fault and her problem and she had a lousy childhood herself.  So I forgave her.  I never thought I would, but it just happened with time.
            Try to realise that your child needs BOTH parents and that the most important person “in the equation” is the one who suffers most from a divorce — that child.
            Your forgiveness of your ex will help not only you, but your child.
            Anyway, God bless you and hang in there.

          • Momma’s boy

            The worst father imaginable

    • Alma Wells

      Dear Priscilla, I am so sorry about your state-of-mind. What you need, is a better understanding about how life works.
      Currently, your mind is in a state of pure negative thinking.
      Can you try? Can you really, really try to stop thinking negative thoughts for a while? Please try to think… happy thoughts.
      Do you remember the time… when you were in love?
      Do you remember the time… when you thought love would last… a life… time.
      I’m trying to sing you a beautiful song about having how you can create your own world of happiness by remembering the happiest times of your life.

      • Thank you for your words Alma. This was 2 years ago when I was going through divorce, I’m fine now and we exes get along very well. :)

  • Anonymous

    Great read, at least i learnt not to carry baggage along, sometimes it helps to just give a good loud scream then relax and decide how to deal with life small inconveniences

    • The “loud scream” reminds me – exercise is good. We keep anger in the form of toxins thoughout our body. A scream might be a way to release those “anger toxins” but so is the sweat from exercise, which might be even better. 

  • looking forward to the expanded Alien post! what a great technique.

    • With the right imagination and willingness to persist the image throughout the day, the alien technique is my favorite. Right from the moment when you wake up and you say, “Where am i?” “Who am I?” it tickles our sense of mystery, our sense of adventure, and these are enormously spriitual questions to ask ourselves. 

      Then, throughout the day, to keep touching back on that. To make your past disappear and ponder the question of what is righ RIGHT NOW is very helpful. 

  • Love the Monks story. Awesome post. I will add one more tip, when I got agitated by someone, it stimulated me to be a better or more powerful person.  Become a decision maker to decide not to buy your business, become a powerful social media influencer to tell everyone their terrible services, become a competitor to beat you up at different aspects.  I also believe what they committed will cause their lost in the future (Chinese Zen)

  • The alien technique is a good one and overall I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made forgiving others.  the greater challenge is forgiving myself.

    • I agree with that. So here’s how I view it. Forgiving other is not important at all. Except in one case: its practice for the hard task – forgiving ourselves. The more we “practice” forgiveness, the easier it becomes to forgive ourselves. 

  • cgello

    This is a particularly useful article as I’m going through a recent breakup. Your techniques will come in handy. Thank you so much for all of your writing and contributions to the world! Keep it up!

  • Anonymous


    Really enjoy your insights and find myself checking your blog more frequently.

    One thing about this whole forgiveness stuff I’d like to add is that I don’t believe its within our power to forgive nor is it our right.

    Dont you think its a bit presumptuous to forgive when you dont have all the facts nor appreciate the intentions behind the act?

    We have the power to “let go” but forgiveness may be relegated to a higher domain if you know what I mean.

    • michael k

      i agree. forgiving someone seems arrogant. if you view the other with compassion/gratefulness there’s no room for resentment. can’t be grateful & resentful at the same time.

      • That’s a little harder to do when the person almost killed you. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but there is a point where compassion for an abuser is just self-abuse…

  • Steve Clanmire

    Damn. Wished you had written this last week. Oh well, no sense crying over spilt….

  • TDW

    I am devolving to faith. I am not a religious man but I have to believe that life will provide what I need. Believing that, what has happened before was just a prelude and with that attitude I find it easier to forgive and move on…I can´t wait for what´s next!

  • “…and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us…”
    This has never been a particular strength of mine, but my Christian faith demands it of me.  I try to think of those who go out of their way to be obnoxious to me as Godsends; God sends them to give me the opportunity to practice what He preaches.
    Sometimes I’d like to kick those people in the teeth, however…  It’s a struggle every day.
    This article helps.

    • Zeebo Mcvay

      my mother and father inlaw are the most worthless piece of crap,they use the church for money and act dissabled ,they tell my kids im the devil i have it on video i cant believe that in custody court that after having my kids for two years an old fighting charge i had when i was younger was brought up and my kids given to my ex she was was evicted by the sherrif the day befor court and now i have to go see my kids in a lil room for 2hrs a week while were observed by some county person theese people i want to bite there juggler veins out and crush every bone in they face,some how i get by knowing they are wellfare scum and they are using the church im just discusted i take solace in knowing within 6to 8 months something will happen cause they always have a major something happen i was a devoted soninlaw i just cant believe a real god would let this happen ,if someone on dope or drinking did this to me id be cool,however theese are your music director and quior singer at church and that just fokz me up in the head,i pitty christians now all they do is make exscuses,nobody can help me im doomed to hell when i die ,i tell them i would not like to spend eternity kneeling down and worshiping sum fock who NEEDS MONEY and be happy ,awe im getting off track sorry,hehe ,im just posting this cause NOBODY has listend even with video evidence ca is too busy,im very hurt and as a former minister i used to tell people hurting people hurt people,so i keep that in mind,anyhoo it was good to type all this out maybe ill do it again when i get BLOOD THIRSTY,i refuse to hate im doing my best i know hate causes cancer ive seen it thanks for hearing me at least some one did

  • You become free, once you chose to become free. It’s not easy that’s for sure – but that concept seems to be the one that helps me the most.

    Similar to Emerson’s, “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.”

    Great tips James, thank you.

  • Dali

    Here’s a thought, James.  Don’t get angry.  I like to walk and ride a bike in a relatively large Midwestern city populated with many morons who try to intimidate me and hit me.  They don’t really want to hit me, they just want to see how close they can get and if they can intimidate me because they are little thinkers who hate their own lives.  They used to make me angry, but I figured out that their goal in life is to have some power over me and get me to react to them, so I ignore them.  I keep my eye out for them and give them wide berth but I don’t give in to their little game.   Some day, most of these idiots are either (a) going to hit and kill someone or (b) piss off the wrong guy.  Then the universe will sort it out, as it always does.  For me, anger has always been self-dstructive.  Life is better when you let it roll off your back.  Karma will win in the end.  Always does.

  • Maddave25

    A question. I’m having exactly the same feelings toward a guy who beat me out of some money, right down to the baseball bat. I’m thinking of calling his wife to inform her that he is sticking it to another woman that the wife knows, but I’m pretty sure doesn’t know about the infidelity.  I know it’s true because I was with him and this woman at the same time.
     Any thoughts? 

    • You might want to use a laser if you’re trying to kill a bacteria, not an RPG. Meaning: be careful about collateral damage, otherwise you become as bad as that guy… “His wife” is a person in her own right (and while I personally would want to know if my spouse were cheating) so check to see if you’re falling into “the end justifies the means” thinking, which for millenia has always produced suffering. 

  • I always used to tell my kids that the best way to get back at someone who they believed had wronged them was to be successful.

    When they were in school if they ever had conflicts with the teacher, there was no better way to be “victorious” than to ace an exam or write the best report ever. Incessantly participate in class is also a good way to get the upper hand, sometimes even making the teacher back off or avoid interaction.

    Often times, in situations that you believe a teacher has wronged you that’s really not the situation. So often they are trying, by whatever mechanism, to spur you on to live up to your ability. Whatever conflict there is can result in a good outcome, if you constructively deconstruct the reality.

    After all, James, didn’t you become friends with the very guy that threw you out of graduate school. DId you become a better and more accomplished person, at least in part, due to that conflict?

    It’s different though when you’re in competition with someone, real or perceived. SInce killing is a bit extreme any alternative that spares your stomach lining is preferable.

    I don’t necessarily believe that people are inherently crappy, it’s just that as an outsider to their sphere of interest, you may not matter. The truly crappy people have a very narrow sphere. The really, really crappy people have a sphere that consists of them alone.

    Either get into the sphere or don’t associate. If you have no choice but to associate, then dominate and let them think of you as the crappy one.

    • Clark

      I completely agree. When someone does you wrong do them wrong ten times worst. Become even more evil and sinister than them and you will feel all powerful. This guy understands that nobody cares about anyone, people only act nice to you if they want to use you for something. Otherwise they will treat you like shit.

      • With regard to your comment: “I completely agree.”

        Uh, that’s not even remotely close to what I have said.

        I’d like to think that there’s some sarcasm in your reply, but if not, I wouldn’t characterize your reply as being in agreement with my sentiments, unless by “agreement” you mean “polar opposite.”

  • I know this. I’m not sure it ever goes away. But a Jungian perspective suggests I’m ‘projecting’ my ‘Shadow’, which turns out to be a great metaphor for what seems to be going on. Sure, the guy’s a creep and you have every right to hate him, or get even (imo). But the energy that wakes you up in the middle of the night, scrutinizing in minute detail the wrongs he did you, is your own energy, your Shadow. Jung suggests we get to know and acknowledge it (and the other colorful cast of characters he called archetypes). That will keep us from heading over to Brooklyn with a baseball bat.

  • Use it creatively! The anger I had at someone whom I physically had to fight to get away from to survive was eating me alive. Let’s just say it wasn’t a bat I was picturing, it was an instrument that would leave lots of blood. 

    So I decided to write a revenge story. It lets me safely explore my trauma, get a bit of healthy revenge, but also see the “story” in a removed way so that it almost discharges the emotional rage that builds up (the needs of the story outweigh what I need to tell myself about what is true). I can also feel empowered yet strangely it also helps me see – because I have to characterize both “me” and the “attacker” – how an agent’s behavior, personality, and environment contributes to a situation.

    And the type of revenge stories I prefer end badly (i.e., have the moral that revenge damages YOU in a fundamental way – see “Killings” by Andre Dubus or the book “Revenge: A Story of Hope” by Laura Blumenfeld), it’s a lesson I can teach myself without the real-world consequences…

    It has helped immensely. I’ve even had fun doing it. I guess that’s part of healing…

  • A .45 auto is much more satisfying than a baseball bat.

  • Love your work, bro!  Thanks for this one!

  • Anonymous

    Another lovely post. Alien technique is an interesting name and description for something I’ve often done as a way to improve my self awareness :)  

    Just one little critique under Point E) Accept. “They might be angry for things that have nothing to do with me. If someone is beaten or unloved as a kid, they are going to beat or punish in some way the people around them later.”  This sounds like a sweeping generalization; better to say they “may” react in in a similar fashion since they may not know any better. 

  • cowboylogic

    I remind myself that I am not as smart as they think they are.

  • Daveoe

    I really like the alien body idea, it forces you to stand back and evaluate which is the key
    to a great life. This in turn creates a substantial life where learning, finding joy everyday and becoming love, the kind of love that is reflected in your everyday actions on planet earth.
    Everyone I have ever spoken to who are in their  “sunset” years have told me that the key to life and the reason why we are all here is to simply become love and let our actions reflect that love.
    Pretty simple really. But as we can all see from the condition of the people of the planet earth and especially in the countries of the “free” world,whose leaders have no caring for their people or those of any other country, we all have a long long way to go.
    Always love your posts, you keep me on my toes!

  • Anonymous

    Forgive it’s good for ya. But don’t ever forget the motherfuckers name.

  • David

    James – I think this is one of your most valuable posts. I’m typically a “nice guy” but sometimes I feel an anger well up in my seemingly out of nowhere. It’s hard to dicuss this kind of rage openly so your honesty and advice is appreciated. I can’t tell you how many rage fantasies I’ve had toward obnoxious co-workers and family members. Defintely a “not useful”!

  • This is a great article.

  • John1525

    Well you haven’t lived until a friend comes to kick you when you’re at rock bottom accusing you of all sorts of ugliness. In my case a petty and angry sort taking the opportunity to act on years of jealousy. They tried to take advantage of some difficulty we were having in order to extort a larger return but fell short. They’re also a lifelong scammer busted for tax and stock fraud, they’re cheating their current employer, etc., etc.. so I have to see the humor in it.  

    The problem is that they’ve escalated so far that I have to start a process that will do irreparable damage to them. I don’t want to. I really don’t. Even after they’ve done the same to me. Not anymore at least. But it’s the best option. None of this was necessary but here we are.

    Excellent blog.

  • Try to realise that your child needs BOTH parents and that the most
    important person “in the equation” is the one who suffers most from a
    divorce — that child.

  •  VEry interesting!

  • Eddy

    What if you are the person someone wants to kill or cannot forgive. You know you have wronged the other person and are truly sorry about what you did. No matter how much you apologize those things come back over and over. How can you get out of such a situation where you are made to realize again and again about what you did.

    • Victim

      Kill yourself; it will make everyone you have wronged happy

    • Clark

      The person who someone wants to kill or cannot forgive DOES NOT feel sorry for what they did. They enjoy watching you suffer because they are simply evil. People don’t feel sorry when they do you wrong because what they did wrong doesn’t affect them. Don’t pretend that you care about others, you only care about yourself. I don’t give a crap about you, I wish I could steal all of your valuables and set you on fire while I laugh at you in amusement.

  • Fjm98

    For years I watched the SOB that screwed me advance in his career while mine never recovered. I went out on my own and have done just fine even in this recession. He got sent to Cali against his will after being demoted. I get to live where I want and nobody can tell me where to live, unlike him. Karma perhaps but I had long since forgiven him because I realized it was not about him – he would not remember me or care – it was about me. Now I honestly don’t care although at the time it about wrecked my life. In a way I am grateful to him because it sure as hell toughened me up. It took six years to get back on track and now I can’t believe I survived but I did.
    The toughest forgive was my father. He died at aged 59, when I was 19. He would be 98 if he were still alive. For years I railed against his wraith and I still have angry dreams about him. He was incredibly dismissive of me and everything I did. But you know, he went through D-Day, parachuted into Normandy from a glider at midnight on June 5th. He was badly wounded and had a very difficult time during and after the war. He was a functioning alcoholic and a mean unk. As a child of the sixties, I must have been an alien from another planet to him. As I get closer to his age now, I am immeasurably grateful for how he struggled so valiantly against his infirmities and his demons. He was an example to me really. I don’t love him and I don’t like him but I do admire him. Forgiving him was easy once I learned to see the world through his distorted prism. I have done things he would have desperately wanted to do and live a life he could have only dreamed of.
    Forgiveness then is about maturing as a person and achieving peace.

  • Fjm98

    PS I forgot to say thank you to James for this blog. I have been following it since last fall and it means so much to me. As does the comments section. It’s a wonderful community you are all building here. Thanks again.

  • cowboylogic

    A Boy Named Sue by Johnny Cash

  • rollingdancefloor

    3 day failure to post blog rule, Altucher your up.

  • AltucherFan2012

    When can we expect an article featuring a new favorite speculative stock idea. It’s been such a long time . . . Thanks!

  • Onebornfree

    “Revenge is a dish best served cold” . “Don’t get mad, get even” . “Instant Karma’s gonna get you”                 :-)  Regards, onebornfree

  • Forget and Move on, that’s my Motto. 

    – Lee


  • Nice post. Thanks for sharing useful information.

  • Amira

    I like humor (although I admit it doesn’t always work). 
    A funny quote: “Whenever someone calls me ugly, I get super sad and hug them because I know how tough life is for the visually impaired.” -Will Ferrell
    By the way, I will totally try the alien technique, as a geek/nerd/sci-fi enthousiast, I think it’s genius! :)

  • I guess aliens don’t think it is as awesome to stew in self-righteous behavior; I think they might be on to something…except for the probing, I am not fully on board with that yet. Yes, you are right, it is toxic to have these thoughts. What’s sad, is the people that have wronged us waste none of their time thinking about us, while we water our gardens of discontent and wallow. I do love a good wallow–distracts me from getting off my arse and making my life how i want it to be, I suppose. 

    I love Mark Twain”s quote “forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” I will try to think more about violets than violence in my new alien body. Thanks.

    • Clark

      The reason the people who have wronged you don’t waste their time thinking about you is because you didn’t get your revenge on them. If people act like a jerk to you then you have an excuse to be a jerk back. Can you find out where they live? Destroy some of their property, steal some of their stuff, assault them or even better assault someone you know they care about very deeply :) I’m guessing the real reason why you’re trying to “forgive them” (you obviously still hate them) is because you’re too afraid to get revenge. It’s really stressful but it’s really worth it.

      Also if you absolutely can’t get revenge on them then do something terrible to a random person you don’t know. Just make sure it’s a stranger you’ll never see again so they can’t get their revenge on you. You’ll feel less angry at your abusers when you know you are just as bad as them. It’s just like they say, if you can’t beat them, join them.

      People are pure evil and everybody is only out for themselves. Nobody actually cares about you or anyone else, people just wear a mask of kindness in order to manipulate others for their own gain. Trust me, when people think they can do something bad to you and get away with it, they’ll do it. People don’t mind hurting others as long as it doesn’t affect them.

      Just find crimes that you know you can get away with and commit them on as many people that aren’t your friends as possible. You’ll feel bad while you commit them but afterwards you’ll feel like a king, trust me I know ;) Look yourself in the mirror every morning and tell yourself “I am a living god in human flesh, this is my world and I will rule it. Other people are merely slaves who deny their role. This is the word of god. This is the word of ME.” Love yourself and take advantage of others, this is the honest key to happiness.

      The truth hurts.

  • I’ve always tried to be altruistic and failed miserably. I am going to try to be Altucher-istic instead; it seems much more realistic and a heck of a lot more fun. I’m joining the cause! Now I just have to find my tambourine. :)

  • Alma Wells

    Thank you James Altucher. Thank you so very, very much for your words of wisdom.
    I turned 55 yesterday, but when I look in the mirror… I see a 17 year old naïve kid.
    I just can’t seem to stay away from trouble. I’m such a bad judge of character.
    Several years ago, I was conned, scammed, robbed, assaulted, my car was “totaled,” and I was “set-up.” Gloria Heltzer, from Texas, and her accomplice drugged me, and it was GOD who came to my rescue. I didn’t die.
    I asked the San Jose police if they could call an ambulance for me because I was in a car accident and I was all busted up inside my body. They police brutalized me as they hauled me to jail. I was handcuffed to a chair all night, until 6:00 in the morning. The police told me to leave the jail at 6:00 in the morning. NO! It was dark outside and freezing cold. I wanted to stay in jail where it is safe, warm, and lighted. I was not allowed to stay. I had to leave and freeze, and be frightened in the cold, windy, darkness outside.
    Oh, and James… I was in a 100 million dollar class-action lawsuit against the corrupt city of Los Angeles. The evil city of Los Angeles merely settled out-of-court for 20 million dollars… and all I got was $262.00.
    Remember Mr. Dorner? He lost his mind trying to fight corruption with the evilness of Los Angeles, but died. The public doesn’t seem to care about injustices.
    I had a verbal conversation with Dr. Phil’s wife, Robin. I asked her if she could help me get my movie, “In The Interest of Injustice,” made into a movie. I told her it is a story about all the injustices that have happened to me in life. It teaches people how to avoid the pitfalls in life.
    Well, Dr. Phil stole my idea and wrote a book titled, “The Code.”
    So basically in life… I feel like all I’m doing is merely spinning in circles, going nowhere. I feel like I was born to suffer. My life is not about happiness, my whole entire life has been pure pain, sadness, rejection, and always, always, always being taken advantage of.
    After reading your words of wisdom… I feel empowered.
    I’m not angry anymore. It feels so good to not be mad anymore.
    Thank you James… for being you.
    You, who cares about humans, enough to write words of wisdom to help people like me cope with life.
    Dr. Phil’s wife, Robin, is also a very caring person like you, James.
    GOD bless you, and all the readers who cared enough to read my post.

    • Clark

      Of course the public doesn’t care about injustices, no one cares about anyone. You need to become evil yourself, then and only then can you truly find happiness.

  • Jim Mackey

    I hate crowds and get so damn angry about people up my ass EVERYWHERE that I wish a bomb would wipe 9/10 of them off the planet!!

  • Kids Early Advantage

    As the abused in more than obvious ways kid, who ended up developing idiopathic scoliosis, of two malignant narcissistic parents, I am deeply thankful for your article, Mr. Altucher. May you be blessed!

  • Kat

    I happened to stumble upon this, while crying and boiling with anger over a love that ended horribly. He went on with the other woman without a care in the world, and I went through a horrible breakdown. Depression, medication, therapist visits, a long time later, and I still can’t sleep at night. I have imaginary conversations, I have nightmares about him, I fantasize about hurting him, emotionally and physically. Due to the circumstances, I can’t avoid seeing him on a regular basis, so I’m trying to maintain a peaceful and semi-friendly relationship, but inside I’m furious. His nonchalance, his dismissive attitude, his lack of care and remorse, they make the sting of betrayal so much more painful. I can’t tell if I’m more angry at him, or at myself for not being able to stop thinking about it. I try to distract myself, I try not to care, I’m spending time with other people, I’m taking care of myself, I try to practice sympathy and forgiveness, but I feel like I’m lying to myself. Again and again I’ve tried to extend an olive branch and “make peace” for my own sake, then I’m brought back to square one. I’m trying very hard to conceal, contain and channel my anger into something else, but it’s tearing me apart. I feel like if I explode, I’ll be ashamed of myself and regret acting in the heat of the moment. I’ve already made it clear, in civil terms, that I’m cutting ties and that I’m sad and angry. But it doesn’t deliver the message like a baseball bat to the knees. I just want to forget and stop caring.