Category Archives: Self-Help

Mousetrap Pride

Mousetrap is a brilliant game. As you play, you build a ridiculously complicated contraption that will eventually trap your enemy and let you win the game. There is one small problem…


You turn the crank and the boot misses the bucket…the silver ball flies off the track…the plastic ball falls the wrong direction…the diver falls off his platform…the trap gets stuck on its pole…your brother kicks his mouse out of the way…your brother cries way louder than he should when punched…you get in huge trouble.

At least that’s how it went in my house.

Mousetrap Game

Here’s the problem—even when everything is designed for one specific purpose, complicated procedures involving many different pieces are difficult to predict. So why is it that prideful people, like myself, assume that others have some unnatural ability to cause us inconvenience through ridiculously complicated means?

When someone else’s mistake causes me a little more work, I act like they made the mistake just to cause me trouble.

When someone is in my way, I act as if they are there just to irritate me.

When someone’s choice causes me to change plans, I act as if they intentionally chose the path that would cause me the most trouble.


NEWSFLASH: The world isn’t a giant game of Mousetrap with you as the little plastic mouse and everyone else turning the crank. How prideful do you have to be to approach problems that way? Apparently about as prideful as me.


Sometimes I need to step back and realize that no one is planning my demise…

Sometimes life gets tough and it is rarely caused by someone else’s genius plan…

Sometimes people aren’t even thinking about how their normal lives are affecting me…

…and that’s ok…

Sometimes it isn’t about me.


The Praise Set

volleyball-passing-3As you may remember, I am constantly looking for new and creative ways to promote my skills and accomplishments. Most of the time I just tell people how great I am, but sometimes the genius of self-promotion is making others think that praising me was their idea. I had a brilliant revelation while watching a volleyball game the other day—the setter.

Three simple steps to set up others to compliment you:

BUMP: Make sure you have done something impressive.
It’s not hard for me to impress myself. I do it all the time. Just in the past week I have picked out the right color tie, edited a Tweet to be exactly 140 characters, donated blood, given a perfect illustration of humility in my Life Group, packed everything I needed for a three day trip into a backpack, been TSA Pre-Checked at the Richmond International Airport, selected the best sandwich on the menu, corrected my spelling of sandwich (only has one h…who knew?). The point is your accomplishment doesn’t have to be anything earth-shattering. It’s not about the accomplishment, anyway. It’s about someone else affirming your worth as a human being.

SET: Compliment someone else
The key is to make sure that, although you are praising them, your compliment will cause them to notice your accomplishment. Here are some hypothetical examples. If you…

  • Are wearing a great tie- “I really like your shirt.”
  • Tweeted a great joke- “I like following you on Twitter.”
  • Donated blood- “I love how you have a full 6-8 pints of blood.”
  • Gave a perfect illustration- “Your contributions in Life Group were really good.”
  • Packed for a trip into a backpack- “That zipper on your suitcase must be really strong.”
  • TSA-Pre Checked- “You were so patient at that security checkpoint.”
  • Ordered the best sandwich at lunch- “That looks really good. I’m starting to second guess my selection.”

SPIKE: Enjoy the show
They won’t be able to resist the set because many people feel awkward being complimented (present company excluded). He/she will immediately start looking for some way to reciprocate…and you will be standing there gently caressing your perfect tie, hoisting your light backpack, or raising your perfect lunch selection to your lips. He’ll hit it home for you.

Game, set, match.

The Back-Door Brag

hello_my_name_is_awesome_t_shirt-r8a67a43ce56e4bb7b1be7ed82f50e10c_vjfe2_512Occasionally I have been accused of being quite vain, but I’m not so much arrogant as just better than everybody else. That song really is about me. It’s really not fair for others who cannot measure up to my abilities or general intelligence to be compared to me simply because they were unfortunate enough to be of the same species. Of all the things at which I am amazing, my greatest strength is probably my ability to put my superiority into words.

Maybe you’re not as confident in your ability to speak highly of yourself as I am. Or maybe you’ve been wrongly taught that it is socially unacceptable and that people will, in fact, think less of you the more you speak of yourself. I’m here to help. In just three simple steps you can artificially promote your worth without actually coming out and saying anything braggadocios.

Step 1: Feel Inferior
A proper level of self-loathing is vitally important. You do not want to feel confident in yourself or in any of your abilities. Self-depreciation is very difficult to fake convincingly so don’t try. Ensure that you genuinely feel awful by spending at least 10 minutes sulking over why you aren’t good enough and remembering every recent failure. In fact, you should probably go so far as to assure yourself that you won’t even be able to pull off the back-door brag. For best results, mentally compare your worst attributes to the person you know who is best in that area.

Step 2: Say something condescending about yourself
Hopefully you have a well-constructed criticism of yourself after step 1, but I have provided you with a sample script just in case you really are as dumb as you’ve led yourself to believe:
“I am so (negative noun)! (friend’s name) is so (opposite positive noun)! I guess I’m ok with not being as (same positive noun) as (friend’s name). I just feel bad that you have to be around someone so (negative noun).”
Make sure you throw in looks of despair, disappointment, and the occasional sigh. Try to convey the idea that you believe your words are a complete waste of oxygen that could be used to support a valuable life form.

Step 3: Enjoy the praise
Sit back and let the compliments roll in. Wave after wave of “You are (positive noun), too”, “But you are so (different positive noun)”, “(Friend’s name) may be (positive noun), but he/she is also (negative noun)”.
Ok, that last one isn’t exactly praise of you, but at least it puts your superior friend on the same level as you.

This method is 100% guaranteed to make you feel better about yourself for at least as long as other people are saying kind things about you.

Possible side effects may include:

  • Feeling worse about yourself than before
  • Depression
  • Psychological dependence upon the praise of others
  • Constant comparison to more successful people
  • Loss of friends