Feb 23, 2024

7 Popular Concepts That I Just Don’t Believe In

There are a handful of concepts that are so popular… so everywhere… that every time I see them, I just want to shoot myself in the fucking face.

Both the frequency of how often I hear about them and the degree to which people believe in them without question really grinds my gears.

So, welcome to my confessional…

Where I admit to the seven popular concepts that I treat with the same skepticism as a diet promising you that you can eat infinite Twinkies and still lose weight.

And I’ll name it in advance…

If some of these sacred cows I’m about to slay are some of your most beloved beliefs that you hold onto for dear life and you’ve gotten value from them… GREAT! Congratulations! I am happy for you and you’re still allowed to love them and hold onto them until the day you die.

I’m just saying, for me, these notions are old, tired, useless, and more often than not, they keep people small, scared, and limited in their perceptions of life… and I’m not a fan of that.

Got it? Cool.

Here we go.

7 Popular Concepts That I Just Don’t Believe In 

1. Rejection

Ahhhhh rejection!

One of modern dating advice’s favourite concepts to harp on.

Why do I hate the concept and fundamentally disagree with it?

Because people relate to the idea in such a black-and-white, all-or-nothing way that they completely identify with whether someone chooses them or not.

You putting yourself out there and expressing interest, and then having someone choose to not spend their entire lives with you doesn’t mean that they reject you as a whole. They aren’t deeming you in all of your totality to be a defective, worthless, waste of space.

And yet labelling what happens during the dating phase as ‘being rejected’ is just such a misnomer.

What would be some more effective (and reality-based) ways to frame the experience of having someone say no to you?

Misalignment. Not a fit. They were just looking for something else. They saw something missing in our connection that perhaps I didn’t. Cool! Doesn’t need to mean anything about me as a person. Onto the next one.

The focal point of why I hate how much people lean on the concept of ‘rejection’ so much is that people put their entire self-concept on the line.

‘I am being rejected!!’ How dramatic. How unnecessary.

How about… ‘Wasn’t a fit! Cool, next. Here I go… off to find another person for who I am a fit for.’

So… if going on dates feels terrifying…

If the idea of approaching someone… shooting your shot… expressing interest for a first or second date feels terrifying…

It could be worth checking in on whether or not your mind is making it overly mean something about you, and perhaps it would be more productive to simply look it all as feedback. Just raw data to work with. And not to add layers of story on top.

2. Toxic

In the last few years, this word has popped up everywhere in the dating advice realm.

To me, the word is so tired… so psychologically lazy. It says next to nothing.

Similar to rejection, it is such a black-and-white term.

Toxic relationship. Toxic ex. Toxic dating culture. Toxic masculinity. I’m in my toxic era.

Zero nuance. Zero curiosity. No room for humanness.

When we paint a person or a relationship or a culture or a gender with the broad brush label of being toxic… we get to retire our minds and just leave it at that.

In cults, there is this thing called a ‘thought-terminating cliché’. Which is essentially a word or phrase that seeks to shut down critical thinking, and perceptual nuance. By my estimation, the word toxic (as it is currently used) fits that description perfectly.

‘Oh my ex was so toxic… total psycho…’

Again, some alternatives… that leave more room for nuance and humanity:

‘It wasn’t a healthy relationship.’

‘My ex and I were simply not good for each other.’

‘That was a really rough time in my life. I see now how my ex and I both contributed to a lot of really dysfunctional relationship patterns.’

So the next time you find yourself about to use the word toxic to describe something big and complex, see if there’s an opportunity to go deeper in your thinking. Perhaps a more nuanced way of describing it will help with how you feel about it, and have you be a bit more reality-based in your relationship to it.

3. ‘The divorce rate is so high!’

Many people hide behind the divorce rate as one of the reasons for why they’re hesitant to get married.

In actuality, the divorce rate has been steadily declining for many years. And yet, the divorce rate fear persists.

There are several factors to consider when it comes to the divorce rate (both its existence, and its trend)…

First, the entire amalgamated notion of the divorce rate being ‘around 50%’ is completely false. It’s an over-simplified statistic on many levels.

First, the 80/20 rule applies here. Put another way, many of the divorces are being had by the same people. So if there’s one person who gets married six times in their lifetime and divorces all six times, guess what, their racked-up numbers contribute to the total lump sum of that big, scary 50% divorce rate number.

Also, many factors such as vocation, lifestyle, age, and education also weigh into the divorce rate. So, sure, the average global divorce rate may be amalgamated as 50%… but there are so many things that any person can do to drastically reduce their own likelihood of divorce.

For example, if you get married after the age of 28, have done any talk-based therapy, and date the person you’re going to marry for longer than a year before you get hitched, your likelihood of divorce is drastically lower than if you’re getting married at 21, have never done any form of therapy, and are marrying someone you’ve dated for less than a year.

So yes, divorces happen. People don’t cultivate self-awareness or discernment prior to getting married, or sometimes they just have bad luck and marry someone that they grow apart from. And… there are a lot of factors in your control to skew the odds heavily in your favour.

(If you’re curious, the average divorce rate is now closer to 39%… but again, many things factor into that that actually make it drastically less than that with even a small dose of preparation.)

4. ‘The one’

Didn’t think I’d get through this list without spit-roasting this classic, did you?

The notion of the one… the perfect match for you and only you… is an understandable rack to want to hang our hats on.

It wraps up faith, divine intervention, and the compelling regression of needing to take less responsibility for ourselves (if the perfect person is paired with me I won’t have to work as hard to have a great marriage) into one little word.

The way that I see it… the more we honestly dig into our own self-work, we simultaneously limit the number of people (on a global scale) we could happily be married to… while also increasing the number of people we could make a marriage work with. So overall, it about averages out.

If my (awesome, beautiful, intelligent) wife were to drop dead tomorrow (and you better believe my superstitious ass is knocking on several wooden surfaces as I write these words), after many years of grieving, if I were to decide to date again, I personally believe that I would still be able to have an amazing marriage with somewhere between a dozen to a few million potential people across the world. Would I? I don’t know. I can’t say. I personally hope that neither of us dies for a long-ass time and that we’re married until we’re over 100. And… even though I honestly think that we are a perfect match for each other and I cherish my marriage more than anything else in my entire life… because I don’t subscribe to the notion of ‘the one,’ I believe that either of us could go on to have another amazing marriage to someone else who would help us grow and deepen in love in other ways.

And really… with that being the case, I think that it’s even more romantic that we decide to marry each other.

‘There are hundreds of thousands of potential, highly-aligned matches in the world… and I still choose you. Now, and for the rest of my life.’

Far better than ‘It can only be you, and if it isn’t you, I’m fucked.’

5. ‘Finding your purpose’

I also see the concept of ‘finding your purpose,’ as one defining static entity, to be entirely limiting.

People can get lost in endless rumination around thoughts of having found their perfect purpose.

‘Once I find my purpose, then everything will fall into place. Everything will just be smooth, aligned sailing from that point forwards!’

Three things I like to consider that counteract this relatively modern obsession…

First, now more than ever, it will be an exceedingly rare person who does the exact same kind of work for 60+ years with no deviation. There will be twists and turns… market shifts and career calibrations. And to expect otherwise is to hold on too tightly in a world that is changing faster than ever.

Second, it is far more useful to drop thoughts of, ‘Who am I and what is my ultimate purpose?’ and replace them with, ‘What am I? How do I want to show up?’ In other words: what character traits do I want to embody on a day to day basis? What do I value, and want to put energy into?

Saying ‘I am an illustrator’ is more limiting than valuing and prioritizing creativity. Saying ‘I am a relationship coach’ is more limiting than leading with love, compassion, and intentionality in all of your interactions.

And finally, our ‘purpose’… the thing that we do to write a love letter back to the world for the gift of our life… isn’t just about us. In fact, it’s barely about us at all. It’s relational, and therefore it matters greatly what the people around you (locally and globally) are in need of. And as people change, markets change, and the ways that we provide value to the world also change in step.

In summary, your purpose isn’t one thing. Nor will that one thing never change. It is more productive to prioritize how you want to show up in the world, and then do whatever it takes to dance your unique dance steps in every room that you enter for the remainder of your days.

6. Impostor syndrome

Impostor syndrome… another modern invention that people fell for hook, line, and sinker.

What does this concept speak to? Generally people use it as a shorthand way to describe how they feel when they step into new territory and feel somehow lacking.

Another way to think about this? Simply being a growth-oriented individual. Expanding in a direction of your choosing. Being aware of the gap between your desired outcome and your present-day skillset.

Similar to the notion of rejection, impostor syndrome is unnecessarily dramatic, and adds a lot of emotional weight and significance to an entirely innocent thing.

Okay, so you’re reaching up and in the process of expanding yourself. Great. No need to label yourself as an impostor, or diagnose yourself with a dreaded syndrome.

This phrase is part of a broader pathologizing of the human condition. You don’t just have a lot of energy right now… you feel “manic.” You aren’t just nervous to be around a bunch of new people… you have “social anxiety.” You aren’t just someone who has a growth orientation in life and is currently feeling into the outer limits of their abilities… you have impostor syndrome.

My two cents? Drop the concept entirely. It isn’t doing you any favours.

7. Perfectionism

Hoo boy… I saved the best for last.

Man, perfectionism.

Just, as a concept? Fuck it. Fuck it in its big stupid face.

The prevalence of this concept cannot be overstated. It is absolutely everywhere.

‘I know I’ve been single for 15 years… but I’m not ready to date yet. I guess you could call me a perfectionist.’

‘I’m still working on my book, I’m just such a perfectionist.’

‘Yeah, I would love to pick up a new hobby… but I’m still focusing on my other hobby that I do nothing with because I am just a cute little chronic sufferer of perfectionism.’

You want to know what I think of perfectionism?

I think the whole thing is absolute bullshit.

I think it’s cowardice. I think it’s arrogance. I think it’s fear.

The self-proclaimed perfectionist is afraid. Afraid of judgment. Afraid of not being good enough. Afraid of being seen by others as imperfect. And so they hide. They delay. They sit on their hands and wait. While blaming a made-up character trait that isn’t even a thing.

Is there such a thing as ‘perfection’?

Obviously there’s only two options: There either is or there isn’t.

If there is, then I’d say that everything is perfect. All of nature is perfect. Every tree is perfect. And you, fellow human, are just as much a part of nature as a tree… and so you, by default, are also inherently perfect.

And if there isn’t such a thing as perfection, then hooray, you’re off the hook again.

Either way, perfection is a convenient story to hide behind.

More often than not, it is a scapegoat. The thing people get to blame so that they don’t have to do something courageous, challenging, or confronting to their self-concept.

So… the next time you go to blame something on your perfectionism… just stop. You don’t even need to go there.

Just drop the word entirely…

Deploy the courage you need for the thing you want to do, and go forth.

You are bigger than your fear.

And if you don’t feel like you are just yet…

Keep moving forward. One day, you will be.

Go Forth And Conquer

There we go – seven popular pillars of modern ‘wisdom’ that, upon inspection, crumble faster than my willpower at a Parisian bakery.

I feel better! How about you?

I imagine you might feel one of a few different ways…

You might feel relieved!

‘Hooray, I get to retire some of these concepts that I realized I have arbitrarily bought into, and I feel a weight off of my shoulders knowing that I can simply let them go.’

You might feel angry!

‘Who does this person think he is attacking one of my favourite beliefs? Eat a bag of dicks!’

You might feel inspired!

‘I can go and live a bigger, more expansive life knowing that many of these thought constructs were thought up by other people no smarter than me, and I get to charge forward in life and be an even bigger, deeper, more fully expressed version of myself!’

Whatever your reaction, I support you in having it.

Dedicated to your success,


Ps. If you enjoyed this article, you’ll also love checking out:

Exploit These 3 Cognitive Biases To Fall More Deeply In Love

Unrealized Potential Is The Default, Not The Exception

If You Don’t Want To Be A Loser, Stop Entertaining Loser Thoughts

Own The Part Of You That Wants To Remain A Child Forever



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