YOU’VE BEEN SCAMMED!
Ben Delphia @BenDelphia: I just got scammed out of about $10K. What should I do? How to move forward?
“WTF!” That’s what you do. Once. Just say it out loud once. “WHAT THE!” See how it feels like. Notice the feeling so you can notice it later. Say hello to it so you deliberately make that feeling something separate from yourself. And get used to it. It’s not leaving.
All of our life we go from betrayal to betrayal. We cling to our youth only to have our bodies betrayed by our advancing years. We cling to our ambitions only to be betrayed by our anxieties throughout our career. We cling to money only to be betrayed by that feeling of “it’s never enough”. We are betrayed by relationships. Our emotions constantly betray us with dreamlike images of love and romance.
We hold to images of ourselves that turn out to be incorrect, betraying us with either their arrogance or falseness. Even your $10,000. Did it give you a false sense of safety? Did it give you a false sense of success that now you have lost? Did you incorrectly think you were a good judge of people. What other betrayals happened along the way for you to lose this $10,000?
You get scars on your body, in your head, a purple-black bruise on your heart that will never go away. There’s no way to understand them. You can say, “what the fuck!” WTF just happened! How did I let that happen again? You can scream out the window: WTF!!!
I will tell you what I did. What I finally did.
A) I say to myself (I said it to myself this very morning), “Right now I’m feeling very bad that I got scammed that way.” I think about where I feel it. Did my breath just get more shallow? Do I feel it in my stomach? Am I feeling angry?
B) I wait for the feeling to pass. Once you notice a feeling, it suddenly becomes separate from you instead of something that completely absorbs you. The more you notice a negative feeling, the better practiced you get at keeping those feelings outside of you. And when something is outside of you, like all things (and people) that are outside of you, it eventually disappears. PRACTICE!
C) You sleep. What happens to people who are anxious or filled with regrets? They don’t sleep. So do the opposite of them. Sleep. And if you have trouble sleeping, take steps to make sure you sleep: no eating after 5pm, no coffee after 9am. No screens: computer or TV, after 6pm. No alcohol. Exercise in the morning. No junk food.
No matter how sad you feel, when you sleep you feel happier. No matter how little money you have, it doesn’t matter when you sleep.
If you still can’t sleep, go to “D”.
D) Do this everytime the regret comes up: List all of the things you are grateful for. Now try something even harder. Try to think of what good things might have come out of the experience. Be grateful for them. You will live a complicated and beautiful life, filled with many choices and paths, some good and some bad. This is only one of those things. Get good at finding the gems of gratitude in even the most inflammatory experiences. This will keep the inflammation down.
This also removes you from time traveling into the regret of the past. It brings you to the present. What are you grateful for this very second? Stop the time traveling.
E) Give up your arrogance and cleverness. It’s egotistical to think you are beyond the machinations of criminals who are out to get you. I had to constantly admit to myself: I might not be the best judge of character, I might not be the best with money, I might not be smarter than everyone else. What do you do with this newfound ignorance? It takes a very long time to learn how to avoid psychopaths. I’m still learning.
It’s a blessing in disguise to be constantly bewildered. Cultivate that bewilderment. Scientists don’t arrogantly determine the universe. They test their theories. Often they are wrong. They experiment. They test. They repeat. So will you. And every single time you get something wrong, your ideas of the universe will expand. This is the ONLY way you achieve mastery.
F) MOST IMPORTANT: Forgive the person who scammed you. He’s just as unconscious as everyone else. And in his own insecurity and desperation he felt the need to take $10,000 from you. This is not to say it’s a good thing what he did. You don’t forgive him for his benefit. Hopefully he goes to jail. But you forgive him because it’s how you move on. It’s how you put him in the past so your present doesn’t include images of him. You asked me in the Q&A three times how to get over this guy. You put him behind you, that’s how. Right now. Forgive hin.
I’m sorry, my friend, that you got ripped off. I wish that person would give you back your 10,000 dollars. That is a lot of money. But you’re almost certainly never going to get it back. Just as certainly as you will one day die. Between those two certainties there will be many more regrets and anxieties. But right now think of what you are grateful for. If you don’t then this moment will be wasted and it will never come back again.
And then you will realize that you just scammed yourself out of the most valuable thing life is currently giving you.
REVEALING TOO MUCH
Jeremy Seth Davis @jeremysethdavis: How do you recover professionally when you’ve probably just revealed too much information publicly?
You can never recover. When Pandora opened up her box: greed, lust, envy, anger, fear escaped out into the world attacking everyone and ruining society forever. You’ve ruined your life forever.
Now enjoy the results. You use the words “recover” and “reveal”. The first word implies that maybe there is a cure for some cancer that you are now stricken with. And “reveal” suggests that somehow you’ve given away some secret that nobody in their right mind would have ever said.
When I first started revealing stuff on my blog there was one point when I thought I revealed too much. I hit the publish button anyway. On twitter people were saying, “holy shit!” Another person said, “reading James Altucher is like watching a train about to be wrecked”. But then those same people were privately emailing me and saying, “you know…the same thing happened to me.”
We all are afraid to show our true selves. Society doesn’t allow it.
But the universe doesn’t want us to be afraid. The universe needs to know what it’s like to stalk, to cry, to be angry, to be afraid, to be anxious, to cut ethical corners, to be mortal and to inflict that mortality on others. To be sick from all sorts of diseases. To be envious and jealous. To be ugly. Uglier than other people could’ve thought possible.
The universe wants to learn how we recover from our own particular ugliness. Who is the Beast and who is the Prince? Who recovers and who doesn’t? We find out for ourselves in our greatest tests.
And then sometimes we have to take that test again and we think, “What the hell! I just took this test. Why am I going through it again?” And we have to learn why. We have to understand why we get into the failed relationships we do. The bankrupt businesses. The friendships that take us from the first circle of hell deeper into the fifth circle of hell.
Revealing them is just being honest. Why hide them? Don’t hurt anyone. But there’s no need to wear the costume anymore. The ball is over. Cinderella has lost her shoe. Her carriage has turned back into a pumpkin. Her beautiful dress is filled with holes. Her chauffeur is a mouse. It’s only fully revealed that she can find her prince. It’s only fully revealed that Cinderella is at her most beautiful moment.
And this is no metaphor. This is reality. Since starting my blog I have had more opportunites that I have ever had before. My entire planet has shifted on its axis. People who I always thought I could trust are no longer in my life. People I never knew before I began this blog are now among my closest friends. And opportunities I could not have expected keep knocking on my door every day.
Don’t use words like “reveal” and “recover”. You are not a thief, slinking around the righteous people all around you. You are blazing with the fire of truth. That fire will scare some people. But ultimately it will light up the sky and help you see all of the vast undiscovered planet that you have ignored for so many years when it was covered up by the darkness and the masks.
Marissa C. @Taxpro4gamblers: how do u stay motivated to help ppl when they piss on u. Not looking for reciprication; just looking to not get screwed over
It’s painful to get screwed over. It’s like you put money in the piggy bank for years and when you finally open it up, at the exact moment you need all of those pennies, there’s just a pile of shit inside. It stinks.
How do you avoid this? You don’t. You can’t. You can go into a box, tie it up from the inside, and sit there in the dark, never to bring in the light and never to share your light with the world again. That’s one choice but it doesn’t sound so good.
Or you can continue to help people. But with a new twist.
I’ve built up this mythology of myself. I’m the hero. I help people and so I want to be treated like a hero. With music singing down the streets when I walk into a town. With birds singing when I walk into a room. With everyone saying, “That’s James, who helped me.” But it’s a fantasy. And fantasies can turn into nightmares.
It’s never going to come true. It’s human nature. The fastest way to lose a friend or family member is to lend them a dollar.
One time I helped a friend of mine get a job. It was her second job out of college. She got a job working for a company I started. That company got acquired and then a few years later the company that acquired it was going out of business. The CTO of the company called me to give me the heads up that my friend would be let go. I got her a new job with another company I had started before they had the chance to fire her. I didn’t even want her to know what was going on.
The same thing happened at the second company. The economy had shifted, technology had not quite caught up, the businesss was slowing down and not picking up. She was going to get fired again. So I found her a job at a company I used to work for. I called my old boss. “We’re in a hiring freeze,” he said. “Can you make an exception,” I said. They did. She got the job. She was doing great.
A few years later I gave her advice. It was un-asked for advice so I learned my lesson. I try not to do that anymore. I told her that it’s important not to go stale on the marketplace. Sometimes people get inbred if they stay too many years at one company and then it’s harder for them to get a new job. The job marketplace is like any other marketplace. Value is determined by supply and demand. At the very least, I told her, send your resume out there and see where your value is and if it matches up with where you thought your current salary is. If there’s a wide difference then you know that one way or the other a change is called for.
We were standing on the corner of 42nd and5th. A crowded corner by the New York Public Library.
She told me, “I don’t need your advice. I’ve done fine on my own.”
I then made a big mistake. I reminded her that her last three jobs were all with either companies I started or strings I had pulled and I was just giving advice on what direction I thought the next direction in her career should go.
What a stupid ass I am!
“How dare you!” she said. “I’ve earned every one of these jobs!”. And she did. I wasn’t arguing with that. I was just stating the fact of my own small role inserted into her resume.
She’s about six inches shorter than me and 30 pounds lighter. She swung her fist around and punched me right in the face. I fell into the street, with all of the commuters hurrying to Grand Central walking around me while I got up. We don’t talk anymore. And mutual friends of mine still tell me to this day that I need to apologize to her before she will talk to me again. Usually what happens is that I never speak to those mutual friends either.
I don’t need it. I have other people now I like to help. I know this secret: the only way to enhance my own life is to constantly work to enhance the lives of the people around me, regardless of the result. The result is ME.
HOW CAN I REST MORE?
Dominic Rivera @HeyItsMinic: How do I rest without really taking a break from work or going away from work?
I’m going to call bullshit on you, Dominic. Only because I’m also calling bullshit on myself. A lot of times the day starts off, “ugh, I feel so overwhelmed, I have so much to do.” And then the day ends, “Damn, I had so much to do and I did none of it.” It’s a shit sandwich and I ate it. As a society we eat shit sandwiches all day long.
1) Think back to the five greatest moments in your life. Did any of them occur while you were staring at a screen or talking on the phone? Can you say, “wow, the number 3 most impactful moment in my life was that time I was crossing Main Street while talking on the phone with my buddy and it was just AMAZING!” No, you won’t say that. Nor will it be the time you were playing online scrabble with friends or surfing that little website, “jamesaltucher.com” although that last one might make the top 10. Let’s be disciplined and stick to five.
2) Your computer screen overstimulates the pineal gland. If you cracked open your forehead and drilled a whole through the center of the skull, and suck out what’s underneath with a straw you’d drink your own pineal gland.
Don’t do that.
The pineal gland, among other things, regulates the melatonin in the body. When it’s overstimulated, like when you stare at a computer screen all day, the melatonin in your body is suppressed and your sleep and rest periods will be automatically more difficult. You won’t get into a deep sleep, for instance, or you will wake up at 3 in the morning, anxious about all the things you have to do and the cycle repeats. The pineal gland stops functioning well as we age, which is why older people get less sleep. They don’t NEED less sleep, as is commonly thought, but they get less quality sleep because the pineal gland calcifies and less melatonin is produced in the body, resulting in less sleep as well as more age-related diseases such as cancer.
So basically, when you stare at a computer screen all day, particularly at night, your body is going to think you are a 90 year old man. When you are a 90 year old man, not only is it harder for you to get sleep but it’s harder for you to get basic tasks done, so you have to stay at the computer screen longer. The famous shit-sandwich-cycle (as seen on Oprah, etc) repeats.
3) Staring at a computer screen releases dopamine in the body. The dopamine hormone is the “reward hormone”. It tells the body,”Job well done”. Normally you want that hormone only released when you actually do a good job at something. Unfortunately, lots of drugs also trigger it. Which is why we become psychologically addicted to many drugs. Guess what? Staring at a computer screen also triggers it. So we become an addict. And even when we have nothing do, we still feel this need to stare at a computer screen.
Part of your feeling, “I never get enough done” has nothing to do with getting enough done. It’s actually a withdrawal symptom of the addiction of looking at the computer screen. So we must remove our addictions.
By the way, if someone talks to you about hormones say, “Hmm, I never heard a whore moan.”
Ok, back to work:
I want to sleep better. I want to rest better. I also want to be more creative in my life and help more people. So we are going to do this shit-sandwich diet and accomplish this.
A) Make a To-Don’t List. Not a To-Do list. But this morning I’m going to make a list of all the things I don’t want to do. Here’s part of my list: I’m not going to play online chess for more than five minutes today. I’m an addict and can play for hours. Five minutes is basically five games. That’s enough. I’m not going to read news online. What’s better – to read a poorly researched, opinionated, poorly written news article or to get up and read a good book. The latter is better (I felt the need to answer that question just in case there were doubts). The news is always lies. What happened to radiation in San Francisco because of Fukishama? What happened to Avian Flu? Where is Greece already? Nothing in the news comes true. No news! Which means, no cat pictures!
No random surfing. No responding to hatemail. No returning emails you don’t have to. No junk food. Junk food prevents you from sleeping because it’s hard to digest.
No alcohol. Alcohol has sugar. Right when you need to rest it spikes up and you’re completely awake even when you don’t want to be.
And finally, no screen time after 6pm. It doesn’t matter what you have to do. You will get more done in the long run if you turn off the computer after 6pm.
B) Do something EXTRA for each client. This might seem counter-intuitive. You have a hard enough time getting things done – this is why you asked the question in the first place. How will doing something extra help.
Every client is asking you to accomplish a list of tasks. Always keep in mind, “What extra task can I do for this client that they did not ask for?” This will result in several benefits:
– You will get through the main tasks so you can get to the extra task
– It”s pleasant to surprise people. It’s like a classic Steve Jobs talk. He gives an entire talk, showing all of the amazing new Apple products and everyone cheers and then finally he says, “oh I forgot to tell you, we also MADE A TIME MACHINE!” And the crowd goes crazy. We came to expect that in Steve Jobs talks, which is why they became so famous, such a source of pleasure to watch.
– Give and you will receive. Clients remain loyal when they know you are standing out on the ledge for them. They will also cut you slack when you need it so you dont’ have to feel overwhelmed all the time. They will become your partners instead of your clients.
– While you are doing the extra task for the client, you won’t be doing the mindless stuff, like surfing the web, looking at “cat pictures” (I put in quotes because we all know what that really means. Err, at least for me). Doing extra for a client will cut down on your “random” time, which will ultimately result in more rest time.
– By the time you are done with the extra task it’s time to rest.
C) Take a 20 minute walk. Try to do this every 90 minutes. I’m going to tell you a secret. The mind isn’t creative. Your emotions are not creative.
When was the last time you were panicking or afraid or anxious and suddenly you came up with the greatest idea you’ve ever come up with? I’ll answer for you: NEVER. When our mind is filled with thoughts, it crowds out the inner silence that is the source of ALL creativity.
We have a mind in order to get food. Our competitors for food were all bigger and stronger than us so we needed to come up with a brain that could outwit them. But your true source of creativity comes when the mind slows down and you connect to the deeper parts of you.
This happens when you take a walk. You get some exercise. Your eyes enjoy new input. You get away from the screen. And guess what, your subconscious, or superconscious, or whatever you want to call it, gets a chance to be creative.
D) At the end of the work day: return all emails. Set aside that time to return all non-immediate emails.
E) Finally, at the very end of the work day, list everything you did that day. This isn’t a “To Do” list. This is a “I Did” list. You will be surprised how much you got done.
So, to summarize, here is the “get more rest” cheat sheet:
– no screen time after 6pm
– take walks
– you know perfectly well what is “bad screen time” versus “good screen time” so be strict about that.
– do an extra task each day for each client
– make an appointment with yourself each day to return emails. This way you won’t feel anxious about them during the day. Don’t do anything during that time other than return emails.
– No junk food. No alcohol. No coffee after 9am (coffee stays in the system for 12 hours). No online games. If you want to do social facebook time, set a limit of 5-10 minutes a day on it.
– If you really wanted to rest: don’t eat dinner. Breakfast and lunch is enough. It’s not like you are going to die of starvation. The 90 minutes of dinner can be rest time.
– No TV past 8pm. For shows you love you can always download to the ipod later and watch them on your commute. Go to sleep instead. What happens after 8pm is you forget that you used to only watch the shows you love and you start watching, “Keeping up With the Kardashians” (if you happen to love that show, please stop).
– Wake up an hour early for exercise and/or reading. Since you just went to sleep early, you should be able to do that. Even 2 minutes of exercise is good.
Try this: Doing the above list, try to work only four hours a day instead of eight. You will be surprised how easy it is. You will be surprised how guilt you will feel (because of screen withdrawal symptoms).
It’s hard to do this list. We’re all addicts to the screen. If we all did the above, here’s what will happen: we will get more work done, we will be more creative, we will get more rest, our children would see us more, we’ll have more sex, we’ll get more exercise, we’ll sleep deeper, we’ll live longer, we’ll look better.
Sounds pretty good.