It’s Your Right to Say “No!” to Crap

by Tim Arendse on March 27



Still nothing new. Maybe I’ll find something interesting on Reddit’s movie sub. Nope, nothing new there either. Speaking of movies, I wonder if Rotten Tomatoes has posted a review for Batman v Superman? Wow, Deadpool made a lot of money last weekend. When’s the next comic book movie coming out? Let’s have a look. Look at all these movies! Better text Dina about hiring the babysitters.

On a river of distraction, I ride. I sat down to write. I’m forty five minutes deep, with fifty words to show for it. I wonder if Amy, Spiraling Up’s editor, will give me an extension.

You know what? I’m pretty beat. Gonna shut down this writing thing for the night and try again tomorrow.

I frequently live this scenario. The distraction might change but the result remains the same: half-finished projects, non-starters, and a lot of wasted time.

Zoom out a few years and you’ll see the pattern stretching far into the past. This is how people go twenty years, planning to write a book, and never getting around to it. It’s how parents let their kids grow up without getting to know them. It’s how people go year after year, making the same New Years resolutions, never to achieve them.

When you allow crap to hijack your attention, you’re multiplying your efforts by zero. It’s time to stop doing that. Living a fulfilling life depends on it.

What Exactly is Crap?

My definition of crap goes beyond the occasional gift my dog leaves on the carpet. Crap is a blanket term I use for activities, objects, or people that take everything and give nothing back.

An activity like aimless internet surfing often leaves me worse off than before. It’s only a matter of time before I’m reading articles that bum me out. Aimless internet surfing is a crap activity.

Certain foods leave me with low energy and cravings. Those are crap foods.

Sometimes you get saddled with a person who doesn’t respect your time or makes it their mission to bring you down. Those are crap people.

It’s Your Right to Say No to Crap

In our society, we’re taught to endure. We’re taught to endure mean bosses, processed (non-)food, over-the-top news, over-the-top leaders (looking at you, Trump), and bad TV. Somewhere along the line, we made a mutual agreement to stand in the maelstrom, allowing crap to hit us in the face and dirty our clothes, while we consider it a virtue to accept it.

That is bullshit of the highest order.

Not only are you capable of saying no to crap, it’s your right. It’s your invisible freedom.

If a crappy person tries to engage you, you don’t have reciprocate.

If a crappy thought enters your mind, you don’t have to entertain it.

If a crappy food enters your vicinity, you don’t have to eat it.

“But Tim! I can’t just walk away from all this stuff. I’ve lived my whole life in the crapstorm! It’s all I know!”

I’m new to walking away from the bad deal, but here’s what I’ve learned so far.

How to Say No to Crap

Have you ever seen those movies where the vampire knocks on someone’s door, and asks to be let inside? That’s how crap is. It’s sneaky, even ninja-like, but ultimately, you are complicit in it’s existence.

In a lot of cases, beating crap means barricading the door until it goes away. Here’s a few examples of how this is done, involving some common types of crap:

1. Internet – This is such a big problem for me that I actually paid for the premium version of Cold Turkey. As a perennially cheap man, that’s saying something.

Cold Turkey is an desktop app that allows you to block websites whenever you want, for as long as you want. It’s got a handy scheduling feature that I like to use. The first time I used it, I blocked ALL my time-wasting sites for two weeks flat, 24 hours a day.

On my phone, I deleted the Facebook and Reddit apps. I went from a couple hours a day on Facebook to about fifteen minutes. Not surprisingly, it was a productive time.

Word of warning: if you do this, you’ll lose all track of your FB friends lives, the news, everything.

2. People – Some will argue that there’s no such thing as a crappy person. I argue that everyone is the villain in someone’s story.

Crappy people come in two forms: online and in-person.

Online is fairly easy to deal with. Repeat after me: just don’t engage. If someone is crappy every time you interact with them, then just don’t interact with them. Just because they’re talking to you, doesn’t mean you have to answer. Rough? Maybe, but I’m not here to endure anyone’s garbage. That ship sailed before I started writing this article.

People who are crappy in-person (including on the phone) are often derailed with this one simple trick:

When they stop talking, wait three seconds with responding.

They usually won’t give you a chance to talk. They don’t want to hear what you have to say. Every time they stop talking, reset the clock. They’ll peter out.

I know that sounds an awful lot like enduring but just think back to the analogy of crap banging on the door. If no one answers, eventually it will go away.

3. Offers – In our capitalist society, we get crap offers all the time.

Car dealerships hire salespeople to push their crappy financing plans, trying to get you to say “Yes” right now. They know that if you walk out that door without being sold, you’re probably gone forever. How could that possibly be a good deal for you?

A friend of mine used to work for a major fast food chain. One day, he was offered a management position in an opening-soon restaurant, located a few hours away. He was offered a $0.25/hour raise. Would you uproot your life for an extra $10 per week?

My friend walked away from the bad deal. But for every person who walks, there’s two that say yes. These offers can make us feel obligated, especially when they come from someone with authority (your boss or a well-trained salesperson).

Here’s what to do about crap offers: sleep on them. Just say, “I will think about it and let you know tomorrow.” This irks people but it’s your right. If someone wants you to make a big decision without thinking it through, that’s a red flag.

Also, don’t use the word “maybe.” “Maybe” sounds like you’re leaning towards “yes.”

It’s Time to Stop Living With Crap

In the movies, there’s a classic character that lives a mundane life, reacting to whatever life throws at them. Writers don’t create these characters because they’re interesting . . . writers create them because they’re identifiable.

A lot of us hate our jobs. We wish we had different habits. We want more excitement in life.

The difference between us and a character is that for the character, escape from the crappy life is almost inevitable. Otherwise, it’s a boring, unsatisfying movie.

Our lives are not movies. There is no life-changing adventure about to fall into your lap. If you keep saying yes to crap, tomorrow is always going to look a lot like today. 

I’ve made it my mission to reject crap from my life. What about you?


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Tim Arendse

When he’s not playing with his kids, Tim is finding new ways to make his life more efficient. He likes to draw inspiration from unlikely sources, like Minecraft, and is willing to explore almost any paradigm if he thinks there’s something to learn. He also hates bananas, loves candy, and holds strong opinions about the best brand of beer.

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