bellum omnium contra omnes

September 19, 2007 — 27 Comments

I was working on something for Robert Greene recently for his new book with 50 Cent. One of the hustlers from his crew said something that really stuck with me–something that you can see powerful people living by. He said “If you aren’t going to say ‘I’m the best’ who will?” Respect is the same way. If you aren’t going to demand that you be treated with it, who will? I certainly don’t have some protector who walks around fighting my battles and setting the standard of how I’m treated–I do that.

Recently, with my career choice, my family had a bit of a meltdown. Some latent feelings of resentment and loathing surfaced in a shockingly overt way. So I’m done, at least for the meantime. If they can’t be in my life in a healthy and positive way then they don’t need to be in it at all. They are free to disrespect me if they wish, but never with my consent. From afar, they can be however they want but I don’t have time or the desire to be torn down or hurt by people I have allowed to access my vulnerabilities. They can take it or leave it and we’ll see what happens.

That’s the thing. You, and you alone are they only person who wishes to see you respected. Why would it be anyone else’s priority? The state of nature: People will get away with whatever they are allowed to get away with. And really, you don’t control how people treat you, only who you allow to treat you. So the key is to only deal with people who will treat you well.

I’ve said this before, if you have a friend who lies to you or is perpetually late or makes you uncomfortable, find a new one. With women it’s ridiculous, every one I know has a bunch of creepy guys in their life who they appear to hate but tolerate anyway. There are some primal or evolutionary impulses that pressure that, but seriously, I think it’s time to move on. If you have a guy who pretends to be your friend but alarms you with his body language or his calls–just cut him out. If someone is a loser and you don’t want them around, then don’ If don’t want a guy to bother you with text messages and late night phone calls, then don’t give him your phone number. If you’re tired of suggestive or annoying posts on your Facebook wall, tell him to stop or just block him. The people who matter will respect that decision. It is your life, protect it. One of my favorite lines in Meditations is “Am I afraid of death because I won’t be able to do this anymore?” Do you value life so little that you allow it to be stolen away from you by the hour by thieves you can’t stand? There is simply no reason to wake up and frequent the company of people you don’t want to. In business perhaps, in your personal life, never.

I do not spend time with people I don’t like. Sometimes, yes, I end up chilling by myself or with my girlfriend but that makes me happy. And it makes spending time with my real friends all the more enjoyable. I went on a people diet a while back just got rid of everyone I found myself complaining about. I didn’t make a big scene or confront them, I just stopped concerning myself with their existence. Mine is more important. All I know is that in a rather finite amount of time, I will be dead. I certainly won’t, as I approach that date, be consumed with regret at having not endured more bullshit or assholes.

Ryan Holiday

I'm a strategist for bestselling authors and billion dollar brands like American Apparel, Tucker Max and Robert Greene. My work has been used as case studies by Twitter, YouTube and Google and has been written about in AdAge, the New York Times, Gawker and Fast Company.

27 responses to bellum omnium contra omnes

  1. Abso-fucking-lutely.

    Life’s too short to not be honest with yourself and others that need to learn how to deal with you.

    Congrats on the site Ryan.


  2. What does the title translate to?

  3. The war of all, against all. It’s Hobbes.

  4. “If don’t a guy to bother you with text messages and late night phones, then don’t give him your phone number” should be “If you don’t want a guy…”

    Good post.

  5. That’s a reasonable perspective (with the family). It’s a very intelligent choice to stop communicating with people who are bringing you down. These latest posts are really very genuine, making them truly shine. Thanks again for the running post, keeping your promise, it’s as close to a literary addiction that I have.

  6. i have often been criticized of hating the world or not giving people enough time. truth be told i really don’t give a fuck about most people. i have a small circle of friends. they are all little people.

  7. Ryan – brave move (the family thing), congrats on this site, on your career decision. Not to ruin it for myself, but these posts are my meditations, too. Stay focused, enjoy life. Keep your head looking forward and back, up and down at all times.

  8. Hey Ryan do you take requests? While you might have more interesting or important topics to cover I would like to see an entry of your opinion on experience vs education. What might employers be more interested now days. I know you keep up with a lot of statistics so you could definitely shed some light on this.

    Keep up the good posts.

  9. Yeah, I can do that. I’m not exactly an expert though. I’m 20. I’d prefer not to pull a Ryan Healy and pull shit out of my ass.

    But I’ll put something together.

  10. Hey, stopping by again as I like to do from time to time.

    Congratulations for your career move. I haven’t been scanning the archives enough, but from what I’m gathering you’ve left school, correct? I don’t know of many people who would do that for the right reasons, let alone be successful doing it. That being said, you are probably one of the few who can. Your drive to succeed is unparalleled and has always been your strongest quality. I have never seen you give up on a goal or (as my memory serves me) a nefarious scheme.

    That being said, cutting ties with the family is a terrible decision. If you need time away, I understand. Let them cool off and maybe take a few days to calm down yourself, but don’t think they are dragging you down. I’ve been there, I had those fights, and I left home with hardly a goodbye. And much like the prodigal son, I came back when I was at my worst and they were there to support me.

    Loathing sounds like a pretty strong word with your parents. I don’t see a reason they would hate you. You realize their anger stems from wanting the best for you right?

    Good luck, I wish you all the best. Call me sometime.

  11. Shut the fuck up francisco. You are that guy. That guy who presumes that his experience can be generalized to everybody else’s life. You only know your own parents, not holiday’s or anybody else’s.

    Edit: Whoa there. He has a decent point buddy. And I’ve met his parents. Family is something that should always be there–that you’ll always have, in spite of disagreements. He’s saying not to forget that or take it for granted.

  12. On the same token, it’s also important for people to keep on reaching out and connecting, finding others to meet to replace those you cut out. People tend to be with those they hate because they don’t have the courage to find new people to supplant their regular acquaintances. Be fluid, push around (especially if you’re young).

    Additionally, I only encourage people diets if you’re in a confident, self-assured state of mind. I tried one a year and a half ago and hit rock bottom.

    Do not use this post as an excuse to stop meeting people because you’re afraid they’re assholes. To succeed in this world you must be confident around others, and that can only be built through practice and permutation. You will hate some and you will like some, but there’s a chance that kid in the corner of the class could be your best friend for life. Never stop taking small chances. Otherwise you’ll lose sight of what a real friend really is.

  13. Ryan-

    This is probably a good choice–as long as you don’t become one of those whiny ass holes that brags about how you left your family behind. That’s a trophy story that makes people insufferable.

  14. Ryan-

    This is probably a good choice–as long as you don’t become one of those whiny ass holes that brags about how you left your family behind. That’s a trophy story that makes people insufferable.

  15. Ryan,

    Good post.

    Meditations also says “I, who have never wilfully pained another, have no business to pain myself”.

    Why do people allow streams of negative and odd people to take part in their lives? Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that it is up to us to decide where our time and attention goes. For my part I don’t want it to be with people I can’t stand or feel uncomfortable around.

  16. Andrew: Exactly. Do you remember where that quote is? I’d like to track it down.

  17. And whoever said that you shouldn’t do a people diet unless you’re self-confident, I think that’s missing the point. You become like you’re friends and if you spend time with people who are unhappy with themselves you take on the same burden.

    I would assert that cutting out waste from your life would improve confidence not begin a downward spiral.

  18. Ryan

    You can find it at Book 8 para 42.

    This is a very nice site. Keep at it.


  19. Ryan,

    This post is so crucial. Often people will buckle under that familial pressure, instead of going out to make their own mark on the world.

    You will either succeed and learn something. Or not reach the level of success you’d set for yourself and learn something. The important thing is that you’re learning something, and you’re TRYING!

    So many people never venture out. Look at Tucker. Man graduated from one of the finest law schools in the nation. Guaranteed career path. But it’s not the one he wanted. I don’t know how much Tucker would have made as an attorney or how much he’s making now. But, I’d be willing to bet that he’s happier now, than he’d have been as an associate at Fenwick & West (or any other law firm, as he’s persona non grata at F&W).

    Congratulations for taking that step.

  20. I’m 4 years late to comment here, but this is one of the best things you’ve ever written. It’s advice that I’ve ‘understood intellectually’ for a long time but only really implemented recently.

    This might sound stupid, but one of the best and healthiest decisions I’ve made recently was to permanently delete my Facebook account. I had dozens of good reasons for doing so, but one of the biggest was that I was sick of having all these digital ties to old classmates and acquaintances who I couldn’t stand (or simply didn’t care about) and didn’t want to be reminded of anymore. I unfriended most of them (about 200 in one sitting, no exaggeration) but there were still dozens who I felt I had to keep because we had enough mutual friends, or I bumped into them often enough, to make things awkward. Now without the constant chatter of Facebook bullshit to distract me I feel like I’ve freed up a large part of my mental RAM that I didn’t even know I was wasting.

    (This wasn’t my only reason for deleting FB by a long shot. I just felt it was particularly relevant to this post. I just wish I’d deleted my account years ago.)

    I’m going through similar things to you with my family at the moment, and this post was what I needed to (re)read.

  21. I quite enjoy all your articles, but this one sticks out. You took the words right out of my mouth

  22. Guess you need to be more careful what advice you give to your audience. There are mainly young people reading your blog and a lot of them see a kind of role modle in your person. But if you give them implicitly the advice that it is okay to drop out of school, to leave your family, your friends and so on out of your life and just say f*** you because you have a different opinion, it is so not okay!

  23. Just because your family and friends want the best for you in life and this is typically nowadays a fundamental education which inlcudes a degree (not because its a MUST), does not mean that they are toxic and therefore need to be kicked out of life! I don’t say that everyone ruins his complete life because of dropping out of college, but its a more than deliberated decision you need to make. Family usually just wants to help and maybe they see things from a different prospective.
    Life isn’t just black and white!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Text formatting is available via select HTML. <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. A Letter To My Future (and Extremely Good-looking) Kids | - June 3, 2013

    […] doing and his parents says it pays well. Or the guy who hangs out with people he doesn’t like on the weekends because he thinks that what he has to do. I understand, because the end holds ‘a promise’ and norms are tough to get out of. But I […]