There are times when “Gosh darn it!” or “Drat!” just doesn’t do justice to your emotions. In these cases, some well-placed profanity can best express the intensity of what you are feeling and communicate with prism-like clarity what you’re trying to say.
What you choose to call it is less important than the concept that it represents: the idea that you need to let go of excessive concerns that have forced you to live a life that isn’t your own and that prevents you from pursuing your life with gusto and without apprehension or hesitancy. For example, I had a client who was a rising star in her sport who felt immense pressure to live up the expectations that her early success placed on her. When she turned pro, she would experience debilitating anxiety before competitions that caused her to perform well below her capabilities, and she lost touch with why she played her sport in the first place. Only when she was able to reconnect with her love of her sport, refocus on the process of performing her best rather than on her results, and, well, say “f&%# it”, was she able to perform the way she was capable of and regain her joy for her sport.
What Is the “F&%# It!” Attitude?
Let me begin my explanation of what the “f&%# it!” attitude is by describing what it is not. This attitude doesn’t mean not caring about yourself, other people, your career, or anything else in your life. It doesn’t mean not trying your best or giving up. It by no means suggests that you should surrender in any way to the seeming inevitability of your life. And the “f&%# it!” attitude definitely doesn’t mean bailing out on life and its many responsibilities; quitting your job, leaving your family, selling all of your worldly possessions, and moving to a deserted island.
To the contrary, the “f&%# it!” attitude enables you to engage more deeply in your life. It liberates you to do so because, at the heart of the “f&%# it!” attitude, is being able to let go of excessive attachment to the consequences of your actions. In other words, it means not caring too much about your successes and failures, your loves and rejections, your emotional highs and lows. The “f&%# it!” attitude involves being absorbed in the experience of life and being able to accept whatever life presents to you. The “f&%# it!” attitude reminds me of the Rudyard Kipling poem If—:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a man, my son!
With the “f&%# it!” attitude, you give up expectations, both internal and external, self-imposed and outside pressure, and any preoccupation with “what should be” or “what might happen if.” You are not driven by fear or doubt or any other negative thoughts or emotions that can prevent you from engaging yourself fully and without hesitation in your life. You are able to throw yourself completely and with absolute vigor into everything you do, whether relationships, school, work, sports, whatever, because the only thing that could hold you back — failure! — is no longer an existential threat, but rather one possible outcome that, should it occur, you can live with. Most importantly, the “f&%# it!” attitude enables you to realize that, no matter what happens in your life, you will be okay!
The “f&%# it!” attitude means that you embrace every opportunity that life presents to you and, at the end of a day, year, career, or on your death bed, you will have no regrets because you “left it all out there.”
The “f&%# it!” attitude is liberating in many of life’s most potentially threatening situations. Think about how you feel when you want to:
- ask someone on a date
- prepare for a job interview
- participate in a sports event that you’ve trained for months for
- ask your boss for a raise
- get ready to give an important presentation at work
- apply to college
You can apply the “f&%# it!” attitudeto any situation in which you are afraid of an undesired outcome, and that fear either prevents you from “taking your shot” or sabotages your ability to give your best effort in pursuit of a successful outcome.
How to Get a “F&%# It!” Attitude
Here are some practical suggestions to help you assume the “f&%# it!” attitude:
- Focus on the process, not the outcome
- Focus on the positives, not the negatives
- Focus on the present, not the past or future
- Avoid preconceived expectations; just give your best effort
- See the situation as a challenge to pursue, rather than a threat to avoid.
- See the situation as an opportunity to showcase your capabilities, rather than a test of your value.
- Realize that no matter what happens, you will be okay
I had another client, an 18-year-old heading to college in a few months, who was lonely, yet terrified of asking girls out. He was so worried about rejection that he just wouldn’t even try. At the same time, he hated being so paralyzed with fear, so he was determined to overcome it. We started by having him set a goal that was within his control: to ask 5 girls out (not a goal of having any accept because that was outside of his control). He then adopted the philosophy that if he doesn’t take the shot he can’t score (though also realizing that he might miss some shots too). He established an expectation of making the “ask,” rather than putting pressure on himself with an outcome expectation of a girl saying yes. He also chose to see his goal as a challenge that he wanted to face. He rehearsed how he would approach the girls he wanted to ask out until he was feeling confident, relaxed, and comfortable. And we talked at length about how he would be the same person whether any of the girls accepted his invitation. Over the course of the summer, he identified and asked out five girls. They all turned him down. But rather than being devastated by their rejections (of course, he was disappointed), he was elated and proud to have overcome his fear and achieve his initial goal. He also realized that he was still okay despite the rejections. When he got to college, he found it much easier to ask girls out. And, yes, finally one said yes!
When you embrace the “f&%# it!” attitude, you experience something that I call complete freedomin your life. Complete freedom involves freeing yourself from “mindblocks,” such as doubt, negativity, insecurity, worry, and fear, that prevent you from pursuing your goals and dreams with confidence, commitment, and courage. Complete freedom also means knowing what you want and propelling yourself along a new and fulfilling path toward that which you seek to:
- Be vulnerable
- Be courageous
- Live your values
- Be happy
- Be at peace
- Fully engage in life
With this complete freedom, you can know that you did everything in your power to live the life that you most wanted and that would bring you your greatest meaning, satisfaction, and happiness.
The next time you’re in a situation in which you have doubts, experience worry, or feel fear, tell yourself “f&%# it!” and jump right in.
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