I began seeing a therapist when I was in college because I was having a hard time dealing with loneliness. I had friends. I ran cross country and track, so I was involved. I did well in class. But I beat myself up on a constant basis. I felt that I wasn’t doing something right and that there was something wrong with me.
After being picked on for more of my primary and secondary education, this seemed rational. I spent my weekends hoping friends would return phone calls and seeing in the basement reading books. These skills led me to work very hard, to understand myself, and to reflect on what I dream to be.
But I was still unhappy. At one point, my therapist recommended a Dr. Phil book that was meant to see myself in a more positive light. It wasn’t helpful and when I reminded her that she recommended it to me, she wasn’t sure what she was thinking at the time and apologized. So, when I picked up The Nerdist Way by Chris Hardwick, I was not expecting more. I thought it would be funny and that was about it.
Hardwick was the host of Singled Out on MTV back in the 1990s and fell on hard times afterwards. But he decided to change his life around and work towards new goals. He founded The Nerdist website, podcast, and now media empire. Although everyone doesn’t need to do that, there are many tips and strategies that Hardwick discusses that I find useful for myself and that I imagine many others do as well.
However, it turned out to be the self-help book that I needed. It turned self-improvement into a game and all of the things he said he needed to tell himself are the things I need to tell myself. I do not have the same addictive personality when it comes to drinking or video games, but I do have one when it comes to self-doubt and to being alone.
From the opening chapters, I could see this book was going to change how I looked at myself. It was funny and true. And for the first time, one of these books seemed designed for someone who wasn’t just a sad sack moaning about things. It was designed for the person who is just hyper-critical about themselves. Hardwick asks you to use these skills for good. Turn them around and be hyper-critical about your self-improvement.
To start, you create your own character profile, a la Dungeons and Dragons. And you set up goals and point systems to level up and be the best you that you can be. So, each month, I will be setting up goals that I want to achieve. They may be short term goals, like finishing a book, or medium term goals, like building traffic to this blog over the next year, or long term goals, like buying my dream house. And as I go through my days, I will think about things that help me work towards these goals and to not dwell on things I did not accomplish. As we all know, no one achieves all of their goals, but it is important to keep having goals and to keep moving forward.
The other parts of the book touch on physical fitness, which I do want to focus on (it’s a mid-term goal), and the last part is to take all of your skills and put them to best use.
If you are someone who gets down on yourself and sometimes cannot understand why the world is out to get you, this book is for you. It has made me look again at many things that I have done and worked on and made them stronger. It has enhanced my therapy sessions and my life.