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Getting Over the Indignity of Baby Steps

Bill Murray stars as Bob Wiley in the 1991 comedy What About Bob? He is a neurotic, anxious man who seeks out the help of Dr. Bob Marvin, an ambitious and egotistical therapist played by Richard Dreyfuss.

Dr. Marvin wants his name to become the next Dr. Spock, a psychologist with a worldwide reputation. He believes that his newly published book, Baby Steps is the key to fame and fortune.

Bob’s numerous psychological problems are discussed with Dr. Marvin. Dr. Marvin then gives Bob a book called Baby Steps. Bob adopts the Baby Steps Philosophy and takes literal and figurative steps out of Dr. Marvin’s office. Bob’s comedic antics are heightened when he crashes Dr. Marvin and his family’s vacation.

While What About Bob? While the film pokes fun at therapy by using the phrase “baby steps”, it captures an idea that may sound cliche, but is nonetheless true: Small actions taken consistently are the most effective ways to make big changes to our lives.

You should know that


Little strokes fell great oaks.

Pound the rock.

Even though I know that the best way to change is through small steps, I often struggle with taking them.

You’ve probably all experienced something similar.

Today’s article will explore why we hesitate to take small steps and how we can embrace them.

Why We Stop Taking BabySteps to Change

Two main reasons are why we often hesitate to take baby-steps towards a goal.

The “This Makes me Feel Like a Dumb Baby” or “Sense of Inadequacy” Effect

We may be reluctant to make small changes because we feel insecure.

In his book, How We Change (And 10 Reasons Why we Don’t), psychologist Dr. Ross Ellenhorn discusses the humiliation of baby steps. Ellenhorn says that taking small steps can be demoralizing because they remind us how far we are from our desired goal. Each baby step may feel like a mini disappointment that emphasizes the work still needed to reach our goals, amplifying feelings of inadequacy. You’ll have to face the reality that you are not where you would like to be if you keep taking baby steps.

We stop taking baby steps altogether to avoid the mini-deafness that comes with them. We avoid taking baby steps because they make us feel bad.

This is something I’ve seen in my life.

I tend to over-analyze things. I can be Eeyore like because of my negativity bias. Since I didn’t like this, I have tried to control my Eeyore tendencies for the majority of my adulthood.

Cognitive behavioral therapists suggest that you catch yourself catastrophizing and then spend a few minutes questioning the assumptions that contribute to your negative mood.

But I have a hard time putting it into regular practice. Why? Why? It makes me stupid to have to constantly question my overly pessimistic, erroneous assumptions. It reminds me of my melancholic mindset every time I question my pessimistic view.

This is the inner dialogue I have when I begin to question my negative assumptions, and am grumpy.

Look at how stupid I am. I have to look at this list of questions and see if my negative bias is accurate or not. I feel stupid, because the answers to these questions are usually that my assumptions have been distorted. Others I know do not have to. Why am I doing this? “Oh yeah, my brain is damaged.”

I spiral into doomsday and despair. I feel bad for feeling bad because I have taken the baby step to question my cognitive distortions.

The baby step of re-examining my distorted view makes me feel bad.

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Podcast #1,006: Stop Drowning in Tedious Tasks by Taming Your Life Admin

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Completing paperwork Booking travel arrangements Paying your bills. Shopping for groceries Returning packages.

All of these are examples of life administration — the small tasks that we need to perform to keep our lives running smoothly.

Admin is usually a tedious and frustrating task. It is important to stay on top of the admin because it will reduce the stress that can otherwise affect our relationships, mess up our schedules and prevent us from enjoying the more fulfilling aspects of life.

There are many ways to improve your life administration. Dinah Rowe Roberts, co-host of Life Admin Life Hacks and co-author of a similar book, shares some of her tips. Dinah Rowe-Roberts, co-host of the Life Admin Life Hacks podcast and coauthor of a book of the same name, shares some of them today on the show. She explains the lists you should keep, such as the 10-minute time kills list. She also explains why you should schedule your life administration, how you can divide chores with your spouse and how you can track and manage your tasks.

Podcast Resources

Article on Todoist and how you can use it to get things done. Article on managing your lifeadmin. AoM on how and why you should have a reset-day.

Dinah Rowe Roberts is on Facebook

LifeAdminLife Hacks websiteLifeAdminLife Hacks at IGDinah

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Skill of the Week: Survive an Alligator Attack

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It has always been important for men to have the skills and knowledge to deal with any situation. We’ll be republishing an illustrated guide from our archive every Sunday so that you can improve your manly knowledge week by week.

A woman was walking with her dog on a golf course in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. It was late August 2018. An alligator attacked the woman’s pet dog as she approached the green at the 13th hole. She tried to protect her dog but the alligator attacked her, dragging and killing her.

In the United States there are over five million alligators. They live on a vast territory that extends from South Carolina to Texas. The majority of them reside in Florida. It’s good to know that most gators don’t attack people. The gators mainly eat small prey such as fish, raccoons and birds. They also eat deer. It’s possible that they mistakenly attack someone. In the story above, the dog of the woman was the initial target.

If they manage to grab you, gators can be incredibly strong. Alligators have been evolving for 150 million years, making them pure killer machines. Some alligators are up to 11 feet long and weigh 1,000 pounds. They can also bite with a PSI as high as 3,000 pounds. Even with all their power, the gators have a few weak points. Knowing how to take advantage of them can save your life in the event that you are ever attacked.

You like this illustrated guide? You’ll love our book The Illustrated Art of Manliness. Get your copy at Amazon.

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