You’ve seen it, right? That meme going around about not letting yourself get, um, messed with?

By Ellen Leanse (Technology Strategist, Advisor, Speaker)

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Don’t we all want some of that? Or MORE of that if we already have some?

The fact is we can get what we want. After all, we do have some control over how much we get messed with. Sure, sometimes bad things happen and people, or circumstances, take us by surprise. Sure, sometimes situations are tough, and we have to stay in them for reasons of life reality.

Yet we can take control of how we navigate those situations — including the tough ones — by coming back into our own power, even small step by small step.

I could say a lot about how we lose that power. Our evolutionary biology, social conditioning, pressure, and a whole lot of ambient culture: the forces conspire. Whatever system we’re in sends us constant messages that say “Play by my rules.”

Most of us do that, at least on the outside—then wonder why there’s such a gap between the self we feel inside and the one we share with others.

Then we look the people who are un****withable and think, “I wish I could be like that.”
It takes more than wishing. It takes active steps to rebelling, at least a little, from what everyone around us wants us to be.

Listen to Steve Jobs’ “Think Different” if you don’t believe me.

The world around us runs smoother — no, strike that, APPEARS to run smoother — when we keep quiet and play by other peoples’ rules rather than our own. From all around us we get messages, lots of them, to tone things down and be less than we are so we fit in with everybody else who pretends they’re less then they are.
In other words, we get ****ed with.

I’m not going to tell you I know a failsafe way to always feel strong, on path, and unmesswithable. I don’t. Yet over the years I’ve looked for ways to strengthen my core, so to speak, and find more confidence inside myself than the world outside probably wanted me to have.
A couple of things have worked. And there’s a whole lot more I intend to learn. It’s work, and like any worthy work it takes time.

But it might be different work than people think. Being “un****withable” isn’t about being aggressive or untouchable or elevating yourself by putting someone else down. It’s not about belittling or bullying or being right. No.

This is un****withable. So is this. And this. And this fifth grader who launched her own fashion line in response to bullying is something really special, but I’m not going to use the “*” word on a fifth grader. The most un****withable thing of all is being confident enough in your own values that you support others in being confident in theirs. You have to back that with work, of course, but you have to do that even if you’re ****withable.

Below please find ten things that might help you build the peace and clarity that keeps in balance even as life, that great teacher, hands you those inevitable challenges. Little by little you’ll see: all along, you were already becoming un****withable. It was your destiny. Then you can help others know that too.

1. Stop proving.

You have nothing to prove. And while we’re at it, no need to please, pretend, or protect in order to justify yourself. All of these are “if-then” scenarios (“If they think this then I can that” or “If I do this then they’ll do that”) that ultimately are the scaffolding, not the building.
But here’s the tricky part. WHAT you do (plan, enact, make commitments, hold yourself accountable) might not change when you stop proving, pleasing, pretending, and protecting.
But WHY you do it will be a whole new thing. That is the game changer. The internal attitude and awareness you bring to whatever you do has a direct impact on the outcome you deliver — not to mention your sense of mastery while you do it. Get your attitudes right and the right outcomes will likely follow, even step by step.

2. Be more curious.

Drop the “answer now and answer fast” reflex we’ve been conditioned to believe shows we’re “smart.” Aren’t we able to make better decisions when we get more information?
When someone asks you a question, absolutely answer if you understand the question and the context it’s asked in. Or if you have everything you need to give your best answer.
If not, consider building your understanding so you can give a better answer. Be curious. Even say “I’m curious…” and ask for more information. Collect the dots before you connect the dots. You’ll see a clearer picture.

Already curious? Take it up a notch. Ask more questions, engage in dialog. Watch what happens to your un****withability.

3. Look to the company you keep.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” it’s said. Yes: we absorb and even reflect the attitudes of the people around us. It’s our nature, thanks to mirror neurons and all kinds of learned behavior. So who you spend time with has a big impact on how you see yourself. And how you see yourself determines your un****withability quotient (“UFQ”).

Think about the people you spend time with. Do they reflect your inner truth and core values? What do you have to fake or hide from them in order to fit in? And if you’re hiding or faking your best self, what keeps you hanging out with them?

Apply this thinking to your personal life and also at work. Can your friends or co-workers evolve and rise with you? If not, what can you change so you can find more freedom to grow and elevate that UFQ to the next level? And if you can’t change the people — no excuses if they’re friends, but sometimes, well, work happens — how can you double down on the other suggestions so you continue to rise (and maybe even lift someone up with you)?

4. Forget about being right.

If you think you’re right people can **** with you.

Right leads to fight. Fight means you’re getting ****ed with. When we’re addicted to being right (and, really…what is “right” anyway?) we limit our growth potential. We lock into a closed comfort zone that leaves us on the defensive…a very ****withable position.

Whether you’re a student or a teacher, an employee, a manager, or a Presidential candidate, locking yourself into being “right” is a great setup to getting ****ed, or at least tipped, over. Someone’s going to come along who is more right (or even more curious) than you, and it’s not going to look good as it goes down.

5. Play to your strengths.

Whatever they are, do more of them. Not sure what they are? Use that “five friends” technique. Think about the five things you’d do if you could do anything you wanted to. The things that light you up most. You are, in a way, the average of those five things.

If you don’t like the things, by the way, dig deeper: the things on the surface might be a distraction or a coping mechanism, not your real strengths. If you need help, try this checklist (with thanks to Huffington Post):

  • · What skills have helped you survive?
    · What makes you feel strong?
    · What exasperates you about others?
    · What made you different, even an oddball as a child? “As a child we do what we love to do — even if it makes us an oddity,” said Johnson.
    · What compliments do you shrug off? We are often oblivious to our strength.
    · What are your hard-won skills? What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done? “Hard-won skills not only signal an ability to stick with a difficult task, they are often ‘pay for play’ skills, a hurdle you have to jump to be able to do the job, and this vital at the outset of a career or career reentry,” said Johnson.

If you’re not sure how to answer these, get curious — really curious — about yourself. Pay attention until you start noticing. Or ask those five friends to help you figure it out. When you know them, figure out how to do even a little bit more of them. Over time, you’ll be playing to, and operating from, more strength.

6. Stop wishing.

“I wish” is often code for “I want it. But I’m not willing to do the work to make it happen.” Rather than say “I wish” ask yourself what you are willing to do, change, or ask for in order to get what you want?
Life is often a test of what we want and what we’re willing to do to get it. “I wish” can be a way of telling ourselves we’re less powerful, less action-able than we actually are. It’s at least worth considering.
Convert the theoretical desire to an action: a step, even a small one, closer to getting it. You can apply this thinking to almost every wish. Try it, and let me know if I’m missing something. If so, I’d like to learn more.

7. Avoid the comfort zone.

Comfort zones are danger zones. We close ourselves into them and go blind to what’s really happening, and possible, around us. The magic doesn’t happen in our comfort zone. It happens in the places where we stretch and grow. Those places often feel…risky. Uncomfortable.

When we don’t grow, we shrink, and get left behind. And if we get left behind we have already been ****ed with. All by ourselves. Nobody even had to do it for us.

The choice is ours: we can stay comfortable and watch the magic happen to others. Or we can step into a bigger circle, even a slightly bigger one, building skills and self-confidence that increase resiliency (not to mention views into other magic zones). Again, small step by small step. You’re bound to notice: the view keeps getting better as the zone expands.

8. Trust your full intelligence.

So much of our learning, and of modern life, focuses on the brain. And that’s awesome.

Yet we’re more than our brains. Our intuition, even our emotions, even our gut: all of these are forms of intelligence. We may not be able to logically understand something, or prove it with facts — but that doesn’t mean its not real.

Pay attention to hunches or gut responses and factor them in as intelligence. We have much more intelligence than science can currently prove, and somewhere deep inside we already know that.

Deepen your connection to intuition and that whisper inside that tells you what’s right — and what’s not — as you navigate life. It’s a superpower. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s only your imagination. Trust what’s inside as much (or more?) as you do all of that other-created reality on the outside. There is more at play than our brains. This guy agrees.

9. Forgive yourself.

Nobody ****s with us like we **** with ourselves. We’ve all messed up. We’ve likely paid for our mess-ups, whether publicly or in the private burden we carry inside.

Yet our mess-ups are sometimes our greatest gifts. They reveal our values and our vulnerabilities, our hubris and our humanity. Give your mistakes, failures, belly-flops, whatever you want to call them a new name: “teacher.” What can you learn from them? How long did it take to learn from them? Why won’t you let them happen again?

Stare them down, those life lessons conveniently called failures. Narrow your eyes at them and even thank them for the teaching they provided. And then tell them to stop ****ing with you. Once you learn from them, you have yet another skill to call upon when the next inevitable **** starts to **** with you. Use it. Show ’em how it works.

10. Know you are ready.

“You’re ready,” my friend Kenyatta told me when I said I hoped I was ready for a big milestone. “You were born ready.”

“I was,” I replied. “Then I grew up.”

We forget, over the course of life, how strong and resilient we naturally are. How complete. We all get the message that something, or even someONE, is waiting out there and that one day, when we find it or them, everything will make sense. Finally, we’ll be ready.

That shiny object is part of a myth, an inconvenient truth that makes us easily and complicitly ****withable.
“Unlearn” the false promises and limiting messages you’ve been given. The stuff that kept you safe and small way back then probably doesn’t serve you any longer. Leave it behind.

I didn’t say it was easy: change takes time. It’s all a process, and a mystery, and everything about it has brought you right. Here. Where. You. Stand. That’s true for ALL of us.

There’s a reason you’ve read so far. Maybe it’s because you’re reading something you’ve known all along.
Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, make the choice to stand a bit more solidly on your feet, right now, and know you are exactly where you need to be on this wondrous path called life.

Then stand more solidly still. As you walk forward, know it’s not always going to be easy or understandable or even clear where you’re going. That’s OK. Stand taller. Smile to yourself and surrender to your courage. It has known all along you’d get to this point.

Then: go forth. Be unfuckwithable.

About the guest blogger: Ellen Leanse (@chep2m) works at the crossroads of technology, positive psychology, and design thinking. An alum of early Apple, Google, and a several entrepreneurial ventures, she has worked with innovators around the world and always comes home to a simple, human truth: we are all part of something bigger. Her Stanford class on Innovation is among the school’s highest-rated Continuing Studies courses, and will soon be offered online. Follow Ellen on Twitter at @chep2m for updates.