Don’t you just love YouTube comments? Trolls aside, they can actually be rather uplifting. My favourite went something like this: if you don’t have decent parents, read 12 Rules for Life and watch Jordan B. Peterson’s videos. Essentially, if no one taught you how to be a good person, this guy can. Clinical psychologist and university lecturer in his late fifties, Peterson is not known for telling people what they want to hear. Everywhere I look, common sense is thin on the ground, which is why I’m finding his no-nonsense approach to life so refreshing. Unfortunately, Peterson gets horrendously misquoted (a lot of the time) as well as outright smeared. Insults like “transphobic” and “leader of the alt-right” get thrown around. According to most of the mainstream press, he is the devil incarnate.
Don’t judge a person by their headlines (always read the whole article and fact check it)
Yes, he has big views and is outspoken when it comes to the gender pay gap and preferred pronouns, but most people are. They’re just SHIT SCARED of being labelled sexist and/or transphobic, so won’t have the conversation. As for being alt-right, this is utter nonsense. He’s just wildly against the radical left – as am I – even though I class myself as a leftie. For the record, I abhor identity politics and feel sad for those who are buying into it. Radical anything is not good, because it leads to chaos and violence. Some might confuse certain elements of the radical left with inclusion and diversity, but I’m not inclined to agree. (Please do bear in mind that I’m a home educating mother an autistic child.)
Peterson talks a lot about how polarised society can feel through the lens of social media and online life. Flailing, once-powerful mainstream news outlets, who used to be very credible, are constantly chasing clickbait because it’s how they make money. By default, this means it makes sense for them to create public figures they can demonise because it guarantees advertising revenue. If you have gathered a big opinion of this guy, based on clickbait articles and edited soundbite clips, then more fool you. For those genuinely curious about what he has to offer, read on. Joe Rogan’s podcast is my absolute fave and this one below is a great place to start if you want to learn more about either of these two brilliant men. Or this one.
What’s all the fuss about Jordan. B Peterson?
Before continuing, it has to be said that Peterson talks a fair bit about God. A few years ago, this would have immediately put me off. I’ve always been against organised religion, (a) due to the corruption and abuse that has historically gone on within and (b) because blindly believing in a man in the sky and never questioning why strikes me as beyond absurd. However, over the last few years, I’ve been tuning into my spiritual side and am absolutely convinced there is a force more powerful than us out there. Rather than refer to this as God, I’m a fan of calling it the Universe. Peterson is helping me see it all from a perspective I haven’t before. Which can only be a great thing? After all, life is a work in progress and I love to learn.
There’s no denying that stories from holy books contain a certain amount of wisdom. One could argue that if we all adhered by their basic principles, society wouldn’t be in the mess it’s in right now. Having a moral code seems to be the exception rather than the rule. But stats on mental health are through the roof. I’ve seen first hand how many people are struggling just to keep their heads above water. Many folks are clearly in desperate need of structure. If religion isn’t for you, but you’re a little bit lost right now, 12 Rule for Life could be lifechanging.
Why everyone should read 12 Rules for Life
Peterson’s starting point is that we are all responsible for our own lives. Bad things happen to us all and sometimes, if we’re very unfortunate, they are not of our own making. (Such as being abused as a child.) But, until we take full responsibility for our lives and our children’s lives, we will perpetually be entangled in a web of chaos. Much of what I have written here on the blog over the years, and in my book, comes back to this. Overcoming adversity has been a common theme throughout my life. Choosing to walk away from those who were not prepared to put their hands up, accept responsibility and change the necessary to ensure a different outcome for their future. Peterson’s advice has not been revelatory for me, but it certainly gives me faith that I’m on the right path.
Originally I was going to write a paragraph summarising each of the 12 rules but I’ve decided not to. Instead, I’ve listed each of them because they’re pretty self-explanatory. Also I don’t want to spoil the fun of reading the book for yourself. Just glancing at this list will do one of two things. Spark something inside you, making you want to immediately buy the book and see what the fuss is for yourself. Or rub you up the wrong way and you’ll vow to not read it on principle. Honestly speaking, if you fall into the second camp, you NEED to read this book.
When things hit a raw nerve for us, it’s because we haven’t fully processed whatever the situation/memory is. Being triggered, constantly, by people simply going about their business, isn’t normal. Aside from genuine racism/sexism, etc, a lot of the things we get triggered by stem from feelings that we have within us. It’s unfair to expect the world to bend around our idiosyncrasies, no matter how much we might want it to. Plus it’s never going to happen. Surely it’s better for all concerned for everyone to simply behave like decent human beings and raise their children to be decent human beings? Don’t confuse being decent and knowing how to behave in the world with being nice though. Or as JBP would say: do so at your peril.
- Stand up straight with your shoulders back
- Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping
- Make friends with people who want the best for you
- Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today
- Do not let your children do anything that make you dislike them
- Set your house in order before you criticise the world
- Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)
- Tell the truth – or, at least, don’t lie
- Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t
- Be precise in your speech
- Do not bother children when they are skateboarding
- Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street
Jordan B. Peterson’s podcast is incredibly insightful
Peterson has become my running partner and keeps me company while I push through the pain barrier. Ensuring I return home exhilarated, in more ways than just a drum banging in my chest. Here are three of my favourites and the main things I have taken away from them. I’m posting this last section to give you a flavour of what he’s all about. Sincerely, I hope you get as much from tuning into him as I have and am continuing to.
- Responsibility = meaning of life
- Courage = antidote to anxiety, which leads to competence
- Failure = success
- Safe spaces, sensitivity to micro-aggressions and victimhood are doing the exact opposite of what they were intended for
- Don’t hide from the world and your fears, they absolutely must be confronted
- 39m in. Parenting challenging kids is the biggest test of sanity and/or strength of your marriage. (As a home educating mum of three, one of whom was diagnosed autistic in 2015, I could not agree more)
- Never underestimate the power of singleminded determination
- Creativity is a gift, most creatives fail miserably at 99% of the things they try to do (this actually gives me hope!)
- 57m in. It’s our duty to stick our broken pieces back together, so we can not only live up to our potential, but transcend it
- Ultimately there can be no community, no society, no equality without starting with individuals taking personal responsibility for their actions and beginning to fulfil their potential
- No matter how badly we’ve been treated, there is always hope
- Anxiety HAS to be faced, unless we want to end up so scared we can’t leave the house
- Hiding from the things that scare us does no-one any favours
- It’s important to find people to aspire to and be truly inspired by
- All of us are capable of transcending whatever version of hell we find ourselves in. Check out my book Become the Best You if you need some easy-to-digest help (£3.99 for the paperback and free with kindle unlimited)
Last year I fell down a wonderfully enlightening Brené Brown rabbit hole and recently it’s been a Jordan B. Peterson one. I can’t recommend more that everyone tunes into both of these brilliant souls. Believe it or not, they have a hell of a lot of cross over. Often their point is the same – they just say it in different ways.
What I love most about Peterson, is his applaudable ability to cut through the BS and (transparent, once you’re wise to it) noise – and speak the truth. I’ll leave you with this to puzzle on. Bearing in mind that he’s a man of Faith. Peterson’s take on Hurricane Katrina is that this tragedy occurred because of wilful blindness and deep rooted political corruption. Malevolent politicians were so busy lining their own pockets that the flood defences were insufficient. He is no-ones fool, no matter how much people want him to be.