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I've spent the better part of a decade attempting to undick my personality after three decades of donging it right on up. It's a classic game of Personality Cock Jenga, and it takes forever to win. Each move has to be slowly and carefully executed, lest the whole thing come crashing down like an avalanche of flaccid, flopping tube steaks. Flopalanche. Flaccilanche? Either way, I'm just saying that some of those bad personality traits feel impossible to change. For instance ...

The Inability to Say No

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The Problem:

One of the most common bad traits I've seen in everyday life is people who find themselves unable to say no, even when the deed they're performing dumps their own lives in the shitter. How many of you have contacts in your phone that make you cringe as soon as you see them light up? The ones who are so bad that you've assigned as their ringtone a recording of your own voice screaming, "DON'T FUCKING ANSWER THAT! BURN YOUR PHONE AND RUN AWAY!" But you find yourself answering it anyway, and before they even get to the part where they ask for the favor, you already have your bank account, calculator, and calendar open in front of you.

There's nothing wrong with people asking for help, and there's most definitely nothing wrong with you supplying that help, but there are some people who pop up only when they need something. They're not calling to see how you're doing or to catch up. They may start off that way, but it's just the opening act, meant to soften you up for the big question later in the conversation.

"Hey, while I have you on here, did you hear about my accident? I was ramping my monster truck over a lake for charity, and my wallet flew out of my pocket mid-jump and was shot out of the air by a goose hunter. So now I have no cash until next payday. Do you think you could float me some money until Friday?"

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I'm sensing some irregularities in your story. But here's $300 anyway.

Time after time, you find yourself buckling to their requests. Even after you've told yourself that you're going to harden up and tell them to blow a cactus, you still give in. You can't help it. You're a nice person, and if you have the means to help them out, who are you to turn them down?

Why It's So Hard to Fix:

In my experience, the people who fall victim to this generally aren't big into confrontation. Maybe more aptly, they avoid confrontation like vampires avoid sunlight and sharp wood. Unfortunately, the only way I've found to fix the problem is to have a no-horseshit talk with the people who take advantage of it.

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"Now, how do I say this without using the word 'twat'?"

You don't have to be a dick about it or let the conversation devolve into back flips and spin kicks, but if you want it to stop, you do have to let them know that they can't call you only when they need something. That's not a friendship; it's a government cheese line. And I'm not just talking about favors that involve money, either. I know tons of people who get calls only when their friends are in an emotional crisis. That's a really fine line, because friends should always be there for support when the world turns to shit ... but that shouldn't be the whole goddamn relationship.

Taking that plunge is hard. Many people fear the confrontation so much that they'll never attempt it, choosing instead to always be the go-to solution for others' catastrophes. Just know that the ones who take advantage of you aren't going to have an epiphany on their own and say, "I'm so sorry for the way I've used you over the years. What a fool I've been to have taken advantage of you. Here is a million dollars and some sex to make up for it."

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"Legally change your name to Human Turd and we'll talk."


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The Problem:

At my last job, we had special rules and procedures for reprimanding defensive employees. Which is good, I suppose, since my suggestion was to elbow them in the temple and send their girlfriends breakup texts with their own phones. But it turned out that the company was much wiser than me, because defensive people are extremely difficult to deal with.

I'm not talking about people who use defensiveness as a response to the occasional bad situation. There are times when you have to stand up and tell the boss, "No, it wasn't me who threw human shit at your son. I know I've been very vocal about wanting to do that, but I didn't do it." I'm talking about people who meet even the slightest critique with a full-on army.

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"My song parody was funny, you son of a bitch! Take it back!"

Your supervisor gives you a polite reminder that your report needs to be finished by 4 p.m., and you respond with "I know! I've been working on it all day. Every time you put me on a project, you act like I'm putting it off until the last second. I'm not just sitting around and playing video games all day, Chad!" Or maybe your spouse points out a minor mistake you made in the checkbook (you forgot to carry the 1, or you drew a dick where numbers should be). Instead of correcting it and moving on, you tell her that your mind wasn't focused because you had a bad day ... and then you explain every bad thing that happened leading up to that mistake. It was out of your control. The world screwed you once again.

Why It's So Hard to Fix:

I'd say that I used to be like this, but the truth is, I still am. I'm not as bad as I used to be, but ... oh, wait, that statement in itself is defensive. Shit.

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Now I must reflect upon my very being.

It's so hard to get over because abandoning a defensive attitude leaves you open and vulnerable. It forces you to accept responsibility for mistakes or not living up to expected standards. It is, by definition, a means of protecting yourself from virtually any negativity. If scientists told me 10 years ago that they could make a physical shield that would protect me from negativity using one of my lungs, I would have scheduled the surgery before they had finished the disclaimer.

The only thing that's helped me make what progress I have is consciously suppressing the impulse to jump into that mode when my brain and ego are screaming for it. I have to consider the source, though. I'm not going to politely listen to critique from a random stranger, but if it's from someone I trust and respect, I tell my brain to chug a dick while I listen to and honestly consider what they have to say.

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Then I tell them to shut up because their opinion is stupid and I am awesome.

That's not easy to do; to a defensive person, every critique or even piece of friendly advice sounds like an attack. It can take years of exercising your willpower to see a genuine change, but it's worth it. It turns out people enjoy talking to you much more when your every response isn't "WHY DO YOU HATE ME SO MUCH?!"

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The Problem:

Among strangers in real life, I am polite, somewhat quiet, and as respectful to people as their actions demand. On the Internet, I can be a ridiculous caricature of arrogance. An unapproachable dictator, rewarding those who follow my arbitrary rules and exiling those who dare oppose me. That's fancy talk for "I click the 'block' button."

In that universe, it's easy to tell someone to lick exactly half of your asshole and get away with it, because you have no connection to that person. Yes, I understand that the same can hold true in meatspace, but at least when you do it there, you have to look into someone's eyes and physically dodge their fist. Even on the phone, you have a human connection through voice, and that makes it harder than just typing out letters on a keyboard with your dick.

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Which reminds me -- never use my keyboard. It's for your own good.

The most common form I see this take is condescension -- especially when talking about intelligence. I see the phrase "I hate dumb people" on Twitter at least twice a day. Most days, it's closer to half a dozen. And this is coming from people who don't consider themselves arrogant in the slightest. That's one of the biggest problems with arrogance: It's only recognizable from the outside looking in, which is why Scrooge couldn't see it without the aid of ghosts or some wicked badass acid.

Why It's So Hard to Fix:

I'm not proud of that arrogance. In fact, the embarrassment of reading some of the things I've said to people is what caused me to make a serious effort in bleaching that skid mark from the tighty whiteys that is my personality.

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On second thought, we may need some acid and a blowtorch.

One thing that's helped is realizing that there is an entire world of people who dwarf me in intellect, wisdom, and virtually every aspect of life. In other words, I'm not nearly as special as I think I am. The other thing I try to keep in mind is that, yes, there are some truly dumb people in the world. It's not my job or my right to hold them to the same standards that I hold myself or my closest friends. They don't deserve to be chastised because they can't hold a conversation on astronomy or because their sense of humor comes with "boing" sound effects.

Humility isn't something you acquire with the decision to adopt it. It's a state of mind, and that takes an incredible amount of committed thought and empathy. It requires you to open yourself up emotionally and connect with a diverse group of people. Not many arrogant people are willing to do that, because they view others as beneath them. Throw them together in an orgy, and they'd connect all night long. But ask them to have a personal conversation, and they're likely to vomit blood.

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"No, seriously, you're interesting. Please continue talking while I drift away."

The Need for Control

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The Problem:

In my own life, I have strict ways I like to do things. The clothes have to be folded a certain way. The ones that go in the closet have to be hung in a specific order. Table settings and knickknacks have to be centered and symmetrical. My leather gimp suits have to be polished and pressed at all times. I know it's a personal problem, so for years I've done those chores myself. I had to have that control, or it drove me crazy.

Where it gets bad is when a perfectionist pushes his habits onto another person and doesn't accept any behavior or chore that doesn't live up to his standards. In that instance, he becomes a control freak. "This Darth Vader fan-fic isn't nearly as erotic as it can be. You'll be staying home from school and rewriting this until it gives me a boner by Page 2."

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"That's not bad. I like the reference to his flesh saber."

We've all seen these people before. A husband who takes the paintbrush out of his wife's hand and says, "Christ. Just let me do it. If I let you paint, it'll be next spring before we have the living room finished." The wife who complains, "You're not wearing that outfit in public. Go put on the nice pants I got you. And if you fart even one time at the restaurant, we're going straight back home, and I'm wearing my ugly 'don't touch me' pajamas to bed."

Why It's So Hard to Fix:

Because my job requires quite a bit of time, I've had to give up some of my own control to my wife. It was extremely difficult at first, because I wanted to walk behind her and redo everything she touched to conform to my specific rules and standards. Not just the quality of the work, but right down to the specific order that she performed it. I've got issues, I know.

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"I'm telling you, that cat is wrinkled. Just let me- OK, I'll sit down."

What got me through it was realizing that if I do that, not only am I not thanking her and appreciating her help, but through my actions I'm openly chastising her. What kind of bullshit is that? You don't punish someone for doing positive things. That's some Game of Thrones shit right there, and it has no business outside of a show about fucking and decapitation.

The only way around it (at least for me) was to take those tasks completely out of my grasp. To give them away like the world's shittiest gift so that I had no more ownership. I had to convince myself that stepping in without asking or being invited would be treading on her ground. Obviously, you can't do that without a discussion or you look like a giant asshole. "Honey, here's all my chores. I'm going to go sit in front of the computer now. You're welcome."

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Time to write some sweet, sweet dick jokes.

Giving up that control is like taking away the net below a high wire and replacing it with a single person whose job it is to catch you if you fuck up. It requires an immense amount of trust that they can do the job just fine without your input. Just keep in mind that we're talking about tasks here. Controlling a person is a much larger issue that could very well require professional help or severing the relationship completely. Speaking of which ...

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The Problem:

Far and away, jealousy is the most horrible, destructive personality flaw I've ever seen. I'm not even comfortable calling it a flaw. It's more like a scar. Or a tattoo of a wounded dick flopped across your cheek. There are so many things that need to be fixed, it's almost impossible to plot out a defined starting point. It's all tightly wound around a core of trust issues, control, fear, codependency, anger ... it's like trying to change the course of a river by digging at its banks with a spoon.

Jealousy is such a complex problem, people who see a relationship that's infected by it will view it as literal insanity. "Do you see how rock-fuck crazy that dude is? Why does she put up with that? If she's not within eyesight, he just loses it. Is he in the witness protection program, and he's just afraid she'll blow his cover? That has to be it, because no sane person would live like that. Keep watching. If he tries to fuck a rock, we'll know for sure."

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I like big rocks, and I cannot lie. You other brothers can't deny.

Why It's So Hard to Fix:

Let me just say to recipients of jealousy that unless you've injected something huge into your relationship like cheating or murder, you're not at fault. Your partner most likely had problems with jealousy long before you ever came into the picture. But you also have to understand that if you're dead set on staying with this person, it is extremely difficult for them to overcome it. It's not an insurmountable problem, but the success rate of that prison break is somewhere between fuck all and jack shit.

It took me years of conscious effort and retraining my mind, but I eventually got past my own jealousy issues. In my case, the solution was learning how to genuinely trust another person. Understanding that, when she leaves my sight, she's not immediately going to the dick store and trying them all on. I know some of you are wondering what you can do to make this easier on the person who's trying to change, and the honest answer is: nothing. Just live your life without cheating or purposely hurting them, and you're doing everything you can. Giving in to their jealous demands (call me every half hour -- let me go through your phone -- let me smell yo dick) only tells them that their actions are acceptable. They are not.

For the people who are battling their own jealous impulses, if your significant other gives you legitimate reasons to mistrust them, maybe you're with the wrong person. But if they don't, you owe it to yourself and them to make an effort to change. To accept that this person is your partner and an individual and doesn't deserve to be caged by your insecurities. And neither do you. Learning to trust takes buttloads of time, but it's so worth the work. And seriously, you have to stop smelling dicks. It's just weird.

John is an editor and columnist right here at Cracked, with a new article every Thursday. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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