Are you an easy target for demanding people? Do people easily take advantage of you? Use you and drop you? Your problem might not be a string of bad luck in relationships. It’s more likely that you’re a pushover for predatory jerks.
In Don’t Let the Jerks get the Best of You, Dr. Paul Meier suggests, “we are living in a jungle and its full of hungry jerks.”
If you need help dealing with difficult people or psychological defense against jerk abuse, this is the book for you. Obviously, we all act like jerks on occasions. Being a jerk (a word I wasn’t allowed to use growing up in conservative Pennsylvania) means being selfish. It’s an inborn quality that from earliest childhood needs to be corrected.
Without correction, we develop an inordinate sense of entitlement. Without large doses of loving discipline, a child won’t learn that he doesn’t always get what he wants (A jerkish thought). Children in their terrible twos, for example, “need to learn boundaries and limits because they think they rule the roost. When their little desires are not met, they can get angry—very angry. Their sense of entitlement is at its height.”
No one needs instruction on how to act like a jerk—we come fully equipped at birth. And the tendency never completely disappears. “Reality says I am going to be a jerk to some people and they’re going to be jerks to me. That’s not necessarily okay, but it is reality” (Meier). We must begin by acknowledging our own tendencies to act selfishly and take advantage of others. As Jesus taught, “first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5).
It’s also worth mentioning that men are not necessarily more jerky than women. Based on extensive research, Dr. Meier suggests, “there are an equal number of women who are jerks—or, if you prefer, ‘jerkettes’. Yet Dr. Meier also indicates that we are not all the same kind of jerks. Forty percent of us are First-Degree jerks who are mildly to moderately selfish. Another forty percent are Second-Degree Jerks who are seriously to acutely selfish. Ten percent of society is made up of the most dangerous type: Nth-Degree Jerks. These people are severely to sociopathically selfish. They’re the sickos who lie, cheat, abuse, and even kill, all without guilt or remorse.
What about the other ten percent? “Somewhere out there,” wrote Meier, “there are folk who have practically conquered all their jerky tendencies. We call these people Mature Adults. To become a totally mature, loving, caring adult should be everyone’s goal.” The goal of Dr. Meier’s book is to help us get there. He analyzes each type of jerk and includes a practical questionnaire to help you know if you or someone you know fits the category. He also offers protective strategies to safeguard you from Second and Nth Degree jerks.
Equally helpful is the section on people with masochistic tendencies. These are people who tend to put themselves in positions where they continually get hurt, mistreated, or taken advantage of. They have a strong pull toward self-destructive behaviors and attitudes.
Dr. Meier presents fifty questions to help assess the degree of masochism in yourself or others. He admits that he and his wife had definite leanings toward masochism. As an example, early in their marriage his wife’s philosophy was, “Great men have great faults, and great women learn to live with them.” She has changed her philosophy to: “Great men have great faults and great women point them out—in a tactful non-jerky way, of course!” This is a move from masochism to maturity. To help make that move, the second half of the book offers six steps out of masochism to maturity and closes with an in-depth maturity test.
Are you tired of letting the jerks get the best of you? Do you want to gain freedom from the destructive affects of selfish behavior and enjoy mature relationships that are free of jerkiness and masochism?
According to Dr. Meier, you need to learn, “some simple psychological judo holds and throws that will allow you to face predatory jerks with confidence, gain the advantage and deal with them lovingly, or at least in a civil manner that let’s them know you will not be manipulated, controlled, or abused anymore.”