48 Laws of Power: Law #36 Disdain Things You Cannot Have: Ignoring Them Is The Best Revenge

Law 36: Disdain things you cannot have: ignoring them is the best revenge

  •      Acknowledging petty problems gives them existence
  •      When you acknowledge an enemy you make them stronger
  •      The more you a mistake visible, the worse it gets
  •      If you want something but can’t have it, disdain it
  •      The less interest you reveal, the more superior you seem

“I think ignoring something you cannot have is fine. Just because somebody has something you want doesn’t mean you owe them anything like attention or validation. Showing active contempt signals juvenility and that yes you want that and no you can’t have it and therefor lowers your value.”

I’m pointing this out because the words “indifference” and “contempt” are used interchangeably here, but are actually worlds apart. If you want to seem powerful, show indifference. If you want to seem petty, show contempt.

Why? Because there’s a huge difference between showing contempt and showing indifference. In my experience, people who show contempt for something usually desire it a great deal. For an example from this sub, think about girls complaining about how much they “hate douchebags and assholes.” For an example from my personal life, I used to soak up greedily and articles that talked about how useless an Ivy League degree is, until I realized I was doing so because I really wish I could go back, work harder in high school and go to an Ivy League school. Most people are aware of this effect of contempt=secret desire, at least to the level at which they can recognize it in others, if not themselves.

On the other hand, showing indifference towards a thing does seem to convey power over that thing. It’s why the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference. It’s the difference between poor people decrying the hedonism of the rich (desire), and Warren Buffett living a simple life (indifference).


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