Is Reverse Psychology the Key to Personal Success?

While a painful boss or sexist lecturer may not secretly want you to react on their rudeness in the form of a perfect score – is it their indecency that lights a fire in the belly of those deceived?

Are we all underdogs, really?

This long luxurious weekend past, a tweet written by TV writer Amanda Deibert (she's blocked by Trump, so you know she's legit) went viral by causing some 5,500 people to respond and thousands more to like and encourage further liking. 

The tweet read: "Tell me about a time someone told you that you could not do something and you went ahead and succeeded out of spite."

Responses ranged from overcoming racism to abusive boyfriends to Ireland's own Vera Twomey who changed the system to provide life-saving treatment for her daughter. 

While overwhelmingly positive, the request itself stems from negativity – boasting the deep and pounding emotion that can only come from a time of inward trauma. 

A lot of the responses were career-based. Although I will herald the importance of a terrible boss when it comes to subordinate bonding (we've all been there, and have ride-or-dies because of it) in a perfect world, a helpful, compassionate and altogether kind leader is obviously optimal. 

But can personal empowerment only come if you're fighting an enemy in doing so? Or is the damaging force simply a catalyst – to be used and burned out in the process of your blossoming?

Baz Ashmawy – the Emmy-winning television host and radio personality – spoke about this recently by sharing that he was once told by an RTÉ executive how he no longer had a future career in TV, upon being let go from a presenter gig. 

"I was done, finished. I respected that person and wasn't angry about what he said. But I had been doing this for years at that stage and didn't know anything else.

"It was also what I loved and I believed I was really good at it. So I went from there to 18 months later standing on a stage in New York holding an Emmy thinking, 'How the hell did that happen?'"

Reverse psychology is the practice of telling someone to do the opposite of what you really want them to do. This technique is based on the concept of reactance, in which a person has a negative response to being told what to do, and so does the opposite of what is being requested.

In the spirit of punctuating everything I do with Simpsons quotes...

Homer's Brain: Don't you get it? You've gotta use reverse psychology.
Homer: That sounds too complicated.
Homer's Brain: Okay, don't use reverse psychology.
Homer: Alright, I will!

While a painful boss or sexist lecturer may not secretly want you to react on their rudeness in the form of a perfect score – is it their indecency that lights a fire in the belly of those deceived?

The world is obsessed with underdog stories. It's what makes headlines, propels X-Factor winners and creates made-to-DVD movies about the American Dream and guys who get to kiss the cheerleader. 

But are we unconsciously creating underdogs out of ourselves in a Truman Show type capacity? Or are our lives really that tragic that we desperately need something to hold on to? (Guilty.)

Hollywood says that every story needs a villain in order to catapult the protagonist to greatness. And if everyone is the protagonist in their own story – it seems that even malefactors boast equal footing.

The 'us and them' rhetoric that the aforementioned Twitter thread boasts is both emboldening and intriguing as it seemingly communicates that we work hardest and succeed more when we bet against rather than pushed forth. 

That, or we've all had terrible bosses/boyfriends/Health Service Executives... Either or. 

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