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5 Life Lessons From Game Of Thrones

5 Life Lessons From Game Of Thrones

Game of Thrones may be best known for its surprise beheadings and near omnipresent nudity, but there’s much more to it than this. Next to the naked dragon queens and stinging betrayals, its deeper morals often fall to the wayside— but they’re there, hiding behind every boob and barbarian.

Here are 5 life lessons to be learnt from Game of Thrones:

1. Life isn’t perfect

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Many fantasy tales focus heavily on the “happily ever after,” but this is not so with Game of Thrones. Martin tells a story that is epic, exciting, but most importantly, realistic. No, I’m not talking about the dragons and whitewalkers. I mean the storyline— the way things unfold. Martin forgoes the idealism of happy endings and how things ought to be. In real life, you never know what’s going to happen, and this sentiment is portrayed perfectly in Game of Thrones. The good guys aren’t guaranteed to win and the bad guys won’t necessarily die a slow and painful death. In fact, in Game of Thrones, the bad guys often triumph and the good guys often die. Life is full of twists and turns, and more often than not, things don’t turn out as expected. Game of Thrones is perfectly unidealized, renouncing the monotony and predictability of the stereotypical hero’s journey and telling a tale based more so in realism.

2. It’s all in where you’re standing

Game of Thrones tells a single story through the eyes of many characters. This allows for an exploration of different perspectives, revealing the impact that culture and upbringing can have on a person’s worldview. Like a city looks different from certain vantage points, a single event can have a totally different appearance to different people. To us, Eddard Stark is the honourable hero that dies in vain, but to Daenerys Targaryen, he’s the cold warrior that slew her family. The Wildlings may be viewed as savages by most of Westeros, but to Mance Rayder and Jon Snow, they’re simply a spirited people in love with freedom. To the lords of Westeros, the Seven Kingdoms are everything, yet to the merchants of Qarth who care only for trade and money, they are nothing. Depending on the person, one thing can have entirely different meanings, some as different from each other as ice and fire— but all are valid. There is great wisdom to be had from considering all perspectives and their origins. Expanding your own point of view will help you to see the world more objectively and become more understanding of others.

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3. What people think about you doesn’t matter

Game of Thrones is filled with characters who are seen as inferior for some reason or another. Tyrion the dwarf, Jon the bastard, Bran the Broken, Davos the Onion Knight, Brienne the Beauty, and the list goes on. Despite the labels stuck to these characters, though, none of them are held back. They wear their so called weaknesses as a badge of pride, finding beauty in their uniqueness. Bran embraces his strengths as a warg, Brienne devotes herself to the art of combat, and Tyrion… well, everyone knows how awesome Tyrion is. As he says, “Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.”

4. Understand and have compassion towards others

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It’s easy to make snap judgements about people. When someone acts in an irritating way or says something offensive, we tend to attribute this behavior to bad character rather than trying to understand it. In Game of Thrones, multiple characters make poor decisions on a regular basis, yet we can empathize with them because we know why they acted as they did. Throughout daily life, it’s this why that’s often missing. Why did your friend say that to you? Why did that car cut you off? When we don’t know the why, we have a habit of creating one, and it typically takes on some form of they’re a bad person. Through George R. R. Martin, we see the world of Game of Thrones from multiple perspectives, which helps us to understand why certain characters act the way they do. Although explanations don’t excuse cruelty or carelessness, they can certainly help to build empathy, creating a more constructive mindset less concerned with judgement and more so with understanding and problem solving. From afar, Theon may seem cruel and ungrateful, but Martin encourages the audience to consider the events that brought him to that place— he became a hostage at ten, went unloved by the Starks, and when he finally did return home, it was to a family nearly indifferent to his existence. With that knowledge, his actions are more understandable— although not excusable. In a similar way, Cersei’s behaviour can be explained through her love of her children, the Kingslayer’s through his love of Cersei, and Stannis’s through his unhappy childhood. This unabridged view into the lives of these characters allows for more compassion towards those who might otherwise be labelled the ‘bad guys.’ Martin perfectly demonstrates the impact that upbringing and circumstances can have on a person’s behavior, helping to build his audience’s empathy, both within the story and without.

5. Make every moment count

Valar morghulis. All men must die. Many of us view death as a distant stranger that we’ll likely never know. Game of Thrones demonstrates that death comes for everyone, from noble lords to innocent children. Being an upstanding citizen doesn’t make you immune to speeding cars or diseases. Each one of us is as vulnerable to death as the next, and eventually, it will come for us all, whether as an accidental misstep on a roof or an overly aged body. It could be tomorrow, or it could be in ninety years, but all men must die, so while alive, make every moment count. Do what you love, spend time with loved ones and be grateful, because, as Martin relentlessly shows, any moment could be your last.

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Featured photo credit: FAN-SNE via fan-sne.deviantart.com

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Leanne Louie

Leanne is a passionate writer who shares lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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