Dexter Morgan is one of the fictional characters that got me looking at my life and pay more attention to how I think and how I do things.
I was depressed when I saw Dexter. I saw it as a way to channel my frustration into anger and take action to make myself a better person.
If you haven’t seen the TV series, Dexter is a series about Dexter Morgan a serial killer who hunts murderers who escaped justice. To avoid being caught, he works for the police as a forensic blood spatter expert and in public, plays the role of a good brother, boyfriend and citizen. He gives donuts to his co workers and lives a seemingly perfect life.
Nothing like a troubled person pretending to be normal to inspire another troubled person to pretend to be normal.
“…if you play a role long enough, really commit, does it ever become real? Could I become real?” – Dexter Morgan
An old advice said “fake it till you make it.”
This is my attempt to “make it.”
Here are ten lessons I learned from Dexter.
1. Set up routines to get you through the daily chaos.
If you let your mind just do what it wants especially when you’re depressed or troubled there is only chaos. When my ex left me all I wanted to do was to lie in bed and think about how useless I was because the girl who promised me she loved me and will stay with me for six years suddenly left without giving any reason. I was reading up a lot on depression recovery and I found out that people who are depressed recovered from activities where their posture, breathing and smiling were corrected and what they had
2. Life is not meant to be perfect. It is meant to be enjoyed.
We all have this grams vision of our life that we are working toward and many times none of it goes according to plan. We have two options. If we take life too seriously we get frustrated. Frustration is a loss of ability to do anything else. The alternate is to enjoy it. If we accept the facts we regain our ability to take control of our lives. Fun enables us to turn what is difficult into something we can act on effortlessly.
3. Say no to distractions.
Dexter says no to a lot of things. You’ll often hear him say something like “now isn’t a good time” or “I’m in the middle of something right now”. Dexter says no to a lot of things so he can commit time to his missions. We all have limited time. We all have limited resources. In order to make time we need to cancel out distractions. Say no to things that are not important to you. Give an excuse or tell them you’re really not interested.
4. Observe and study your target before committing to take action. **
Dexter operated for eight seasons and did not get caught. The reason is because he doesn’t act on his impulses immediately. He observes his target. He studies their habits. He finds the best place to do what he does. He prepares everything he needs in advance and he executes the plan to the letter as much as possible.
**5. You are not required to act on your initial reactions. **
To avoid getting caught or arousing suspicion Dexter is taught that whenever he is asked a question he should think about his response and give the opposite as his answer. I don’t recommend that you like. The take away is that you pause and think about your answer before saying anything.
**6. Know what role you are playing.
Who are you?
Are you Kevin the call center worker?
Are you Kevin the older brother?
Are you Kevin the writer?
Are you Kevin the cyclist?
Are you Kevin the artist?
Are you Kevin the gamer?
Are you Kevin the friend?
What role are you playing? If things are not making sense, compartmentalize and focus.
7. You need a cover life.
Dexter’s advice to a young serial killer was to get a cover life. You need a job, relationships and hobbies so people won’t be suspicious. That’s not the only benefit. Staying on one task for a prolonged period is not practical. Rest and recovery are important. That said,staying relaxed enables you to be creative and effective. After this I learned to draw, bike, CrossFit and blog some more instead of just working.
8. Don’t make a scene.
If you make a scene you attract attention. Do your thing but don’t try to attract unnecessary attention to yourself. If you’re working on something just do the work. Don’t use energy unnecessarily to get attention.
9. Clean up.
Don’t leave any trace behind. Make sure everything is clean. It works so you don’t get caught. It also works to make you really efficient at what you do. If you make a mess you’ll spend unnecessary effort in cleaning up. As long as my environment is clean I’m able to work well.
10. Think long term.
Dexter’s demise at the end of the season comes from his seemingly impulsive short term thinking. Dexter couldn’t let things go. He had to kill murderers himself to the point of tampering with evidence. At the start of the first season Dexter himself narrates that he hunts monsters that escape the criminal justice system but after season one he blocks the police from apprehending killers and had gotten addicted to the thrill of the hunt to the point that he ends up revealing his activities to other people. The main criminals of the season could have been caught by the police if Dexter only did his job and many of the character deaths. Don’t insist on things going your way if they are not. Be persistent but don’t be too obsessed about a specific result.
Bonus: Accept people for who they are but be willing to let them go. Dexter doesn’t judge people who comes into his life. He accepts them for who they are. Flaws and all. Every time the person needs to leave, Dexter just lets them go.