Home » 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

In the image: Ivana Marie “Ivanka” Trump is an American businesswoman, serving since 2017 as Advisor to the President, her father Donald Trump, and the Director of the Office of Economic Initiatives and Entrepreneurship. Wikipedia

By acknowledging a petty problem you give it existence and credibility. The more attention you pay an enemy, the stronger you make him; and a small mistake is often made worse and more visible when you try to fix it. It is sometimes best to leave things alone. If there is something you want but cannot have, show contempt for it. The less interest you reveal, the more superior you seem.

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Keys To Power

  • Desire often creates paradoxical effects — the more you want something, the more you chase after it, the more it eludes you.
  • Turn your back on what you want, show your contempt and disdain. This kind of response drives your targets crazy.
  • They will respond with a desire of their own, which is simply to have an effect on you.
  • Contempt is the prerogative of the king.
  • Commitment and engagement often weakens you. By paying undue attention to a puny enemy, you look puny and the longer it takes you to crush such an enemy, the larger the enemy seems.
  • And if you succeed in crushing the irritant, you create sympathy for the weaker side.
  • It is tempting to want to fix our mistakes, but the harder we try, the worse we often make them. It is sometimes more politic to leave them alone.
  • Instead of inadvertently focusing attention on a problem, making it seem worse by publicizing how much concern and anxiety it is causing you, it is often far wiser to play the contemptuous aristocrat, not deigning to acknowledge the problem’s existence.
  • Several ways to execute this strategy:
  • Sour-Grapes: don’t complain and draw attention to your disappointment. Act as if it never interested you in the first place.
  • When you are attacked by an inferior, deflect people’s attention by making it clear that the attack did not even register. Though, among equals this tactic might backfire.


  • Play the card of contempt with care and delicacy. Most small troubles will vanish on their own if you leave them be, but some will grow and fester unless you attend to them.
  • Learn to distinguish between the potentially disastrous and the mildly irritating.


In the image: King Henry VIII of England

King Henry VIII of England ignored his wife Cathrine of Aragon for denying him a son. With Thomas Cromwell on his side, he devised a clever plan to marry Anne Boelyn. When you ignore someone they cannot argue with you. They cannot influence you. You’re out of reach and they can’t do anything about it. If there is something you cannot and will never have, it is best to push it aside with discontent.

About The Book

The 48 Laws of Power (1998) is a non-fiction book by American author Robert Greene. The book is a bestseller, selling over 1.2 million copies in the United States.

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