Monthly Archives: April 2020

Apr 13

Choosing your Friends Wisely – Be Reliable and Avoid Sloth

By Marcus Neo | Self Improvement and Social Skills

I remembered one of my most negative life experiences as a young 21-year-old. That was when I started studying social dynamics, personality development and self-help. One tenet of attracting women is courage and standing up for yourself (and others). 

Two of my friends were squabbling and told one of them to stop emotionally abusing her. He told me: ‘why didn’t you take my side’. He also happened to be the main social connector in the social group I was part of. He suddenly stopped inviting me out for all events. The rest of the group didn’t care or asked why I stopped showing up for group events. Life just went on. Slowly, in another repeated process, these so-called ‘friends’ started falling off.

In one of my previous business masterminds, I enthusiastically shared strategies and information that I paid thousands of dollars for. I never understood why the so called friends in the mastermind perceived it as being arrogant instead of being inspired and/or appreciative that I was sharing it for free. 

Ouch. These life events taught me a whole deal about friendship. Losing friends can be one of the most difficult things a young man has to deal with when you’re in your twenties. Especially when you’re standing up for your values. However, I embraced pain and put it into improving my dating life. 

Fast forward years later, I’ve had a dating life equivalent to a Chinese lord in ancient China (not at Emperor level yet), I built a profitable business in the dating coach for men industry in Singapore, travelled to many parts of the world and progressively began doing better than these peers around me in  multiple aspects of my life: academic performance, dating life, fitness, personal finances and business. I became well-traveled, well-spoken and had my first taste of business success. I became a lot more reliable and accountable than my teenage years.

Choosing your Friends Wisely: Boundaries

There seems to be a particular boundary issue in Asian culture. To give you an example: you’re ‘supposed’ to just share drinks on the table because someone in the group  decides to order an expensive bottle and you just happened to want to go to the club with friends to chill. If you don’t fit in socially into that particular situation, you’re considered an asshole.

Isn’t being accountable for what you spend and keeping others accountable for what they spend a rational behavior? Or is it a social norm to let minor purchases slight in the name of ‘friendship’.

I’ve NEVER had issues going dutch with women on dates. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for friend. There’s something perverse about the Asian culture that you’re expected to buy someone a meal or a drink, and then he/she treats you back a week later and the cycle repeats itself.

You Want to Associated Yourself with People Better than You: You Want to be Reliable

I knew my success, drive and no-nonsense approach to keep myself and others accountable is going to rub most people the wrong way. I also slowly understood that people do not merely exchange bodily fluids, money with each other, but also self-esteem. People with healthy self esteem are going to understand accountability and responsibility. However by this time I knew I could generate acquaintances and surface-level friendships in almost any social setting through social skills. Hence, I wasn’t too worried when I piss people off by holding them accountable.

Mike, from PickUpAlpha wrote about the importance of smaller social groups and the meaningless of the big Asian social group that permeates Asian culture. He also sees many Asian acting betas in order to fit into a social group. I often tell clients that they are going to go through an identity flux if they desire mastery in this area. If you start stepping up, not many people are going to like it. Especially if you weren’t the popular or cool popular guy in your teenage years.

There seems to a perverse Asian phenomenon where people defer to people with social status, power, authority and monetary influence. When I was growing up, everyone deferred to the rich kid that pays for bottles at the club with his Daddy’s credit card. Secondly, I don’t think it’s solely an Asian problem, however, it’s more prevalent in Asian cultures. There’s no need to defer to some asshole just because he has a big house and uses his Dad’s credit card to pay for bottles at the club. I’m not saying you need to burn bridges either. 

Charlie Munger, a billionaire, has so often wrote: you want to avoid unreliability and sloth. His partner, Mr Buffet, has also mentioned: you want to associate with people with better behaviours than you and you’ll drift in that direction. I can’t advocate the notion of choosing your friends wisely. If your peer group aren’t upwardly mobile and socially punish you for attempting to better your life, then to hell with them.

Apr 11

How to Overcome Anxiety – a Psychologically Research Guide

By Marcus Neo | Self Improvement and Social Skills

I remembered starting my first business when I was 22. I dropped out of accounting school and started a website. In, three months, I gave up and told myself: I’m not cut out for this. This isn’t for me. I had too much anxiety and  froze up, not knowing what to do next. If you see an attractive stranger walk by us on the streets. You look at them, faintly hoping they’ll look at us. They might even you a hint or two and even if so, we freeze dumbfounded there with anxiety running through us, unable to make the next step. 

Studies show that fears, anxieties, traumas are imprinted on our brains in similar ways that our physical habits are. They are hardwired into us and never disappear. They are our emotional habits, just like all our other physical habits. If you can build a habit to study hard for examinations, it’s the same ability to build an emotional habit to feel less anxious during social or sexual situations.

How to Overcome Anxiety – Understanding Anxiety

Here’s the thing about anxiety. Everyone has a degree of social and sexual anxiety, no matter how rich, handsome or beautiful they are, it’s part of being human.

The good news is that although anxieties can’t be removed, it can be replaced with higher order behaviours. You can build a habit of acting against your fears.

The people who perform well in a high pressured situation as compared to those who flunk is not due to the lack of anxiety, but how well they managed their anxiety. They both experience similar anxiety, however, one is trained to harness it rather than to be crippled by it. People who are confident in their abilities become more energised and assertive with their anxieties. Their nervousness even goes to help them perform.

I asked myself: How can I look forward to my days? How can I be excited about going to the examinations and feeling competent instead of seeing it as something that is a pain in the butt. How can I be excited to head out with friends on a night out to potentially meet a new romantic partner? Can it not be a non – stressful event? Can it not been as something to be competed and fought against, and something that’s collaborated and enjoyed? This is why I looked into research on how anxieties are formed and how to overcome it.

Principle 1) Questioning our Deep Rooted Beliefs

Someone can be rich and popular but still don’t feel any more secure in their day to day confidence. There are deep rooted beliefs about ourselves that we aren’t willing/able to let go of. Our past pains contribute to our present pain and this may hurt us in all areas of our lives. 

One way to overcome anxiety is to understand why you’re feeling anxious in the first place. This is to question our own thoughts and beliefs about ourselves. This requires self awareness. It’s helpful to take a step back and ask yourself whenever you’re feeling anxious about something. You can ask myself if it’s that really true that if you perform X desired behaviour, you’ll get a negative Y result. 

The other thing you can do is to attempt to understand if a past experience or trauma contributed to your current anxiety. If you’re afraid of start business, could it be because you failed with money in the past and you convince yourself that you’re just not cut out to be an entrepreneur. The process peeling one layer back and another can be emotionally painful whilst doing so, but necessary in the long run.

When I lost money in the stock market, I convinced myself for a year that I merely sucked as an investor. However, that wasn’t the case. One bad trade don’t make me a bad investor. That one horrible trade that I made just meant that I failed at a trade when I first started out. It doesn’t say anything about my long term identity. 

Secondly, instead of believing what’s ‘true’ why not believe in something that’s helpful. Psychological research shows that our human psychology is at most times, biased and unreliable. We often convince ourselves of the ‘truth’ to ourselves and others, whereas, in plain reality, it’s often far from actual reality. So at the end of the day, there’s actually no final ‘truth’. Hence, it’s better to believe what’s helpful, rather than what’s ‘true’, since what’s true is often what we merely convinced ourselves.

Principle 2) Defence Mechanisms

Now, let me get to our excuses. It’s what I call: defence mechanisms. It’s the lies you and I tell ourselves day in and out when you fail to approach that girl, hit the gym or start a business.  You and I all have defense mechanisms that run rampant when it comes to different aspects of life. The common defense mechanisms can morph between apathy, blame, avoidance and procrastination, depending on your life circumstances and different past experiences and upbringing. 

  • The Blame/ Anger

Some of the common ones that I get from myself and people around me: my parents fuck me up, I’m just born like that naturally. I mean, it’s society’s fault, all women are haters. It’s easy to blame something and be angry at someone or something, paint yourself a victim than to take responsibility for something in your life. 

  • Avoidance

When I started improving my dating life, on some nights, I’m completely avoid about social situations by convincing myself that I don’t care. I somehow convinced myself that I don’t want/need to talk to girls and I’m perfectly cool about it. Yeah right Marcus, you are full of crap, you have been talking about this whole approaching girls fearlessly thing the entire week, now that you’re in the club you are not going to talk to a single girl?

  • Intellectualization

Intellectualisation is also another form of avoidance. However, in this case, instead of completely avoiding doing that action, you convince yourself that you can learn more about that subject. Hence, instead of actually performing that action, you end up reading and watching videos or tutorials on how to do that action. 

There’s nothing wrong to get a more insightful perspective on how to better attract women or build a business. However, if you find yourself reading one book after another without doing anything about, then you’re probably using knowledge as an excuse. 

Sometimes, behind these defense mechanisms are emotional truths and realities that we’re out of touch with. The trick here is spotting the excuses you give yourself, and acting despite these excuses. 

How to Overcome Anxiety Principle 3) Progressive Desensitization

When it comes how to overcome anxiety, many are going to teach you a lot of nonsense. Some say it’s a purely a matter of willpower and hustle. Some say that anxiety isn’t real. Others say to focus on the positive and ignore the negative. Some say: just man up the fuck up, grab your balls and just do it.

This strategies work in the short run. However none of these are sustainable and it can actually harm you more than help you in the long run. These solutions only create short term gains, they don’t create permanent habits over the anxiety. Remember, anxiety is an emotional habit wired into your brain and to overcome it, you must hardwire a different, more positive habit on top of it.

Through my experiences as a dating coach for men, I noticed that many of the guys from the community were hyping themselves up before going into the club to meet women. This isn’t really a sustainable strategy in the long run.

One of the most reliable methods of helping you overcome your anxieties is referred to cognitive behavioural therapy, often known as CBT. CBT is based on the concept of progressive desensitizations and gradual exposure to something that makes us afraid.

This is effective on two fronts: 1) It slowly develops our willpower over the course of time instead of overwhelming us at once, and 2) Builds a strong base of confidence in our ability to handle a situation, makes us less likely to freeze up.

If you’re afraid to start a conversation with a stranger at the library, you can start by asking strangers for the time and directions, to build you up, to get some social juices going. Nothing else. Then once you can do that comfortably, you build up to asking strangers for directions and then inserting a compliment. You can get creative with your exercises here. The trick here is this: You continue to progressively push yourself until you’re comfortable with the action.

Willpower is a muscle that can be depleted, and also can be built. If it’s not exercised, it becomes weak. The longer someone becomes a couch potato, the harder it is for them to get up and hit the gym. On the other hand, people who have a lot of discipline and positive habits are able to adopt new habits and push through uncomfortable situations much easier.

Principle 4) Self Acceptance

What you resist, persists. When it comes to fear and anxiety, don’t you notice that the more you focus on it or fight it, the stronger it becomes.

When I was in an academic setting, the more I was afraid of failing my exams, the more I was afraid of picking up my pen and doing some practices to score. Hence, I ended up failing, despite investing an enormous amount of mental effort stressing out over the examinations. It almost felt as if I put in the effort, and yet had no results. 

The times where you accepted that the fear is there, and things may not go how you’d like them to go, you decided that you were okay with whichever outcome that is going to occur, you relaxed and performed fine.

Instead of focusing and spending a huge amount of mental effort on how to beat your anxiety, you can just say to yourself: “You know what, I’m a nervous guy, and this isn’t going to go away or get any easier. I am just going to live with it and act despite it.” This relieves the pressure of not forcing yourself to not feeling anxious.

Till this day I still feel anxious when speaking to someone new. On some days, I still convince myself that I don’t want it, or I don’t need it. Despite writing hundreds of blog posts, I still feel anxious or avoidant when publishing an article. Our emotional habits don’t go away, they merely get replaced by higher order behaviours and habits.

Self development, at the end of the day is changing how you feel about others, and yourself. It ties into concepts such as anxiety, our attachment system, self esteem and etc. The bedrock of acceptance commitment therapy is to go with, instead of against your negative feelings and thoughts as opposed to challenge it.

On the other hand, taking the ACT approach, If I were to just accept these negative thoughts, and be non judgmental about it, I wouldn’t spend the mental energy ruminating over those thoughts in my head.

The Art of Defusing From Your Thoughts

In acceptance commitment therapy, whether a thought is true or not is not that important. It’s far more important if that thought is helpful or not.

Thoughts are also stories we tell ourselves. The mind never stops telling stories, not even when you’re asleep. It is constantly comparing, judging, evaluating, criticizing, planning, pontificating and fantasising.

We all have beliefs, the more we tightly hold on to them, the more inflexible we come in our attitudes and behaviours. 

Fusion happens when you’re blending with your thoughts.In a state of fusion, it seems as if our thoughts are our reality. What we’re thinking is actually happening, here and now. Our thoughts become the truth, the truth of our reality. 

Now, how do we defuse from this ‘self created truth’ to the actual reality of things? 

To defuse your thoughts, it’s first to bring to awareness an upsetting thought that takes in the form of ‘I am X’. For EG. ‘I’m not good enough’, or I’m incompetent’. Preferably a thought that often recurs and that usually bothers or upsets you.

Now, take that thought and insert this phrase in front of it: ‘I’m having the thought that….’ 

Now, this time, phrase it longer ‘I notice I’m having the thought I am X’.

This practice gave you distance from the actual thought as if you “Stepped Back” from it.

You’re no longer making your thoughts your identity, you’re no longer making it your truth. 

Principle 5) Taking Valued Based Action

One part of acceptance and commitment therapy is to take valued based action. Your values are different from goals. A value is a direction we desire to keep moving in, an ongoing process that never reaches an end. You can make the analogy that a value is akin to heading west, no matter how far you travel there’s always farther west you can go. Getting married is a goal. Being loving, honest and empathetic. These are values.

One of the revelations in the book man’s Search for Meaning, written by Viktor Frankl, who was a Jewish psychiatrist who survived years of unspeakable horror in Nazi concentration camps reported that the people who survived longest in the death camps are those who are connected with a deeper purpose in life. The deeper purpose if often rooted in values. One of Viktor Frankl’s values is in helping others, and so, throughout his time in concentration camps. he consistently helped other prisoners to cope despite the atrocious conditions. He also helped them to connect to their deepest values. Taking values based action gives our lives meaning and a powerful antidote to give your life purpose.

Principle 6) The Struggle Switch

The more we struggle with or against these feelings, the more trouble we create for ourselves. When these negative emotions show up, the thing is not to struggle against it, but to just let it be. Our anxiety levels are free to rise and fall. Some times, they’re high, some times, low, more important, you’re not wasting your time and energy struggling against it. Initially, you can willpower through your issues. However, willpower is going to run out.

When we beat ourselves up over our own thoughts and emotions, then that’s when the struggle switch is on.

‘This can’t be good for me.’ ‘I’m such a crappy friend’ ‘I shouldn’t be doing this.’ ‘I’m acting like a child’.

You end up feeling guilty about being angry. You might feel angry about feeling anxious. There are secondary emotions that might come a long with the primary emotion. It’s a vicious cycle. There’s no avoiding discomfort. However, there’s no need for additional suffering. This struggle switch is like an emotional amplifier. When you switch it on, we can have multi layer emotions such as anger about our anxiety. You can feel guilty about our your depression.

When it’s turned on, we’re completely unwilling to accept the presence of these uncomfortable emotions. Not only you’re unable to get rid of them but you’ll also do whatever it takes to get rid of them: this may be through pornography, binge eating and etc.

These are control strategies. Instead of avoiding or struggling against these feelings, it’s better to ‘expand into it’. Expanding into your negative emotions is similar to the defusing technique. It is to step aside from your thoughts and observe your emotions. By allowing these sensations to be there, two things might happen. Either your feelings will change, or they don’t. It doesn’t matter either way because this technique is not about changing your feelings but accepting them.

Closing Thoughts

There’s no fool proof technique to overcome anxiety. It’s going to take practice and effort to practice. Now, I believe that not all negative emotions or thoughts should be merely ‘accepted’. Negative emotions can push us towards value based actions during times of need. Furthermore, it’s not enough to just accept all your negative thoughts or negative feedback. If you see a clear pattern in your life and you’re feeling upset about it, then perhaps you got to do something different. 

Lastly, these techniques shouldn’t be used as control strategies. When you’re throwing your arms in the air and being frustrated and pissed off at why ‘defusing your thoughts’ isn’t working as it should be. You’re probably using it as a control strategy. There’s nothing to control here. Just a plain awareness of your thoughts, accepting them, nodding at them. With no judgement. Our anxieties don’t go away, you merely form better habits on top of them.     

Apr 08

Cold Approach – How to be Rejection Proof to Women

By Marcus Neo | Dating Advice for Men

If you’re actively attempting to better your dating life by cold approaching and trying to get more ‘leads’ into your phone. Sooner or later you’re going to realise that dating is a numbers game.

If You Measure Your Cold Approach Results, You’re going to be Far Better

One new heuristic I adopted over the years is: whatever gets measured, gets accomplished. I was doing a slight form of that through the years, by tracking appointments, time and scheduling out gym workouts, classes, putting aside time for work, ahead of time and wasn’t too strict on this through the years. I experienced one of my biggest business growth in years after adopting this heuristic. If you put in the work, measure your results, you’re going to get success far faster than everybody else.

You can measure:

If you make it a point to approach 3 women everyday, that’s 90 women a month. Let’s assume out of 10 women, you get a strong ‘lead’. That’s 1 out of 10. That’s also 9 strong leads to work with in a month, just from approaching 3 new women a day. This is not account for your leads from your social circle, Tinder or just about any avenue. 

How to be Rejection Proof: Don’t take things Personally

It’s human psychology to overvalue the bad than the good. I find this human effect similar in business and our dating life. If you went out and approached a hundred women, 10 of them that you’re extremely attractive and 90 of them told you that you’re an asshole, you’re going start thinking that you’re an asshole without valuing the fact that 10 out of a 100 thought you’re extremely attractive. That’s part of our human psychology.

In social psychology there’s an argument that people behave accordingly to their situations, as opposed to their innate personality trait. They may be reacting in jest, or merely under those circumstances. There’s nothing you need to take personally, especially so if it’s from a stranger. 

These days I learned not to take things personally, in business or in dating. I get rejected a ton (if any tells you otherwise, they are bullshitting you) and I get labels and opinions on me as a person. They can range from being an asshole, to being foolish, to being smart to ‘X’ personality trait.