All Posts by Marcus Neo

About the Author

Marcus Neo is an entrepreneur and coach. Enjoys writing about dating, relationship, business, and psychology. Introvert yet extrovert. Likes martial arts and music, but never got around to the latter.

May 12

Overcome Approach Anxiety – Exercises and Programs

By Marcus Neo | Dating Advice for Men

80% of your dating success is going to rely on how well you deal with approach anxiety. That’s because the quantity of women you’re able to meet is going to be dependent on how well you manage approach anxiety. If you can approach women effortlessly on the streets, you are going to get good in time. Yes, managing approach anxiety is one part, you’re still required to build up the required conversation to flirting skillsets to get the dating life you want. However, the majority of people fail here because the idea of going up to talk to an attractive stranger overwhelms them.

Overcome Approach Anxiety – Exercises and Programs

In my experience, the reason why people still deal with deliberating approach anxiety is because they haven’t made an internal decision. They either don’t feel worthy of success in women themselves, or their fear of rejection/ failure trumps the sweetness of success. You need to make an internal life decision. Now, and today. That you are going to risk rejection for success. There’s no success with risk, at all. Furthermore, is there really real risk involved? There’s only perceived risk. You don’t lose money, a leg or an arm for being rejected by some attractive stranger. There’s no real inherent risk.

Here’s how, you can overcome approach anxiety.

Step 1) Make an Internal Life Decision

You’re reading this for a reason. You’re on a dating advice blog for a reason. You like women, and you want to get better with your interactions with that. How many opportunities have you and I missed as the years went by. She walks by and you tell yourself: ‘I’ll approach the next one”. Thousands, if not hundreds of thousands by the years.

Look, this isn’t a Disney movie. There’s nobody coming to save you. This is your dating life you’re talking about. You need to decide to win. If you’re half hearted about getting your dating life handled (or any aspect of your life for that matter.) You are simply not going to win.

I want you to take out a piece of paper, and write your goals for your dating life. Yes, get serious about it. Can you hold yourself accountable to your life values? There comes a point you need to pull the trigger and “just fucking do it”.

Step 2) Put Evolutionary Pressure on Yourself

How many of us make internal life decisions but end up not following through? That’s the majority of us. That’s because you are still in your comfort zone.

The way to force yourself out of your comfort zone is to put intense evolutionary pressure on yourself. You need to give yourself no alternatives. This can mean not texting girls that you’re so-so into and putting pressure on yourself to approach women that you’re into. This can mean deleting Tinder or any other forms of escapes or excuses that you give yourself.

I only started approaching after I signed up for a mentorship program with a dating coach. I put up skin in the game. If you can’t motivate yourself, then use psychology against you. If you pay up half your bank account for coaching like I did in my earlier twenties, I can guarantee you’re going to start approaching.

One other reason people procrastinate is because they lack sexual motivation. If you’re watching porn every single day and getting your needs met by porn, then there’s no reason to go out and approach women at all. You’re going to sit at home and procrastinate. The answer here is simple, cut down on your pornographic intake.

If all your friends mock you for attempting to better your dating life, then find new friends. In my later teens, I ran around introducing self help books to my friends. They ignored me. I responded by getting a coach, audiobooks and whatever material I can get my hands on. I haven’t regret that decision.  I also learned later in life that it’s pointless to discuss self development with friends and or family. It’s better to keep it to yourself and take action.

Step 3) Check Out my How to Approach Women Video

If you’re socially awkward and never had positive responses from people or girls in your life. Then let’s say you’re going to be crippled with not just approach anxiety, but social anxiety. By learning and mastering the basics of dressing adequately, and the ability to read basic social cues, you’ll mitigate this area by a huge percentage.

If you want to go out and do 10 approaches, then do not self sabotage by dressing extremely poorly. If you dress poorly, you’re going to end up giving yourself excuses to not approach. The cycle continues.

I did an entire Youtube video on how to approach women in a conservative culture such as Singapore.

You can check it out here:

If you’re prepared, you’re going to feel less anxious. Go out prepared.

Step 4) Exercises to Help You Desensitise

So, you have decided internally, but you realise going out and talking to the most attractive person you can find at the mall is daunting. So what you can do about it?

I found that desensitising myself to any form of anxiety helps. This is inclusive of approach anxiety. If you’re dealing with unbearable anxiety, here’s an exercise and a program that’s going to help:

  • Talk to 10 strangers, ask them for time and or directions (you can lie that your watch or phone is broken)
  • Talk to 10 women who are strangers, ask them for time and or directions (you can lie that your watch or phone is broken)
  • Talk to 10 women who are attractive strangers, ask them for time and or directions (you can lie that your watch or phone is broken)
  • Talk to 10 women who are attractive strangers, ask them for time and or directions, then give them a light compliment and walk away
  • Talk to 10 women who are attractive strangers, ask them for time and or directions, then give them a light compliment, then follow up by making a statement about their hair/ dress sense or anything you can observe
  • Tell 10 women who are attractive that you find them interesting and wait for their response…
  • Tell 1o women who are attractive that you find them interesting, try to push for a conversation and so on and so forth

There are no hard and fast rules here. You can tweak the difficulty settings according to your skillset level and your anxiety level. The progressive desensitisation method can be used across all anxieties that you’re facing from sexual anxiety, social anxiety and approach anxiety. It’s also a clinical researched method that’s use across many therapeutical settings.

Note, if you’re having huge issues with even talking to strangers asking for time and directions. You should not be studying dating advice. You need a therapist and/or talk to a professional mental health. However, if you aren’t then progressively moving your way up the ladder is going to help. I myself use it when I feel overwhelmed at times.

Step 5) The Reasons Why People Don’t Approach

In my experience, the reasons why people (or I myself) don’t approach is not only because we fear rejection the girl itself, but because the act of approaching is unconventional.

You approaching a woman directly is completely out of our identity and culture. Yes, approaching is an unconventional behaviour. However, success is unconventional. How else are you going to outperform if you did everything similarly 99% of the male population aren’t able to direct approach an attractive lady on the streets, much less alone a night club or a bar. If it was easy and common, then everybody is going to be successful with women. Unfortunately, it’s not easy. Fortunately, it’s not that common either.

However, that is good news. If you’re able to be competent in this skillset. Then you’ll outperform 99% of the men out there. This is  true of many other skillsets not related to dating. For example, building a business ground up is extremely difficult. That is why only a small majority of the population are business owners. The option of owning a business is not readily accessible to everyone. This is true of business success and dating success.

Let’s assume you are an engineer or an introvert that do not really have any other options. You aren’t also fan of the quality of women you get from online dating apps such as Tinder. I know for sure in Singapore the quality of matches I get on Tinder is way less than the ones I am able to cold approach. There isn’t any other alternative right? How many interest groups and networking sessions do you wish to join and partake in till you meet enough women to convert them into dates, and then into results? It’s going to take a lot of time investment.

You’re only able to get good at scale through cold approaching, by overcoming your approach anxiety. That’s it.

Step 6) Accept Rejection

I’m going to be a little philosophical here but bear with me. Out of most of your approaches, 5 out of 10 times you’ll get lukewarm responses. IF you’re doing it right. The rest, are plainly going to ignore you, or maybe give you a negative response. Of those 5, perhaps 1 is going to be interested, and be willing to exchange contacts with you.

Let’s say you approach 20, and out of 20, 2 are slight interested, you go out on a date with 2, and 1 fall through and you’re left with one. Yes, those are the statistics from my experience. The sooner you accept that the majority of your interactions are going to go nowhere, the better off you’ll be.

The reason why people hesitate and procrastinate over ONE approach is because they have this fantasy that every approach has to be perfect and that every girl is going to fall head over heels for them. In reality, most girls aren’t going to barely bother. This is from experience. However, with the ones that do and capitalize on the opportunity.

The more approaches you do, the more you do not want to waste time either. Sooner or later you’ll get a rough feel of who is interested and who is not. You’ll also want to screen in your approaches. You don’t want to be trying to ask for every girl’s number. There’ll be women that give out their numbers for no reason. There’ll be women that text you for no reason and won’t go out with you. So, stop feeling overtly anxious about approaching and come from a higher value frame. You are screening her as much as you are approach her.

There’s something to be said about acceptance. The acceptance that you’re not going to be attractive to the majority of women at any given point of time. Only when you acknowledge that, then you’re free to being rejected. It’s not personal. It’s not about you. It doesn’t say anything about you, your successes, failures or your identity. it’s just the economics of dating, some luck, a lot randomness and chance. Let go of the idea of a non rejection proof life, and you’ll feel better about it.

Conclusion

Furthermore, by going through hundreds of interactions by cold approaching, you’re forced to be good at improvisation. You’re forced to be able to improvise on the spot. You need to be able to tease, flirting and understand social cues right there and then. It’s great practice. It’s not only the most direct way of getting to meet more women, it’s also a great way to practice other skillsets that’s required for dating success.

The anxiety you feel when cold approaching an attractive woman is the same anxiety you feel when you lean in for the kiss. By training that muscle and willpower of cold approaching, you’ll be able to get better at other areas of your ‘game’ as well.

I am a huge advocate of cold approaching and learning how to manage your approach anxiety. If I could turn back the clocks, I’ll have focused a lot more on this area. I only started focusing when I had no other alternatives as an entrepreneur. That took years. Yes, the procrastination is real.

Ultimately, there’s no such thing as approach anxiety, there’s only perceived risk.

May 03

Attachment Styles and Theory – Understanding Rollercoaster Relationships

By Marcus Neo | Relationships

Ever felt like you can’t live without a certain relationship, be it a friend or a romantic partner? Or do you find yourself too afraid to be alone or make decisions on yourself? In psychology, the attachment theory can be used as a useful model to explain why your relationships have succeeded or failed in the manner they did. It can also point out repeated patterns of your relationship problems.

Research shows that anxious and avoidant people frequently end up in relationships with one another. The avoidant types are so good at putting others off that oftentimes it’s only the anxious types who are willing to stick around and put in the extra effort to get them to open up.

Think of the man who constantly pushes away a woman’s needs for intimacy. Someone with a secure attachment will simply accept the rejection and move on. However, an anxiously attached woman will be more determined by a man who pushes her away. The avoidant man then is reassured that he can behave independently around her and ultimately avoid emotional intimacy.

When one chases, the other runs, and this goes in circles.

From an emotional needs standpoint, both the anxious and the avoidant have a fundamental belief that their emotional needs aren’t important. Hence one denies their emotional needs by avoiding it, and the other attempts to force it down someone else’s throat.  Ultimately, both end up failing to get their needs met in a relationship.

Psychological research backs it up as well, people with the same level of self esteem end up dating each other.

I experienced this chaser and chase pattern in my first serious relationship with my ex-girlfriend.  Every time I chased, she ran. Every time I got sick of it and threatened to leave, she came back chasing. It was constant, tiring too and fro. It felt exhilarating at times, however, it’s not long before that relationship ended up exploding. 

Someone with insecure attachment who enters a long term relationship and someone with a secure attachment can be “raised up” to the level of secure over an extended period of time. Unfortunately, insecure attachments such as the anxious or avoidant can also “bring down” a secure attachment.

Extreme negative life events such a divorce, death of a child, serious accident, lost of friendships, can cause attachment types to fall into a more insecure attachment.

Secure Attachment

People with secure attachment strategies are comfortable with displaying interest and affection. They are also comfortable being alone and independent. They’re able to prioritise relationships accordingly and are able to draw clear boundaries and stick to them.

They also have a positive perception of others and positive perception of themselves. They make the best romantic partners, family members and friends. They are capable of accepting rejection and moving on despite the pain but are also capable of being loyal, sacrificing when necessary. They have little issue trusting the people they are close to and are trustworthy themselves.

Anxious Attachment

People with an anxious attachment style of attachment value intimacy to such an extent that they become overly dependent on the attachment figure. Compared to securely attached people, people who are anxious or preoccupied with attachment tend to have less positive views about themselves.

People with anxious attachment have a positive perception of others and negative perception of themselves. This strategy may be developed in childhood by infants who receive affection and care with unpredictable sufficiency.

Avoidant Attachment

People with avoidant attachment types tend to be independent, self-directed, and often uncomfortable with intimacy. People with avoidant attachment have a positive perception of themselves and negative perception of others. This strategy may be developed in childhood by infants who only get some of their needs met while the rest are neglected.

Anxious-Avoidant Attachment

People with this attachment style are much less comfortable with expressing affection. They frequently deny and suppress their feelings. They commonly have a negative worldview on others and view themselves as unworthy. These mixed feelings are combined with unconscious, negative views about themselves and others. They often have other emotional problems in other areas of their life: substance abuse and depression. This attachment type is commonly developed from abusive or negligent childhoods.

The Narcissist and the Co-dependent

In a dysfunctional relationship, there’s the giver and the taker. The giver is the one that always gives and gives without taking, as he or she feels unworthy of the validation or unworthy unaware of his or her own emotional needs

  • The Narcissist

The taker, the narcissist always takes and takes because he or she is unable to meet their own emotional needs and is attempting to fill a void.

The narcissist only cares about his or her own needs. He’s the overly domineering one in social interactions. This is the annoying individual who is always going on and on about him or herself and is unable to empathize with the people around them. It’s always him, his stories, her failures or her successes. They aren generally unable to listen.

Hanging out with a narcissist equivalent to social waterboarding.

They always require more because external validation is a temporary high, it feels good at the moment but is still an empty victory. I’ll argue narcissists get more results in their dating life than co-dependents, just because of their willingness (and blindness) to assert themselves in spite of negative social feedback.

The taker, the narcissist is unable to generate self-esteem from within and hence strives to generate it from relationships.

  • The Co-dependent

If your life choices, decisions or self esteem is dependent or another person, you may have a co-dependent relationship. This can be your best friend, your parents or your romantic partners.

Co-dependents find themselves in relationships where their primary role is that of the rescuer. Their happiness is reliant on their ability to meet their partner’s emotional needs and not their own. 

Unresolved patterns of co-dependency can lead to other problems such as alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, sex addiction, self-destructive and defeating behaviours. Co-dependents also have higher chances to form abusive relationships, stay in stressful jobs or relationships.

The listener, the giver, the co-dependent who listens to the narcissist’s troubles quietly and doesn’t give any input. He or she just takes it in and may seem sympathetic to the narcissist’s sorrows. That’s because the only way the listener can feel loved or accepted in that social situation is to tend to someone else’s emotional needs.

For the Overly Attached: Note on Roller Coaster Relationships

Ultimately, overly attached relationships lack true intimacy, boundaries and both partners’ needs do not get their needs met. They both are unable to accept love and validation, yet at the same time strive for love, recognition and have a desperate need for love and validation from others. 

Psychologists argue that our unconscious is constantly attempting to seek out attention, love and validation that we lack from out parents growing up the from people around you as adults. There’s research suggesting that parents who view their children as an extension of their own self, hence, getting their needs met by the child leads to the child to believe that his or her own needs aren’t important. The child becomes attuned to the parent’s needs and feelings instead of the other round.

This can play out in other areas of their lives other than your relationships. You may overcompensate and seek to meet your unmet needs through sex, achievements, financial pursuit or just about any area of life. Look, everyone needs a pat on the back and validation at some point, the question to ask yourself is this: are you pursuing something to scratch an itch or are you scratching an unresolved need.

The Attachment Theory – Self Esteem Model

The problem with a lot of dating and relationship advice is that they don’t encourage the expression of emotions from a secure standpoint. Instead, they promote insecure strategies such as using of lines, techniques in attempt to manipulate someone into doing something. This way you’re blocking out any genuine real emotional engagement.

You can argue that women that are willing to stay around and be manipulated are probably anxiously attached. The inability of an avoidant attachment styled male to express genuine affection and intimacy triggers her anxious attachment that makes her chase even more that in turns rewards the avoidant style that he adopts.

If you’re wondering if attachment theory has something to do with one’s self esteem. You’re right. Psychologists also hypothesised a model showing one’s attachment strategy corresponding to the self image of yourself and your perception of others. Your attachment style is connected to self esteem, emotional needs and vulnerability. These ideas are interlinked.

Can Your Attachment Style be Changed? 

I was a hard core avoidant throughout my teens up till my early twenties. Since I started therapy, one anxiety uncovered another defence. Okay, if you’re reading this and determined you’re either a hopeless codependent or a raging narcissist. Hear me out. The good news is that attachment styles can be changed. One of the ways is through therapy. The bad news is that it’s slow and difficult. There was a period of time that I was going through a phase of emotional vomit and flipped between anxious and avoidant attachment.

There’s an attachment theory test that you can take to find out your attachment type. If you don’t want to take the test, then rely on the above examples to roughly give you a guess on your style of attachment. 

The Litmus Test

How do you know if you are overly/ underly attached? You can ask yourself some questions:

  • Do you have your own life handled or are you merely using your relationship as an excuse?
  • Flip it around and ask yourself if the person across you has his or her own life going on, or is he or she living vicariously through her relationship?
  • Are you dependent on each other for each other’s happiness, or are both of you already happy as individuals with or without a relationship?

If your happiness is derived from making extreme sacrifices to meet your partner’s needs. Then it’s a red flag. Now, I’m not saying you can’t sacrifice for each other in a relationship. However, there’s a difference between sacrificing for someone and a lack of relationship boundaries.

If you’re the giver or the listener, then you need no more often. It’s time to stop being Mr Nice Guy/ Woman. You’ll need to assert your own needs and get your fair share in your relationships. The point here isn’t to be overly selfish or aggressive. It is to find a fine balance between caring for their own and other’s people’s needs.

Or maybe you’re a raging narcissist and constantly get pushed away by others. You may want to take a step back. 

Unfortunately, I’m not immune. In my life, I had my fair share of stages in my life where I was slightly co-dependent or swerved to my narcissistic side. 

The best forms of relationship are not exactly independent, but interdependent. An interdependent relationship is where two partners support each other unconditionally. They are able to generate self esteem on their own. but aren’t vicariously living through each other. It’s two independent individuals choosing to support each other towards aspirations. All in all, I’m happy to report that today, I’m a lot better at handling my relationships. 

Works Cited

Alan Rappoport, P. (n.d.). Co-Narcissism: How We Accommodate to Narcissistic Parents.Retrieved from AlanRappoport.Com: http://www.alanrappoport.com/pdf/Co-Narcissism%20Article.pdf

 Hazan C.; Shaver P.R. (March 1987). “Romantic love conceptualized as an attachment process”J Pers Soc Psychol52 (3): 511–24.

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. Bad trades don’t make me a bad investor. That one horrible trade that I made just mean that I failed at a trade when I first started out. It doesn’t say anything about my 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’re full of crap, you’ve been talking about this the whole week, now that you’re in the club you’re 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 approach a girl, how to write a press release, how to 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 desensitization 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, judying, evaluating, critizing, planning, pontificating and fantasizing.

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. 

Apr 02

How to be a Confident Man – Reclaiming Lost Masculinity

By Marcus Neo | Dating Advice for Men

Most advice on being a confident man revolves around traditional ‘alpha values’ such as discipline, macho-ness and masculinity. However, what if I told you that true confidence revolves around comfort with failure and rejection? What if I told you it revolves around putting yourself out there and being vulnerable? If not so, then why are hundreds of men out there with highly successful careers who can barely walk up to an attractive stranger and start a conversation. Why is that so? 

How to be a confident man

How to Be a Confident Man Tenet 1: Stop Putting Women/ People on a Pedestal 

You can argue that attractive women lived a good part of their lives with men (and even women) deferring to them. In not uncommon to see beautiful women splashed all over advertising campaigns. In the typical man and hot girl dynamic, it’s the men that’s almost always asking questions trying to continue a conversation. Sometimes, attractive women never built the conversational skills to connect with others themselves.

One time, I went on a date with a woman. She’s pretty attractive. On text, she bored me to tears. I was wondering if she was how she’s like in real life conversationally. It turns out that her conversational skills borderline around one lined sentences of boring and blunt. Similar to her text messages. 

On the date, she floated away to social media from time to time and rarely initiated conversation. Trying to relating to her as a human being was a total chore. I was disappointed. I was expecting much better. Since she’s one of those academically inclined girls coming from a good education background, I thought I’ll be able to stretch my intellectual muscles with her. However, I ended up bored out of my mind.

I made the mistake of putting her on the pedestal. I ended up wasting an entire evening. I should have cut short the date and went home.

Through the advent of social media, there has been a rise of so called ‘influencer’ culture. I can’t name you the number of acquaintances I have that buy into and worship these so called influencers. Tracking, liking and worshiping their every step and post. These influencers usually entail physically attractive women that leveraged on their looks to build a following on social media.

You aren’t going to be a self invested male this way by putting these celebrities on a pedestal. Instead of focusing on you, you are focused on them. Yes, they are attractive. However, these women won the genetic lottery. Unless they are skilled themselves, you should not be looking up to them, following their lives, much less worshipping them. This is the same for celebrity culture. Stop it with the fan worship. Start focusing on you.

In short, stop putting women, or people, on a pedestal. Understand your own worth and judge the world accordingly. In general, be neutral to everyone. However, if he or she attempts to assert power over you, then assert power over them.

How to Be a Confident Man Tenet 3: Stop Apologizing for Your Natural Attraction to The Feminine

If you’re like most men, you probably don’t feel worthy or ‘normal’ of touching a girl on a date, and why is that so?

It’s not difficult to draw parallels between social stigma and sexual shame. In certain cultures, sex, emotions and relationships are hardly discussed around the dinner table when growing up. If you’re an Asian, these topics aren’t openly discussed or addressed. The majority of us aren’t primed to openly discuss issues such as emotions from a young age, and it’s no most men feel awkward communicating intimately to the opposite sex.

As a man, you have to lead the interaction and not wait for the green lights with women. The majority of dating advice (arguably, some pick up artist advice) is dependent on trying one’s best not to get rejected and adjusting our behaviours according to hers. The metric of success should not be non-rejection, but whether you ‘played to win.’

The more feminine she is, the more you are going to be required to lead physically. She’s not going to initiate for you. If you’re interested, just pull the trigger and ask her out: face the impending disappointment or rejection. If you’re going to be rejected, so be it, at least you got failed with honour.

Yes, you can be sexually attracted to a woman desiring to be emotionally connected to her. You’re taught that for sex to happen, you need to feel emotionally connected with or have to have meaningful conversations. No, that’s not true. You can desire a woman for her physique. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.

In reality, you are not going connect emotionally with every attractive women. However, you’re mostly going to want to have sex with most attractive women. There are women that are going to make you feel sexually attracted, but not connected or appreciated as a date. Stop apologizing and hesitating on your desires.

There are many women who aren’t looking to connect with anybody at that point of her life. She may just want to date around. However, she’s not going to say anything that makes her look like a slut because society makes it hard for them to express such notions socially. Hence, don’t decide for her whether she’s down to get sexy with you. Stop projecting your insecurities.

Looking back, I had tons of times where I was out with a girl and didn’t notice the fact that she’s actually interested in me. I thought we were just ‘hanging out’. Needless to say, I missed out on a ton of opportunities.

How to Be a Confident Man Tenet 4: Learn How to Communicate Openly

In my case, I was primed to be the macho sort of man: show no feelings sort of male throughout my teens. I did martial arts, football, studied accounting and all that manly activities that a ‘man’ should do. However, no matter how manly you are, every individual has his vulnerable end. To be truly confident, you need to be comfortable with vulnerability and intimacy. I can’t count the number of people I know who are confident with women that aren’t the ‘macho’ types and leaned towards the sensitive types.

In some cultures, you’re conditioned to not show any signs of negative emotions from resentment, anger and sadness. In a culture that emphasizes ‘saving face’, you’re taught to suppress emotions and personal inadequacies as a means to ‘save face’. This usually leads to repressed anger, disappointment and sadness that comes along with poor grades, relational difficulties, bankruptcy, addictions and sexual issues. Usually, they are further covered up in secrecy and shame.

This is why some men spend years not going after a woman they are interested in in the name of saving face or the fear of rejection.

This brings us to the next part. Communicating in our relationships is healthy regardless if you are in a collectivistic or individualistic cultures. Yes, Asians included.

This is why mental health is a stigma in Asian cultures. Hey, if you find in a pretty bad spot, I recommend consulting a psychologist. There’s no shame about it. Good therapy can do positive things for your emotional life. It has done wonders for mine.

If you’re constantly worried about what others think about you, then you’re never going to make that first move on a woman you desire in fears of upsetting others or people in the ‘tribe’. If you’re constantly attempting to save face in front of your girlfriend or partner, you’ll never get the support from them on the problems that you are facing in fear of being shamed. You’ll always be at the will and bent of others either in a subtle, or not so subtle way.

If you don’t know by now, I do run a dating advice blog for men. It’s shameless self plug, and here’s a starter:

You don’t have to be unconventional, however, the ability to communicate, speak up for yourself and others are going to signal confidence.

How to Be a Confident Man Tenet 4: Stop Man Bragging

If you’re like me, you are probably brought up to follow the rules, get a practical degree and get that safe and secure nine to five corporate job. Follow the rules, make no mistakes and everything else (including your dating life) is going to magically take care of itself. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that.

In certain cultures, there is heavy emphasis on academic results over social skills, you get years of training attempting to solve math equations as opposed to developing communication skills, something that’ll determine real-world success in life a lot more than your academic grades. You’re conditioned to base your relationship success on performance such as academic grades, your job status and other objectified metrics in your life. Unfortunately, functional and healthy relationships don’t work that way. They are borne out of boundaries and values such as mutual respect and empathy. Stuff that school or your parents never talked to you about.

It’s no wonder that foreign ex-pats in my own country find themselves having an easier time with certain demographics of Singaporean women.

Instead of competing like a child that never grows up over who has the bigger, better and faster, you can explore alternative lifestyles? If you gave up your entire life just to sit in a nine to five just to get that swanky car to prove something to yourself (or your parents), it’s time to start exploring projects that genuinely interest you. There’s no need to be bragging about sexual, financial or social conquests. Keep an internal score card.

How to be a Confident Man: Find Role Models and Build Your Way

In some cultures, immense focus on economic production in a technologize and industrialized economy led to a generation of Mum taking care of sons in their adolescence. So instead of having fathers growing, playing beside sons, sons only see them after school (long hours spent at the factory) and you go to bed and the routine repeats itself. I like to point out that this isn’t just an issue faced by Asian cultures, but Western cultures too alike.

The end result? One entire generation of man without real role models.

So how do you step out of the norm and get role models?

There’s some reassuring to get your personal finance, fundamental health and psychology down as basics. I recommend starting from these three pillars. You’ll naturally feel a lot more confident once you have them down.

Secondly, there are also no lack of teachers (and role models) in the world. You can invest in yourself through self-education: upgrading your skillsets. There are multiple biographies that you can read and learn from. I recommend starting with Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, then, Seeking wisdom, from Darwin to Munger.

In the age of the internet, there’s no lack of information. You can almost learn any skillset for free in the world. If you haven’t got he money, then buy books. Test out ideas in real life. Run trials. Take some risks, start a business even.

They are all forms of self-leadership. These pursuits demonstrate that you aren’t a blind rules follower and am willing to break it out on your own. Hence, you’ll be perceived as natural leader. Leadership and independent choices are the traits of a confident man.

To conclude, some of us didn’t have a choice and were a product of our circumstances when growing up. However, the responsibility to take control of your life is in your hands. The fulfillment of being responsible and making better choices in the future is a price never too steep to pay.