Mar 01

How to Make Women Laugh – In an Attractive Manner

By Marcus Neo | Dating and Relationships

It’s said that if you can make a woman laugh, you get her to laugh right into bed. Getting a girl to laugh isn’t a cure all to your dating woes, however, it’s a necessary social skill to build. Other than making a girl laugh, humour is also a way of make her and others feel comfortable around you.

How to Make a Girl Laugh – The Ultimate Guide

Humor, at the core of it, is the the art of drawing connections between too completely unrelated ideas or objects that’s completely absurd. It’s a creative activity. There’s no math behind it. You cannot over prepare for it. It’s not something you can box or put down to an algorithm.

Your ability to make a girl laugh, tease her is dependent on your willingness to be polarizing and edgy. The thing about jokes is that some of them is going to fall flat. This is unavoidable Some times, I get a flat silence when I mouth off something ridiculous. Other times, I get a huge laugh. It’s a social risk I’m willing to take. The rule of thumb is this: if your joke fall flats don’t try to laugh at yourself or make fun of yourself. Just act as if nothing happens and move your conversational threads forward.

Humor Techniques, The Your Bread and Butter

The majority of my clients are usually the nice guy sort. They come in, some of them are good listeners, however, most of them aren’t willing to assert themselves in a more edgy, polarizing manner. To get good at attract women, you need to be somewhat edgy. You need to be willing to say something that might piss her off, or assert a strong opinion.

There’s also a difference between being humorous in general and teasing her. There are overlapping principles, however, the former is making jokes that she finds funny, the latter is eliciting an emotion in her by making fun of her. They are both useful to add in sexual polarity and charisma in your interactions

  • Teasing 

Teasing is when you make humorous comments that are derogatory about someone. You can tease her just about everything: about how fake her hair looks. Or how red her shoes are. Try to be creative with this. When she dresses up, you can tell her she looks like some cartoon character from some movie.

Pointer to note: sarcasm DOESN’T come off well in texting a girl. Sometimes, girls can be quite offended or don’t react well to some good-natured ribbing. This can be quite true for the Singaporean or Asian culture. It all depends on who you are with. Some girls react well to more derogatory teasing, and some girls appreciate genuine compliments. Mix it up.

For the Singaporean readers: One classic line I used to do is to associate a girl with an ‘ah lian’ but in a light hearted manner. The ‘ah lian’ is a stereotype for a girl who isn’t that intelligent who’s quite unkempt in the Singaporean context.

Teasing is also suppose to be fun, it should be said with a smile. The ideal tease creates a mixture of emotions in a girl: defensiveness yet happiness. An ideal reaction from her should be: ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe you just said that.’ However, she’s smiling and laughing at the same time.

Comedian to study: Russell Brand

  • Stereotypes and Cultural Referrences

This can be practiced by studying local comedians that perform to your local audiences. Stereotypes are poked fun at almost every local comedy show.Teasing can be done along with the concept of common stereotypes in Singaporean society. Singaporean comedians like Kumar exploits it by going into Chinese, Malay and Indian stereotypes. One good one I often use is the good girl/ bad girl stereotypes.

  • Exaggeration

This is the safest form of humour where you joke about something outside of you and the girl. Exaggeration has to be something absurd and non-logical.

Comedian to Study: Russell Peters

  • Misdirection

The technique of misdirection is one of the most common and easiest forms of humor. Misdirection occurs when you begin to say something or tell a story which leads to the listener to believe you’re making one point, but you proceed to say something completely different.

Here’s a good example of misdirection: I use all the time is to joke with girls that I’m actually quite shy, after spending an entire evening being slightly cocky and extroverted. I’ll also insert in at a point in the interaction where it’s least expected, just for the extra effect.

Comedian to study: Craig Ferguson

The master of misinterpretations

  • Role Plays

The technique of role plays is taken right out of the pick up artist textbooks.

They are playful and can be useful to spice up a stale interaction. You can role play girlfriend/boyfriend, husband/wife, student/teacher or any potentially sexual relationship. If she’s your ‘girlfriend’, you can either break up or get together with her. If she’s your ‘wife’, you can either divorce or marry her. One other role play and a slight disqualifier I use these days is complain to some else that your ex girlfriend (her) is bothering you.

Roleplays are fun and refreshing for a girl, nobody rarely does it.

Just like all other humor techniques, roleplays should be done in context. I used to do: ‘I’ll like to adopt you as my little sister’ (as a minor disqualification). However, this rarely works for me anymore. Girls often take it in a wrong way where they’ll think I’m not interested in her.

  • Misinterpretation

Here’s one of the most useful flirting, humor techniques, misinterpretation. It’s also a commonly known technique to answer ‘shit tests’.

For example, if a girl says: ‘I’m not too sure about your beard?’

You can misinterprete it as: ‘I’m flattered you’re thinking about my face, but hey slow down, didn’t we just meet?’ (done with a tongue in cheek manner)

This is basically misinterpreting anything a girl says as a compliment or a sexual advancement. However, becareful not to take it too far. Use it in context.

Subjective Humor

If you enjoy a darker, intellectual form of humor, not everyone is going to get it. I personally enjoy dark humor. Like making fun of dead babies, that sort. I’ve also rubbed people the wrong way. Wordplays, puns, sarcasm and swearing will all fall under this category of subjective humor. They aren’t for everybody, however, if you find a girl that can connect you on such a humor, then you’re hitting the lottery ticket.

  • Wordplay and Puns

Wordplay is similar to misdirection. However, wordplay practices misdirection by using words that have different meanings.

Girl: ‘Stop being so mean Marcus.’
Me: ‘Stop calling me average.’

Puns and wordplays are even a rarer form of appreciated humour than sarcasm. They tend to be really intellectual in nature. You’ll find little women who’ll appreciate them.

  • Sarcasm

Sarcasm is a darker form of humor than teasing and it doesn’t really work well with most of the girls. This is especially true with Asian girls, where Asian culture is a lot more reserved and sensitive. The majority of women won’t get sarcasitic humor. They’ll think you’re being serious and get confused. This may come off even worst on text. However, you’ll get the rare one or two that understands sarcasm and she’ll love you for it.

  • Role of Swearing

Inserting a ‘fuck’ in your jokes can give you cheap laughs. I use it quite a bit during my teenage years and it has given me lots of laughs and at the same time weird stares.

Swear words can be used sparingly if there’s a right delivery and you know that the person that you’re communicating to is cool with little swear words here and there. With that being said, it’s uncool to just based your conversations with too many swear words. It just goes to show that you have a limited vocabulary.

Dropping an F-bomb in an already well timed joke can make it even funnier. However, dropping an F-Bomb in everything you say can make you come off as unsophisticated.

Side note: Swearing should be used minimally in Asian situations especially when there is elder family around.

Example: Joe Rogan

  • Self Deprecating Humor

There’s a form humour called self deprecating humour. It’s the art of making jokes at yourself. There’s a popular argument if someone that can laugh at himself and the world conveys a high level of confidence. He isn’t taking things too seriously or himself too seriously. He’s not really concerned about someone else’s perception of him. Compare this to someone who’s very serious and unable to laugh at himself or the world. This conveys that he is over invested in what others think of him and therefore is not confident.

Louis CK is hilarious but not in a sexy way.

I started off learning humor by studying Louis Ck. His style is humorous for him because he’s overweight and balding. However, despite being humourour, he’s not the kind the guy that girls want to go home with. This is why for begginers, if you’re making fun of yourself and putting yourself down to get a laugh, you’ll come off as unconfident. You’ll need to be aware based on context. If you’re going out with a girl who’s really shy around you. Putting yourself down and laughing at yourself can help her loosen up and open up.

How to Practice: Frame, Playfulness, Timing & Expression

Okay, knowing jokes or the lines isn’t enough. There’s an art to telling jokes, teasing a girl or dropping an F-bomb. You got to pay attention to delivery, timing and facial expressions. These techniques unfortunately, can’t be taught through words.

Russell Brand, one of the all time best with wit and language.

The best way to learn this is to watch comedians and watch their stand up routines. Take note of how they interact with the audience, their style of humor, their routines, how they tell a story and how they nail a punchline. Take not of how they time their jokes, their delivery and facial expressions when they make a joke.

You’re not suppose to study humor logically like a Math exam. Humor is supposed to be learned creatively. If you’re teasing her, it should be done with a smile, with a grin and with tongue in cheek. You’re not suppose to go up to her and ‘execute the humor’. This is a creative skillset. It’s also the art of free association. The better you can freely associate in any social situation with words and observations, the better.

The Best Way to Learn Humor: Appreciating Language

The best way to learn humor to help you make a girl laugh is to appreciate language and wit. One of the ways to study stand up comedy. I remembered when I first started reading up. I’ll stay up on Youtube to watch videos after videos of stand up comedy. I started listening to comedians like Louis Ck and Chris Rock. I then attended a couple of improvisation classes. You can find these improv classes on MeetUp.Com or just Google them. They are often affordable.

One single sentence can be interpreted in multiple ways depending on you say it, deliver it. There are also often multiple meanings to words. This known as innuendos. If you get good at timing, delivery, tonaliy and facial expressions, you can use plain English to mean something sexual thing: sexual innuendos.

Using Humour to Bring Up Sex

One of the best ways to use humor isn’t to make her laugh, but to bring up sex in the conversation. If anything at all, the best use of humor is to use it to escalate physically with a girl. For some reason, openly talking about sex is a taboo topic in many cultures, many people are uncomfortable to talk about it. If you like to bring your interaction to a more sexual manner, using humor to bring up sex can grease the wheels. That’s because you can get away with anything that is funny.

Humor are sometimes used by comedians to criticize sensitive issues or individuals in politics, as opposed to an outright assertion (that’ll get you sued). This is the same for sex. If it’s funny, you’re not being creepy.

Humor in Westernized Cultures as Compared to Asian Culture

The form of humor that works in an Asian dating cultureis a lot different from the Westernized culture. I noticed this when got feedback from a friend who my jokes are often highly sarcastic and dark in nature. I find dark humour much more accepted in Western cultures. Not everyone responds well to such form of humour.

The Singaporean culture has an interesting mix of a myriad of races and religion living cohesively. It’s safe to say that you should avoid jokes that are sensitive to religion. However, it’s okay to step across the line in a humorous, lighted manner as opposed to an insulting manner.

Either that, you can train yourself to be universally funny. That is: Humor that is relatable to all people, regardless of language or race. I think Louis Ckdoes a good job at it within certain themes. He’s able to express the nuances of humanity in a humorous way. On the flipside, Louis Ck has this self-depreciating style of humor that doesn’t suit well for many personalities (including mine). Girls ultimately desire a confident man that don’t poke fun at himself just to get laughs.

Being Funny as Cure all in Getting Girls?

The ability to make a girl laugh isn’t a cure all for your problems for attracting women. If you over rely on their ability to make a girl laugh, you’ll end up as the dancing monkey, or the ‘entertainer’ constantly seeking laughs from girls. You might find yourself over reliant on quick wit and jokes to avoid asserting yourself romantically or sexually. If she’s smiling and laugh, your jokes must be working right? That’s a pitfall that I fell into for a period of time.

In general, if you consider yourself a ‘nice guys’, you probably already are charismatic enough. If you’re able to to crack a joke or two, then humour isn’t your main problem. If she’s laughing but your interactions seem to go nowhere, then your problem is being sexually assertive with her.

 

 

 

 

Feb 29

How to Be Vulnerable – The Power of Vulnerability

By Marcus Neo | Self Improvement and Social Skills

I grew up in a culture where men aren’t supposed to be showing their emotions. You know, the typical Asian male. He’s suppose to stoically get into a good University, do something related to Science or Math, get a ‘stable job’, get a wife, raise a couple of kids and achieve career success, whatever the hell ‘career success’ means.

How to be vulnerable? What is vulnerability? You may think it’s some thing you do that’s feminine, soft hearted and sprinkled with fairy dust. 

Singapore, my home country, also happens to be one of the costliest cities in the world. A patriarchal society where the metric of success of largely measured by material wealth and academic success. You’re supposed to achieve these pursuits stoically. The expression of any emotion or vulnerability along the way is seen as weak.

However, vulnerability isn’t only limited to the emotional aspect of it, but also social vulnerability and physical aspects of it.

That’s a form of vulnerability.

Boldness

The first form of vulnerability is your willingness to risk rejection and embarrassment. 

The truly confident individual will not be afraid to show that he’s attracted to her. The truly confident man pursues a woman based on his own values and desires.

He’s has no problems with rejection. He understands he cannot be accepted by everyone, and rejection is inevitable. This form of confidence also cannot be attained by external factors.

The process of attracting women is controversial and polarizing by nature. Why do you think all the girls go for the ‘bad boys’? That’s because they stand for something. They are a leader and are willing to face humiliation, rejection, and controversy.

Ramit Sethi, talks about excellence versus vulnerability. He doesn’t really like people talking about ‘how vulnerable they are’, because he argues that it’s easy to be vulnerable, and difficult to be excellent. I’ll argue that excellence, is also part of being vulnerable.

The Power of Vulnerability

I define the second form of vulnerability by the willingness to open yourself up. The majority of men get confused with what vulnerability looks like. They think it’s a macho activity where you HAVE to be dominant or right in every conversation. 

He doesn’t just run his mouth on everything and anything. There is weight in his word. When he makes a mistakes, he’s willing to apologize and admit it. He’s unafraid speak up, even if it means getting rejected. 

Now, take the second person. He has always done everything in his life to fit in to society. He studied hard because that’s what society told him to do. He gets a job not because he truly enjoys it, but because he’s afraid of not fitting in. He avoids conflicts. He never takes any risks in his life, too concerned about fitting in. When he fucks up, he tries to blame others or pretend like it never happened.

Who will you trust? Which of these two men is more powerful? Which one do you think women would be more attracted to?

In the dating advice community, the reason why many people memorize lines and techniques is because they are still using is a control strategy: it is ultimately to avoid the fear of rejection, instead of hiding behind scripted lines and routines, why not take some risks and be comfortable with your vulnerabilities?

Word On Vulnerability and Boldness

OKAY MARCUS!

Let’s tell girls about my dead goldfish and how much I cried when I flushed in down the toilet. She’s going to love it and have sex with me.

One mistake that many people make when it comes to vulnerability is seeing it as an exchange.

Vulnerability has to be expressed unconditionally, as a gift, and not used as technique or a line.

If you share a heart-breaking story just for a girl to sleep with you, you’re not being vulnerable, you’re being downright manipulative and desperate. 

However, if you’re sharing a story as a means of relating to the emotions and experiences of someone else. Then, that’s just the who you are. That’s an honest expression. There’s no desire to control her perception of you.

Emotional Vomit

Secondly, you should not use being vulnerable as an opportunity to unload an inappropriate amount of emotions and personal history onto someone else. 

Emotional vomit is difficult as it’s genuinely vulnerable, but on the other hand, it’s you being honest about how pathetic and needy you are.

It may feel good in the moment. However, emotional vomit only doesn’t actually fix anger or hurt. Emotionally vomiting actually points you to do the healing, however, not is ISN’T the healing itself. However, at times, it’s necessary, and part of the process. I recommend consulting a therapist, where healing can be done in a safe environment.

Any form of vulnerability HAS as to be accompanied with personal accountability.

Real Life Examples 

Let me ask you, what’s the difference between having a general enthusiasm for meeting new people versus using scripted lines hoping to get a positive reaction a woman?

One is a long run behaviour and one is a short-run behaviour. One is sustainable and the other one isn’t. One is a vulnerable behavior, and the other isn’t. 

How to Be Vulnerable (like actually)

Vulnerability is actually nothing like that, it’s about being introspective and engaging emotionally. 

If you’ve bottled up your emotions throughout your life, the more painful these actions are going to be. The less you talk about your shame, the more you have them. Eventually, you’ll have to be responsible for your baggage.. If not, you’re just going to be resentful, angry and frustrated, turning off everyone that comes your way.

Perhaps you realize your anger of towards you ex girlfriend stems anger towards your parents and this is the first time in your life you’re forced to confront this issue. When I was rubbing up against my emotional realities, I found myself at developing weird beliefs and getting extremely angry at certain people in my life.

The Shit Test Paranoia

The term ‘shit test’ is a common dating advice terminology that men refer to when woman use consciously use tests to figure out if he really who he portrays himself to be or not. Now, before I address the shit test issue, I’ll like to talk about the one types of guys that fall into the dating advice community that are constantly afraid of ‘shit tests’.

These guys rely on ‘game’ and view behaviours as something that can is controlled. They think it’s a logical mathematical game to be won, they see social interactions as something that you can just run the numbers, and it will happen. These behaviours fall into non vulnerable behaviours.

If you take this approach, the friendly way she jokes about your hair becomes shit test. That honest question about your job becomes a ‘shit test’. That concern from her that you don’t speak to your Dad becomes a ‘shit test’. Every time a girl makes fun of you becomes a test. She could just be interested. Every time a girl asks what you do for a living becomes a shit test. She could just be curious.

It’s a miserable perspective.

I’ve seen guys continue to pursue a woman even when it’s a clear big fat NO from her. Why? That’s because he thinks that she’s merely ‘testing him’.

Think about if, if you’re strong in your values and boundaries, then whatever she says shouldn’t matter. I don’t care if she’s testing me or not. If she’s trying to fuck with me, then I’ll simply ignore her and move on. I prefer spending my time with women that don’t play mind games. 

Of course, I know, there are people out there that purposely set hoops for you to jump through. However, we’re looking for high self-esteemed, non-bitchy, non-manipulative women to be with, right?

  • The ‘I Have a Boyfriend’ Issue

Now, you’re going to run into this common line. Some girl down the road is going to say that she has a ‘boyfriend’.

There could be mainly a couple of reasons why she’s saying that: 1) she really has a boyfriend. 2) She’s not interested and is politely rejecting you. 3) Let’s presume she’s REALLY testing you. Then she must be quite screwed up person to tell you that she has a boyfriend to try to get you win her over

Hence, it doesn’t matter, just move on. If she is trying to fuck with you, then she is out.

The Power of Vulnerability 

I don’t just hold these standards in my relationships with girls. I hold these standards with my personal friends, my business partners, my clients and my family.

You put in less effort, you’re no longer spending time coming up with witty one liners, you’re no longer spending time worrying. You actually get to enjoy your relationships. Well, the whole point relationships IS to enjoy each other’s company, RIGHT!?!

There’s psychological research demonstrates that you are who you hang out with. If you’re genuine and upfront in your behavior, people are more likely to respond in a genuine and honest manner. If you constantly attract manipulative women who’s constantly testing you, then there’s something manipulative in you that you don’t see yet.

The majority of us like you and I, were brought up in way as to not express our emotions. Don’t be controversial. Don’t be unique. Don’t do anything ‘crazy’, ‘stupid’ or ‘selfish’. You need to be ‘useful’ to society. Straying from the conventional path is seen as ‘rebellious’. Sex is shamed upon, divorce is seen as taboo, being upfront and honest is viewed as rude etc.

They can come from our upbringing, culture or a combination of both. Perhaps, our parents were shit poor with their emotions.

So how can vulnerability look like in your day to day life?

It can come in many minute manners. For some, it can mean actually putting in work for an examination, and finding out if you were all that smart or not. It can come in the form of finally taking action towards your dating life, going out approaching women, and building the required social skillsets and behaviors to attract women.

This can be expressed by pursuing that lifestyle or job that we’ve been hesitating to pursue, making that career switch, that business hustle, and other pursuits that we’ve held back because of the fear of what our family, friends and society might think.

You’re going to rub up against your fears. You’re going stand out. You’re going to risk rejection and embarrassment. You are going to face inevitable failure, in a multitude of tiny and macro ways. Unlike everything else people tell you, real personal growth is not always rosy. In fact, many a times, it’s often downright painful. However, it’s necessary for long term growth and happiness.

 

Feb 27

How to Overcome Shame – Toxic Shame Recovery Guide

By Marcus Neo | Self Improvement and Social Skills

Shame is a concept ignored in many of the dating advice and self help community.  After all, it isn’t exactly ‘good game’ to be talking about your childhood issues. Over the years, my personal belief is that men and struggling issues in their may actually deal with shame.

How Does Shame Occurs

Shame is the belief that you’re fundamentally flawed as a human being. Shame often leads to emotional discomfort and the gnawing belief that one is inherently flawed, defective and unworthy of love. Shame is different from guilt. If you feel guilty, there’s no judgment on yourself, on the other hand, shame places a judgment on the self.

Shame may be formed in childhood, and is the result of early trauma, emotional abuse and negative experiences. 

  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Strict/ Religious Upbringing
  • Neglected family background
  • Growing up in dire economic conditions

These events may lead the child to internalise that he or she fundamentally isn’t worthy of love as an individual. That he or she is only worth of love from his actions or achievements and not as a human being. The child has to learn that he can not be perfect or even good at something and still be worthy of love and still not be defective.

Suppressing your core feelings take a huge amount of energy. It saps motivation and willpower to pursue worthwhile goals. Meanwhile, you’re going to accumulate stress hormones, leaving you emptied out, with headaches, migraines, problems with bowels and sexual dysfunction.

Trauma triggers a fight or flight response. This cause anxiety or avoidance. You either react by being hyper aroused (anxiety) or you shut down from the stimuli (avoidance). 

Shame also causes us to disconnect from pleasure or comfort. Being traumatized is not just as issue of being stuck in the past, it is just as much a problem of not being fully alive in the present. The apprehension about being hijacked by uncomfortable sensations keeps the body frozen and the mind numbed. 

So, in order the avoid these negative feelings, some of the common coping measures of people inflicted with shame are:

  • Drugs
  • Alcohol
  • Sexual fantasy, pornography and excessive masturbation
  • Narcissism 
  • Hyper vigilance

These actions not only aren’t helpful, but they also exacerbate pre-existing shame. They create a deeper sense of emotional discomfort and a more powerful need, desire to escape and dissociate.

It’s suggested that shame based individuals didn’t receive the nurturance, unconditional love and their needs fulfilled when they’re a child. 

Someone that is shamed may seek to fulfil these unmet needs in adult pursuits through accomplishments, sex, financial goals or any other means. This leads an ever fluctuation of self esteem and mood, because the external world is always changing, and one’s self esteem cannot be dependent on the reactions of others. 

Ultimately, if you go on to try to meet these unmet childhood needs solely through external pursuits. They are band aid solutions. 

It’s common to react to an insecurity by either avoiding, surrendering or overcompensate around that insecurity. If you’re overcompensating in any area of your, it’s feeds further into that insecurity. For Eg. If you’re insecure about your sexuality around women, attempting to overcompensate and sleeping with a hundred girls is still feeding that insecurity. The way to get comfortable with your sexuality isn’t trying to have sex with the whole planet, but to find that middle ground of not overcompensate or avoiding that insecurity. 

The Problems that Come along with Shame

  • Self Criticism 

One of the effects of shame is self criticism. The amygdala is designed to detect threats in the environment, when we experience a threatening situation, the fight or flight response is triggered and the amygdala sends signals that increase blood pressure, adrenaline and cortisol.

This system was designed to deal with physical attacks and is activated just as readily by emotional attacks. From ourselves and others. Over time, increased cortisol levels lead to depression by depleting various neurotransmitters involved in the ability to experience pleasure. It leads to a lot of unneeded daily mental stress, as if you’re constantly in fight or flight mode.

  • Self-Handicapping

Shame based individual’s self handicap themselves a lot. This can play out not only in your relationships, but in all other areas of life.

This is because they perceive every rejection or failure as a judgment about their identity. It’s the guy who doesn’t studies and goes into the examinations. If he failed, it would be an easy excuse to say: well, I didn’t study after all. If he did alright: he’ll be able to say that he could have done better if he had studied. It’s much easier to go in half assed, and not put his identity on his line, rather than give it his best, and put himself up for failure or rejection.

  • The Sub human/ Super human Dichotomy

Shame based individuals may also have trouble integrating worldviews. This is also known as the subhuman and superhuman dichotomy. Everything is all or nothing, black or white, one extreme or another. Everyone’s your best friend or your enemy, every pursuit is your life purpose or a waste of time, everyone girl you date is either your soul mate or a time sink. They cannot see a situation or a human for it’s good and bad, and understand that it can both occur at the same time.

How to Heal Your Shame

In my own experience, it’s difficult to heal shame through willpower or pure discipline.

  • Psychotherapy

Human beings are driven by unconscious and subconscious drives and some times, circumstances that are out of our control. Our minds are really smart at building up defence mechanism.

You may find yourself in temporary frustration of the surroundings around you, upset at how little you expected out of yourself in the past, upset at all the decisions made out of shame.

Nonetheless, the only way is through and the self responsibility of healing growth and change. 

So far, I’ve discussed methods that are self generated. However, as with everything done by your own, it has limitations. 

One of the most helpful ways to get a third person’s perspective is the hire a professional psychologist. You’re dealing with someone who you can openly talk about your shame, who is capable of not only listen to it, but help you with it. 

There are many forms of therapy that can help with resolving trauma and shame ranging from cognitive behavioural therapy to EMDR. 

  • Expand on Psychotherapy
  • Grief and Pain Period

You’re going to find yourself being angry at certain people in your life for no reason. More often than not, behind anger is almost always hurt and sadness. Instead of feeling hurt, you covered it up with anger.

In psychotherapy, the aim of it is to make unconscious emotions conscious and to grief through them. 

It’s only after you identify the root of these responses that you can start identifying why you behave in a certain way and another.

You cannot put traumatic events behind until they are able to acknowledge what has happened and start to recognize the invisible narratives you’re struggling with. 

Through being more forthright about your thoughts, feelings and desires to yourself and others, you’re closer expressing your shame, expressing parts of yourself you were embarrassed about. 

  • Cultivating Mindfulness

Shame often leads us to be disembodied, removed from our physical experiences and often unable to experience the pleasure that we would normally experience if not for all the layers of shame. 

Learning to locate tense body parts and progressively relax them in anxiety-provoking scenarios (real or imagined) allows us to re-experience our bodies in non-shaming ways. This way, you Nudge yourself to explore our sexualities in new, safe and pleasurable manners, you can chip at your emotional habits.

One of the techniques I found helpful over the years was to be aware of how I was feeling of my body. This is to simply focus on the sensations in your body when you’re in different situations. 

You can yourself questions like: why does that part of your body feel stuck when I’m talking to this person. Was I repressing a certain emotion? 

Mindfulness puts us in touch with the transitory nature of our feelings, beliefs and perceptions. Simply noticing our annoyance, nervousness, anxiety, helps shift our perspective and opens up new options other than automatic, habitual reactions.  You can recognize the ebb and flows in your emotions, and ultimately have more control over them. 

  • Meditation

Meditation can also help by observing our thoughts, emotions throughout our day. By being aware of our beliefs, you can test out new beliefs and find new evidence to support new beliefs.

  • Challenging Your Core Beliefs

You can also try to figure out where did these old beliefs came from. These beliefs probably came from past experiences in your life. This may come in the form of overbearing, critical parents, past trauma from past experiences. For EG. If you had been constantly turned down by your parents when you’re in need for affection, you’ll may constantly feel unworthy of love or attention. 

In my case, my core belief is that I’m not ‘useful’, ‘smart’ or ‘hardworking’ if I don’t have a ‘practical’ degree. The counter argument for that would be: I’ve consulted two businesses in their digital marketing campaigns and achieved results for them, there’s no reason why I’m not ‘useful’, ‘smart’ or ‘hardworking’.

  • Self Compassion

Through the last few years, researchers have taken an increased interest in the subject of compassion. There’s been research done between shame and self compassion. 

Research also suggests that self compassion is significantly associated with positive mental health benefits and adaptive function.

When I first started bettering my social skillsets, the primary motivation was to attract women, and influence others. There were many instances where I ended up feeling empty inside at times. It’s almost as if I was trying to please others, or become someone else in order to win their approval. I felt like I could understand them, but they couldn’t understand me.

It’s not enough to be understanding or empathetic to your world around you. You got to extend it to yourself. 

  • Social Support, Safe Relationships and Communal Rhythms

Safe relationships are important for the healing process. You need to find someone who is emotionally mature enough to talk to and express your hurt and anger without giving you biased advice or judgment. Social support and safe relationships are one of the key factors when getting better with trauma. 

It is going to be difficult to express grief in modern society. You need to find yourself someone that can REALLY listen. Family members or friends around you might feel impatient if you’re in the grieving process. This is why I highly recommend hiring a therapist and letting him or her do the heavy work for you. 

I also recommend keeping a community of friends around you and take part in social activities. Socializing is a helpful activity to find a sense of connection.

There’s research that goes to show that taking part in activities involving music and communal rhythms can help with trauma. This can come in the form of aikido, kickboxing classes, tango dancing and other forms of communal rhythm.  Some of these activities helps you reconnect with your bodies. Traumatized people are afraid to feel, remember? When you play together, you feel physically attuned and experience a sense of connection. 

Further Reading:

 

Feb 23

How to Dress Well For Men

By Marcus Neo | Dating and Relationships

Mark Twain was quoted saying that individuals that don’t dress well don’t have any influence on society. I’m going to paraphrase Mark and say that men that don’t dress well have any influence over the opposite sex. Learning how to dress more masculine for men is one of the quick fixes you can get when improving their dating and relationships life. Fashion is the closest you’ll get to a magic pill in your dating life.

So how can you dress better, not just to attract women, but also portray a more masculine identity?

How to Dress More Masculine to Attract Women – The Ultimate Guide

  • Make Dressing Well a Habit

Firstly, dressing well is something you, as a 21st-century male, should cultivate in your daily behaviour and habits.

It doesn’t just help you become more attractive, psychological research also shows that dressing well increases a person’s self-esteem. Ever felt good in a suit? That’s what I meant.

Clothes should not only be seen as an outlet for expression but the actual building of an identity. How can you express an identity from the way you dress? From observation, in Singaporean culture, many guys, whether young or old, don’t purchase their own clothes. They are happy to let their parents do the shopping and choosing for them.

Your parents are 2 generations older than you, how is their fashion sense going to be suited to your generation? Furthermore, if your parents are still making choices for you, then you’re probably a big baby that has no ownership of your own life choices.

Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty.

Principle 1: Fit is King: Choose Fit over Brand

Fit is king. Starting out, this rule applies to all of fashion advice.

I always choose fit over every other factor when shopping for clothes. This includes design, price and brand.

Going for something more fitting that will show off your body contours. Choose fit over brand or how expensive the clothes are. Women, in general (minus the gold-diggers) won’t be looking at the brands of your clothes, they’ll be looking at the fit, the patterns and how well put together your outfit is.

I have survived well with 10 dollars Uniqlo shirts from H&M. You can get black, blue, white and grey basic tees.

Remember, fit is king.

Principle 2: Quality Over Quantity

I always aim to make my wardrobe as minimalistic as possible. Focus on quality over quantity.

The strategy here is to purchase a couple of quality outerwear such as jackets and blazers and you can mix them with v-necks or crew neck tee shirts underneath.

You achieve this by investing a little bit more on quality pieces, and then mix them with cheaper basic pieces.

Quality pieces include your blazer, formal pants, a leather jacket, raw denim jeans and your bags.

You’ll come off as well dressed, sophisticated by blending these high-quality pieces with cheaper basic ones. You can also accessorise with necklaces and chains underneath them. Personally, I like my style quick and easy, hence I don’t use any accessories. However, it’s up to you.

  • How to Build a Wardrobe without Burning Through Cash

You don’t really require much much cash to build a wardrobe. I recommend getting your cheaper pieces such as the basic tee shirts from Uniqlo. The material isn’t that all bad and the basic Tee shirts fit well and are affordable.

Then get a pair of high quality blue fitting jeans from Levis.

It won’t break the bank, and you’ll look like a million bucks.

You should also invest in a pair of formal wear: a blazer and pants. You can then use these pieces to leverage a smart casual look with your neutral coloured Tee shirts. It’s malleable and can be used for many events.

You’re now good to go for many occasions both formal and casual.

Shoes wise, you got to invest a little and get a quality pair from Zara or Pedro.

I’d like to add to take into account the weather. You’ll want to take that into consideration when choosing your clothes. In Singapore, it’s hot and humid all year round. I don’t own any winter clothes and I also normally don’t wear out my blazers and jackets unless I’m out at night.

Learning how to fit pieces together and keeping your identity flexible will open up your options to many.

  • Picking Neutral Colours

If you stick to neutral colours like white, grey, light blue, navy, green, olive. You’re going to find yourself easier to match and fit clothes.

However, you’re going to give up a little variety with such a wardrobe. If you’re passionate about fashion, then you should further your research about colours.

I don’t really care for the variety of colours as I’m always on the go and I prefer my wardrobe to be easy and quick. I literally own 5-6 basic tee shirts of different neutral colours, and I blend them with other pieces in my wardrobe.

Fashion caveat: You’ll tend to notice the trends in fashion and dressing amongst your peers and society. There’s a minority (in Singapore culture that I grew up in) that’s obsessed over the feminine Japanese rock band look. They’re the ones opting for a Korean-POP or Japanese look. In my opinion, these trends look really feminine and will work against you if you’re attempting to be dress more masculine to be more attractive to girls. The masculine look comprises of more monotone dressing styles.

It may seem more popular or trendy to follow the trends, but if you’re gunning for is dressing more masculine and being more polarizing to girls, then you’ll need to go for a more masculine style. You need to stick out more in social situations and sometimes you may almost come off as a rebel or a ‘bad boy’. This attracting women thing is by nature polarizing and controversial by nature, so deal with it.

In my late teens and early twenties, I kept my wardrobe towards the lighter side choosing to go with brighter colours such as light blue, pink and purple. However, I remembered one of my girlfriends commented that I should change to a darker colour.

It may be good to play around with more ‘feminine’ colours such as brighter colours when you have a masculine look already. However, I have a ‘babyface’ so darker colours such as grey, black and navy blue help me project a more masculine look.

Ultimately, learning how to dress more masculine isn’t difficult. It doesn’t have to be expensive either. Fashion, just like any other skillset, comes with time and practice. More importantly, you don’t want Mum dressing you. She wants you to look like a good proper kid that makes the grades in school. You want to look edgy and sexual.

Principle 3: Dress to Your Demographics and Personality

Some may encourage the idea of going over the top and showing up with necklaces and fanciful hats. However, what it fails to point out is that what you wear should be to tailor to your personality and your daily life. If you’re a rock star like Johnny Depp, then, by all means, you can go over the top with all the accessories. However, if you’re a University student, then you should reconsider showing up to class with a suit.

Some times I see guys showing up in slippers in my University classes. You’re not going to be attracting any attention from the ladies with that outlook. Put in some effort. Get a pair of raw denim jeans, a basic belt and a pair of sneakers. That will do. It’s not that hard. On the other hand, you’re a student, then showing up in business suits to classes is not going to make any sense. It’s important to dress to your personality and the social event you’re showing up for.

Playing around with The Different Masculine Archetypes

I chanced upon an article by Masculine Style a couple of years ago that talked about masculine archetypes and fashion sense. I found the archetypes and identities described in the article interesting and useful. I could relate to these masculine identities played out in my own life.

Let’s take a look at the three types of masculine archetypes. These are all archetypes that are attractive to women.

  • The Rugged Archetype

Men at their core, by virtue of our genetic makeup, have this element of rugged masculinity in us. In a high commercialized culture that focuses on economic growth at all costs tends to forget the physical. Our culture is one of standing behind computers, screens, and phones. We’ve often forgotten what it feels like to build and move.

The rugged is the sportsman, the athlete, the fighter. The one who prides himself on his physical attributes. He is willing to get down and dirty. He’s able to fix spoilt pipes, climb up ladders and work the drill. He’s able to bend the surroundings by his pure physical will.

  • The Rake Archetype

He is the musician, writer, marketer, and entertainer. He is also highly emotionally intelligent and gets what he wants from the world through social competence. The rake is the outlaw, the Casanova, and isn’t too concerned about social standards than the standards he sets on his own.

You’ll be known as the social guy, the guy that gets along well with everyone. The guy that’s able to blend into social situations, identities, subcultures effortlessly.

That is the Rakish archetype.

Traditional Asian values emphasize on a career, a family, and playing by the rules of culture. The rake is also often frowned upon by traditional (read: outdated) Asian values.

  • The Refined Archetype

This archetype is the high powered executive that works in a corporate environment. He draws a reasonable salary and can afford the minimal luxuries of life such as clubs, spas and the yearly holiday. He also prides himself on corporate achievements in his corporate ladder.

The refined archetype establishes power in their domain. He’s perhaps a powerhouse in finance. He spends years cultivate authority, respect and power in that particular domain. The refined has less influence outside his own arena, however, he has absolute authority and power in his own circles.

The refined archetype is also commonly known as the tribe leader. The tribe leader is often respected and known for his external status. The nice suits, the house, the business connections, political power and influence.

Closing Thoughts on How to Dress More Masculine

I personally have never ventured too deeply into any three the archetypes. There is a trade-off between all of them, being too refined makes you boring and standoff-ish, being too rugged makes you a square and being too rakish gets you outlawed in your culture.

However, you can mix and match. You can also pour through guides like this one or magazines and invent your own style.

For business meetings, you can dress towards the refined archetype. You can take on the identity of someone who gets down to the numbers. At a social event or on a date, you can dress down towards the rakish element by putting on a leather casual jacket and raw denim jeans. When hitting the gym or a mixed martial arts workout, you can dress to the rugged element.

Once you start to expand your social circles, you might start participating in different demographics, expanding your demographics, looking to date different girls from multiple demographics.

However, as you progress, you may start thinking about commitment, business and building your own tribe. You may realize that if you’re going to build a business and be committed to a single demographic, for a longer period of time, you may move towards the refined archetype. Instead of moving freely in and out of social groups, you decide to start your own.

So, are you a free loving rake or a dominant CEO styled tribe leader? Who are you at your masculine core? Perhaps it’s a little balance of both. They are all different expressions of masculinity. There’s no right or wrong. It’s up to you to paint your canvas in the minds of the women of this world.

 

Sep 28

How to Get Out of Depression

By Marcus Neo | Self Improvement and Social Skills

Our decision making in all areas of life comes from unconscious aspects of our minds. If there’s something you are overly anxious or numb about, there may be an underlying emotion that you’ve repressed or are unconscious about. If you’re constantly unhappy, or constantly in toxic relationships with your friends and family members, then perhaps there’s something there as well.

Or perhaps, you may be facing some form of depression.

Struggling with Depression

I once completely flunked my examinations and got dumped by my ex girlfriend over a text message in a timeframe of a couple of weeks. I was due for military enlistment in a couple of weeks and needless to say those chain of events lead to a minor depressive period.

I looked to friends and family for advice but mostly they ended up giving me superficial or judgmental advice:

‘Just don’t think too much’
‘It’ll need to be more spiritual. That’s the problem with you Marcus’ 
‘You’re over thinking it’. 

I read the research on psychotherapy, I knew the benefits and I jumped straight. I didn’t really cared about what others would think. Stigma? Good. Unconventionality? Even better. I never bought all that unscientific NLP, superficial self help advice, in fact, I hated it. I need something more concrete, something that is based on the scientific method. Okay, psychology isn’t a hard science. I’m aware of that. However, it’s the closest bet.

I checked myself into psychotherapy at the age of 21. However, in hindsight, I didn’t take the benefits of psychotherapy seriously until my third year into it. That was because I went into my sessions with the Mr Know It all attitude:

‘Yeah, I’ve read the research behind it. I know my issues.’

However, intellectualising and/ or verbalising your issues are one thing, but processing them and grieving through them are a different other ball game.

Do You Need Therapy?

Now, if you’re wondering if you need therapy, here is a simple, helpful checklist I stole from Mark Manson’s article.

  • You have emotional or sexual impulses you don’t have control over angry outbursts, fear of intimacy, sexual anxiety, bouts of depression, etc.
  • You come from a difficult childhood, had absent parents or a poor relationship with your parents.
  • You’ve suffered some major traumas in your life (death of loved ones, abuse, major health problems, etc.).
  • You have compulsive behaviors which interfere with other areas of your life: i.e., drug/alcohol abuse, etc.
  • The majority of your relationships in your life are dysfunctional and/or unhealthy (always fighting, lots of blame/guilt, etc.). This includes friendships, significant others, family members.
  • You are overly pre-occupied with one aspect of your life. Common examples include an obsession with being “cool” or popular, obsession with impressing others, a constant need for approval from others, even obsessing about improving yourself (feeling like you’re never good enough), etc.

How to Get out of Depression: The Benefits of Psychotherapy

I’ll argue that many people struggling in different areas of their lives from relationships to personal finance have emotional stories that are out of touch with from their past. They often experienced past traumas, difficult childhoods and negative experiences that they themselves have not confronted and/or are completely unaware of. Yet, they go on years after years of chasing superficial fixes and are oblivious to their own emotional realities.

For example, through the years, I could always be charismatic with girls that I wasn’t emotionally invested in. It didn’t matter if she was hot or not, as long as I wasn’t emotionally invested, I could ‘perform’. However, when it came to a woman I actually felt something for, I would screw it up in the multitude of ways possible.

Through therapy, you’re forced ask better questions:

  • Why do you get nervous around that attractive person who is a complete stranger?
  • Why are you so invested in what others think of you?
  • Why are you avoidant of commitment?
  • Why do you feel unworthy of dating someone you’re genuinely attracted to, but feel completely worthy of dating someone you feel so so about?
  • Why do you measure yourself and base your self-esteem with certain achievements/ sexual conquests?

There’s also a catch 22: If you’re constantly wanting to better yourself, doesn’t that stem from the belief that you aren’t already good enough?

Psychotherapy can help you:

  • Understand how past traumatic events determine your attachment style, that determine the quality of your relationships
  • Why you may be overtly critical or judgment of yourself (could it be because you had an overly critical parent?)
  • The root of your lack of motivation, your anger or apathy in life
  • Help you be aware of your subconscious negative beliefs, the subconscious ways you measure yourself with others, and other unconscious drives
  • How you self sabotage yourself (not studying for exams and partying the night before) This might be rooted in a fear of failure from childhood

There are tons of other benefits, however, these are the main ones that helped me in my life.

Through therapy, you start digging into your past, your emotional development, your childhood. Perhaps you always find yourself in toxic romantic relationships in your life or get uncontrollably angry when someone criticises you on something minor, then perhaps there’s an unresolved emotion or belief there that you aren’t conscious about.

Perhaps, you had an absent father, and you’ve been resentful against him for all these years. That unconscious resentment causes you to be lack in sexual confidence with the opposite sex. Maybe, you’ve avoided commitment throughout your life because your ex girlfriend committed suicide. Maybe you lack confidence in your social life because you’ve been teased and bullied growing up.

There are multiple connected reasons and our psyche doesn’t work like an algorithm, but you get the rough idea.

In my experience, I always thought psychotherapy is a process where you cry it all out on a couch. However, I eventually found out that uncovering and working through negative emotions such as disgust, shame, anger, rage, ice cold bitterness, contempt and hatred is part of the therapeutic process as well. Psychotherapy helps you process the anger and the hurt in a safe environment. When you become more aware of those emotions, you are able to exert a great control over your behaviour.

Psychotherapy and the Stigma in Modern Culture

From personal experience and research, especially in the Asian culture, mental illness, depression is still stigmatized in culture in general. Modern culture stifles open conversations on emotions, depression, isolation, sex and relationships.

Ironically, the things that matter in life.

In fact, the word ‘client’ is often used by psychologists who think of psychological disorders not as illnesses but as problems in living.  

Unfortunately, our culture stigmatises getting help from a clinical professional. I’d even go as far to argue that if I had access to therapy earlier on in my teens, it would do so much better than those boring counselling sessions from the school counsellor (who no one gave a real fuck about her advice anyway).

Whenever I openly discuss therapy with my Asian friends, it gets kind of touchy. I know they’re afraid of how it’s perceived.

If you think about it, it’s similar to getting a personal trainer if you’re serious about getting really good at bodybuilding. You’re just getting one for your mind and emotions. I also have adviced some of my friends and clients who face repeated problems and patterns in their life. The majority of them ignored my advice due to the stigma surrounding it. However, if you look at me, I’m probably a pretty alright individual. I travel regularly, write kickass awesome articles like this. Yet, I work with a psychologist and intend to continue doing so.

Celebrities, multi-millionaires, successful entrepreneurs, athletes, top performing people, musicians, artists and people who are influential in society have used psychotherapy to help them in their lives.

Secondly, if you really are strong, then if you can’t discuss a ‘touchy topic’, that would merely imply that you’re actually weak.

I’ve used therapy for years already in my own life and it’s has helped me in all areas of my life from taking steps towards building a business, bettering my academic performance, fostering better relationships with my parents and to building better self awareness.

There’s no shame about it. If you need it, consult one.

The Different Forms of Psychotherapy

Okay, now let’s get to the different forms of psychotherapy.

When most people think of therapy, they think of going into a room, lying on a couch and crying your heart out after some sort of hypnosis. That’s entirely untrue. The majority of therapies don’t involve hypnosis and it’s often a two-way interaction between the therapist and the client.

Here are the basic forms of therapy that’s most commonly practiced:

  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

(CBT) is primarily a short term treat that takes involves you challenging your own unhelpful thoughts and beliefs when facing a difficult problem in our day to day life. This is more surface level and it’s often focused on changing the way you think in a situation.

Acceptance commitment therapy (ACT) is a branch off CBT. It’s focused on being mindful, being accepting of your negative thoughts. It does not attempt to directly change or stop unwanted thoughts or feelings but instead encourages you to develop a new compassionate relationship with your negative thoughts and feelings.

  • Psychodynamic Therapy

However, psychodynamic therapy is an insight style of therapy. The focus of it is to reveal unconscious content of your psyche in an effort to alleviate psychological tension. Psychodynamic therapies focus on the client’s motivation, either conscious or unconscious.

  • Humanistic Therapy

Whilst psychodynamic therapy focuses on conflicting motives. The humanistic therapy model believe that mental issues arise from low self esteem, misguided goals and unfulfilling relationships.

College students who seek therapy showed symptoms such as feeling of alienation, failure to achieve all they feel they should, difficult relationships and general dissatisfaction with their lives. Psychologists often refer to these problems as existential crises.

In the view of humanists, someone is motivated by growth and psychological well being. This differed from Freud’s assumption that a personality is divided into conflicting parts, dominated by a selfish id, driven by hedonistic instincts and pressed conflicts.

  • EMDR

EMDR is a form of therapy that emphasize the role of distressing memories in some mental health disorders, particularly (PTSD). The goals of EMDR is to engage the brain’s natural adaptive information processing mechanisms, hence reliving present systems. It’s used to treat both PTSD and trauma.

There are many other form of psychotherapy, however, I’m pointing out the general ones that most psychologists use.

The Limitations of Psychotherapy

Okay, is hiring a therapist a cure all for all of your life problems? No, psychotherapy, isn’t a cure-all. Ultimately, you have to be responsible for your life and problems.

  • Taking Responsibility

Like all life improvement tools, you still have to take full responsibility for our own issues and problems.

Showing up to a psychologist and expecting him or her to just fix your life is not going to work out. Psychotherapy should be seen as a supplement, as opposed to a crutch.

The more people are leaving therapy, the better it is. That means that it’s working. I would also add that your therapy sessions should be challenging and not fall into a comfortable pattern. There was a period where I found myself repeating myself in 2-3 sessions and I requested for a switch of topics just to mix things up.

If you’re looking to better other aspects of your life, then learning conversational skills such as cold reading, making statements and actually taking action are equally if not more important. There isn’t any therapy in the world can get rid of your social or romantic anxiety. You’ll still have to put in the work, go out and take action.

  • Treat it Like Hiring a Trainer

You got to treat hiring a therapist like hiring a trainer for you. He or she is there to spot you, however, you need to do the heavy lifting yourself. They are not there to be your friends or validate your problems. They are for a professional service: to help you better your emotions.

Therapy should challenge you, it should feel uncomfortable.

Closing Thoughts

Finally, there’s research suggesting that the majority of people come out better from therapy. There’s also research suggesting that people that commit to therapy for a longer period of time, 5 years, come out better.

There are influential reads that led me to take psychotherapy a lot more seriously: The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Volk, and Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller. They are written by clinical psychologists. These books both give me insights into how psychoanalytic repercussions can run deep.

It might sound far fetch, but no one is perfect, and I believe everyone, rich famous or successful should get some form of therapy of another. You may be good at academics but shit poor in your relationships. You may be good at fitness but overspend your pay on the weekends. There’s always a behaviour that you can seek to be more in control of. I personally belief that hiring a therapist and using it as a tool is going to be a norm half a century from now. It’s going to be where everybody shows up, work through their issues and get more control over individual behaviour.

In my own life, I’ve seen considerable improvements and I consider myself a successful client.

Works Cited

Campbell LF, Norcross JC, Vasquez MJ, Kaslow NJ (2013). “Recognition of psychotherapy effectiveness: the APA resolution”.

Knekt P, Lindfors O, Sares-Jäske L, Virtala E, Härkänen T (Feb 2013). “Randomized trial on the effectiveness of long- and short-term psychotherapy on psychiatric symptoms and working ability during a 5-year follow-up”.

Denise D. Ben-Porath, (2002). Stigmatization of Individuals Who Receive Psychotherapy: An Interaction Between Help-seeking Behavior and the Presence of Depression. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology:

 

 

Sep 28

How to Build Self Esteem – The Guide to Healthy Confidence

By Marcus Neo | Self Improvement and Social Skills

I’ve been on both ends of human performance. I’ve been last in class and first in class, in multiple disciplines in my life, from academics, martial arts, business, relationships, and pursuits. Through the years, I always wondered what are the key principles of high performance. Is it motivation, is it discipline or is it willpower?

Secondly, I also wanted some research behind it. I didn’t want to be one of those self-help writers that write another cheesy post on ’10 steps to feel better about yourself today’.

How is genuine self-esteem is actually generated? Why do some people feel like a fraud and why some people feel like a king? Why some people feel deserving of things in their life, and some people struggle with it? Why do some people boast of things they never did accomplish, and are perfectly fine with not doing so?

Initially, I bought the idea of willpower, after all, with psychological studies that showed that the environment shapes behaviour, as opposed to willpower. However, I, later on, bought into the argument of childhood development: the Freudian approach.

I’ll argue that high performance boils down to multiple variables, from the environment and your childhood experiences. I’ll also argue that self-esteem is a key fundamental of all high-performance behavior. Your behaviour boils down to one’s self-esteem. How much you believe you’re worth, deep down. Self-esteem leads to courage and eventually leads to an expanded life.

If you believe you’re worth it, you’ll have higher expectations of both of yourself, and others, you’ll have stronger boundaries, you do not take shit from anybody, including yourself.

The student who believes he’s smart is going to put in the work, whether he’s really actually smart or not. I found that to be true in my short Summer stint at Berkeley. I traditionally wasn’t a good student in Singapore. However, for someone reason, because I had the freedom to explore another aspect of my identity in another culture. I ended up performing academically.

In my entrepreneurial career, I quadrupled my price point overnight, that’s because I believed that my product and service was worth that price. Yet, it sold. Of course. Yes, a higher price comes higher pressure, intensity and a willingness to make it work. It goes to demonstrate that a of our decisions and success in life is based on self-esteem.

The Freudian Idea: Self Esteem Derived from Childhood

It’s hard not to notice the parallels between self-esteem and childhood experiences. It’s also not uncommon to find people with problematic childhoods growing up with self-esteem issues: self-sabotaging in academics, career, and relationships.

The issues also come often in two main spectrums: you either had it too tough or had it too easy. Hence, you lack true self-esteem.

It’s also hard not to notice that most parents have high expectations for their children, yet, they didn’t and are unable to replicate similar expectations and behaviors in themselves in the past or present. This is the similar of leadership, your troops only follow you when you’re able and willing to execute upon similar tasks. If a sales manager isn’t able to make a sales call and only makes his employees do it, he’s not going to be a manager for long!

Self Esteem and Relationships

Self-esteem or the lack of can also be expressed in our relationships. If you choose to be with someone because he or she makes you feel confident, a sense of comfort or confidence that you can’t internally generate on your own, then you may lack genuine self-esteem.

However, if you choose a partner who has personal values that you admire, for example, intelligence, confidence, and strength, then that says about your security as an individual, of a feeling of your own self-worth.

In an idealistic world, your employers, friends, and family are going to recognize the best virtues in you. However, in the real world, these often pans out in the opposite. I’m not going to bore you on the cliché that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. However, it’s true.

To name an example: your self-esteem maybe compromised if you’re attempting to lose weight and the people around you don’t believe that you are capable of that. Yet, these are the exact people that you define as ‘friends’. It’s weird that many loosely define friendships as people that subtlety put you down.

If you studied the philosophers from Plato to Socrates, friendship to them is defined as a constant open debate, growth and an introspect discussion into their lives.

I remembered 8 months ago in my formal employment where I borrowed a couple of books from the little office library and finished it overnight. My colleague thought I was bullshitting him. That I couldn’t have possibly finished it in one-night right? Yet on the other hand, in one of my last projects for them, he demanded that I finished a 2000 words sales page for them in a short period of time. I managed to produce it within a day.

I knew deep down that they didn’t see me the way I perceived myself. Every day that I stayed there was a detriment to my self-esteem.

How to Build Genuine Self Esteem

Self-esteem is the judgment you pass on yourself, and by the standards by which you judge yourself. If someone lacks self-esteem, they will feel driven to fake it, to create the illusion of self-esteem.

It has two interrelated aspects: it entails a sense of personal efficacy and a sense of personal worth. It is the conviction that one is competent to live, and worth living.

The sense of efficacy is defined by an individual choosing his goals and action. That one has to be right in the conclusions one draws and choices and make. However, not demanding or expecting omniscience or infallibility.

What he needs is that which is within his power, the conviction that his method of choosing and making decisions is right in principle.

This can come in the form of sharp mental focus, seeking to bring one’s understanding to an optimal level of precision and clarity as opposed to a focus on the level of blurred approximation, in a state of passive, goalless mental drifting.

This is also through the performance of an independent thinking, independent judgment. You weigh the truth or falsehood of any claim or the right or wrong of any issue with the ability to accept in uncritical passivity and assertions of others.

It isn’t the conviction that one can never make an error. It is the conviction that one is competent to think to, to judge and to know and to correct one’s errors.

You Must Place Values Above Emotions  

You can argue that his or her character is the sum of the principles and values that guide his actions in the face of moral choices. If you default on the responsibility of thought and reason, hence undercutting your competence in living, you’ll feel unworthy. If you betray your moral convictions, you will not retain your sense of confidence.

If you don’t respect yourself, you’ll never be able to respect others. These are the people that constantly show up late, say something, and do otherwise.

Every individual has an innate sense to understand to the best of our intellectual capabilities. Sometimes, this defaults in childhood through irrational parenting, authority figures, and societal norms. If a person develops healthily, and acquires a set of values, his mind and emotions achieving harmony, he won’t be chronically torn between knowledge and desires.

The difference between a well-adjusted individual and avoidance is that one is fleeing from reality, and the other is taking proper cognizance over it.

For example, it feels good to be drunk. They can be said the same for our emotions. However, being drunk on emotions is often followed by the misery of a hangover. However, when you place values above emotions, emotions are your reward and not your nemesis. However, if you do not have values or standards of your own, you accept whatever values offered to you by society.

Through setting standards and values of your own, you’re rejecting other values and standards. You’re building your own personal boundaries and values.

Develop a Sense of Life Purpose

Self-esteem is also ostensibly tied to one’s feeling of purpose. It is the desire to grow in knowledge and skills, in understanding and control. The opposite is stagnant passivity.

On any level of intelligence or ability, one of the characteristics of self-esteem is an individual’s eagerness for the new and the challenging, for which he’s allowed to use his abilities to the fullest extent.

In the realm of productivity, a primary desire of an individual of self-confidence is to face challenges, to achieve and grow. Productive achievement is the cause and not the result of healthy self-esteem. People who based their self-esteem on existential achievements don’t really have self-esteem at all.

False and Pseudo Self Esteem

The lack of self-esteem is often expressed by people who desire to escape consciousness and the ability or need to form rational thought. This is often expressed through sexual pleasure, money for the sake of money and common vices in society such as drugs or alcoholism: the pleasure received from temporarily feeling helpless.

This pleasure is different from the man who uses his faculties properly, and of actual values in reality.

Self-esteem is confidence is one’s ability to achieve values and not the external achievement of it. The former is ‘I Can’, and the other is ‘I Have’.

The rational, self-confident man, on the other hand, is motivated by a love of values and a desire to achieve them.

Pseudo self esteem is an irrational pretense at self-value. It is an avoidance of anxiety and it provides a temporary sense of security. To the individual of authentic self-esteem, there is no clash between his recognition of the facts of reality and the preservation of one’s self-esteem, since he basis his self-esteem as his ability to act accordingly with the facts of reality as he understands them.

However, to the man of no self esteem, reality appears to be a threat, as an enemy. It’s always a choice between reality or his self esteem.

The determinant of a man’s self-esteem is the motivation between fear and love. You can be motivated by confidence, or you can be motivated by terror. To a man that lacks self-esteem, he lives negatively, defensively and extensively. His life is always in psychological danger. He is always in anger, psychologically. He never reaches normality.

He takes on the values and judgment of others, and never takes ownership of his own life. He has always counted on others to solve the problem of his own survival and chooses values appropriate to this manner of existence. He has always counted on others to solve the problem of his own survival and chooses values appropriate to this manner of existence.

This can take the form of:

  • The man who never makes independent thought or judgment on his own
  • The man who obsessed with being popular, who feels driven to win the approval of everyone he meets
  • The woman who has no sense of personal identity, and who seeks to lose her inner emptiness in the role of a sacrificial martyr for her children, demanding that her children do the same for her.
  • The man is aggressively masculine, whose concerns are entirely subordinated to his role as a woman chaser, who derives less pleasure from the act of sex, as opposed to boasting about it to other men

People That Experience a Crisis of Self Esteem

People experience pathological self-esteem crises when their values clash internally. There are often absolutes in this equation: ‘I must not’ and ‘I am willing to’ Hence, this engages your sense (or lack) self esteem. Thus, one experiences a crisis of self esteem.

This can come in the form of a girl who has been brought up in an over religious childhood. She then finds herself engaging in overtly sexual activities. There’s a clash in internal values. On one hand, sex feels good. Yet, one the other, she was brought up to belief otherwise.

Sigmund Freud, in one of his final theories, maintained that anxiety is triggered by forbidden sexual desire that breaks through the barrier of repression and causes the ego to feel overwhelmed and threatened. The unblocking of one anxiety is also known to unblock stir up other conflicts, which are anxiety-provoking.

How to Build A Positive Sense of Self Esteem

Ultimately, a positive sense of self esteem is the product of two things: the ability to form independent judgment and thoughts, and the cultivation of an integrated set of values.

For everyone, the responsibility of thought and judgment is different for everyone. The responsibility and judgment required from a child are different from one of an adult. One has to accept one’s responsibility to choose a set at values, pass judgment, define goals, at some point in his life.

The acceptance of responsibility is a choice, and it’s not automatic nor wired into one’s brain by nature. It is a challenge to which you how you can respond, with acceptance or rejection. To be motivated by terror or love.

The result of being motivated by love and challenge is a positive sense of self esteem. The result of running away from responsibility thought and judgment will be a sense of pain and a lack of self esteem.

It’s a man’s values that determine his values as an extension of himself, as an integral part of his identity. The individual’s self is a cumulative result of year and years of irrationalities, failures, successes, actions, values and etc. When you have self esteem or the lack of it is the reputation a man acquires with himself.

There’s No Such thing as ‘High Self Esteem’ or ‘High Confidence’

Finally, there’s no such thing as ‘high self esteem’ or ‘high confidence’. Self-esteem is basically an opinion about the person you are. Ultimately, self-esteem is a mere bunch of thoughts about whether or not you’re a ‘good person’. It’s NOT a fact, it’s just an opinion.

The problem comes in is when you constantly have to justify and prove to yourself that you’re a good person or that you have high self-esteem. You constantly have to justify the ‘you’re good enough’ opinion. All these proving and justifying of these takes a huge amount of time and effort.

If you stopped exercising for a few days, your mind says: ‘see? I know you wouldn’t last. If you lose your temper with a friend or make a slight mistake at work, there goes your ‘high self-esteem’.’

Early on, during more immature days, I was constantly worried about how confident I was on a day to day basis. The truth is that some days I feel confident, some days I don’t. It’s just human to feel that way. You’re already enough, as I commonly mention to my clients as a dating coach.

The more you try to justify your high self esteem, the need for perfection. The more it kills you inside. The better approach is to let go of the idea of high self-esteem altogether. You don’t need high self-esteem. Here’s what you need is mere: self-esteem. Plain, and simple.

How to Build Self Esteem: Closing Thoughts

If you feel like you ‘lack self-esteem’ here may be why: 1) you probably lack standards for yourself 2) the people around probably lack standards and expectations in themselves and standards and expectations for you.

Ultimately, your expectations and standards you set for yourself is going to largely fall to the quality of people around you. For a lot of us, you’re going to spend most of your time with your family and close friends.

This is why getting a role model can be a possible solution. Some that you look up to and potentially a role model. This can come in the form of a formal paid relationship, a friend, an older brother or perhaps your boss. Self-esteem is the foundation of all success, and also for one to become a better human being. He or she first must respect him or herself, build fundamental self-esteem, which leads to personal integrity and accountability.

Works Cited

Branden, N. The Psychology of Self Esteem – a Revolutionary Approach to Self-Understanding That Launched a New Era in Modern Psychology.

Harris, R. The Happiness Trap