Category Archives for "Self Improvement and Social Skills"

Mar 03

How to Stop Self Sabotaging – The Psychology of Self Sabotage

By Marcus Neo | Self Improvement and Social Skills

However, why do some people effortlessly cruise through life and why do some people fail, year after year, repeating their same screws up in multiple aspects of their life? There are decades of research that points our behavior is rooted from our unconscious and seemingly derived from our past (childhood experiences). 

Yet, the majority of advice ignores this aspect of emotional life. I began to take an interest in psychology when I realised I couldn’t get to bed at without stuffing a beer down my throat during my first year in University. On one hand, that experience frightened me, but on another hand, I realized I needed to research this area of life.

How do people end up in positions, that they don’t want to end up in the first place?

Think of the rebel, the school drop out, the bankrupt and the convict. They are apathetic, and indifferent to certain areas of their lives in a certain manner. I asked myself, why do some people freeze up and get stuck for years? Why do some people have to exert huge willpower in get certain areas of their life right? I self sabotaged and deleted my projects multiple times. Why do you have a constant nagging and self critical voice behind your head?

Self sabotage plays out in other areas of our lives as well: dating partners that you aren’t really interested in, avoiding emotional intimacy, not showing up for University classes, not putting in the required effort in work, rebelling without any cause or objectivity or not finishing what you started and more. I was that student who who didn’t go to school, missed test after tests, didn’t purchase the required textbooks and yet constantly rates himself perceived himself as ‘intelligent’.

How does Self Sabotaging Occur

Self handicapping is researched to be a cognitive strategy used to avoid effort in the hopes of keeping potential failure from hurting our self esteem. Students don’t study their tests to their best of their abilities in fear of potential failure and they won’t be ‘as smart’ as they thought they would be. 

I was like that for the past decade. I avoided tests, didn’t study for them at all, and barely made it through my first year in University. This was done with the excuse and subtle arrogance of: if I had studied, I would have done so much better”.

This plays out in our dating lives: not asking a girl out, not asking her for her number when she’s obviously giving you positive signals, not texting a girl early enough, afraid that she’s not going to reply, not dressing to the best of our abilities, not hitting the clubs when you’ve obviously spent hours and hours thinking and preparing for it, are the multitudes of manners all of us fear rejection (despite contrary evidence that she likes you) and self handicap ourselves. 

Habitual self handicappers may also constantly pass up emotionally healthy individuals to date and are always dating girls who are married or in committed relationships or have constantly glaring emotional issues to date. This can also play out in your dating life by choosing emotionally abusive, absent partners over and over again.

Some people are fortunate to be naturally charismatic from young, with women. They are called the ‘naturals’, some people like me have to learn it to a certain extent. Some people are ignored right from the start, had to learn it, got good at it, however, are still stuck emotionally when they are ignored.

This is the guy that has has multiple PhDs but still beliefs he is dumb. This is the guy with 6 pac but still beliefs he is sexually un-attractive.

  • Self esteem

One common way people self handicap is to make the task they want to achieve much harder than it is. This pans out through alcohol consumption, choosing unattainable goals, refusing to perform a technique or task or technique. This is done so that if he or she fails, they can put the blame of these self created obstacles.

Once being a competitive martial artist, I notice in the self handicappers that they’ll drinking the night before a competition. Or not putting in the required practice and drill time for the fight.

  • Self Doubt

When there’s constant self doubt, the constant tension in your head invariably leads to hesitation and procrastination. It causes you to push the brakes with one foot even as the other is pressing on the accelerator. 

There’s no overnight fix for this constant self doubt in us, just like a host of other issues. The key is almost always awareness to your critical inner voice and regularly to contest those self defeating thoughts and beliefs. 

  • Past Trauma  

There may be disparaging messages you inherit may have come from overly critical parents. This might be because they might have set unrealistic standards for us during our developmental age. They may consistently tell you that you are not good enough or incapable. 

If you weren’t positively encouraged for failing as a child, your avoidance and procrastination may be shielding you from the emotional pain you experience back then many years ago when you weren’t prepared to handle the humiliation by overly harsh parents. 

It’s researched that a wrong style of parenting can internalize negative messages in children. If you are raised to fit only a certain mould, your place is to serve the parent rather than the parent augmenting your self, that when you form a continual and nagging self doubt. You’ll invariably be fearful of giving credit for fearing of being seen as arrogant or behaving selfishly. 

The child who grows up with a secure attachment can rely on their caregivers to meet their needs. This secure attachment bond helps lay the foundation for good relationships and self image in adult life. Insecure attachment is characterized by failure to meet the needs of the child by caregivers through inconsistency or insufficiency. This type of attachment theory can lead the child to question his worthiness and may contribute to the development of a general sense of self doubt.

The Compulsion to Repeat

Why do people subject themselves to some sort of abuse, or even self abuse in the form of physical, emotional or even sexual? Why do people stay in totally abusive friendships, romantic relationships, jobs and rationalize it away?

If you take the Freudian approach, you’ll say that, that is because when they are a child, that’s a form of love they’ve been conditioned to. They can’t feel love any other way. Some people can only feel loved when they are abused, abandoned or neglected. 

How to Stop Self Sabotaging

  • Cognitive Restructuring

There’s no easy way around how to stop self sabotaging. The first is the most common manner of learning new mindsets and ways of thinking such as cognitive restructuring. Cognitive restructuring is the orientation of belief and some form of behavioural conditioning or another. You’re attempting to re-wiring your belief systems on a cognitive level.

  • Therapy

Over the years, I’ve shared my experiences in psychotherapy. However, I’m always met with skeptic looks or hidden thoughts of: ‘I had a happy childhood. This doesn’t apply to me. To many people, discussing the unconscious is sounds like a whole lot of crap. People that go along with this are often heard saying: “stop crying, just man the fuck up and get a long with life”.  This is especially true in an Asian, Confucianists culture, it’s difficult to have an objective view on your parents and upbringing. No one talks about it.

One of the ways to stop self sabotaging is to understand your own behaviour, process the trauma and get help from a clinical psychologist. The research backs this up as well, with patients being more successful if they took a long term approach to it. The majority of my friends I recommended never started, or drop off after once or twice. They then go back repeating similar behaviours, hence a compulsion to repeat. You’re covering the leaking wound with a bandage after bandage, never healing the wound it self. 

People who have not made effort to understand their unconscious motivation from their past behaviour will be deemed to repeat it. 

Closing Thoughts 

Your behaviour is the root of many of your decisions, success or failures. It determines if you finally dumping that crappy ex boyfriend of yours, to start attending University lectures or to start a business. The ‘why’ you do something and why you don’t is rooted in your behaviour. You either take it seriously, and understand it, or not.

Secondly, our beliefs and emotions are researched to largely biased and unreliable. What you believe and feel true at any given moment, may be totally wrong. Only when we step outside ourselves, beyond the padded walls of our minds, that you can gain a wider perspective of the issues at hand. This is hard to do.

Something I learned from therapy, is that numbness, denial, apathy, anger, hurt and sadness are often sandwiched in-between each other. The way to heal and grow is to see it for what it is, and not to deny, avoid or idealize it. Getting in touch and processing the hurt, anger and sadness is a painful process. This requires introspection, therapy and confronting self esteem issues rather than will powering through it. However, it’s definitely worth it in the long run.

 

Mar 02

How to Ask Someone to be Your Mentor (and Why Find Mentors)

By Marcus Neo | Self Improvement and Social Skills

One of the biggest mistakes I made when I started as an entrepreneur is that I tried to do it all alone. No mentors, no friends and no guidance. I would sit in Starbucks, only be productive for an hour or two and sulk for the rest of the hours. The time that could have been invested in other areas of my life. Sometimes, I would even be ‘proud’ of that fact that I spent a whole day ‘hustling’.

This is why you need to seek out mentors. When you’re out seeking out mentors, you need to understand that relationships take time and effort. When you are in University or at work, your social relationships are a product of circumstances. You don’t really consciously ‘work’ on your relationships. You just assume they are just going to be there forever.

However, assuming you’re intending to graduate, then pay attention and listen.

Mentorship Create an Environment for Success

How does our external environment play a role in determining our success? Our environment does play a huge role in determining our habits and our behaviour. Humans are a lot more reliant on environmental cues than you think.

You often hear: ‘all you need is to hustle’. That’s rubbish. Hustle isn’t the answer. You and I are all cognitive misers and our behaviour is influenced by our environment more than you think. We’re social animals and we’re all evolved to socialize in groups. This why your groups, networks and closely knitted social circles exist. Especially so in Asian culture. You also eventually need people to bounce ideas from, to get feedback from and to talk about your problems.

Getting good at seeking out mentors or like-minded individuals is important, whether you’re in University or starting out your own business. 

There’s something to be said about creating an environment of inevitable success. If you got bills to pay, you’ll be damned sure you’re waking up on time to get to that sales appointment. However, if you’re waking up in comfort and breakfast is served to you, you’re going to slack off.

When I studied at Berkeley on an exchange program, I was alone but independent. I had to be fully accountable to my health, my social life and my academic performance. It was a lot of stress. However, I ended up performing well.

However, back in Singapore, my academic results are often lacklustre. I also noticed that when I came back, my habits quickly fell back to negative ones. I couldn’t wake up on time, my bad dietary habits came back and I started feeling restless and moody.

So what made all the difference?

Firstly, in the States, I had the freedom to flex my identity. In Singapore, nobody knew me as the academically excellent kid. My grades were average at best. Through the years that’s how I identified myself as. In the States, I could be as scholarly or nerdy as I desired.

Secondly, there were no rebellious students, no one to party with on the weekends. No one to fool around with. Just me, the library and my school notes. I was also shit scared of wasting thousands of dollars invested in my summer program.

So how can you create an environment such that failure is NOT an option for you? In my experience, the biggest periods of growth in my life happened because I had no other alternative. I had no way out but to succeed.

The Peer Group Effect

You need to ask yourself who are the people you’ll like to hang out with at this point of my life?

Here are some ideas:

  • Young and driven entrepreneurs 
  • Young and driven professionals
  • People that dress well and carry themselves well.

How can I connect with people from such demographics? Where do these people spend their time hanging out? They aren’t certainly hanging out at heartland malls at 12am on a Sunday night (which was what I was doing with a long time friend of mine). 

They are probably attending business events, doing Yoga classes, doing martial arts classes or partying at the hottest parties on the weekend. 

Here is what you can do: draft out the characteristics of the people you’ll like to connect with, find out where they spend their time, invest my time in these demographics, and then connect with them. You can also reach out to them via email and get them out for coffee.

Connecting with someone can be as easy as listening to their stories. Successful people often have untold stories that’ll like to share. You can learn so much from sitting for 1 hour over coffee with someone.

How to Ask Someone to be Your Mentor: How can YOU Value add To Their Life? 

So how do you ask someone more successful than you to be your mentor? In the real world, almost everyone ranging from entrepreneurs to business owners often look for people with skillsets or work ethic. Let’s take school for an example, why should a University let you in if you DO NOT have value or the results they require?

If you have got no assets, no skills, no business, no nothing, you’re a pair of legs with close to nothing to offer, your value to the world is glitch zero. You’re not going to differentiate yourself from the hundreds of others that graduated from in the same University as you did.

The simple method to create be of value to anybody is to always ask yourself: how can I be of value to others? You need to bring minimally something to the table. This can come in the form of connections, invites to events, or minimally the ability to make others feel good about themselves.

There are heaps of YouTube videos, free content published on the internet. There’s NO reason that you are not able to cultivate a skill set to be of value for people more successful than you are.

  • No Skill sets? Simple, Just Listen

Finding mentors can be as easy as reaching out through email and getting their advice or a particular subject. 

However, successful people are normally busy people. If you put in effort by putting their needs first, taking their advice, following up on that advice and then telling them what you got out of their advice, then you’re one step to actually getting them out for coffee.

If you get to the point of getting him or her out for coffee, then it’s as SIMPLE as paying attention to him or her. Get advice and ask questions. You’ll be surprised that the majority of people do not pay any attention to these tiny details of asking questions, making someone more successful than you feel good.

You can learn conversational skill sets such as actively listening, how to get people to open up, how to compliment others, empathize with others and make them laugh. These basic conversational skill sets can be your basic value-add to anyone, that can be used across cultures, anywhere, any part of the world.

It’s rare to find someone who’s willing to listen to their problems without judgement. Everyone likes to be appreciated and listened to.

Conclusion

If your current peer group isn’t ‘resonating’ with you, then you have to be proactive about making steps to connect with more successful people.  You’ll need to audit who you spend your time around with. If you’re always spending your time around people who don’t have much of a life going for them, then, needless to say, you’re not going to have much of your own.

If you want to get better at life in general, it’s important for you to surround yourself with people that are ahead of you. Not to mention that quality relationships contribute a lot to our happiness and emotional health. 

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 used when men refer to woman consciously using tests to figure out if he is really who he portrays himself to be or not.

The types 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 in my dating life. 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!?!

The psychological research demonstrates that you are who you hang out with. If you’re genuine and honest in your behaviour, 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’. Expressing yourself openly about topics such as sex is shamed upon, divorce is seen as taboo, being upfront and honest is viewed as rude.

They can come from our upbringing, culture or a combination of both. Perhaps, our parents themselves 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 in your relationships and building the required social skillsets and behaviours to better your dating life. The art of being vulnerable 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. 

 

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