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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 self esteem, motivation, or 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 publishes another cheesy post on ’10 steps to feel better about yourself today’.

Not another love yourself and everything will be okay article.

 

How to Build Self Esteem – The Guide to Healthy Confidence

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 inherently deserving of success in their life whilst some people struggle with it? Can unhealthy self esteem lead to people boasting of things they never did accomplish?

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

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 UC 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 because I believed that my product and service was worth that price. My parents questioned that decision. Of course. Yes, a higher price leads higher pressure, intensity and a willingness to make the product work. Yet, it sold.

However, these goes to demonstrate that a lot of our decision making and life success 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.

It’s also hard not to notice that most parents have high expectations for their children. Ironically, a lot of them weren’t able to replicate similar expectations and behaviours in themselves in the past or present. I personally believe that 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!

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.

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 recognise the best virtues in you. However, in the real world, it 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 use an analogy: your self-esteem may be challenged if you’re attempting to lose weight and you have crappy friends that don’t believe that you are capable of that.

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 independent thinking and judgment. An individual with self esteem is able to weigh weigh the truth or falsehood of any claim or the right or wrong of any issue independently of 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, judge and correct one’s errors.

You Must Place Values Above Emotions  

The individual’s self esteem can be said to be the sum of the principles and values that guide one’s 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 fundamentally unworthy. If you betray your moral convictions, you’ll not retain your sense of confidence.

If you don’t respect yourself you’ll never be able to respect others.

Every individual has an innate sense to understand to the best of our intellectual capabilities. Sometimes, this can be negatively influenced in childhood through irrational parenting, authority figures and societal narratives. On the other hand, if an individual develops healthily, and acquires a set of values where his mind and emotions is in harmony, he won’t be chronically torn in between.

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. The same can be said of our emotions. However, being drunk on emotions is often ensued by the misery of a hangover. On the other hand, when you place values above emotions, emotions are your reward and not your nemesis. Through setting standards and values of your own, you’re rejecting other values and standards. You’re building your own personal boundaries and values.

Oppositely, if you do not have values or standards of your own, you accept whatever values offered to you by your external environment.

Develop a Sense of Life Purpose

Self-esteem is also ostensibly tied to one’s feeling of purpose. It is an individuals 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 one is allowed to use his abilities to the fullest extent. Productive achievement is the cause and not the result of healthy self-esteem. Simply put, 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 can be expressed by individuals who desire to escape consciousness and the ability or need to form rational thought. This is often expressed through the senseless chase of sexual pleasure, money for the sake of money and other vices in society such as drugs or alcoholism. The chase for temporary pleasure experienced from temporarily feeling helpless.

This pleasure is different from the man who uses his faculties properly that is grounded in reality.

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

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

On the other hand, pseudo self esteem is an irrational pretence 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. That is because he bases his self-esteem as an 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 constant threat, as an enemy. It’s a constant choice for him. It’s 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. He is always in psychological danger. 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 that is aggressively, unconfidently masculine, whose concerns are entirely subordinated to feeling a hole in his life through validation from women, one that derives lesser 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 absolutes expressed in their cognition: ‘I must not’ and ‘I am willing to’.

This can come in the form of a woman who has been brought up in an over religious childhood or a restrictive culture. She then finds herself engaging in overtly sexual activities. There’s a clash of internal values. On one hand, sex feels good and natural. Yet, one the other, she was brought up to believe otherwise. This cognitive dissonance engages one’s sense (or lack) self esteem… lead to a crisis of self esteem.

Sigmund Freud 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 that 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 and values.

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 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 an unchangeable fact.

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. The act of constantly need to prove yourself and justifying takes up 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, when I was a lot more immature, 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 coaching relationship, a good 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 that 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

 

Jun 20

How to Deal with Rejection – Compatibility and Chemistry

By Marcus Neo | Relationships

No matter how much charisma you think you have, or how you alter your behavior, a good portion of people you meet isn’t going to be interested or available at that point of time. Unfortunately, there are ton’s of dating and relationship advice out there that sells you a foolproof technique to get around dealing with rejection. Unfortunately, that’s just marketing. It doesn’t happen in real life.

It’s no surprise that the person who fails or get rejected the most often gets the most results as well. This doesn’t happen by chance. To get good at rejection, is to simply reframe your lenses on being rejected: your job is to get to the point whether someone either is going to move forward with us or not, in the shortest time possible. Instead of seeing a rejection as a negative, you can view it as a time saver. To save you hours, days and years of time sink.

How to Deal with Rejection

Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister of Singapore, a revered politician, stated that he thought love at first sight is foolish. He also famously defied Asian traditional by marrying a girl who is smarter or more successful than he is. He married his academic competitor, who topped his cohort, beating him to second place when he was studying at Raffles College. What Mr Lee Kuan Yew was gunning for was the filter of relationship compatibility.

You and I spend our time painting ourselves as social chameleons, attempting to make the best pitch to just about any human being with a pair of legs. Hoping, praying and begging that they accept the pitch without questioning if they are the right dance mate for us. You spend all your time worrying about the person across you without thinking if he or she is compatible to us.

Compatibility and chemistry are concepts left out by majority of dating and relationship advice. Not because they aren’t important, but because these are concepts can’t be scripted or changed.

Chemistry

Studies that show that people are attracted to the emotional make up of their parents. It’s suggested you can’t differ the love you once received from your parents with the love you are receiving from your partner.

Chemistry is defined by a high degree of sexual and emotional attraction. It happens on a subtle level and felt immediately by both parties equally.

Chemistry is the warm fuzzy feelings you feel when you’re around him/her. It is when you can’t get enough of him or her. The whispering of sweet nothings, the constant need to be with and see one another. They monopolize your thoughts day and night. You find yourself irrationally organizing your scheduling around them. You find yourself wanting to share with them every bit about your daily occurrences.

Ever went through a roller coaster type relationship where you’re hitting new lows and chasing new highs every couple of weeks?

That’s chemistry going awry.

There’s research suggesting high levels of chemistry may come from opposite yet complimentary traits. Introverts usually have a high chemistry with extroverts. People who are orderly and organized may work best with people who are spontaneous and unorganised. Someone who is laid back with a wider perspective may be complimentary with someone who keeps a tight schedule and routine.

On the other hand when there’s a lack of chemistry, there’s a lack of emotional intensity. There’s basically a lack of mutual attraction. There’s no spark and desire to jump on each other. There’s no long stares in each other eyes, no sexual tension, no rationalising that she’s an angel that descended from the heavens to save you.

Chemistry can be a psychological bias. This biases may work against you. You may feel great in a relationship but aren’t inherently compatible for each other.

Compatibility

Compatibility is an intellectual construct on how well your lifestyle and world-views fit together. You can have high levels of chemistry with someone, but poor compatibility. That’s when your lifestyles and values differ. In the long run, the relationship is most likely going to fall apart. Compatibility is key to long term relationships.

Compatibility and chemistry don’t always occur together. This is the law school professor dating a stripper. This is the rock singer in a band dating a hard-core Christian girl who goes to church every Sunday morning while he’s recovering from a hangover from the previous night’s gig.

Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • What do you want in a partner?
  • What are the feelings you expect to feel when you’re with them, how do they perceive the world?
  • Their goals in life and what they expect out of it?

You can have the best conversational skills in the world… however, at any one point of time there is going to be a large pool of partners that aren’t going to be attracted to you. And then there’s going to be a pool of partners that are attracted to you, who aren’t going to end with you because of their current life situation. This is a case of chemistry but mis compatibility.

Compatibility is also also prerequisite I look for in a long term, committed relationship. I mean, my mental health is at stake here right?

Navigating Compatibility and Chemistry

In dating, a high compatibility but lack of chemistry is akin to dating someone who looks good on paper but is dry and boring. Having compatibility without chemistry is akin to ticking the boxes on someone’s dating resume because of X, Y, Z. When you are together it feels like you’re doing it because it makes ‘sense’. Sadly, this sort of arrangement happens a lot.

Chemistry without compatibility on the other hand, may lead to roller coaster relationships that entails a lot of drama. It’s the person you know that is bad for you but can’t stop seeing. These relationships often begin quickly and passionately. You find yourself rationalising away the fact that she has a track record of drugs. This is your friends stare at your haplessly after dishing out the same repeated advice. To their wits end, you choose to continually act against their advice. After all, love conquers all right?

You can’t have one without another. You need both chemistry and compatibility for a fulfilling, passionate long term relationship.

Ultimately, you shouldn’t choose to be with someone in the long run just because the sex and/or emotions are amazing, you should choose to be with someone because you have similar life values and world views. You also shouldn’t cut yourself short by being with somebody just because she or he looks great on paper.

How to Reframe Rejection: Incompatibility

Some times my clients ask me what should they do when people flake on them on dates. Should they chase them? Come up with a fancy text message to get their attention? Personally, I made a personal value of not dating/ associating with anyone who doesn’t value my time. The girls that flakes on me immediately become incompatible. If you’ve drawn the line of not going out with people who don’t value you or your time, then you’ll no longer need to play the chasing game.

  • Life Circumstances

In my experience, there is a percentage of times (assuming you’re a well rounded individual) you get rejected not because you did something creepy or obnoxious, but because of life circumstances.

There are many external factors that prevent someone from moving things forward romantically or sexually with you at any given point of time.

External factors can range from being already attached, the number of days you have left within the city, her cat dying, her friend’s opinions on how you look like the ex-boyfriend that cheated on her. This is when you are conversing with someone who looks at your longingly and deep into your eyes but holds back giving you her number. She probably has a boyfriend or a husband.

These are factors that you can’t control.

These are perfect examples of the limitations of attraction and how most men and women at any given time won’t be available to you no matter what you do or say. There’s nothing you can do when if you’re out with a someone that has sworn off sex till marriage. It’s not about your ability to be charismatic anymore. It’s not about ‘persuasion’ anymore. No expert, line or ‘frame’ can help you. It’s a simple incompatibility.

It’s only when you reframe rejection and invite rejection by exposing your values. You cut out the mind games, assert your needs, desires and clearly establish boundaries. You do not waste time and move your relationship forward efficiently.

No matter how much you alter your behaviour, you’re going to reject a certain demographic of romantic partners. There’s no other way around it. The bolder and polarizing you become, the more people you’re going to attract and reject. Psychological research also backs this up, people of similar self esteem end up dating each other.

  • Psychological Projection

Projection occurs when someone projects one’s own unconscious insecurities onto others.

This can come in the form of character judgments. In dating and relationships, it can occur when you meet partners who for whatever reasons, are uncomfortable with their own sexuality and they lash out at you for having attempted to move the interaction forward sexually.

These people may harbour trust issues or are completely uncomfortable with their own sexuality or the sexuality of the opposite sex. They may have a history of some sort of emotional, sexual abuse or had a string of disappointments or anger from the opposite sex.

Their belief systems on sexuality are negative and when confronted when with a sexually confident individual, they end up lashing out. They may accuse you of being demanding, sexist, overbearing, horny, untrustworthy and etc. They aren’t lashing out for a lack of attraction, but because they are attracted and that attraction scares them.

These accusations usually have little to no connection to reality and a truly confident individual will simply ignore them. The more forthright and polarizing you become, the more polarizing response you’ll invite from others.

Redefining Rejection and Success 

How do you define yourself as someone successful in one’s dating life? By having three romantic partners at a go? By committing to one partner? Who’s more successful? The guy who dates 10 strippers at one go or the guy who commits to a long term relationship with one girl who he truly enjoys being with.

It’s easy to get sidetracked into the ego boost or validation. After all these years, I’m still amazed at how poorly I choose my romantic partners at times, after all, our minds are prone biases and errors.

Take the average guy improves this area of his life by learning social skillsets. Not before long, he understands that dating and romantic relationships can be generated through his own actions and it’s not something that’s left to luck or fate.

“Self-development” is working out for him.

Through his newfound social skills, he goes around pursuing women who he isn’t genuinely interested in but for the sake of bragging rights. Is it an improvement after all right? He went from zero dates to many dates. He might not even really be into these women on these dates.

Unfortunately, this is a failure in itself. Even though he went from no dates to dates with girls that he feels “meh’ about. He’s still avoiding feeling vulnerable and at risk of being rejected by women that he’s genuinely interested in. The avoidance of this feeling is a failure it itself.

“It’s better to fail on a date with a potential partner you desire, than to sleep with someone you don’t enjoy being around with.”

 – Marcus Neo

You and I have both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators when it comes to our dating and relationship lives. External motivators such as physical beauty cannot be the only metrics of success. In the long run, internal values such as respect, trust and empathy make healthy and meaningful relationships. Even though I value physical beauty, it is not the only metric that I hold in my dating life.

This is why it’s important to define your own metrics of success in dating and relationships, not some arbitrary metric defined by society or other ideologies.

The Power of Demographics – How to Get Rejected Less

Contrary to common belief, dating and relationships aren’t solely a numbers game. You CAN optimize your approach. You can narrow down your ideal partner.

Firstly, you can control the quality of people you converse with. Secondly, you can control how you dress, conversations and how you present yourself. In general, the more empathetic you are, the more varied the demographics of partners you’ll be able to connect with. This is especially useful in Singapore, where you are exposed to a mixture of Asian and Western demographics with different value systems.

If you’re a hot shot engineer who is brilliant with physics and you want to date beautiful women, let’s just agree that a lot of them aren’t spending their time in libraries attempting to understand intricate systems. However, if you make the effort to cultivate a fashion sense, get competent at the ability to meet women in different demographics, you’ll have an advantage by being unique.

You can get closer to meeting your ideal partner by niching down the physical and personality traits of your ideal partner, finding her demographics, and putting yourself in front of social opportunities that’ll increase your chances of meeting someone similar.

Here are questions to ask yourself:

  1. What do you value in a partner? What personality traits and values are you looking for?
  2. How does you ideal partner looks like? The way they dress to their education level?
  3. How can you put yourself in demographics to meet someone that fits the image of your ideal partner?
  4. How you can develop social skillsets so you can start a conversation he or she in that demographic?

You’re not going attract everyone one that comes you way. If you behave in a certain manner, you’re going to reject other demographics. That’s just life. On the other hand, if you attempt to be accepted by everyone, you’ll find yourself altering your identity and personality day after day, ultimately attracting nobody.

The more well read I become, the more I reject women (and people) who don’t read or aren’t interested in personal growth. I also can’t get along with women who aren’t capable of communicating on a deeper level: normally those that are solely focused on looking good on Instagram. Going on dates with them is an equivalent of social waterboarding.

Whilst I can force myself to lower my standards (and have done so), it’s no surprise that I find myself more compatible with girls who value intellectual curiosity.

The key here is finding overlapping values. If I am somewhat a nerd and enjoy reading up on psychology she enjoys debating human right issues. That’s an overlapping value.

The Art of Presenting Your Ideal Self

The majority of us share one common experience of obsessing over this one girl or guy at work or school. You probably find yourself not daring to ask him or her out… and it has been months. You start dreaming of a perfect scene… you and them walking down the wedding aisle and you so desire that ONE person as your boyfriend or girlfriend.

I, like you, and millions out there once spent the good part of my teenage life fantasising over ONE partner. Taking months to speak to her, and then taking years to ask her out.

The better way to tackle this is not to obsess over one partner but to constantly present your ideal self. It is to constantly focus on becoming the ideal version of yourself. That’s where self-improvement comes in. When you focus on presenting the best version of yourself to the world, something that is immediately controllable, when the right person at the right time comes into your life, you’re more than prepared.

When you’re out on a date, instead of worrying if they like you, sit back and evaluate if he or she has the values and traits you’re looking for. This way you relieve pressure on yourself. You get to enjoy your dates and don’t have have a need to impress him or her.

Closing Thoughts

Ayn Rand said love is the expression of one’s values: it’s the emotional price paid by one man for the joy he receives from the virtues of another.

Throughout the years, I find myself compatible with partners that are curious, intelligent and patient. I’m not bragging here or anything. I’m pretty disorganised, impulsive, unstructured and I’m not really good dealing with authority. I can be quite blunt and forthright. Some times I say things that I don’t mean. For Eg: I like making fun of overweight life coaches and authority figures that take themselves too seriously. If she’s too caught up with me spouting unintended stuff instead of laughing it off, then needless to say we’re not going to get along.

Opposite qualities of being structured, detail oriented compliments mine. I find myself seeking out longer term relationships with partners who are working in fields that are making a contribution in some sort meaningful way. They can be doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and social workers. They also aren’t limited to the medical or scientific fields. She could be running a business to better the agriculture system of a third world country and I’ll find myself admiring the novelty behind it.

I can’t date women whose main concerns are taking a hundred selfies a day and overly concerned about how she looks like on social media. If I get rejected by someone who has an attention span of a goldfish, I don’t perceive it as a rejection, I see it as incompatibility. This is the way I deal with rejection, by viewing it as a simple incompatibility.

Works Cited

Geher, Glenn.  “Perceived and Actual Characteristics of Parents and Partners: A Test of a Freudian Model of Mate Selection,” Current Psychology (Fall, 2000), vol. 19, no.3, 194-214.

Markey, P.M.; Markey, C. N. (2007). “Romantic ideals, romantic obtainment, and relationship experiences: The complementarity of interpersonal traits among romantic partners” (PDF). Journal of Social and Personal Relationships24 (4): 517–533.

 

Jan 14

What Are Personal Values? – Develop Integrity and Purpose

By Marcus Neo | Self Improvement and Social Skills

What are personal values and why are they important in dating, relationships or just life in general? When I was 19 or so, a friend of mine came to me complaining that she was being emotionally bullied by a close friend of mine. I softly persuaded him to stop despite him being a close friend of mine. I didn’t like bullies and I desired to stand up for a friend.

You could argue that by me standing up to my friend, I was acting out of my values. I stood up for my values regardless of external circumstances. I stood up for another friend in spite of being a friend of the perpetrator. I behaved according to my values and persuaded him otherwise, risking a potential loss of friendship with him.

Why are Values Important?

In modern society, you may find yourself in a constant struggle to stick to your values as opposed to sacrifice them for an extrinsic result.

For example, authenticity and expressing yourself honestly is a value in itself. Honesty, however, sometimes is uncomfortable, especially when expressed negatively to friends or superiors. Your honesty may not be appreciated. It may involve telling your boss something that he might disagree with but might be better for the company. This may put you at risk of offending him (or losing your job). This can be difficult at times, especially so in the Asian culture.

In the realm of dating and relationships… what if your date you are interested in treats you badly? What if he or she’s a no show for three dates straight and cancels on you last minute every single time? Are you going stick up for yourself and perhaps call them out? Or are you going smile, and pretend nothing happened?

Can you uphold the interval value of self-respect? Can you call her out for her negative behaviour, risk upsetting her and losing the potential benefit of dating someone you’re interested in?

What if your friends are always showing up late and disrespectful of your time? What if you valued your time and made efforts to be on time for meet ups? Do you hold back calling the person out to avoid the possibility of not offending him or her?

So, What Are Values?

Values can be said to be internal compasses. They are a judgment about how important something is to us. There are principles that are held internally regardless of external circumstances. Sometimes, they are principles and judgments that you are willing to sacrifice and die for. They can comprise of intangibles such as authenticity, accountability, empathy and respect.

Values are researched to higher self-esteem, in the long run, makes you more attractive to women, increase work creativity, and make you a happier person. Positive values are also usually ensued by strong boundaries.

In short, they’re awesome.

Ironically, it’s people that do not have any values going for them that are unattractive and mediocre. They don’t stand for anything. They are people pleasers. They often crave attention and affection from the world around them at the cost of their personal integrity and values. They’ll never build a strong identity. Counter-intuitively, it’s this constant need for a false sense of acceptance is what repels people away.

In our relationships, it’s the sacrifice of their own personal values that leads to needy and unattractive behaviour.

So Marcus, without sounding like a boring high school counsellor, how can you instil this thing called values in your life then?

Ironing Out Your Values

Ironing out your values can be simple as taking out a piece of paper and writing down what you will and will not accept in your life. This can range from business decisions, relationship values to all other areas of your life. The second step is to commit and be disciplined about it. Note, no one is perfect and it’s OKAY to falter and be flexible. However, just like habits, you just go back to work on it.

  • Your Dating and Relationship Values

So, a couple of years ago, when I started learning how to attract women. The first step was to iron out my dating and relationship values. This means what I will, and will not accept from women, or people in general. This not only helped my self-esteem, but it also made my dating choices much easier.

In my own life today, and in my client’s life as a dating coach for men. You can start with a couple of simple values.

I stopped texting girls who didn’t want to text me back, I stopped worrying about girls who didn’t want to go out on dates with me. Yeah, I get rejected, however, it saved me the heartache, the smokes and games that people play. I decided I’ll not hang out with people who don’t want to hang out with me. I’ll not date a girl who doesn’t want to date me. I’ll not text a girl who doesn’t want to text me. I’ll express interest to women only that I’m interested in.

These values played an important role when on a date. Instead of constantly worrying if I match up to her, I’m going to see if there’s a right fit of values. I’m not looking to impress her.

If you’re wondering what I value in women, physical beauty (I can’t lie), empathy, intellectual curiosity, honesty, nurturance and accountability. From personal experience, I’m a lot more motivated, willing to sacrifice a lot more time and effort and to pursue a girl who’s more physically aesthetic If she’s hot but has selfie problem, sure, I’ll be more tolerant of it. If she’s hot but is slightly emotionally erratic, sure, I’ll be patient. I’m willing to give up many superficial nuances that tick me off.

However, I’m not willing to give up my personal boundaries just to pursue someone who is physically attractive. There are values that are non-negotiable. If she constantly disrespects me or is rude, I am going to call her out on it. If she doesn’t alter her behaviour, then I’ll simply drop her.

Note, I hold these values true for all other relationships as well. I also can’t be bothered by people who don’t respect my time or money. If you don’t respect my time or money, there isn’t a friendship in place anymore in the first place.

Business Values

I once attended a slimy internet marketing business program. Whilst the potential monetary prospects were good, I hated it. Why so? That’s because the way the business was conducted went against my values of providing a competitive and ethical service to society.

I figured that instead of marketing slimy products to people in need of psychological help, I rather figure out the hard and longer route of building an ethical product and service.

This forced me to iron out my business values. I decided that I’ll only make an income through ethical products or service to consumers that don’t hurt society. The systems and products have to work without relying on psychological manipulation. Secondly, I’m not going to work for anyone who uses his network or relationships as a ‘stronghold’.

Ironing out these values made a lot of business choices down the road much simpler. Out went the scammy products that prey on delusional or people that are in a bad spot in life. Out went the nights of drinking just for the sake of clinching a deal. Since I had these values in place, it freed me up to learn how to market products and services ethically.

Helpful and UnHelpful Values 

It’s said if you pursue negative values such as popularity and fame, it’s ‘negative’. However, I don’t entirely see it this way and I think negative values can be a good motivator for positive values. If I didn’t desire to be with attractive women, I’ll not have undertaken this self-improvement process. If not for the desire to be financially free, I’ll not have attempted to be an entrepreneur. This blog wouldn’t exist. I also think everyone is motivated by different intrinsic and extrinsic motivators at a certain point of time.

Negative values are fundamentally superstitious, immediately uncontrollable and socially destructive. If you value popularity or fame or how much you’re liked or accepted by everyoneThat’s not immediately controllable. That’s because you can’t control how people think of you.

If you measured yourself by a million dollars in a bank, that’s an external value that isn’t controllable. It’s merely going to drive you crazy. Negative values are reliant on an external event such as flying in a private jet, getting threesomes or travelling the world in pursuit of purely a hedonistic lifestyle (read: guilty).

Arguably, negative values can be good motivators initially. You didn’t get into self-development if you didn’t want to date more attractive partners, make more money and look really awesome amongst your friends right? Negative values can give you a good start, however, for long term happiness, you’ll need to prioritize internal values in the long run.

Positive values are reality-based, immediately controllable, self-generated and are socially constructive. Positive values such as innovation, honesty and vulnerability are immediately controllable and can be self-generated right this moment.

For example, instead of valuing popularity or how much I’m liked by people, I can make an internal value of improving my dating/ social life. That way, the mere act of taking action to go out to a bar to meet more women is small win for me regardless the end outcome.

Positive values are always internally achieved and there’s no completion to them. They are also process oriented. Honesty and vulnerability are internal values that can be practised right now and in every social interaction for the rest of your life.

How to Establish Your Values Without Being an Asshole?

So the one thing about values that people get confused is that you got to be somewhat of an asshole when expressing your values.

Having strong values doesn’t mean that you go around calling others out on their ‘poor values’ or ‘lack of values’. It just means recognising that you have different values than them and sometimes it’s just a lack of compatibility. The first step to establish your values is to express it in a matured manner. If the girl you’re dating shows up late, you don’t have to scream at her for showing up late. Just making it known and calling her out on is enough.

You can always say: “Hey, I hope you won’t be this late the next time we meet.” In a respectful and assertive manner.

I also want to note that your values should be flexible and based on context. If you have an amazing friendship with someone who’s always late but has many other merits, then it’s perfectly fine to just accept that personal flaw in that individual.

What Happens When You Change Your Values?

When you change your values, it’s normal for your old relationships to blow up in your face. This can be demonstrated by calling out certain behaviours from old friends and possibly ticking them off the wrong way. In my own personal growth, I started valuing my time and I started being serious about my business and my work. If someone cancels on me without letting me know, I’m sorry, that’s non-negotiable. I’m calling you out.

The friendships you made through your life probably supported and confirmed the values of yours. However, when you begin to shift your values, you’re going to inevitably experience a lot of friction amongst those old relationships.

In my experience, long term relationships and friendships are the hardest. You may find yourself in a place where your closest relationships no longer understand you anymore. However, do these friendships have to have to go? I don’t think necessarily so. There’s no need to cut out a person because of a difference in values, that’s because, despite a difference in values, there may be overlap in values.

However, if you are constantly bickering over petty behaviours. That merely goes to show that you have different fundamental life values and have completely different priorities completely, then perhaps some time off that particular relationship might not be a completely negative thing.

In my experience, I found out the hard way that people around you are going to have different values from you do at the different point of their lives in multiple areas of their life from relationships to careers.

This is true of your relationship with to your parents, your childhood best friends, your boss, your pet goldfish and your colleagues. You may have a childhood friend that has conflicting values at some point of his or her life and a loss of friendship is inevitable.

It’s values that ultimately bring people together and tear people apart. You’re going to be what you value. Choose your values wisely.

Works Cited

J, Z., S, S., J, C., & Z, Z. (2009). Social networks, personal values, and creativity: Evidence for curvilinear and interaction effects. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94(4), 1544-1552.

W, M. M. (2007). Happiness and Virtue in Positive Psychology. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 89-103.

 

 

How to Set Boundaries in Dating and Relationships 01
Jan 11

How to Set Healthy Dating and Relationship Boundaries

By Marcus Neo | Relationships

You can argue that the majority of dating and relationship problems are a boundary issue in one way or another. Years ago, I was enrapt in a relationship that felt great at times and just dirt poor other times. It was like a rollercoaster ride. It was only years later after knowing the concept of boundaries, that I realized that my ex-girlfriend and I had piss poor boundaries in our relationship.

So other than sparring yourself from rollercoaster relationships, why are boundaries important?

Firstly, strong boundaries are the cornerstone of attractive behaviour. Secondly, they create emotional health and are created by people with emotional health. They lead to emotional stability and healthy self-esteem. They are also something you can work on right away.

Okay, before you get into deeper details, let’s take a look if you have a boundary issue.

You May Have a Boundary Issue if You:

  • Constantly feel like people take advantage of you or use your emotions for their own gain?
  • Feel like you’re constantly having to “save” people close to you and fix their problems all the time?
  • Find yourself sucked into pointless fighting or debating regularly
  • Find yourself far more invested or attracted to a person than you should be for how long you’ve known them
  • In your relationships, you feel like things are always either amazing or horrible with no in-between. Or perhaps you even go through the break-up/reunion pattern every few months?
  • You tell people how much you hate drama but seem to always be stuck in the middle of it
  • You spend a lot of time defending yourself for things you believe aren’t your fault?

If you answered “yes” to even a few of the above, then you probably set and maintain poor boundaries in your relationships. If you answered a resounding “yes” to most or all of the items above, you not only have a major boundary problem in your relationships but you also probably have some other personal problems going on in your life.

Here’s a good question to ask yourself: do you want to constantly be around people that don’t appreciate you for who you are, but also sees all of his relationships (including you) as something that can be manipulated?  Or do you want to be around with friends that doesn’t fuck with your emotions?

I know there are idiots who prefer the former, cause deep down, they don’t relationships as something that can be safe and supportive. They see relationships as something to be earned, bargained or traded. Long term relationships, friendships and romance aren’t built upon memorising lines. You’re still putting on a front in your social interactions instead of engaging your true self.

What are Relationship Boundaries?

There are many reasons why someone may lack boundaries. Psychologically speaking, people with a lack of boundaries may appear may be motivated by an unconscious need to ‘keep the peace’ because of the fear of getting hurt.

So, what are boundaries and how do they look like?

Healthy Boundaries:

  • NOT taking responsibility for OTHER people choices, actions and emotions
  • Taking FULL responsibility for YOUR own choices, actions and emotions

Healthy Boundaries from the outside:

  • NOT expecting others to be responsible for your choices, actions and emotions
  • Other people should be responsible for THEIR choices, actions and emotions and NOT responsible for YOUR emotions and choices.

Dating and Relationship Boundaries

Examples of Poor Boundaries:

Since I’m Asian, I can use a couple examples from the Asian culture, I’ll chime in a few examples.

“If you go out with your friends tonight and not keep me accompany, I’m not going to give you allowance next month.”

“If you don’t study the subjects as I want you to, I’m not going to pay for it.”

“If you don’t do as I say, you’re not being filial to the family. Hence, you’re not a good child.”

This is an example of a parent’s expectation for his or her child to take responsibility for the parent’s choices and emotions.

In this scenario, the person is taking responsibility for actions or emotions that aren’t theirs or are expecting someone to take responsibility for their actions or emotions. When you set boundaries in your relationships, it can be as simple as saying no to someone and letting the chips fall where they may.

You’re NOT responsible for someone’s else emotions.

Flip that around, it’s also the willingness to take a no from someone else. That’s because if you feel crappy about hearing a no, you’re are responsibility for your own mood and not expect or blame anyone else for your emotions and choices. Ultimately, having strong boundaries does not mean that you don’t want your partners or friends to be happy. It just means that you can’t decide if your partners or friends are happy or choose to behave in a certain way.

The Breaker and Fixer Pathology

People with poor boundaries typically come in two flavors:

  1. Those who take too much responsibility for the emotions and actions of others
  2. Those who expect others to take too much responsibility for their own emotions and actions.

They are called the breaker, and the fixer. Interestingly, these two types of people often end up in relationships together. My first relationship was like that, it felt like it was us against the world. However, in hindsight, it was soul-sucking and emotionally tiring. She and I had pathologies of both the victim and saver, oscillating between both roles at different points of time.

  • The Saver

If you are someone who tends to feel a need to make their partners happy all the time, you may be playing the role of the saver in the relationship. You have a boundary issue. This is because, at the core of it, you’re attempting to decide/ control how your partner acts and feel.

The saver doesn’t save the victim because they actually care about the problem, but because they believe if they fix the problem they will feel loved.

  • The Victim

The victim creates problems not because there are real problems, but because they believe it will cause them to feel loved. If you are that someone who is always creating problems, expecting others to take responsibility for your actions and emotions. You are playing the role of the victim.

The saver and victim commonly end up together in relationships and often lead to unstable roller coaster relationships. In such scenarios, the lack of boundaries leads to needy, co-dependent.

From an attachment theory perspective, victims tend to be anxious-attachment types, and savers tend to be avoidant-attachment types. They both push away secure-attachment types. They may also grow up with parents who had poor boundaries in their relationships that led to their model of a relationship that is based on poor boundaries.

You may ask, Marcus, isn’t it cold and cruel to not care about others and fix their problems?

You see, the saver or the victim don’t ACTUALLY care about each other or the relationship, they are behaving in these ways to meet their own need for self-esteem through other people’s problems. The victim needs to create problems to feel loved whilst the saver needs to fix problems to feel loved. There isn’t any real authenticity or genuine emotional connection with these relationships.

Their behaviors are based on their OWN needs to feel loved and not actual unconditional love itself.

If the victim really cares about the saver and the relationship, he or she would say, “Look, this is my problem, you don’t have to fix it for me.” That would be actually caring about the saver.

If the saver really cared for the victim, the saver would say, “Look, you’re blaming others for your own problems, you should be responsible for it yourself.” That would be actually loving the victim.

The hardest thing for a victim to do in the world is to hold themselves accountable for their feelings and their life as opposed to blaming others. They spent their whole life believing they must blame others in order to feel any intimacy or love.

For the saver, the hardest thing to do in the world is to stop fixing other people’s problems and trying to make them feel happy or satisfied. They may have spent their whole lives feeling valued and loved when they were fixing a problem for someone. Hence, letting go of this need is terrifying to them as well. If you see your relationships as economical transactions, only seeing others as beneficial or economical exchanges, not only it’s a form of poor boundaries, it’s also going to tear you apart emotionally eventually.

The Boundary Problem in Modern Culture

Now, I may take some criticism for this, but I’m going to say it anyway. In Asian culture, there’s a cultural belief that children are inherently SUPPOSED to be filial to their parents or grandparents. It’s a common cultural Asian cultural narrative to love, respect and obey your parents JUST because they are your biological parents, not based upon the fact if they are good parents or not.

This often expressed in the value of filial piety.

I had a friend to said that he would give in to demanding/unreasonable requests to his parents just because they are paying for his University fees. His parents are using monetary support as a bargaining tool to get their child to conform.

I’m may piss off some you reading here but listen to me.

That is an unhealthy and toxic relationship dynamic between him and his parents with a lack of boundaries. On one hand, his parents are using money as a means to control their child’s behaviour. Secondly, on his end, he is giving up his self-respect, his honest thoughts, and desires because he’s afraid of not getting the money from his parents.

If your parents only provide for you financially if you give in to their whims and demands. It’s a conditional relationship. The underlying meaning of the relationship would mean: I only love you if you listen to me. I will only provide for you if you listen to me.

Firstly, these are a poor form of boundaries. Secondly, there isn’t any genuine support or affection in their relationship.

From personal experience in the Singaporean culture, there are many that have this perception that if their parents provide for them financially, it’s a MUST to give in to their parents, against their genuine thoughts, desires and beliefs.

Some of the people reading this might say: Marcus, you’re such an INGRATE for speaking out against the age-old values of filial piety. You’re Asian yourself and you SHOULD be filial to your parents.

Okay, shut up.

I AM filial to my parents. However, I act on it as a gift, with no expectations of return, as opposed to an OBLIGATION. There’s a difference.

The act and value of filial piety should be something that’s given unconditionally, rather than demanded or assumed because of cultural or social reasons. 

If you’re forced to visit your grandparents every weekend and you secretly hate it. Then you’re not acting out of a genuine desire to see and care for your grandparents. You’re doing it because you don’t want to piss your Mum and Dad off.

As I argued, acts of affection are only genuine if they’re performed without expectations.

Is It Okay to Sacrifice?

You may ask then, Marcus, what about making sacrifices for people you love? What about going the extra mile for best friends? What if my girlfriend wants me to call her daily? What if my pet cat requires me to stroke his belly 20 times a day?

I SHOULD make that sacrifice right?

Firstly, sacrifices that are made out of obligation aren’t genuine sacrifices. They are actually your inability to say no.

True sacrifice only comes in the form of unconditionally, as a gift, with no expectations of return. One common behavior I noticed during my stint as a dating coach for men is that they compliment women in hopes of getting her attention. Needless to say, they didn’t get far.

Sacrifice is only true and genuine when you desire to do it out of no expectations, as a gift, and not because you should feel obligated to or fear the consequences of NOT doing it.

You can simply ask yourself this: If you stopped doing an X behavior, would it change anything about your relationship with Y? Read: I know, the algebra. I’m Asian, live with it.

  • If I stopped picking her up from her house or sending her home, will she still love me?
  • If I stopped agreeing with her on everything she says, will she still love me?
  • If I told my friend that he should be on time in the future, and being late isn’t cool at all, will we still be friends?

If your answer is NO, it wouldn’t change a damn thing in the relationship, if you stopped doing a certain behavior, then that’s a good sign.

If YES, then you probably have a boundary issue. You’re making a particular sacrifice or behaving in a certain way because you fear to lose the relationship.

How to Set Strong Boundaries

I started off a YES man. I’d say YES to events, business opportunities, introductions, trips and I was the guy that was flexible and easy to get along. Yes, that helped a lot. However, as I grow, I realized it’s so much better to say NO and truly evaluate how and who you spend your time and effort with.

These days, I’m always evaluating how I feel after spending time with someone. If I feel emotionally recharged, listened to or that I learned something from him or her, I’ll continue pursuing that relationship. If I feel disrespected, belittled or unjustly criticized then I’ll stop.

In my business career, I had instances where potential clients waste my time by getting me to draft out long thought out proposals for their digital marketing campaigns and I don’t hear back from them. No, no more. You need to be a good fit to work with me.

I had instances where girls waste my time and don’t show up for a date. That’s on me. That’s MY fault. I didn’t qualify her properly. If I had disqualified and said: ‘You and I are probably not going to get a long because you’re always late’, she’s going to either straighten up or not waste my time by not showing up.

These days, I hold by these standards throughout all my relationships, from friends, family, clients, business partners, and life choices. In that sense, I’m valuing my time and myself. Only by valuing your time and yourself, that you can get others to value you and your time.

Here are some of the lines you can use:

  • I prefer not to discuss them as these matters are private to me’
  • I never kiss and tell’
  • I already stated my opinion and I’m not going to argue with you further.’
  • ‘If you keep doing X behaviour, then I’m going to leave.’
  • ‘This is are my values, and I hope you can respect that.’

Closing Thoughts

Setting boundaries by cutting an acquaintance out or an ever unaccountable friend is easy. It’s as simple as cutting them out from your life or seeing them lesser. However, setting boundaries and maybe even cutting family and best friends out are a lot harder. You can dump your girlfriend, you can’t dump a bad family member. Family relationships are the hardest to deal with. Trust me, I’ve been there.

One time, I stopped driving a couple of my friends around. I realized that if I stopped driving them around, they wouldn’t bother hanging out with me. Tough truth to face, but that’s life. When I go out with a girl on a date and she says something offensive, I don’t just play nice and ignore, I call her out on it. That’s a form of my boundaries. I don’t accept rude or offensive behaviours in my life.

How to Set Boundaries in Dating and Relationships 03

Someone with strong boundaries isn’t afraid to say no. He or she isn’t afraid of a temper tantrum or getting into an argument. He or she also understands that he may hurt someone else’s feelings at times and ultimately can’t control how someone else feels.

He or she also understands that a genuine relationship isn’t made up of two people deciding on each other’s actions or emotions, but instead, an unconditional relationship is made up of two people supporting each other, without judgment or expectations.