One of the hardest things about self-improvement, especially when you’re trying to fix your dating life, is feeling like you’re getting nowhere. Now to be fair, change takes time and more often than not, you’re trying to overcome the habits of a lifetime… but that’s cold comfort when you can see that new life waiting for you just out of reach and you can’t wait to begin it.
Fortunately for you, I have five simple ways to help you jumpstart your new life, improve your game and turn you into the dating maestro that you’ve always wished you could be.
Now, as you read this you may notice that very little of the advice has anything to do with, y’know. Dating. And there’s a reason for that. You see, getting better at dating is a holistic activity; if you want to fix the problems in your dating life, you have to fix the problems in your entire life. That’s where these tips come in: these are the seemingly innocuous ways that you sabotage yourself, trip yourself up and slow yourself down. Taking the time to address these issues will give your life the boost it needs so you can pursue your dreams.
Cut Down On The Clutter
The first thing you want to do is learn how to relax and center yourself. Try walking while tensing every muscle at once. It’s theoretically possible, but it’s slow, ungainly and exhausting, a lot of expended effort for very little gain. This is what your brain is going through on a daily basis. You have a thousand and one things competing for your attention, things that demand your time and are stressing you the hell out. If you want to improve, then you need to be able to focus.
One surprising cause of stress? Having too much stuff. A cluttered and disorganized living environment can actually make you miserable.
Now, allow me to be the first to make the obvious comment that “having too much stuff” is perhaps the epitome of First World Problems… but it actually fucks with your brain. We have limited mental bandwidth; there is an upper limit to just how much we can actually pay attention to before our brains simply can’t handle all of the stimuli and get overwhelmed. Living in a chaotic, jumbled mess actually causes your brain to try to divide its attention between what you want to do and all the stuff around you before it finally just says “Fuck it, I’m out”.
Neuroscientists have found that physical clutter actually spikes your stress hormones and competes for your attention; it leaves you feeling uncomfortable, restless and tense. You’re unable to concentrate, you start feeling trapped or restless and your stress levels go through the roof. This doesn’t just mean physical clutter either. All of those Twitter notifications, the IM pop-ups, your email dinging at you… all of these end up splitting your attention and focus, leaving you feeling stressed and anxious. And when this is how you live… well, this means that you’re constantly overstimulating your brain.
Think for a moment about places that put an emphasis on having a calm, contemplative environment: yoga studios, spas, meditation rooms; these places are sparsely decorated to the point of being spartan. Their purpose it to help you relax and calm down; removing as much extraneous stuff as possible means that you don’t have all of these extra demands on your attention.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you need to live like a Buddhist monk in order to relax, but you do want to dial back on just how much stuff you have. It can be difficult – we develop emotional attachments to our possessions even when they serve no real purpose. I’m especially bad about this. I hung onto SCSI and parallel port cables for years – despite the fact that I don’t own a single device that uses them – because “I might need them some day”. I had computer games from over a decade ago that I literally can’t play on modern computers because… well, I loved those games. How could I give them up? I have books that I’ve never actually read but keep promising myself I’ll get around to them one of these days.
The number of times in the last five years I’ve needed a SCSI cable: 0. Number of times I’ve played Star Wars: Dark Forces in the last decade? 0. Still haven’t read those books either. All they were doing was sitting around, taking up space for no reason.
Conduct a survey of your belongings. Consider how many times you’ve read it, watched it, played it or worn it in the last… say six months to a year. Haven’t touched it in all that time? You don’t need it. Dial things back until you get down to the stuff you actually use and keep the remainder neat and organized.
You’ll be amazed at how much happier you’ll be.
Exercise Your Willpower
Next up: it’s time to start boosting your willpower.
Willpower is one of the keys to discipline and self-control. Being able to force yourself to do necessary but not necessarily pleasant things is a critical part of any self-improvement plan, whether it’s trying to get in shape, master a new skill or get better at dating. The problem is that willpower is a finite resource, and when you run out… you tend to bail on the things you’re usually using that willpower for. This is why after a couple weeks of hitting the gym every day after work, you’ll feel that you’ve “earned” that day off… that turns into two days off. Then a week. Then… how long has it been since you’ve been to the gym again?
Similarly, after going out trying to practice approaching women and conquer your approach anxiety you decide that it’s all too much trouble and all you want to do is hide out at home. Or when you’re finding that you have to pull an all-nighter at work and you can already feel your IQ dribbling out your ears by hour nine and two hours later you’ve reverted back to communicating strictly through grunts and crude gestures and you’ve beat the computer to death with a stick because it’s powered by ghosts.
This is what’s known as “ego depletion”; you’ve hit a stage where your sense of self-control is severely impaired because you’ve simply run out of willpower. It’s why those extinction bursts you encounter when breaking bad habits are able to throw you back to square one; you’ve literally run out of what it takes to resist those urges that you’ve been fighting for weeks or months and so it all falls apart.
Now that I’ve depressed the shit out of you, here’s the cool part: will power may be finite, but you can increase how much you have. And you do this… by draining your willpower regularly.
Think of a muscle. The way that muscles get larger and stronger is through exercise – the exercise causes micro-tears in the muscle fibers, which our bodies then repair, making them stronger and more elastic. This same principle applies to willpower: the more you use, the more you develop. The trick, however, is in how we expend that willpower. Which leads to my next point:
Don’t Do “Your Best”
One of the biggest mistakes we make is in the idea of “doing your best”.
There are two issues with this. The first is that “doing your best” is very much like “trying” in that becomes a way of pre-excusing your failure. It’s feel-good bullshit meant to minimize the fact that you didn’t accomplish something. Except the last thing you want to do is to minimize failure. If you’re going to get better at anything, then you have to be comfortable with the fact that you’re going to fail. Sometimes you’re going to fail a lot… and that’s OK. Failure is how you learn. When you insist that you “did your best”, then what you’re actually doing is saying that it is literally impossible for you to accomplish whatever you were attempting because you tried “your best” and you don’t measure up… which is a bullshit attitude to bring to anything. It denies that you have the ability to change, to grow and improve. It means that if you don’t achieve it the first time, you may as well quit because that was “your best”.
The second is that “doing your best” usually means throwing your all into something… which is actually the worst idea when it comes to improvement. We tend to believe that making improvements in our lives means making a huge leap or engaging in a monumental undertaking. As a result, we go full-tilt boogey at everything. The guy who wants to get fit goes the gym seven days a week. The guy who’s trying to improve his dating life goes out every night of the week. The guy who’s trying to quit smoking goes cold-turkey.
And then you hit the first speed-bump and it all goes to shit. Suddenly all that energy and willpower you were devoting to your task is gone and you feel lower than a snake’s ass in a wagon rut. You’re a failure. You’re worthless. You never should’ve tried to do this in the first place. It’s impossible.
After all… you did your best.
As I mentioned earlier: willpower is a finite resource, and if you want to strengthen it, you have to utilize it wisely. Instead of utilizing it all at once in one big burst, you want to parcel it out, through careful management. For example: if you’re trying to get in shape, hitting the gym seven days a week is the worst thing you can do; not only are you risking overtraining, but you’re never going to be able to keep up the schedule. Starting small – going three times a week, for example, or having a series of short, targeted workouts, is not only more manageable, but easier to maintain in the long run. It gives you a base to build from, allowing you to work up to your goals. The more you’re able to stick with it, the more you’re able to add to it.
Throwing everything at one goal doesn’t allow you for any flexibility for adapting as circumstances change. For example: somebody who’s trying to eat healthier will screw up and have that extra slice of pizza; all too often, they will throw their hands up and say “fuck it, my diet’s ruined” and proceed to gorge themselves. As a result: they have to start all over again, forcing themselves back into the healthy eating regimen they were trying to build beforehand… only now with the added bonus of feeling like a failure in the process.
Change takes time and patience. Trying to rush the process only ends up sabotaging it. Don’t “do your best”. Just do.
Make Negativity Work For You
Our brains are dicks. Dicks who want to fuck you over. Your brain doesn’t want you to improve because – even when you’re miserable – it’s still more comfortable than actually changing. Change takes time. Change takes effort. And your brain is comfortable where it is.
One of the most common ways that our brains will sabotage our progress is to flood us with negativity. You’ll imagine all the worst-case scenarios about how whatever you’re doing is just going to leave you worse off than you were before. You’ll actively look for proof that you’re not improving and that it’s actually impossible for you to change because reasons. And because we have an inherent negativity bias, you’ll believe it regardless of how well you’re actually doing.
These negative downward spirals are incredibly difficult to break out of. They make us feel hopeless and lost, powerless to change or improve our lives, no matter how badly we wish we could. All it does is serve to reinforce the belief that we’re absolutely fucked, and the only thing you can do is just learn to accept the inevitable and pray that some enterprising nerd makes a holodeck suite a reality.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. The trick is to understand how to break out of the spiral. Just focusing on the positive isn’t going to work; it takes five times as much positive feeling to overcome negative ones. Instead, what you need to do is take control by reframing the context. When you’re in one of those negative spirals, then you have to ask yourself: “Is this helping me fix things?” Are you actually working on a solution when you’re enduring those mental shit-storms? No? Then take control by actually making a plan as to how you’re going to make things better. You need to remind yourself that you have the power to improve, even if it’s in the smallest way. Just doing a little bit better tomorrow is a positive change. Yeah, it’s a small thing… and that’s the point. The tiniest victory is proof that things aren’t as impossible as they seem. And small victories have a cumulative effect. Just being able to bring yourself to meet a woman’s eyes and smile may seem inconsequential, but it can be the pebble that starts the avalanche that brings down the mountain.
Stop Assuming You’re A Mind Reader
One of the biggest stumbling blocks when it comes to getting better with people in general, but with women especially, is to stop assuming that you can read them like a book.
Too many guys – especially ones who have dealt with rejection before – believe that they’ve become hot-shit profilers, able to to piece together everything about the people around us. To these guys, those people are like an open book; they know exactly how those women feel, what they’re looking for in men and why they’re going to reject the poor bastards; women are hypergamous, alpha-seeking bitches, after all. And the guys they sleep with… those guys are alpha male fuckheads who’ll only treat them like shit. Too bad those women couldn’t see the poor, put upon nerd and recognize his hidden depths…
It’s something I’ve seen over and over again: guys who’ve convinced themselves that they know far more about women – either individually or as a gender – then women could possibly know about guys. Geeks who know far more about jocks than jocks know about geeks. Betas and alphas. Incels and everyone else. PUAs and AFCs1. I fall victim to this far more often than I’d like.
Thing is: they’re thinking the exact same thing about you.
Other thing is: you’re both wrong.
This is a trait known as the illusion of asymmetric insight and it’s a cognitive bias that causes us to believe that we know everything about others… but there’s simply no way that they could know just as much about us. We are keen, eagle-eyed observers of the TRVTH. We see past all the illusions and the bullshit, took the Red Pill and see the world as it really is and everyone else doesn’t.
And it’s bullshit. It’s a way of dividing the world into “us” and “them”, and believing that there’s something special about us that other people simply cannot penetrate to our inner cores or see past the masks we put on every day. It helps us maintain the illusions and confirmation biases we use to avoid confronting our beliefs, especially when those beliefs don’t correspond with reality. It’s what makes us believe that we’re seeing the whole person when we’re only seeing the highlight reel. It’s what makes us think that women are a monolithic hive-mind who only date the überest of the übermesch, that they couldn’t possibly see how special and wonderful we are inside because we are just that inscrutable, but if they could then they would realize that we are the ones they really want.
You want to see past the illusion, be able to read The Matrix, see people as they really are?
Then you have to be willing to admit that you aren’t. That you could be – and frequently are wrong. That people – individually and collectively – are far more complex and varied than you could believe and that what you see is rarely what you get. You see the surface, just like they do.
Realize that you don’t know what you think you know. Stop treating others as The Other.
You’ll be amazed at how much better you get at dealing with people, how much more you’ll like them – and they’ll like you – once you stop assuming you know everything about them.
- Average Frustrated Chumps – i.e. everyone who’s not a PUA [↩]