Right now, we are living through the most stressful, even outright traumatic year that most of have ever faced in our lives. Even if you’re in a relatively good place, we’re all getting hit with bad news, more stories of police violence, political corruption, the continuing pandemic, even potential fallout from the election. It can be incredibly hard to have a positive attitude and solid confidence. It can be hard not to look around and say “how am I supposed to have the strength to keep going?”
But you need that emotional strength, powerful confidence and positive attitude more than ever. And the first step is to recognize the things that are stealing your happiness and sabotaging your life and learn how to build the emotional strength it takes to persevere, that appealing confidence and the positive attitude that can help build strong relationships and help you face and overcome the challenges in your life that seem impossible.
- Why one simple word can ruin your self-confidence
- How we convince ourselves that we’re powerless… when we’re not
- The mistake we make that makes us miserable… no matter what we do
- How we talk ourselves out of success
- Why your rivals can be your greatest allies
… and so much more.
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One of the things we talk about in these episodes is how much your attitude and your outlook control your social success. These tie directly into things like your confidence, your ability to attract incredible women, to form those strong connections that lead to relationships, even help you face and overcome the challenges in your life that can seem impossible.
But to be honest, there are times when it can can be incredibly difficult to have a positive attitude and solid confidence. Let’s be honest gentlemen, this has been the most stressful, even outright traumatic year that most of have ever faced in our lives. Even if you’re in a relatively good place, we’re all getting hit with bad news, more stories of police violence, political corruption, the continuing pandemic, even potential fallout from the election.
And even if we filter all of that out — we can’t, really, but let’s pretend — it can be hard not to look around at your life and say “wait, how the fuck am I supposed to have or keep a positive outlook with all THIS shit going on?”
Which is actually the problem. One of the things that’s holding you back is how often you’re sabotaging your own happiness and emotional strength.
So let’s talk about how you can eliminate the things that are stealing your happiness and sabotaging your life.
Tip #1: Eliminate “Should” From Your Vocabulary
First and foremost: one of the easiest ways to be happier — almost instantly — is to eliminate the idea of “should” from your life.
Now this may sound a little strange, but it stems from a very simple truth: what we believe is what dictates how we feel. It’s not the events that bother us so much as what we believe about them.
Which is why the phrase “should” is incredibly toxic to your happiness and emotional strength. “Should” is an example of a belief; one that directly affects how you feel.
The reason why this can cause people to despair is because they believe that life is a scientific formula. They believe that there’s a universal path and standard that everyone is supposed to follow; if you don’t follow this specific routine and hit these EXACT benchmarks at specific times, then you’re a failure.
This is can be especially insidious because it’s very easy to look at other people and think that “THEY” have done this thing by now and therefore YOU should have done so as well.
But there’s a reason why Teddy Roosevelt famously said that “comparison is the thief of joy”.
The problem with this outlook is that you believe that life is a computer program; feed in these exact inputs, get those exact results. Except not only does life not WORK this way, but you’re not even working with the same inputs in the first place. You can look at somebody else’s success — in business or in relationships — and think that you “should” be able to accomplish that too. But what you’re seeing is a VERY limited picture; you’re only seeing the end results. You’re making value judgements based off incomplete information. At best, you’re taking what you can see and extrapolating it… but even that is faulty under the best of circumstances. You’re making yourself upset because of what you BELIEVE, not what is actually there.
You’re comparing their highlight reel against your unedited footage and thinking that this means you’re a failure. And you’re not. You can’t be them, and you can’t have the exact results THEY have because you’re not THEM.
It’s like this scene from The Social Network: if you were the inventors of facebook, you would’ve invented facebook. The reason why you aren’t having THAT person’s success isn’t because you’ve failed or because you’re weak or a loser, it’s because YOU”RE NOT THEM. You didn’t live their EXACT lives and do the EXACT same things things they did EXACTLY when they did them. Even if you were to start right now and somehow try to recreate the exact steps that got, say, Hugh Hefner where he was, it wouldn’t work because you’re not him. You’re not living his exact life.
This is why “should” robs you of your happiness. It implies that there’s a pattern and a plan and that everyone lives the same lives and has the same things happen to them. And they don’t. Nobody can live your life, just as you can’t live mine.
Everyone has their own circumstances that they have no control over, including cultural influences, familial upbringing, even where and when they were born. All of these affect who you are and the journey you’re on. That’s why “should” makes you miserable; it implies that there is one standard path that everyone is expected to follow. And there isn’t. There is only YOUR path.
This is why “should” needs to be eliminated from your vocabulary. Instead of looking at others and saying this is what you “should” be able to do, or where you “should” be, focus instead on where you are NOW. You are where you are NOW and there is no value judgement there. It just IS. Accepting this means being compassionate and understanding with yourself. Because here’s the thing gentlemen: you can’t shame yourself into being stronger or better.
Loving and accepting yourself is how you build the emotional strength it takes to improve.
Tip #2: Focus on What You Actually Control
But this actually ties into another thing that robs you of your happiness and leaves you feeling miserable and helpless. It’s a very simple truth:
Much of our lives are out of our control. You can’t control that other choices people make. You can’t control how they feel, or what they decide to do with those feelings. You also can’t control the randomness of the world that affects your life. You may meet the most amazing woman ever, but you or she may not be in a position to date because of other things going on.
The problem is that we never got the message that we’re not in control of EVERYTHING in our lives and so we get frustrated. We are upset and angry that things didn’t work out the way we wanted, even though they didn’t work because of things that were outside of our control.
This is precisely one of the times when your belief is what’s causing you to be upset, rather than the action; you believe you should have more control or influence over an outcome than you actually have. So we’re ultimately getting pissed off because… well, because we’re not God or Dr. Manhattan. And so we rob ourselves of our own happiness and our peace because we’re not omnipotent.
A great example of this can be found in the History channel show Forged In Fire. While there are certainly plenty of times when blade smiths fail because of their own actions, there are also just as many times when their success or failure depends on things that they couldn’t account for or even factor in. Flaws in their forging or metal — ones that were literally undetectable — can cause blades to snap. Quenching the blades can cause warps or bends. Even the most experienced and prepared smiths still have to face outcomes that they can’t control for.
So what do you do instead? You focus on what you actually have influence over instead: yourself. You can control your responses, your thoughts and your beliefs. Your beliefs, your outlook and expectations, after all, control how you feel.
One of the ways that you can stop sabotaging your own success is to challenge and assert your control over your self-limiting beliefs — those beliefs that say you fail because you’re a loser, because you’re too short/fat/bald/skinny/what-have-you to find love. We touched on this in my episode about what you need to get better at dating — go check it out, there’s a link in the show notes — but literally challenging and disproving those negative beliefs breaks the cycle that makes you miserable.
Not only do you need to test and challenge them, but it’s also incredibly helpful to literally write out evidence about how those beliefs are wrong. And when I say write it out, I mean write it out by hand; this activates a different part of your brain than typing and helps you access deeper and more meaningful information.
And yes, I know there’s at least a few of you about to hit the comments to insist that you have no evidence to the contrary. First of all: I don’t believe you.
But just as importantly is to recognize that while you may not be able to control OUTCOMES, that doesn’t mean you can’t control the process.
When I would go out to practice socializing and approaching women, the nights I learned the most and improved the fastest were the nights that I focused on the PROCESS, not the results. When I when I wasn’t basing my night or my self-worth on the outcome, I was able look at what I was doing, recognize my mistakes, see what I did right and figure out how to do things better.
Plus: I had way more fun.
But just as importantly it taught me another important lesson:
Tip #3: Prioritize Action
One of the primary reasons why people feel helpless and sabotage their own confidence and emotional strength is because they feel COMPLETELY that they have no actual control in their lives.
But when you dig into things, the issue often isn’t a lack of control, it’s a lack of ACTION. It’s easy to decide that things are hopeless and just throw your hands up. But more often than not, it’s not that you CAN’T do ANYTHING, it’s that you’ve already decided that it wouldn’t work… and so you CHOOSE not to do something.
To build that confidence, you need to prioritize taking action — no matter how small. The more you sit around doing nothing, the more you emphasize that feeling that you’re helpeless and powerless. That “CAN’T” is more often a “WON’T”, just dressed up with excuses and rationalizations.
Go start a conversation with that person.
No, I can’t.
She won’t like me. I’m not 6’2.
Did she tell you that? No? Then you don’t know. You’re using assumptions to give you an excuse to not do something.
One of the most important things you can do when you’re building your confidence and strength is to pay attention to your self-talk. Why are you choosing not to do something? Most of the time, you’re looking for excuses… or easy answers. Sometimes you look for answers that just reinforce your pre-existing, self-limiting beliefs. Other times, you’re looking for someone ELSE to do the work for you.
The most obvious example is waiting for the PERFECT moment to talk to that sexy somebody you had your eye on. Or wanting to make sure you are 100% certain that they’ll say “yes” if you ask them out.
But this is almost always just a reaction to fear; you’re trying to avoid the fear of rejection rather than risk putting yourself out there. But it means that you’ll be waiting for a long time… and the longer you wait, the harder it is to get started. And then before long… you’ve wasted the entire night and now you’re ready to go home, feeling lower than a snake’s ass in a drainage ditch.
Not that I’ve ever had nights like that before.
Prioritizing action also means responding to difficulties and problems, rather than surrendering. Again, in Forged in Fire, what often makes the difference between someone who moves on to the next round and someone who gets asked to leave the Forge is how they respond to adversity. The people who do best are the ones who don’t stand around lamenting their bad luck; they assess the situation and look for ways to either fix things, work around it, or even start over, rather than giving up and giving in.
Prioritizing action makes you more dynamic. It means that you feel more in control; even if you don’t succeed the way you hoped, at least you took charge instead of surrendering to despair.
But it means that you have to be willing to initiate, to not take the easy way out and not to just give up the first second things seem difficult. When you prioritize action, you need to be willing to work around complications and difficulties. If X didn’t work, then how about trying Y instead? If this person wasn’t into you or things aren’t working on this app, try a different approach…
Or for that matter, change the question. Kirk didn’t beat the Kobiyashi Maru by playing it straight; he changed the terms of engagement. This is why sometimes the answer is to find another way, instead of declaring that it’s impossible.
You won’t always succeed, because, like i said: the outcome is dependent on things that you can’t control. But taking action means you’re moving forward, growing and improving. And that gives you the strength, confidence and sense of agency that you need in order to move forward.
TIP #4: Celebrate Success
And that’s something you need to celebrate. It’s all too easy to miss your own progress or diminish your own successes. It’s much easier to focus on your failures; after all, we DO have that inherent negativity bias. But when you focus on the negative, not only do you sap your own strength and confidence, but you make one of the biggest mistakes I see people make ALL THE TIME.
You don’t take responsibility for the things that you do RIGHT.
You dismiss your success or your improvement as luck or meaningless or unimportant. And when you do that, you are ignoring ALL the hard work you did to get here, all the things that you had to overcome to make it even this far.
Now I know you’re saying “But you just said outcomes are out of your control.” And they are. But through action, through preparation and through belief, you put yourself in the position to maximize your chances of success.
Think of blackjack. There’s always going to be random chance involved; you can’t control that. But by playing correctly and utilizing every advantage you have, you can tilt the odds in you direction and put yourself in the position of winning… even when it looked like you were about to fail.
By celebrating your successes, no matter how small, you’re reaffirming your own agency and your own ability to improve. You’re keeping your attention on your progress, not your failures. And your progress is far, far more important.
By celebrating those successes, you see how far you’ve come and how much you’ve accomplished and how much you’re actually capable of.
And yeah, sometimes those successes are small. Sometimes that progress seems pretty minimal. Doesn’t matter. It’s still progress, it’s still worth celebrating. Small successes and wins are still successes and wins. Even a pebble can start an avalanche. One snowflake on its own seems insignificant… but put enough of them together and you have a blizzard.
Each success builds on the last, and each one is proof that you have agency and control over YOUR life. It’s a reminder that your setbacks are temporary and you can overcome them if you don’t just give up or assume that it can’t be done.
And — as I said before — when you celebrate your success, you leverage your confirmation bias in your favor. The more you look at those successes, the more success you’ll see… because you’re LOOKING for it.
But there’s one more thing you need to keep in mind to build your confidence, your emotional strength and be happier over all.
Tip #5 Learn To Be Happy For Others
Remember when I said that comparison is the thief of joy? That’s because many times, when you compare yourself to others, you are doing so under the assumption that their success takes away from YOU.
What other people accomplish doesn’t take away from your own opportunity, except in your own mind. Success is not a zero-sum game unless you allow it to be. Somebody else’s accomplishments doesn’t come at your expense.
And yes, this includes people and dating. Yes, someone being into or dating somebody else instead of you means THAT person isn’t available…
but it’s a reminder that focusing on ONE person is narrowing your field so far that you’ve tied your happiness to ONE SINGLE person. Someone else’s success there doesn’t mean that you are doomed to be single; it means that things didn’t work out in THIS instance, not that they will NEVER work out.
By learning to be happy for others, you change your outlook on life. Instead of seeing it as being success that was taken from you, you can choose to see it as “If they can do it, so can I” or to look at them and let THEIR success push you to try harder and accomplish more. It’s the difference between inspiration vs. competition. Motivation vs. demoralization.
And just as importantly, it encourages you to think more broadly, to expand your horizons and to look at things differently. Sometimes the difference between success and failure is recognizing that you’re playing the wrong game and it’s time to do things differently. And you can’t do that when you’re so focused on bitterness and resentment. You rob yourself of the strength and resilience that it takes to succeed and to persevere.
And worse: a lot of times, you’re robbing yourself of potential friends and allies. Sometimes your so-called competition is the best resource you could find… if you don’t poison that well with your bitterness and hate. Some of the guys I’ve “competed” against turned out to be pretty awesome… and when we actually stopped trying to compare dicks, we realized we both had a lot to offer each other as friends.
In fact, even if we DO look at areas where success is demonstrably a zero-sum game, we see how much being happy for other people can build your confidence and emotional strength. Once again, if we look at Forged in Fire, then one of the most significant things we see is how much the contestants cheer each other on, even help each other out, even though they’re all competing for the same prize and a limited number of spots in the next round. In fact, we even watch lifelong friendships bloom between bladesmiths, even as they’re trying to out-compete one another.
The people who lose may not get the title or the prize money, but they’re the ones walking away with their heads held high, saying “ok, that was an incredible moment and I’m going to take this and do better”.
But most importantly: being happy for other people makes other people like YOU. The truth is that negative and bitter people are unpleasant to be around under the best of circumstances. They suck the energy out of the room and leave the people around them feeling drained and unhappy. People who are able to take happiness in the successes of others, on the other hand, are better liked and have larger and stronger social circles. People feel GOOD around them, want to spend more time with them and forge stronger bonds, leading to tighter friendships, more social support and more opportunities to meet new and amazing people. And those stronger support networks serve to help strengthen their confidence, as well as give them people to turn to in times of trouble.
It can be hard to feel positive or to not look at challenges and feel overwhelmed. But if you want to build that rock-hard confidence that women find so attractive, increase your emotional strength so that you’re ready to face any challenge and build connections that will lead to life-long friendships and relationships… then the first thing you need to do is to stop sabotaging your own incredible potential.