THERE’S A PARADOX in self-improvement and it goes like this:
You want to improve yourself because you are aware of you flaws and you want to move beyond them. However just as you desire to move beyond your flaws, your conscience makes you painfully aware of when they’re flaring up or exposed, and this drives you to seek an escape. Maybe it’s alcohol; maybe it’s escapism – whatever. You find an escape, and usually, you take it. But this escape, rather than propelling you towards moving beyond your flaws, more often than not keeps you under their influence. Which, because your conscience is always switched on, you feel, and because you feel, you seek another escape.
And so the cycle goes, and so on the stagnation continues.
Instead of improving, you, uh, de-prove.
The rule is a simple one: you cannot escape your conscience. The more your try, the more painful it will become.
So where does that leave you?
You either stay trapped in patterns of self-avoidance, or you do something to alter the cycle. Given you’re here reading some bozo’s self-improvement blog, I’d wager that you’re interested in some kind of answer.
The answer would seem to be, don’t try to escape. But like most things in life, instead of being simple, it’s actually kind of complex and involves confronting yourself, your shame, and your ugly motivations. And because that’s as fun as it sounds, I have a special system for helping you do it.
I call it ‘the three rules.’ Yeah, I couldn’t think of a special name.
To understand these rules, you just have to understand that when it comes to self-improvement, self-knowledge is the cheat codes that will skyrocket your success. So let’s start…
RULE ONE – YOUR MOTIVATIONS ARE FULL OF SHIT
First, you must understand your flaws. Do you feel shame about your self-worth? Are you insecure? Are you overcompensating? What behaviors of yours are real, and what are false?
The key here is to question what you do and develop an understanding of what motivates you. Do you live a promiscuous life as a result of your lifestyle, opportunities, and high sex drive, or do you pursue one because you believe you have to prove to yourself and others that you can do this? That you aren’t the guy you used to be? And if so, do you want to prove that because deep down you want to prove to yourself that you’re not worthless? (Note: it doesn’t work).
Do you feel you have to lead in your relationship because of some innate understanding of male / female dynamics, or do you feel you have to lead because otherwise you’re inherently unattractive, and you’re afraid you’ll come home to Alexandro the Tennis Coach giving a more thorough private tuition than you’d hoped? And do you fear being inherently unattractive, because you, in fact, believe you already are and are desperate to your partner from realizing this?
Do you feel you have to socially charismatic because of an understanding of influence and how to present your personality well? Or do you feel you have to be charismatic because you’re vain, and desperately don’t want to be made fun of because deep down, you think you’re a loser?
It could be anything. The main thing is that you dig and you dig and you dig until you uncover the root. You uncover the motivations behind your behavior so that you can then understand why you act the way you act and more importantly, how your flaws make you vulnerable, and how they influence you when you feel vulnerable.
RULE TWO – THE ESCAPE IS THE ENEMY
Second, you must understand how they motivate your escapes. When I started to trying to improve my dating life, I would go out to clubs on my own and hit on girls. I would do this sober, and after a while, I started to see success. I did this because of the belief that the reason I struggled with girls was because of my neediness and resulting anxiety, and that I had to confront these symptoms head on and learn to manage them if I was to have any chance of uh… beating my demon. Yeah, that’s a lame way to say it but that’s how it felt. What happened was that I slowly learned to manage my anxiety and my neediness began to fall away (but also manifest elsewhere), and I began to enjoy having a decent, well above average sex life. Sounds pretty good right?
Because as I started getting results, I started getting complacent. And because I got complacent, I started seeking quicker fixes to the nights where I wasn’t quite ‘on it’. Y’know, the nights where I felt like the old me; the ‘loser’. The nights where my anxiety was spiking, and instead of talking and feeling, I was motionless and in my head.
Well luckily, I found the quick fix – Drugs and alcohol, and lots of it.
This was nothing new. I’d felt something I didn’t want to feel, so instead of doing what I did before, and confront it head on, I took a quicker solution, one that promised to get rid of that feeling I didn’t want to feel. The one that promised to shut my conscience up.
I’d been doing this for years in fact. When I was younger, never had a girlfriend, and obsessed with playing video games. Anytime I would reflect on the actual reality of my life, and my conscience would tell me it was dissatisfied, and that I wanted more from myself, and in fact, I should achieve more because I was capable of it – I would instead indulge in escapism. Often video games, often mindless power fantasies (Batman was (is) always a favorite) – the escapism served to offer a feel good escape from reality, one where I had everything I lacked. I would even couple this with music that would feed into the fantasy and nourish the associated mood. And yeah, as you can imagine, this way of living sucked a load of ass.
Because here’s the thing – the desire to escape isn’t always overtly self-destructive, but it’s often an addictive use of time. It can be working out, socializing, anything. The key is the motivation, not the action. Unless you’re shooting heroin, then, well, stop?
But my desire to escape from myself isn’t unique. People try to drink their anxiety away all the time. Smokers are no different. Television is binged watched the point where scientists believe people develop relationships with the characters, and people are so dissatisfied with the silence of their own minds that they blast an almost constant stream of audio and video media directly into it.
If the first rule asks us why we are flawed, this rule asks us how we escape. Because it is in these escapes that we hinder ourselves from ever moving beyond on flaws, and often, force us into self-destructive habits, like substance abuse or binge watching garbage that turns your brain into mashed potato.
When you’re mindful of why you feel your flaws, and how they are triggered (almost always by other people), you can begin to become aware of how it is that you are seeking to escape from them. And once we’ve spotted our escapes, then we can begin to start making better choices.
RULE THREE – MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE
The third rule is this – don’t avoid your conscience, listen to it instead. When you’ve begun to excessively drink, ask yourself why? If you’re 8 hours into a Netflix marathon, ask yourself why? If you’re beating off to pornos that look like your ex-girlfriend, ask yourself why?
Is it because you genuinely want to, or is it because you’re avoiding something. The fact you find approaching scary, the fact you have work to do that’s really important, or the fact that you’re still the same guy who lost her. It could be anything. But the main thing is that you spot, you decide whether it’s an escape or not, and if it is, you shut it down, and listen to your conscience.
Scared to approach? Put the drink down, sack up and approach.
Avoiding the work you have to do? Switch off the latest Game of Thrones beheading, and do your work.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a prophecy about me, and I was a badass warrior who got loads of pussy and I had a fuckin badass dragon and…. yeah, don’t hurt your wrist pal.
Jerking off to porn and thinking about the girl who got away? Close down the Nutella cunnilingus marathon and start taking steps to becoming a better man who’s got a new girl who he can make his own Nutella cunnilingus marathons with.
Or more simply, stop letting yourself stagnate, and start doing something. Right now.
CHOOSING TO CHANGE
NLP and neuroplasticity hinge on the idea that you spot your behaviors, and you rewire new, more desirable behaviors. This article is about becoming aware of your shitty self-sabotaging behaviors and rewiring new ones instead.
At a basic level, it’s a choice. Once you’re aware, you either do it or don’t. You either rewire new behaviors or reinforce old ones.
Escapes are about relying on something other than yourself. They’re about shirking the responsibility you have for your own life.
And more often than not, they’re about letting your flaws destroy you, and your potential sail away.
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