This article is the third part of a 3-part series. Part 1 discussed why a man’s purposes are the most important things in his life and why they also bring him the most pleasure. Part 1 also discussed how a man’s confidence pushes him towards his purposes and anxiety pushes him away from his purposes. Part 2 will discuss how a woman’s attraction to a man is centered on his purposes, which in turn create his emotional experience and his reality. Part 3 will discuss how a man can manage his ego to maximize the pleasure he receives from pursuing his purposes and minimize his anxiety.
Managing your Ego
I do not think it is possible to “kill” your ego, nor do I think you should. You need your ego to navigate the world, to know what to focus on and what to ignore, to know what to do and what not to do, to differentiate between bullshit and truth, and to avoid threats. The goal is not to “kill” your ego, but rather to manage it and “fix it” when it is wrong.
The most important thing to realize about your ego, which literally means “I” in Latin, is that your ego is not “you.” You are a real, material, living thing with objective characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses, but you also have the ability to make conscious and rational decisions based on new information, which means you are (almost) infinitely malleable and have (almost) infinite potential. Your ego, however, can only characterize you in terms of your limitations, so when it presents your characteristics to your consciousness it usually leaves out the infinite potential that you possess.
Because there is no way to know how much potential any particular person has, many cultures have identified the “essence” of a person with their “soul,” a transcendent, divine “thing” that is indestructible, connected directly to God, and has infinite potential. I am not a fan of religion, and I hate to inject religious language into my articles, but I cannot think of a better concept to characterize the true essence of “you” than your soul because your soul is separate from and higher than your physical characteristics, your belongings, your emotions, your internal maps, and even your thoughts. One way to characterize your essence is your ability to make conscious, rational decisions, but as we will learn, your “rational” thinking ability is often hijacked and tricked by your emotions, so even your “rational” thoughts can be tainted by ego. It’s not clear what your soul even is, but it is something completely separate from anything limited, finite, or material. You don’t have to believe in a soul if you don’t want, but you should extract the important lesson that you should view “you” as separate from your thoughts, emotions, and internal maps, and that “you” are infinitely malleable and have infinite potential.
Human beings and other primates evolved to feel shitty when they get rejected from the tribe, so when your girlfriend dumps you, “you” feel shitty. That shitty feeling can evolve into long-term and chronic depression, anxiety, feelings of inferiority, self-hatred, laziness, listlessness, paranoia, and other self-defeating feelings. But your girlfriend did not dump “you,” she dumped your outward manifestation – your outward appearance, your emotions, your thoughts, your actions, etc… But because “you” have an infinite capability to evolve and improve, you can change your outward manifestation relatively easy and become a completely different thing than the thing she dumped. Paradoxically, the only thing stopping you from “fixing” your outward manifestation are those very self-defeating feelings that come about as a result of being rejected.
You should think of your soul as infinitely powerful. Your outward manifestation is limited – you may not be able to ever become 6 feet tall or look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but you can make major changes to your outward manifestations. There are many ways to skin a cat, so instead of becoming depressed that you were born a short Asian, you can use the infinite power of your soul to make yourself powerful in other ways.
You may say “sorry, but I’m a scientific rationalist and materialist and I don’t believe in a soul. I think humans are limited and finite.” If you want to think that way, go ahead, but you may get end up getting your ass kicked by somebody who does believe in an infinitely powerful soul, because that person may end up seeing a path to victory when you see none. The reality is that nobody knows exactly what their limitations are and how the world can constrain them, so it is better to assume there are no limitations than to assume limitations exist when none actually do.
Your ego is an attempt by your subconscious mind to create a model of your outward manifestation so you can navigate the world, but as we will learn in this article, this model is often inaccurate in important ways and skews overly negative. More importantly, there is much our subconscious mind does not know about the world or how the future will unfold, so our ego is often overly narrow minded and pessimistic. Your ego is a useful tool that “you” can use to accomplish your goals, and you should ultimately try to mold your ego as much as possible to tackle the world with hope, positivity, and optimism, but you should be constantly careful to realize that your feelings, beliefs, and even your thoughts may not be accurate representations of the world. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus famously said that most people live in a fantasy world built by their own mind. Your goal should be to make your internal map as accurate as possible, but one of the hardest things a human can do is to tell the voice in their head that it is wrong.
To manage your ego, you must do the following things:
1) Keep your “soul” in charge and use your rational thinking ability, to the extent it is working, to fix and manage your ego.
2) Adopt a new set of beliefs about the world that will cause your rational and subconscious minds to work together to build a more positive map of the world.
3) Constantly test your own boundaries using exposure therapy and prove to your subconscious mind that the threats its perceives are not as bad as it thinks.
4) “Trick” your subconscious mind into becoming more positive by showing it positive images.
5) Engage in activities that flush out your negative emotions, like lifting, art, meditation, etc….
What is your Ego?
Your “ego” is your subconscious internal map of the world and your subconscious internal map of yourself. Those two maps correspond – your subconscious builds your internal map of yourself based on what it thinks the outside world is. Humans evolved to build these maps to keep us safe from threats and to guide us towards pleasurable things. If we see in our internal map a clear path to a pleasurable thing we feel confident and motivated to energetically pursue that thing. If we see a path to something we want blocked by threats, we become anxious about that path and look for alternative paths.
Our subconscious internal maps seek to guide us towards many things, including food, shelter, warmth, sex, affection, relationships, etc… But the two most important pleasures for human beings are 1) feeling accepted by the tribe, and 2) feeling like you have contributed to the tribe. Depression is a failure of #1 and anxiety is a failure of #2. To feel like you have contributed to the tribe, you pursue some grand purpose with the feeling that you will certainly defeat any challenges on the way to that purpose (confidence). I call this pleasure journey pleasure, and journey pleasure is strongest when you feel you have 1) ventured into the unknown to pursue desirable resources, 2) defeated threats and challenges blocking your way to those resources, and 3) returned those resources to the tribe to distribute to the members of the community.
Much of our “ego” is centered around accomplishing, or at least feeling like we are accomplishing, these two goals, acceptance and goal-conquering. These desires are never satisfied: to stay alive we need to stay in good standing in the tribe, so we constantly need to feel accepted and like we are contributing. To contribute, we need to feel like we are making progress towards obtaining some desirable resource, and to feel like we are making progress towards a desirable resource, our subconscious needs to feel like there is a clear path through our map of the world to get that thing. We therefore rely on our maps to feel positive emotions, and when our maps are destroyed, we are plunged into anxiety and depression.
Human beings evolved to adapt to and accommodate their environment, so our ego is an internal “character” our subconscious mind builds that it thinks will best contend with the world as it perceives it. And of course, most of our psychological issues are the result of inaccurate internal maps. For example, people who are overly anxious or timid overestimate the threats in the world and underestimate their own ability to defeat those threats. People who arrogant underestimate the challenges of the world and overestimate their own abilities. People who are narcissistic are insecure and subconsciously believe that they are constantly on the verge of being rejected by the tribe so they must constantly “fight” to remain in good standing. People who are depressed view themselves as being rejected by the tribe or at the very bottom, with no hope or way to rise through the ranks. Etc…
To put it another way, our ego is the outcome of your assumptions about the world. I ASSUME the world is a place where only assholes can succeed, THEREFORE my subconscious pushes me to become an asshole. I ASSUME that I am at the bottom of the tribal dominance hierarchy and cannot move up, THEREFORE my subconscious characterizes me as a sad bitch that needs handouts from people who are higher than me. These are strongly anchored by our emotions, so our “rational” mind may even realize that these assumptions (and their accompanying emotions) are wrong, but nevertheless we “feel” they are true, so we internalize them and build our ego around them.
Imagine you are an Asian guy and you think (or more importantly, feel) that white women don’t like Asian guys. Your subconscious mind may adjust your internal map and ego to reflect this belief. You now see yourself as a “thing” that white women will never like, and you adjust your behavior accordingly. You may seek to avoid approaching white women to avoid humiliation and rejection. You may see white women as somehow “superior” to you and therefore subconsciously or consciously supplicate to them or debase yourself around them. Worst of all, once you have accepted this barrier in your life, your ego will start wondering what other shit you cannot do.
As you will learn, most of the inaccuracies of our map and our concomitant psychological pathologies are the result of an overly negative and fearful view of the world. One of the hardest things about becoming psychologically healthy is building an accurate, or at least less inaccurate, map of the world.
Managing your Desire
One way your ego can create a counterproductive internal map is by populating your internal map by false pleasures. Our fundamental motivation comes from our goals, conscious or subconscious, so if our goals are wrong we can be lead into ruin. Humans develop counterproductive goals for two reasons: 1) we fundamentally misunderstand our desire for acceptance and 2) we are too afraid to pursue our productive goals.
One of our strongest emotions is our desire for acceptance, and that desire becomes the basis for many of our other stupid desires. For example, people that are obsessed with money, status, and appearance are actually yearning for acceptance, and they subconsciously feel that if they do not have money, status, and appearance they will be “rejected” from the tribe. It does not help that many people actually will basis their acceptance of you on how much money, status, and appearance you have.
As I stated in Part 2 of this Series, insecurity is the feeling that you may be rejected from the tribe, and is the primary thing that motivates you to desire things that are not actually necessary for your well-being. Of course, there is nothing wrong with having money, status, or appearance, but you should pursue them for rational reasons, not to impress some hypothetical “tribe” that only exists in your head. People “buy things they can’t afford to impress people they don’t like” because they subconsciously see those people they don’t like as being in their tribe. People often radically change when they change “tribes” (for example, when they graduate high school) because the criteria for being “cool” has now completely changed.
Insecurity also drives drives douchey, conformist, and submissive behavior. Because insecure people will do anything they think they need to be accepted, they become extremely vulnerable to manipulation. Political parties, corporate marketing, cult leaders, and psychopathic people all take advantage of people by playing on their insecurities.
To make matters worse, humans evolved to feel like there is only “one” tribe, which means that if an insecure person feels rejection from ANYBODY, they feel rejection from the entire tribe. This is why people’s desires are infinite. No matter how much money, status, or appearance a person has, there are always going to be people who have more than them and/or will reject them for not having enough, which means they will always want more. Insecure people and narcissists often silo themselves in groups of people they know will accept them so they never need to feel the pain of rejection, but you can never completely wall yourself off from people who do not like you.
The particular pathological things you desire are often influenced by the tribe you are trying to impress. For example, if you grow up around people obsessed with appearance, you will highly value, desire, and pursue appearance. Taken to the pathological extreme, this desire may cause you to mutilate your face with plastic surgery, spend money on clothes you can’t afford, freak out when you look bad, and waste time working on your appearance when there are better things you could be doing. This is all a subconscious process: you don’t consciously think to yourself “I overly value appearance because I was raised around people who based their acceptance on appearance.” Instead, you just think “I like looking good” or you may have no conscious thought at all.
Interestingly, once you have internalized these desires in your subconscious, they will become a part of your internal map once the tribe is gone, which means you will still desire these things even if they no longer bring acceptance. If somebody sees their value to the tribe as tied up in their attractiveness, they may continue to desire being attractive even after they move somewhere everybody is ugly. Their neural networks still associate attractiveness with acceptance (and therefore pleasure), even though in their new community attractiveness is no longer required for acceptance. Women often say “I put on makeup and slutty clothes for myself, not to impress guys” and men think they are lying. But women may not necessarily be lying – in that case, their subconscious mind has associated “looking good” with acceptance, so they feel that rush of pleasure even when there are no actual guys to accept them.
The first step to removing your pathological desires is understanding that they are usually just distortions of your desire to be accepted. If your desire to be accepted has been fulfilled, then you can pursue money, status, and appearance for rational reasons, not to impress other people.
One way to fulfill your desire for acceptance is to find a good group of friends that are solid, reliable people that will not condition their acceptance of you and their friendship on stupid criteria or on you supplicating to them. But no matter how reliable your friends are, they will still occasionally let you down. Ideally, you would find some spiritual way to feel acceptance so that you do not need to rely on earthly sources of acceptance. In many religions, the idea of God helps people feel accepted, which is why religious people are often good at resisting society’s pressures.
Psychedelic drugs also induce a deep feeling of acceptance, which is why people often associate psychedelics with “ego death,” spiritual experiences, and a feeling of release from their regular stupid concerns. The neurochemical associated with the feeling of acceptance into the tribe is serotonin, and most psychedelic drugs work by flooding the brain with serotonin or serotonin agonists. Once your brain is flooded with serotonin, you feel “at one” with everything. You feel this oneness because you no longer feel like you are on the outside of the tribe and that you need to fight your way to get in. You also lose feelings of douchiness, anger, anxiety, and other defense mechanisms against rejection.
You can also develop pathological desires if your map becomes littered with threats and you feel like there is no clear path to the actual things you should be pursuing. Your highest pleasure is the feeling of pursuing desirable purposes (journey pleasure), but you will not feel journey pleasure if you feel like the paths to desirable purposes are blocked.
Problems with Ego
Our internal maps often become inaccurate because they are overly negative. Fear is our strongest motivator because for our evolutionary ancestors, encountering a threat could have meant death or permanent expulsion from the tribe. Your subconscious mind will happily give up the opportunity to get 10 “wins” in your life if it means you avoid 1 loss because in the jungle, a win was a small amount of food or sex, but a loss meant death. As you can imagine, this type of thinking is no longer relevant for most modern humans because most “threats” we fear are no longer fatal, but nevertheless our emotions are wired to see them as fatal.
Even “positive” psychological maladies like narcissism and bipolar syndrome are often caused by fear. Narcissists feel intensely insecure and desperate for acceptance so their mind creates ham-handed, weak, primitive, laughable efforts at acceptance, like “maybe if I brag about how awesome I am, people will believe me and accept me into their tribe.” In other words, a narcissist is like a crackhead trying to scheme a way to get a few dollars to get high again. Impulsivity is also often the result of feeling like you are on the verge of being kicked out of the tribe: your subconscious minds wants to consume as much resources as it gets rejected and has no access to resources. People with intense anxiety also act impulsively because their subconscious mind sees all their paths to meaningful goals (which produce dopamine) blocked with threats, so they seek dopamine from cheaper, easier sources (drugs, pornography, etc…). As we will learn, even people that are overly optimistic often operate from a place of fear – their internal maps shows them (false) easy paths to the things they want, but they are too afraid to tear down those maps and replace them with more accurate ones.
The ego is “healthiest” when it feels comfortably accepted into the tribe and making progress towards accomplishing meaningful, positive goals. People who feel comfortably accepted do not feel scarcity, and do not act impatiently, impulsively, or in ways that maximize short term pleasure at the expense of long-term gain. The ego will not feel “healthy,” however, if it feels like you are on the bottom of the dominance hierarchy, on the verge of getting kicked out of the tribe, or like all your goals are blocked by threats. So managing your ego is most often an exercise of eliminating false negativity from your map, but it sometimes requires you to add some negativity to your map once you learn of a threat you didn’t realize was there. But even our failure to accept necessary, negative truths about our reality is the result of fear. Our brain is very reluctant to change a map that it thinks will lead it to a positive outcome because it fears it will never find another map to that positive outcome. If you think that you can only be happy by dating Katie, and then you find out Katie cheated on you, your subconscious mind may try to “ignore” the fact that Katie is a schisty bitch because it thinks Katie is your only chance at happiness and if you leave her you will die alone.
To summarize: your maps could be inaccurate because they are overly positive or overly negative, but in both cases the inaccuracy is often because of fear.
Several other things cause our maps to become inaccurate:
First, the world is infinitely complex, but our subconscious mind builds our maps based on the thin slice of the world we actually experience, which means that if our experiences do not accurately represent the reality of the world, then our map will be inaccurate as well. For example, if you are an Asian guy and you have never seen an Asian guy actually succeed with a white girl, and you have only seen Asian guys get rejected by white girls, your subconscious mind will build a map where it is impossible for an Asian guy to get a white girl. Why wouldn’t it? It doesn’t know better, and logical arguments aren’t persuasive to it.
The fact that your ego builds itself based on its experiences can create a dangerous feedback loop. If you are an Asian guy who thinks that white women will never like Asian guys, you may never approach white women. But if you never approach white women, then you will be less likely to see a white woman like an Asian guy, which will in turn strengthen your internal map’s belief that white women never like Asian guys. You create your own reality with your actions, and if you act based on certain assumptions about reality, then the reality you create will reflect those assumptions. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Our internal maps also become inaccurate because our subconscious mind builds our internal maps using visceral images that provoke emotion rather than cold, rational facts. Imagine our sad Asian guy approaches three white women and gets rejected by each one, and then his subconscious mind builds a map wherein white girls never like Asian guys. Now imagine you tell our sad Asian guy “I have lots of rational, logical, empirical data that shows that white women sometimes like Asian guys.” Even if he “believes” your rational facts, his subconscious mind will still think that white women do not like Asian men because the subconscious mind was “taught” that fact by an emotionally significant experience. He will still feel anxiety when approaching white women, he will still feel like it is an impossible task, etc…
Our map-building circuits are very old from an evolutionary standpoint, much older than our rational brain, so “rational” arguments are not very persuasive to it. Plenty of people hear the “truth” but they fail to internalize and accept it because our internal maps are more respondent to emotion. And because our subconscious mind is so responsive to emotion, our internal maps are often rough drafts and lack nuance.
A major problem with our internal maps are overly negative is a lack of nuance. For example, let’s say our Asian friend approaches a white woman, but does so timidly and anxiously, and then gets rejected. The “right” lesson our friend needs to learn is “women, white or not, do not respond well to timid and anxious approaches.” However, because our subconscious lizard mind is crude and un-nuanced, the “lesson” it might learn is “white women do not respond well to approaches for Asian men” so now his map is much more negative that it needs to be. I have coached a lot of guys, and usually they do 95% of things right, but they have one or two sticking points that keep tripping them up with every woman they approach. But their subconscious mind doesn’t realize they are doing 95% of things right; the subconscious mind just sees a 100% failure rate, which makes them feel completely worthless.
Our maps are also often wrong because our subconscious mind does not like to change our maps. The world is infinitely complex, and our maps are our only source of stability and positive emotion in a sea of chaos, so our subconscious mind tries its hardest to keep our maps stable and intact. As Jordan Peterson has famously observed, the “unknown” induces anxiety in humans, and any part of the world that our subconscious mind has not created a map for is effectively “unknown.” We rely on our maps for positive emotion, because our maps tell us how to get to pleasurable things – without our maps we are adrift in a sea of terrifying unknown with no clear path to good things. Because we are so terrified of the unknown, we try to desperately build a map to figure out everything. If our map is somehow wrong we need to deconstruct that part of the map and reconstruct it to be correct, but the process of deconstruction and reconstruction requires us to go through a period of chaos and anxiety while we are trying to figure out how to correctly reconstruct that map. That period of chaos is terrifying, so we often prefer to stick with the wrong map than to risk plunging back into chaos. I believe that part of our fear may come from the thought that if we deconstruct our maps, it will be too difficult for us to put it back together again.
Because of the fear of changing our maps, humans often become dependent on overly simplistic religions, ideologies, political parties, beliefs, or life plans. We sometimes even have a sneaking suspicion that our beliefs may be wrong, but we are too afraid to change our maps.
Imagine you are a hardcore Christian and most of what you do and believe is based on the Bible. You are a hard-working, kind, faithful person because of Christianity. You have avoided drug addiction, poverty, failed relationships, and many other bad decisions because of your Christian beliefs. Now imagine an atheist comes up to and makes some intelligent, logical, well-reasoned points about why Christianity is wrong. Even if the atheist’s arguments are persuasive and make sense to you, you may still try to ignore them because you are afraid that if you abandon Christianity your entire internal map will be gone and you will be plunged back into a chaos were life is meaningless, nothing makes sense, and you may be tempted by all the bad decisions you previously avoided. That may sound silly to you if you are not a Christian, but it only sounds silly to you because you already have a non-Christian internal map so you don’t realize why a person would need to rely on a Christian internal map.
People are also reluctant to change their maps because they have a deep, psychological need to have the most “positive” map possible. Our map is our reality, so we want to have the best reality possible, even if it means ignoring inconvenient facts and living in delusion. This causes us to forego taking risks because if we take a risk and fail, our reality becomes worse, but if we never take the risk, we can always comfort ourselves with the idea that we might have succeeded. In other words, we would rather have uncertainty in our map than a definite negative. For example, imagine our Asian guy who thinks white women do not like Asian guys might see a white woman and subconsciously think “she might like Asian guys, but probably not, so I will not approach.” The rational thing to do would be to approach to capitalize on the chance that she likes Asian guys. But if he thinks that he will probably get rejected, he will subconsciously refuse to approach because he would prefer to live in a reality where she MIGHT like him rather than one where she DEFINITELY does not like him.
It may sound like I am contradicting myself by saying that our maps are often overly negative and built from fear, but also that our mind wants to keep the most positive map possible. This contradiction can be resolved as follows: our subconscious mind wants to keep the most positive map possible, but because it gets an inaccurate view of the world and because it gives too much weight to possibly negative outcomes, it almost always creates an overly negative map. Our subconscious mind is like a crackhead fiending for crack (positive emotion), but who also thinks that everybody is a cop that is about to arrest him (threats). The crackhead realizes that some people may not be cops, but he keeps his map “positive” by assuming that everybody is a cop so he doesn’t take the risk of getting arrested.
Finally, we cannot change our subconscious maps too radically because we rely on our maps for most of what we do. Our conscious mind cannot make a rational, well-thought out decision with respect to every single thing we do throughout the day, so we need to rely on our subconscious maps to guide us. About 5% of what we do is conscious, everything else is subconscious or automatic. We especially rely on our subconscious maps in social situations: most people’s social behavior is based on subconscious adjustments to other’s reactions. Because we have such a strong need to be accepted by the tribe, if a high-status person expresses pleasure at something we did, then our subconscious map knows to do that again. If the high-status person expresses displeasure, our subconscious map colors the neural network associated with that action as a “threat.”
As you can probably guess, you should not completely rely on other people’s reactions to guide your behavior in social situations, nor should you completely rely on your internal maps because your internal maps may have been built on bad feedback from people who were morons and did not have your best interests at heart. At the same time, however, you cannot just completely dump your internal map and consciously analyze every single thing you do in social situations like some kind of autistic person: that would be way too much to remember, you would like a soulless robot, and you would miss out on the internalized knowledge embedded within your internal map. Instead, you need to fix your ego.
Fixing your Ego
The first step in fixing your ego is realizing that it is good for you to occasionally dissolve and reconstruct your map. Even though dissolving your map is painful, it is worse to have an inaccurate map. While it is inevitable that your map will never be perfect, you should want your map to be as good as it can be.
To feel comfortable dissolving and reconstructing your map, you must have faith in your map-building abilities. As stated before, people are afraid to dissolve their map because they think their current map is the best they get, and if they lose it they will not be able to replace it with something better. You must overcome that fear. I think your faith in your map-building abilities springs from your beliefs. For example, I believe that the world is governed by rational laws that can be understood by humans, which means that everything about the world is “understandable,” so if ever find yourself adrift in chaos, you can eventually rebuild your map by collecting information and putting that information using your own mind. I also believe that humans have almost limitless potential to create their own reality, so no matter no who you are, most of the limitations that you perceive in your map are either constructions of your own mind or can be overcome.
I also believe that human beings can eventually overcome any limitation, so it is better to face our threats and challenges head-on rather than running from them. Once I imagine myself as having an infinitely powerful soul, I feel like I can make any change in my exterior world that is necessary. I also believe that facing our threats will cause our internal map, and therefore our reality, to be better in the long run. For example, let’s say our Asian friend says “I would rather live in a reality where the white woman MIGHT like me rather than one where she DEFINITELY does not like me.” The right answer to this guy is not “you should approach her anyway because she might like you. And if she doesn’t like you, you just have to deal with it.” Instead, the right answer to our Asian friend is “you should approach her anyway because there is a 100% chance that your reality will improve if you approach her. If she likes you, great, and if she doesn’t like you, you will learn a lesson that will help you with future approaches. No matter what happens, however, your overall reality after the approach will be better than your reality before the approach.”
This is an extremely important point. If you do think have full faith and confidence that you reality will improve if you push your boundaries, your subconscious mind will not want to do it. We simply do not want to venture into the unknown if it means we might get eaten or may never find our way back to the tribe. Whenever your rational mind has decided it is safe to push your boundaries and take a new risk, you must push that new boundary with the feeling and confidence that you will definitely succeed, even if your rational mind understands that you may fail. The good news is that once you successfully push your boundaries a few times, your subconscious mind starts to realize that the grass is indeed greener on the other side, and pushing boundaries is ultimately a beneficial exercise, which will cause your subconscious mind to automatically generate positive emotions when venturing into the unknown in the future.
Of course, I cannot rationally or scientifically prove any of these beliefs. They are more like articles of faith or religion rather than empirically demonstrable facts. But humans have discovered since the beginning of time that to succeed, sometimes you need irrational, unfounded optimism based on unprovable beliefs. If you watch interviews with successful people, they often reveal that part of the reason for their success was a completely irrational belief that they could succeed, an irrational belief that many people do not have. If you only base your internal map on your own experiences and what society tells you about reality, you may find yourself with an unnecessarily limiting map. I am not a fan of religion, but I think one advantage of religion is that it gives people hope that the “facts” as they see them are not all there is, and the “facts” can be broken to create a better reality. One of the disadvantages of the scientific materialist worldview is that people feel trapped by the material facts and scientific laws in the world, and feel like they cannot overcome their limitations.
Once you’ve developed a set of beliefs about the world, you can slowly “fix” your maps with your rational mind, and by “fix” I mostly mean remove unnecessary negativity. Of course, there is some negativity you need: for example, you should not run into the street thinking that cars cannot hit you. I see a lot of guys on the manosphere tell you to “kill your ego,” but I disagree with this approach because they seem to advocate completely dissolving all of your maps and acting like a psychopath. This advice is terrible because 1) nobody can actually do this, including them, 2) removing all of your boundaries will just make you an offensive, annoying, douchey asshole. These guys are creating an army of socially clueless, pushy, mean dorks that have no sense of social boundaries and will repeatedly fail. Counterintuitively, these guys will become even more depressed and build even more negative maps because their attempts at “killing their ego” will just produce more failure. Of course, I realize that the manosphere guys give this advice because most of their audience are overly limited and bounded, and need to let loose, but there must be a happy medium between timid dork and insane psychopath.
The good news is that your rational mind can identify what threats on your map are real and which are not, and it can build a set of nuanced behaviors that will carry you to the things you need while simultaneously avoiding pitfalls.
For example, our Asian guy might say that white women do not like when guys approach them and whip out their dick. And he would be right. That is rationally not the right thing to do, and it is fortunate that his subconscious mind has also internalized that fact, such that even if you paid him $5,000 to a group of women with his dick out, he still would feel immense anxiety while doing it.
But if our Asian guy says that Asian men should never approach white women, that statement is just wrong from a rational point of view, and his rational mind probably recognizes that it is stupid to generalize all white women as not liking Asian men. Our Asian friend may have even seen white women with Asian men. So how do we use this rational knowledge to actually reprogram our friends’ mind into approaching Asian women?
As we’ve discussed, you cannot fix your internal maps with rational arguments, so you need to “teach” your subconscious mind the truth about the world with visceral images that speak to your emotions. There are two ways to teach your subconscious mind: 1) with real images and 2) with fake images.
Obviously, reprogramming your subconscious mind with real images is more effective than reprogramming it with fake images. The best way to teach our Asian friend’s subconscious mind that an Asian man can successfully approach a white woman is for him to actually see it happen or better yet, for him to actually do it and succeed, preferably multiple times. If he gets a few successful approaches in, his subconscious mind will stop coloring white women as “threat” and perhaps start to view them as “prize” and he will feel less anxiety when he sees white women.
If our Asian friend is too crippled with anxiety to approach any white woman, we may need to slowly train his subconscious mind using exposure therapy. First, he makes eye contact with a few white women. Nothing bad will happen (probably), so his subconscious mind will realize that making eye contact with white women will not lead to anything harmful. Next, he practices saying hi to white women. Just hi, nothing else. After his subconscious mind learns that nothing bad happens after saying hi, and in fact good things often happen, he can move onto approaching, starting a conversation, etc…
Exposure therapy works not just for approaching, but for any other action for which your subconscious mind sees a barrier that does not actually exist. You can use exposure therapy to keep boundaries, to prioritize your own enjoyment rather than focusing on pleasing others, to leave shitty situations, to escalate things with women you are interested in, or to expand beyond your comfort zone in any other way. It may take a long time to get where you want to be because your subconscious map is littered with so many fears and negativity that it will take a long time to uproot each subconsciously-internalized threat.
One of the cool things about exposure therapy is that it works even if you fail. For our Asian friend, even if the white women reject him his map improves because his subconscious mind learns that rejection is not that bad. Most people are afraid to approach women or challenge other social boundaries because their subconscious mind is afraid not only that they will be rejected by one person, but that they will be rejected from the tribe in general, which would hypothetically cause a series of other terrible consequences to follow. We are subconsciously afraid that not only will this particular person reject us, but that everybody in the vicinity will think we are a fool, our friends and family will find out, and we will never be able to show his face in public again. Of course, that sounds insane to any rational person, but that is why we are so afraid of approaching strangers: we are wired to think of ourselves as living in a tribe and rejection from that tribe is the worst possible thing that can happen. And when our subconscious mind sees that those terrible consequences do not happen, it feels less anxiety in the future. Instead of “I will be humiliated and die alone” the threat that the subconscious mind fears becomes “this girl will be rude or short with me” which is a much less dangerous threat.
Unfortunately, sometimes you cannot program your subconscious mind with real images because you often find yourself in new situations with new people, which your subconscious often senses as the “unknown.” Every person and situation is different, so your subconscious mind might say “it doesn’t matter that those other girls liked you or you were successful in those other situations. This situation is different so therefore we cannot rely on our previous maps that show a clear path to the goal.”
In novel situations your subconscious mind often defaults to the negative because it evolved to see the unknown as full of threats and no obvious path to take. In those cases, you may need to “trick” your subconscious mind into with fake images so it will have the confidence to push through. You may also need to trick your subconscious mind if you have a strong rational belief that you can accomplish a goal but all of your actual efforts have failed. Our Asian friend may rationally “know” that white women will accept Asian guys, but he has been rejected by all white women he has ever approached, so he must delude himself into believing that he can succeed with white women until he actually starts succeeding with white women. Interestingly, most men with self-limiting beliefs “know” from a rational standpoint that their beliefs are wrong, but yet they cannot get themselves to get over the internal emotional block that prevents them from going for what they want. And even if your rational mind isn’t sure that you can succeed at something, your rational mind can at least understand that the consequences will not be as bad as the subconscious mind thinks they will be.
To delude yourself you must create a vivid, detailed visualization in your mind of the transcendent reality you are acting as if you inhabit. The more detailed and vivid the visualization, the more likely your subconscious mind will believe it is real and create the corresponding emotions within you. Our subconscious mind does not think in words, so saying “I’m an awesome guy that can get lots of girls” to yourself will do nothing. Our subconscious mind thinks in images, so you must “trick” it with images.
To delude yourself, then, you need to 1) figure out what emotional state you need to be in to feel confident to pursue a particular goal, and 2) create a set of images to put yourself in that emotional state. For example, in Part 2 of this Series we discussed how the emotional experience that is most attractive to women was one where 1) the man is solidly accepted by the tribe, 2) all the man’s lower desires are fulfilled, and 3) the man is engaged in a fun adventure where he is venturing into the unknown to create a superior future reality. If you do not actually feel these things, you may need to delude yourself into feeling these things by tricking your subconscious mind with the right images. For example, you can imagine yourself as a rich and famous DJ playing in front of thousands of adoring fans and beautiful women. Or you can imagine yourself as an adventurer exploring a psychedelic jungle full of unexpected treasures. Or you can imagine yourself as a hunter in the jungle stalking a buffalo for food. Or you can combine all of these delusions in your head at once. If you have ever been in a situation where you were high status, confident, or loved by women, you can use your delusion to put yourself back in that situation and feel those emotions. You can even overlay the image in your mind onto the real setting you are looking at. For example, if you are at a party where you do not know anybody, you can imagine the party is full of your best friends you think you are awesome, beautiful women who know and love you, and legions of adoring fans.
Your delusion should remedy any deficiency you think you may have. If you are short, you can be tall in your delusion. If you dress terribly, you can be a snazzy dresser in your delusion. If you see a beautiful woman in a bar, you can delude yourself into thinking that you are the kind of guy you think she would like, and then approaching her with that confidence.
People are often subconsciously afraid to delude themselves for a very understandable reason: they do not want to become crazy and lose touch with reality. In other words, they don’t want to create a fake map for themselves because they rely on their map to navigate the world and steer clear from disaster. This is a very valid concern – when we think of delusional people, we normally think of people that are arrogant, obnoxious, or crazy.
To not be swallowed or deceived by your delusions, you must realize keep your rational mind (or soul) in control. Your internal map is not reality and your ego is not “you.” Your internal map is a representation of the world your mind has created, and it will never perfectly match reality, and while it is a very useful and necessary tool, it is sometimes wrong. The more you can separate yourself from your ego, the more you can safely use it and manage it without “believing” some of the irrational negativity it produces.
Managing your Emotions
To repair your ego, you need to be able to flush our negative emotions from your system because our emotions hijack our rational mind and implant counterproductive thoughts in us that we often think are “real.” This process is called confabulation, and causes to develop and focus on thoughts that are simply justifications for our negative, shitty emotions rather than accurate representations of the world. This is why people often reject perfectly rational arguments that do not align with their emotional state. What people call “cognitive dissonance” is often better characterized as “emotional dissonance” or a mismatch between the information we are being fed and our internal map. Even if we realize that the emotions are not “real” the emotions are so strong that we often cannot overcome them, especially if we are tired, stressed, confused, or have a lot of stuff coming at us at once.
The real danger of the ego is not the emotions it produces, but rather the thoughts it creates that we think are “real.” These false beliefs, emotions, and mental patterns will continually layer on each other without you consciously realizing what is happening. To dig yourself out of this hole, you must unravel each layer, “fix it” in the light of your new positive emotions, and then go to the next. This is a very lengthy and difficult process, especially considering the subconscious nature of most of these negative layers.
To manage your emotions, you must first figure out a way to feel positive emotion on a regular basis. It is very difficult to do the “rational” thing when your body is constantly flooded with negative emotion and the accompanying thoughts that come with it. You need a “break” from the negativity to think clearly to start fixing your ego.
As we discussed earlier, the two most important pleasures for human beings are 1) feeling accepted by the tribe, and 2) feeling like you have contributed to the tribe. You must therefore find a way to induce these feelings in yourself for at least part of your time. You can induce #1 by finding a good group of friends that are solid, reliable people that will not condition their acceptance of you and their friendship on stupid criteria or on you supplicating to them. You can induce #2 by creating a set of goals for yourself, big and small, that you can accomplish to get a feeling of “wins.” You need big, long-term life goals like succeeding at your career, succeeding at your relationships, creating artistic or other creative projects, and solving complex problems. The payoff from these goals, however, take a while to come, so to give yourself the “dopamine” boost to keep going you need shorter-term goals that can exist either inside or outside these big goals. Shorter-term goals can include reading books, making progress in the gym, keeping a clean house, making incremental improvements to your daily habits, or meeting certain milestones in your big goals.
Just as you sometimes need delusion to fix your ego, you may also need to induce positive emotions “artificially.” No matter how well your life is going and no matter how positive of a person you are, you will sometimes fail at pursuing your goals and you will sometimes get or feel rejected. In those times, you need emotional help to stay positive and prevent your subconscious map from turning your internal map into a filthy cesspool of negativity.
You can induce positive emotional artificially in several ways. One way is to delude your subconscious mind with positive imagery. This can include prayer, meditation, watching positive and inspirational documentaries, movies, and art, studying positive and inspirational philosophical and academic materials, and other positive activities. This positive imagery should make the person feel loved, accepted into the tribe, and like the universe imposes no limitations whatsoever on your growth. I know this sounds like woo woo bullshit to most people, but the only way to “fix” our subconscious minds is by feeding it the right images, and we absolutely cannot depend on the real world to feed us the right images.
Another way to cleanse your negative emotions is to perform relaxation exercises. Anxiety freezes you by flooding with you negative emotion to put you in a “fight or flight” state, ready to do anything. By relaxing your body and slowing down your internal processes, you will feel less anxiety. You can do this by breathing exercises, meditation, leisurely activity, and other relaxation techniques.
Of course, one of the most powerful and popular ways to artificially induce positive emotion is by using drugs. Drugs make you feel good by flooding your brain with the chemicals you feel when you 1) feel accepted by the tribe (serotonin), and 2) feel like you have contributed to the tribe (dopamine). Sometimes the rush of these chemicals make people feel so positive that people feel like they are experiencing “ego death.” In reality, however, the ego is just taking a break because it feels like there are no obstacles or challenges to getting what it wants. When the trip is over, your ego comes right back. Nor is this type of ego death a good long-term solution. Instead of becoming enlightened, many people who do psychedelics become lazy, aimless, worthless pieces of shit because they artificially remove all negativity and fear of consequences from their consciousness.
Psychedelics can be beneficial if you can learn rational, articulable principles that you can later use when you are sober to “fix” your maps. I have tried to enumerate some of these principles in this article. For example, if a person has suffered a lot of rejection in their life they may perpetually feel like they are unloved, live on the fringes of the tribe, and have low self-esteem. These emotions may bleed into the person’s thoughts so that they start to actually believe on a rational level that they are worthless and unlovable.. But if this person takes a massive dose of serotonin via a psychedelic drug, they may feel valued, loved, accepted into the tribe, and receive the accompanying thoughts as well. At that point, this person may realize that their person thoughts and emotions of worthlessness were not necessarily “real.” Their current feelings of being loved and accepted are also not “real” but they at least realize that their thoughts and feelings are not necessarily accurate representations of reality, and they have the power to shape reality in the way they want.
There are many ways, however, that you can artificially induce positive emotions that are bad, including pornography, video games, wasting time on the internet, flexing your status on people, speeding, and other cheap pleasures. Although these methods gave us a brief respite from negative emotion, they most often end up making our maps even worse because it teaches our subconscious mind that we have some really clear, easy paths to pleasure, but that more meaningful types of pleasure are blocked to us. Addiction is essentially the feeling that the things we need most (feeling accepted by the tribe, and feeling like you have contributed to the tribe) are unavailable to use so we need to fill that hole with other pleasure.
Cheap pleasures like drugs and video games can be good ways to unwind and flush out negative emotion, but you must be careful to ensure that those pleasures do not become pathological addictions. These pleasures become pathological when 1) you are not pursuing higher pleasures like self-improvement, career advancement, etc…, so the lower pleasures become your only source of pleasure, 2) your lower pleasures become your primary antidote to anxiety such that you have no other way of feeling at peace, 3) you enjoy the lower pleasures so much you cannot control your pursuit of them with your rational mind, and 4) lower pleasures are negatively affecting your life in some other way.
Reconstructing your Ego
Everybody fails sometimes, and when you fail you need to be able to reconstruct your maps without plunging into anxiety and depression. Because our subconscious (and often conscious) minds have difficulty understanding nuance, when we fail we often throw out our entire map rather than fixing the small part of it that was wrong. For example, if an Asian guy timidly approaches a white woman and gets rejected, instead of learning the lesson that “you should never timidly approach women” his subconscious mind may instead learn the lesson of “white women never like Asian guys” or even worse “I am a complete worthless asshole and I am completely unattractive to women.”
Because completely losing our maps plunges us into anxiety and depression, people often refuse to take any risks that they feel might lead to their maps being dissolved. They subconsciously think “I have a wobbly, unstable map that is probably wrong in a lot of ways, but it is all I have, and if I destroy it I will not be able to replace it with anything.” And it is true that these people have often failed miserably, dissolved their maps, felt like shit, and then not learned anything. But those people did not venture into the unknown in a rational, intelligent, voluntary way. These people also did not adequately analyze their failures afterwards to understand what they did wrong. Anybody can run stupidly run into traffic, get hit by a car, and then assume nobody should ever take any risks ever again.
The key to reconstructing your map is to rationally determine what you did wrong and create a rational, articulable plan to fix that part of your map. If finding a solution to the problem is important to you, you should find some time and really think through all the possible things you may have done wrong and what you can possibly to do to fix them. It may even help to write them out. Humans evolved to feel depression after something bad happens to them (most often, rejection from the tribe) so that they sit and ruminate and figure out what they did wrong.
As you can imagine, however, this rumination is often unproductive either because 1) you did not actually do anything wrong or 2) you cannot figure out what you did wrong. For example, if you get rejected by a woman, you often have no idea why she rejected you. She may have rejected you because you did something wrong that you can control, she may have rejected you because of something about you that you cannot control, or she may have rejected you for some reason completely unrelated to you. Chronic depression is often associated with continuous, unproductive rumination with no terminus, and is often caused by failure, or perceived failure, with no hope or path to redemption.
To prevent this constant rumination, you must always assume the smallest possible problem in your map. Any failure can be interpreted multiple ways, so you should go easy on yourself. Instead of saying “white women don’t like Asian guys” or “I am a worthless piece of shit” after getting rejected our Asian guy should instead assume a smaller problem, like “I was not confident enough when I approached her” or “this one particular girl may not have liked me.” If you always assume the worst possible problem, you will be overwhelmed with anxiety, depression, and despair. In other words, your map will be too broken to repair. I have had terrible things happen to me, and in those moments and afterwards I honestly felt like I was a completely worthless piece of shit, I could never do anything right, and everything I thought I knew about the world was wrong and/or incomplete. It was a terrible emotional and mental state to be in, and I sometimes honestly worried that I would be crazy for the rest of my life. Looking back, of course, I now realize that I was a pretty swell guy back then, but I just had a few flaws I needed to fix and a few small mistakes to learn from. Once you narrow down your mistake to a particular thing or thing, you will feel much less anxiety because the “monster” becomes a lot smaller and manageable.
My rule of thumb is to only assume a big problem when the evidence admits of no other interpretation. Of course, sometimes the failure IS the result of a big problem, or a series of problems, but even then if you start with assuming a small problem, fixing it, and then moving to the next one. If your failure is the result of a big problem you must break it down into smaller problems and solve each smaller one.
You do not feel anxiety and depression because you have problems; you feel anxiety and depression because you see no path in your map to the solution to those problems. As long as you have a plan and you are making steps to achieve your plan, your subconscious mind will feel the dopamine hits that are associated with making progress towards a pleasurable goal. Let me ask you this: would you rather drive 30 minutes to get somewhere in a clear road or drive wait 30 minutes in traffic to get somewhere? In both cases you are in the car for 30 minutes, but most people would rather drive 30 minutes because in the latter instance they are actually making progress so their subconscious mind is enjoying that dopamine.
If you fail and you honestly cannot figure out what you did wrong, you should move on. You absolutely cannot let yourself dwell in regret over things you could not control, things you did not know, or actions that you cannot understand. Your brain evolved to find the solution to problems, but the reality is that sometimes problems don’t have solutions and you need to feel at peace with the idea that you may not have done anything wrong. For example, if you get rejected by a woman and absolutely cannot figure out what you did wrong, you should go approach other women and hope you learn something from the other approaches. If I fail at something, and I am not sure what I did wrong, I go do the same thing 5 more times. If I fail 5 more times, I now know that doing that thing is causing my failure. If I don’t fail, then I know that doing that thing is not causing my failure. I got fired for a job for “not being smart enough.” I later worked at other places where they told me I was the smartest person they have ever seen. So was I really not smart enough for the first job? Obviously not.
Fixing your problems may require you to ignore parts of your ego. For example, imagine your girlfriend dumps you because you have a drug problem. Your ego is probably not going to want to admit that your drug habit is negatively affecting your life because your subconscious mind has created a map where one of its only paths to pleasure is drugs. This is where your “soul” needs to say to your ego “sorry, drugs are causing problems in our lives, and they need to go.” Honestly assessing what you did wrong requires humility, open-mindedness, and the ability to ignore parts of your ego. But if you can genuinely and truthfully undertake this kind of self-assessment, you can become more confident in all aspects of your life because you know that either 1) you are not doing anything wrong, or 2) if you are doing something wrong, you have a bulletproof method to fix it. And as I’ve stated, once you have a bulletproof method to fix your weaknesses and overcome your failures, you become invincible.
People often refuse to take feedback because the person giving them the feedback hurt their feelings, even if the feedback is true. Again, this is your ego preventing you from taking the right rational steps to fix your map. Getting rejected from the tribe is one of the most painful feelings a human can experience, and our ego does not want to admit that we may have gotten rejected for a good reason, so it will try to rationalize away the person’s feedback: “they are stupid/weak/not that important anyway” (translation: they are not high-status in the tribe so they did not have the power to actually reject me), “they didn’t like me anyway” (translation: they rejected me for irrational reasons, so I don’t have to admit I did anything wrong), etc…
There are a million other ways that your ego will sabotage your self-improvement efforts. The main point is that your ego wants to find easy paths to pleasure, and it does not want to engage in the hard work of deconstructing and reconstructing your map. The sad truth is that most people do not actually make major life transformations until some horrible shit happens to them against their will that completely shatters their map in a way that they cannot possibly reconstruct the map in the same way. Your goal, however, should be to engage in this kind of self-improvement without needing some type of catastrophe.
Strangely enough, pushing your boundaries in a stupid way is often also a sign of a broken ego. Because people are afraid of hard work and sacrifice and feel like they can never succeed doing things the “right” way, they often leap into the unknown as a stupid Hail Mary hoping to get rich quick. For the same reason, they ignore the lesson from this failure, which is that there are smarter ways of succeeding than stupidly leaping into the unknown.
Your Free Will and Your Soul
Earlier, I said that the best way I could think of to characterize our ability to overcome our ego is our soul, the one thing that is not connected to any material thing. If you can develop and refine a sense of a “soul,” an infinitely powerful aspect of you that is not affected by anything, you can move through life with much more power. Most people do not listen to their soul. They are overwhelmed by emotions, pressure, and stimulus from the outside world and their own minds, so they just go with the flow. And your soul is not very strong on its own – you will not be able to act contrary to your emotions for long. But at the end of the day, your soul is the only weapon you really have to reshape your internal map and your ego. It is the thing that allows you to escape your circumstances, your society, your emotions, and even your own thoughts.
The Greek philosopher Plato famously said that the human soul is like a chariot rider trying to control a team of horses. The rider is the rational part of the brain whereas the horses represent your emotions. To Plato, a well-lived life is one where the rider remains in control, whereas a shitty life is one where the horses overwhelm the rider, control your life, and take you places you know are wrong. But modern science has shown that our rational mind is a lot weaker than Plato thought. Instead of a chariot rider controlling two horses, your soul is more like an ant trying to control an elephant. But nevertheless, over a long enough period of time, the ant can influence the elephant to change his course.
The next time you are faced with an obstacle in your life: a challenge at work, a woman you are afraid to approach, or simply the motivation to get out of bed when you are in a deep depression, the only weapon you can really rely on is your soul. Ideally, you will get to the point where your ego is your internal map are re-configured to naturally push you to do those things, but until you get to that point, your only weapon is your soul. You need to ignore everything else and just fucking go for it.
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|Title||The Purpose Series (Part 3 of 3) - How to Manage your Ego|
|Date||December 26, 2019 3:17 AM UTC (1 year ago)|
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