I’ve had about 6 people elaborately talking to me about their depressions or related problems over the last two weeks. It didn’t surprise me, since it has been that way since I was… What? 14? Somewhere along the way I resigned myself to the fact that apparently I attract people with ‘issues’. For most of the last 10 years I’ve had people close to me who were diagnosed with anything from full blown depression to autism, people with a history of automutilation, PTSD and more. I could name so many people who have gone through something traumatic, lost their child, been abused by their parents and so much more that for a long time, I wondered whether the whole world had gone mad or that I simply attract these people (probably both). The worst thing is that these same people were often kindhearted people with good intentions so I was hardly ever able to tell them to fuck off and take their issues somewhere else.
On a seemingly unrelated note, since I was 18 years old or something, I got more and more interested in strength training and at some point personal development as well. The latter probably had a lot to do with my college background (Social work and community development, with a lot of psychology and stuff in there), but the former usually got most of my attention. My reasons for strength training have changed over the years. What started out as curiosity and ‘just losing a bit of fat’ turned into a mild interest for bodybuilding and powerlifting, as well as simply taking my health more seriously. Concurrent with my interest in martial arts and practical self defense (which I’ve taught to kids for a while) I also took it upon myself to become physically stronger through both self defense and strength training so that should it ever be necessary, I would be able to protect people around me. That has been one reason to get stronger for a long time and it still is to this day. There are more reasons that I don’t feel like getting into right now, but this leads me to something else.
Somewhere over the last few years, the above two points (attracting people with issues and the whole concept of ‘getting stronger’) seemed to come together. I became more conscious of this as I read up on the subject and came across different views on what ‘strong’ means. For example, I’ve quoted Paul Carter a few times, who’s pretty heavy on the ‘protecting people around you’ thing. There’s the famous “Weak people cannot forgive, forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” quote. Then there’s Henry Rollins, who wrote a well known, short essay on his experience with strength training where he relates strength to kindness and self respect.
All those points boil down to different aspects of strength, one of them being emotional strength. Yeah, I want to be able to snatch at least 1.5 times my own bodyweight someday, but more than that, I want to be emotionally strong to support the good people around me that need and deserve it. I absolutely love what I quoted from Leigh Peele a little while back and it sums my feelings up quite nicely:
“This world is at times so disappointing I find it hard to function. But, you know what keeps me from calling quits on the human race? The good people. There are kind, smart, and genuine people who need your help because we are screaming against a very loud bad crowd sometimes.”
I’ve found out the hard way many times that when I’m a mental wreck, I’m simply not strong enough to support people around me. I’ve said and done a lot of stupid things ending up with both me and the person I wanted to help feeling worse than before. In hindsight I found this unacceptable of myself.
I’m sure all this sounds really pretty, but ’emotional strength’ is a really vague term and actually getting stronger in that sense is possibly even harder to grasp. I do believe there is at least one concept to explore that is closely related to this and that’s something I’ve written about before – Equanimity. Mental resilience, emotional stability and control over your actions despite whatever emotion you’re feeling. It’s not about surpressing your emotions, quite the contrary. It’s about actively and consciously knowing how and when to express it so it won’t screw you over when you need to maintain your composure. A little soul searching and being open to opinions of people close to you can go a long way here, especially if you realize that even if you don’t think you’re being angry/sad/jealous/insecure/whatever people may still experience you as such and this will influence your relationships.
I wish I could give an easy fix for all this, but I don’t. Just a few key points that I feel are important in growing stronger in the emotional sense, both for yourself and for those around you.
Take care of yourself. It’s hard carrying others when you can’t even carry yourself.
Don’t trivialize your own issues for the sake of another person. It serves nothing but to feel good about yourself and your ‘selflessness’ for a moment.
Accept your feelings and work with them instead of condemning or denying them. One of the first things I was taught in college was that “Feelings can’t be wrong, but the way you deal with them can be”. I’m not sure if I fully agree with that, but I do know that condemning your own feelings as wrong can lead to frustration and as most people know, letting that build up can lead up to hurting yourself and others.
Put your pride aside for a moment and acknowledge your own issues. Pretending to be different from or better than the real you doesn’t make you very reliable and you’re likely to trip over your own issues sooner or later.
Put your fears aside for a moment and reach out for help if you can’t fix things by yourself. If you can’t do this, you probably have trust issues and you may have to work on that before anything else.
In most cases when trying to support someone, prioritize listening over speaking.
Squall: “What am I supposed to say about other people’s problems?”
Quistis: “I’m not asking you to say anything. I just want you to listen.”
Squall: “Then go talk to a wall.”
From ‘Final Fantasy VIII’.
In response to a comment I made on Facebook about feminism, a friend of mine forced me to write something about feminism. I’m going to be extra judgmental in this post just to spite her. I’m sure she won’t love me any less for it.
Am I a feminist? Hard to say. I’d say “yes” in the sense that I believe that, in essence, every human being should have equal rights, regardless of what intimate parts you carry around. However, I do feel very strongly about the difference between “having equal rights between men and women” and “trying to equalize every single thing between men and women”. I’ll explain by grouping types of feminists because I am well aware of the difference between extremists and people with good, common sense. That, and I said I was going to be judgmental, right?
It was the first, excessively derogatory word that came to mind so I’m sticking with it. Seriously, if you believe that “all heterosexual intercourse is rape” and “all women are lesbians forced by society to display heterosexual behavior” I don’t know what to tell you. Please get off my planet.
This is the group of feminists who have men and women’s best interests at heart yet I feel are missing some important points. They will, for example, quote the statistic on how women in the same career position will earn less money than men. They will then say that “women should earn the same as men”. Besides this statistic not being very solid, it also misses a very important point. Nobody is entitled to “earn the same”. You are entitled to “having the possibility to earn the same”. Semantics? Not really.
Ramit Sethi, psychology/behavioral/financial expert coined that women are notoriously bad at negotiating their salary. I saw an interview of him with a succesful business woman who said she had that same problem and saw it everywhere as well. Obviously one could argue that this is the result of a patriarchal society and whatnot, and it is a serious issue, but keeping this in mind, the method to achieve true equality here would be different. The method would not be to just give women the same pay as men. The method would be for employers to give equal chances for both men and women to EARN their spot. If women do not get the same treatment from employers, that is a serious issue that should be addressed both by employers AND by people in general to properly learn to negotiate salaries.
The C-class type of reasoning is not something I consider “wrong”, despite the fact that I disagree. However, I am convinced that this train of thought of “equalizing everything” is suboptimal in improving society as a whole. I believe in equal RIGHTS and then working within those rights to be the best you can be. If a man is physically better at working a job than a woman, I think it’s perfectly fine to say that the man is better suited for the job, but that does not mean that the woman can’t work that job. I think it’s asinine to say “women need to occupy this type of job more so we’ll give her the job, despite the fact that she is less suited for it.” On the other hand, women should not be ruled out of certain positions either. That would be taking away a woman’s right. A level playing field would give both men and women equal chances to prove their own worth. THAT is equality.
If most people would move to this class, society would be better off. I’m sure of it. These are the people who strive for equality in proper perspective and in the spirit of pragmatism. I recently saw an article from a woman who coined that men should do 50% or more of housekeeping. Seriously, what the hell? If I live with a jobless girlfriend while I’m working my ass off, I’ll expect her to do more. If I’m jobless while she’s working her ass off, I’ll probably do everything around the house. Would society really be better off if people adhered to paradigms with set numbers on how things should be?
I believe there is a better alternative, which I would consider the core principle of B-class feminists. I have mentioned this in an earlier article: To accomodate self-actualization in people. This is not necessarily aimed at women, but since women are actually human beings (wow) I believe anyone who calls him- or herself a feminist should take this seriously. If a woman wants to be in the kitchen, that is fine. (Actually, I encourage this, but that’s just because of my ridiculous appetite combined with my lack of cooking skills. It has little to do with paradigms or gender roles.) If a woman wants to be CEO of a huge company, that is fine too. If either is part of a woman’s “self-actualization”, why the hell would I make a problem out of it? If a woman really is a lesbian, why would I care? If a woman refuses to shave her armpits because she does not want to conform to beauty standards, why can I not just look the other way?
B-class feminists, through this principle, will also understand that there is nothing inherently good or bad about gender roles if they do not conflict with that principle. Apparently, some women take offense if you stand up for them in a crowded train, hold open a door for them or treat them to a meal. Is it old-fashioned? Sure, but when was old-fashioned a synonym for bad? I’m trying to be chivalrous and courteous here, not trying to assert my dominance over you by making you feel weak. If you believe that is the case and you’re unable to say “no, thanks” and leave it at that, you have some issues. Frankly, I think there’s something romantic about chivalry and I see absolutely no harm done to the progression of society towards equality if we accept chivalry or other old-fashioned, gender-role related stuff as okay… Provided that it does not interfere with the core principle.
A-class feminists Women (or men?) who have earned their stripes and walked the walk. Anyone can yell stuff on the internet, feeling that their opinion is important or intelligent enough to be worthy of sharing (guilty!). Actually doing something in the name of equality, acting upon what you stand for… Now there’s something particularly praiseworthy and uncommon.
Lyudmila Pavlichenko was a Soviet sniper in WWII. She was credited with over 300 kills. This is quite a feat… Especially considering the fact that women were generally less accepted (or even not allowed to be) in the army during that time, and she was actually offered to become a nurse. She refused and proceeded to outclass many male snipers, shattering the stereotype of women being unfit or too weak to be good soldiers. She was properly credited by being promoted to major and referred to as a hero of the Soviet Union, even being invited to the White House at some point where she got criticized for wearing ‘a skirt that was too long’ and ‘clothes that made her look fat’. Which was kind of a dick move but at the same time amusing, since… You know, she fucking outclassed countless men in a typical “man’s environment” after people tried to put her in a typical
Aletta Jacobs was a Dutch doctor and a crucial factor in women being allowed to vote in the Netherlands. This was about 100 years ago, when women were expected to do housework and definitely NOT go to universities. Jacobs was like “fuck this shit, I wanna be a doctor!”, wrote the dutch prime minister about it and he was like “k” and she proceeded to be the first woman to finish a university study in the Netherlands, as well as the first female doctor in the country. Originally, you had to make a certain amount of money to be able to vote in the Netherlands, but with Jacobs being a doctor and earning enough money to vote, government officials were all “oh HELL naw!” and banned women from being able to vote. It took Jacobs 20 years and a lot of pissed off women, but in the end, the government could do little more than cower in fear and give the angry mob of women what they wanted – a voice in politics. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, right?
Edith Garrud. I don’t even know where to start with this woman. Basically, over 100 years ago, there was a group of women in England who thought they could have the same rights as men. Crazy, right? Well, most men seemed to think so and these women got a lot of shit for it. Garrud wasn’t too happy about it. Fortunately, this tiny lady was so good at martial arts that she joined the fray, training a lot of women and eventually causing a lot of police officers to get their ass kicked. A demonstration for women’s rights would usually mean police officers with batons trying to break up the whole thing… Until Garrud and her friends showed up, throwing around officers into every direction.
“The women would be out there in big dresses and hats, looking totally normal, but underneath their heavy wool dresses they’d have three inches of cardboard wrapped around their midsections to prevent them from breaking ribs when they were clubbed by police truncheons.
Oh right, and under their dresses they’d be packing Indian clubs, which are basically bowling pin-looking things that really really seem like they’d hurt like a motherfucker if you got popped in the dome by one.” – From badassoftheweek.com
So 100 years ago, the women got what they wanted and were finally allowed to vote. Took them a lot of bruised police officers before it got that far.
(Note: www.badassoftheweek.com has extensive and awesomely written summaries on Pavlichenko and Garrud, as well as on other badass men and women.)
These are A-class feminists. A few extraordinary exceptions. Women who stood up for what they believed in and gave the finger to anyone thinking that they could not do so “just because they’re women”. I don’t expect every woman (or man) to want to be part of this class, but I mentioned these people to help everyone put things in perspective. ‘Walking the walk’ can happen on a smaller scale as well. Jack Donovan (the homosexual who hates homosexuals and wants to be called an ‘androphile’, the anti-feminist who praises masculinity as well as the true strength of women, as odd as it might sound) wrote a very interesting thing on this.
“My favorite women to deal with, though, are the country women.
Here’s the thing—most of these babes can drive tractors and know more about engines than I ever will. I’ve had them offer to help load something up onto their all-terrain vehicles for me and drive it out through the mud to the barn, like it was no big deal. Country women are not afraid to get dirty. Most can probably handle a weapon—or judging from the gun safes, are at least used to having them around. They pull their own weight. They are not spoiled.
What I’ve noticed is that even though they do all of these manly things most of them seem more comfortable with traditional gender roles and with men in general than many of their urban and suburban counterparts. They seem to be at once less threatened by men, and more respectful of them. They seem to be aware of sex differences, perhaps because they’ve worked side by side with men. They don’t have a chip on their shoulders. They are feminine in a natural way, but they are strong when they have to be. They know how to act around the boys. They know how to be strong women without asking men to change to accommodate them. They want their men to act like men.
Very few jobs put men or women under the kind of stress that widens the gender gap. They have become so exotic that we follow shows like Dirty Jobs, Ax Men, Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers on the same channels we learn about foreign cultures, ancient history and cavemen.” – Jack Donovan
I often disagree with the guy, but I still love his point of view on many things. His point here is that gender roles say very little about being weak/strong, dominant/submissive or anything else. He gives a great example of tough, strong women who get their hands dirty, are not afraid of men (and have very little reason to) while still fitting a traditional woman’s gender role.
It might almost sound like I’m in favor of traditional gender roles, but that’s not necessarily the case. To me it’s all about the core principle that I mentioned in this post and not much else:
Equal rights and possibilities to accomodate self-actualization in people.
True equality is something we haven’t reached yet in this world, but like my friend (I wonder if she’s agitated yet?) said; “I don’t care about the term ‘feminism’. I care about a large-scale mentality shift.” Terms like ‘rape culture’, ‘war on women’ or even ‘feminism’ itself are ambiguous and may encompass very serious issues as well as total bullshit. I suggest not putting too much energy into semantics and just trying to be a B-class and work from there.
Recently, a good friend of mine was heartbroken. Shortly thereafter, she had some doubts about one night stands and if it would be a mistake or not. This conversation ensued after she asked for my opinion.
“I’m just gonna speak from my philosophy here. This is not advice.
First, I feel that when you build a connection with someone through sex, that’s something meaningful. Something that is an addition to your life and your relationship. Like an improvement on something that is already good. Icing on the cake, as it were.
Second come one night stands for fun. It misses out on the deeper connection that sex can offer, but if that’s your thing… Whatever. (Like my mom always taught me: Do whatever makes you happy as long as you’re good to those around you.)
Third is what is potentially destructive. Using sex as a coping mechanism. You’re reducing something awesome to something merely used to cope with things you can’t handle.”
“I don’t know what to do with myself. I’m allowing myself to feel sad but I also don’t want to be sad all the time. I want to meet people and have fun.”
“So? Go ahead and do so. You don’t need a dick in your mouth to do that.”
“What if I want a dick in my mouth?”
“Just for fun? In that case I see no problem.”
I often don’t really care that much when people do things differently from me. What is saddening is when people lie to themselves or start underappreciating something awesome. I’ve seen people say they’re in category 2 when they’re really in category 3. Actually, I’ve seen people say they’re in category 1 when they’re in 3. That’s where things like a lack of congruency between thoughts, emotions and actions come into play. Like I’ve written before, that can lead to feelings of sadness, doubt, less self-esteem or avoiding the real problems in your head. It’s not really any different from abusing something like alcohol and lying to yourself about it. This is not about morals and how you should treat sex, this is about being honest towards yourself.
Inertia. I hate that word, because I’ve felt it. Have you had it happen to you where you were unhappy with your career, life, relationships or sports but you simply made no step in moving forward? Perhaps you were analyzing every single option and fretting over minor details with you ending up doing nothing, the so called ‘analysis paralysis’. Or perhaps you were making excuses not to change things because you were simply afraid, insecure or suffering from some unconscious ‘barriers’ in your head. Perhaps you were genuinely depressed and getting out of bed drained your energy to the extent where every step forward felt like moving mountains.
It’s even worse when you rationally KNOW you’ve got every opportunity to achieve more towards what you want yet you’re just sitting there, grinding through your day. I wish there was a cookie cutter solution to counter this problem, but that really depends on the cause of the inertia. Habit, depression and fear are three different causes that may need completely different approaches when it comes down to it.
The only solid advice I can give you is to KEEP MOVING. Do SOMETHING, anything (preferably fun and productive), no matter how big or small, and adjust course as you go if necessary. Inertia breeds inertia, momentum breeds momentum. Like pushing a car with a dead battery, it sucks to get it to move, but once it starts rolling, it gets easier until at some point the engine starts working again. ‘Easier’ does not mean easy. You may have to do things you don’t really like to do or that are simply hard. That’s when things like grit come into play, that’s when you need reliable people around you to support you, push you forward or just kick your ass. And you will need to keep that up for however long it takes for you to notice results, but once that engine starts running again… You’ll start wondering why you ever stopped.
A friend of mine who was sad recently: “I don’t want to go to work.”
Me: “Yeah well, I want a million bucks, a blowjob and a house by the sea, but I don’t think I’m getting any of those today so I’m just going to have to grin and bear it.”
It’s no secret that I have a severe disdain for cowardice and how it makes a person unreliable. It could be spreading false rumours behind someone’s back, excessive gossiping, lying to save your own hide and avoid taking responsibility or countless other things.
Cowardice is not about being afraid. We all are at times. Cowardice is about selfishness, about hurting other people and possibly your own integrity by refusing to defy your own fear. If you’re going to hurt someone’s feelings, do it in their face and let it happen BECAUSE of your integrity. Let it happen because you’re unapologetic about what you really stand for and who you are, not because you’re trying to be something you’re not.
“There is one rule, above all others, for being a man. Whatever comes, face it on your feet.” – al’Lan Mandragoran, a character from Robert Jordan’s “The Great Hunt”.
“Outrageousness means nothing unless you have the substance to back it up – you can’t get away with it if you’re a loser.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger in his autobiography ‘Total Recall’
Some dude posts a response on some blog post, saying how he wants his girlfriend to do some pretty kinky stuff in bed. He asks “How can I let my girlfriend make my dream come true?”
Response: “Make one of her dreams come true first.”
Walking the walk is important to be credible and reliable when talking the talk. For example, I always emphasize challenging yourself by trying new things and stepping out of your comfort zone once in a while yet I realized I didn’t do it all too much. Recently, I tried archery and took up on someone’s offer to play a small role in a movie. Even if I completely and
utterly suck at archery and will most likely not be the second Hugh Jackman, they’re fun experiences and stepping out of your comfort zone by trying new things is good practice for when you’re about to face something where you HAVE to be uncomfortable.
When it comes to sports, don’t confuse performance, aesthetics and health. Don’t think you’re doing your body much good by competing in sports at a high level and, contrary to what fitness models might have you believe, a low amount of body fat and a perfect 8-pack have little to do with health. The three are not mutually exclusive, but they’re not always intimately related either.
“The more you do it, the more automatic it becomes, and the less effort it takes.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger in his autobiography ‘Total Recall’
“Think about learning to ride a bike. Did you study the mechanics of the bike and read diagrams on how to cushion yourself when you fell? Of course not. You got out there, started riding, and fell down. Then you did it again and again.” – Ramit Sethi
I’m not going to write an elaborate disclaimer about stereotypes and exaggerations here. I trust that if you’re smart enough to get through elementary and high school, you’re smart enough to discern charging, generalization to make a point and simple stereotyping. What I do want to point it beforehand is that the theory I give here is just one part of the big picture, the big picture being outside the scope and purpose of this post.
There’s two stereotypes here of which I believe they are rooted in truth. I also want to share my take on why those stereotypes exist. The first one is “the girl who falls for the wrong guys”. The second is “the guy who gets friendzoned all the time”. For those who don’t know what the friend zone is: it’s where a guy (or girl) is put when they’re in love with someone but that someone only sees them as a cherished friend. For the sake of brevity, I’ll mostly stick with the nice-guy-who-gets-friendzoned-by-the-girl-who-falls-for-wrong-guys stereotype.
I believe the first and foremost reason that the douchebag attracts girls yet is hated by girls is his lack of moderation in certain personality traits. If a woman likes a man who knows what he wants and goes for it, the douchebag does so – yet without concern for others, turning it into selfishness. If a woman likes a strong, dominant man, the douchebag displays this – yet without respect and care, turning him into something of a small-scale-tyrant. Self confidence becomes arrogance, and so on. The douchebag takes typically ‘manly’ or ‘attractive’ personality traits and takes them too far. Women will want him at first, yet tire of him and eventually badmouth him, beating themselves up over the fact that ‘they let themselves be used by him’. This would explain the stereotype of women falling for the wrong guys.
On the other side of the spectrum, we have a young man suffering from ‘nice guy syndrome’. Rather than manifesting himself as a douchebag, he may present himself as a wimp, a doormat, even. He puts women on a pedestal and has no guts. He’ll never tell you what he wants: he does whatever you want to do. He may be considered ‘too sweet’. This is the guy who gets put in the friend zone. Women genuinely think he’s a valuable friend, but seem to miss ‘some element’ that would make him a fit partner. I believe that ‘element’ is a combination of traits that the douchebags possesses but takes too far.
David Deida, who wrote a lot of (weird) stuff about men/women came with the interesting concept that women like to ‘test’ men, to challenge them to prove their qualities. Thinking about it, I realized that this concept is so prevalent that you will find it in many contexts. In Dutch, we have a very common saying that goes “teasing girls means asking for kisses”, usually said to kids teasing each other. In a less innocent context, it’s not uncommon for women to ‘provoke’ men into taking a dominant role between the sheets by teasing them. It’s even a common (?) practice in BDSM relationships, for the submissive person to provoke the dominant person into punishing the submissive person. On a less carnal level (?), according to Deida, this happens all the time because women want to be reassured about their man’s capabilities. This could be in the form of nagging, teasing, criticizing or even a simple “what do you want to do tonight?”.
Example: When I’m at my mom’s place and she asks me and her boyfriend what we want to eat, she always gets frustrated when we say something like “whatever you want is fine”. I’m sure my mom isn’t asking us to test us, but displaying indecisiveness (or always holding back about the things you want) like this all the time could be subconsciously interpreted as you being weak – thus making you fit for the friend zone.
Is this a stretch? Too far fetched? Possibly, but it does make sense and I’ve heard other women complain about men’s indecisiveness, whereas men who know what they want are generally praised. This indecisiveness is just one possible example of what could be tested by a woman. The douchebag does what he wants without concern for the woman. The doormat does whatever she wants (which may be, ironically, to hear what he wants) and the manly man is somewhere in between. Of course women generally want to feel respected and their feelings to be acknowledged, but they generally want to have a ‘stable factor’ beside them. Someone with nice guy syndrome may provide the respect and emotional support in tough times, but they miss the ‘intensity’ that the douchebag does have. I say intensity here because I really can’t find a proper word for this. (Edit: After reading this, a friend astutely mentioned that words like ‘independence’ and ‘assertivity’ might be better suited here.) Excitement, risk and at the same time the sense of safety that a more dominant or a stronger man could provide… Perhaps those things combined are what attract women to the douchebag – even if they take things too far and disrespect (or even mistreat) women.
All this results in good guys turning sad, douchebags missing out on truly fulfilling connections with women and a lot of disappointed women. The challenge for the manly man (-to be) would be to find a perfect balance here, while attempting to understand what women want.
How? No idea. After all, I’m just a man.
“After about 20 years of marriage, I’m finally starting to scratch the surface of what women want. And I think the answer lies somewhere between conversation and chocolate.” – Mel Gibson
A friend of mine recently posted this article on Facebook. It’s pretty long so I’ll recap.
Elliot Rodger, 22, killed 6 people and wounded another 13 recently before he killed himself.
He had a history of being bullied and the internet is fiercely debating his supposed mental state, his autism, his disdain for women, etc.
Elliot was part of PUAHate, an internet group of people who believe that they are entitled to having sex with women, but they’re convinced that they can’t get laid because women are stupid cunts and women will only go for rich, good looking guys.
The writer of the article went to take a look at the PUAH group and was shocked to find some of them defending Elliot and even stimulating each other to go out and kill people as retaliation for not being able to get laid. Elliot had apparently also made many remarks like this. He stated that ‘women are the enemy’, they ‘starve you of sex and humiliate you’, that you should hate them and that ‘women are the ultimate cause of your suffering’. Disturbing? It gets worse. The PUAH group at some point proceeds to talk about how rape is a totally legit thing and one guy is puzzled that “he can’t fuck a virgin 16-18 year old” despite the fact that “he is entitled to this” and that “he’ll go Rodger”.
(Much respect for writer Erin Ryan, who somehow had the stomach to sit through all that bullshit and made a good write up about it.)
I could probably name 100 things that are wrong with what I just read, but there is one particular thing that bothers me which is prevalent in many aspects of society, not just when it comes to these ass nozzles who think they are entitled to sex with women they like. (Or hate… Or… What even goes on in their heads anyway?)
There is a strong emphasis on whining, self pity, blaming others and shifting responsibility. It’s apparently okay to settle for mediocrity (or less bluntly, ‘for a status quo’) for yourself as a person – since you’re entitled to good stuff anyway. I used to think this lead to little more than depression or an unsatisfying life, but reading up on the whole PUAH thing led me to believe that this is a factor in many problems we find in society, in this example an extreme form of misogyny leading up to the death of several people.
Ramit Sethi wrote a pretty cool article that puts this concept into words nicely while explaining what to do about it. I’ll quote the gist of it:
“This girl was asking for advice about a guy she was seeing. They had gone on a few dates, but he hardly called her and mostly sent short text replies when she initiated.
*Several examples of advice given by women*
But do you notice something funny about the advice? NOT ONE PERSON TOLD HER TO IMPROVE HERSELF. Instead, they told her about filtering men…and how HE needed to work to win her…and how she shouldn’t put up with the way he was treating her.
But I guarantee she could improve herself — becoming more fun, getting more fit, picking up interesting activities, and overall working on her positive attitude. This idea of actually improving yourself is advice NOBODY tells their friends. It’s politically incorrect and impolite, and it’s easier to tell them to DUMP THAT LOSER! But it also happens to be 100% true.
We do the same thing with careers. We write about what WE want in a job…how WE want a flexible schedule, how WE need to make $X, how WE want to work from home on Fridays. I call this “I, I, I Syndrome,” because average people spend so much time thinking about what they want…that they NEVER pay attention to what the hiring manager wants!
In other words, instead of waiting for others to “like you for who you are” (classic loser mentality), why not become a better person? Why not become truly IRRESISTIBLE by becoming more skilled, more attractive, more truly understanding their hopes/fears/dreams, and by becoming so popular they can’t help but want you?”
You’re not entitled to anything. Once you’re born into this world, things like hard work and luck mean more than some innate right to something. If you have loving parents like I have, who’ve always given you what you needed, consider yourself blessed and never take that for granted. Outside of that, once you step outside your door and into the big, bad world, it’s up to you not to leave things up to chance or wallow in self pity by bitching about “not getting what you’re entitled to”. This “I am entitled to X despite having done nothing to earn it”-train of thought is prevalent in our society and although to some extent legit (think of basic human rights), gives rise to a breed of self pitying, lazy, contemptable and apparently dangerous idiots. Elliot is an extreme case, but what I believe to be a big factor in breeding hatred, self-pity and many other bad things is something I see everywhere, and it’s something we can fight.
I feel like kids in our society are always told that we can be anything, yet as we grow older we’re told to settle for mediocrity and not stand out too much. Let’s take a moment to consider the fact that the evolution of our society has always been dependent on people that worked hard and stood out, not people that “felt they were entitled to things” and settled for
a mediocre life of whining. People like the PUAH group have no grasp of concepts like honour or strength.
“History doesn’t flow, it moves by leaps and bounds. Sometimes it must be pushed along by men like us along the way.” – Leon Silverburg in Suikoden 2.
I mentioned magnanimity in the previous installment of this series, but I wanted to expand on it a little bit. Mostly because I want people to take it seriously, to really understand what it means and why it’s worth adopting as a virtue to strive for, rather than consider it a feel-good, pretty word.
Wikipedia attributed ‘willingness to face danger’, ‘a refusal to be petty’ and ‘actions for noble purposes’ to magnanimity. I added courage, boldness, honour, self-respect and benevolence.
I mentioned WHAT it is and it sounds nice, but I haven’t described yet WHY it’s important. I don’t want to sound like a self-help booklet with rah-rah bullshit that uses pretty words to make you feel better about yourself when nothing really changes at all.
Now of course there’s the concept of “If everyone would hold this value in high esteem and act upon it, the world would be a better place” like with many other values, but there’s something else that I feel is undervalued in today’s society. That thing is being reliable. Magnanimity has connotations of defying fear, protecting/supporting people, not going back on your word, keeping yourself and those around you in high esteem and being an overall badass. I could go in depth about how the importance of this is evolutionary and how a lack of those traits could mean death for you and those around you, countless years ago. What bothers me is that people would disregard this is not relevant to modern day society since we have less to fear from wild animals, we have plenty of food to eat (at least most of those in Western society anyway, take a walk around your average Walmart if you doubt this) and of course we are ‘civilized’ and in possession of a system of laws that protects us from horrific Game-of-Thrones-ish events that could befall us, had we lived a thousand years ago. That train of thought has some unfortunate ramification, nicely described by Jack Donovan:
“Civilization comes at a cost of manliness. It comes at a cost of wildness, of risk, of strife. It comes at a cost of strength, of courage, of mastery. It comes at a cost of honor. Increased civilization exacts a toll of virility, forcing manliness into further redoubts of vicariousness and abstraction.”
The reason that this is something to consider is because even if modern day society does not require aspects of magnanimity to ensure survival of you and your ‘group’, those aspects (or lack thereof) can greatly influence your relationships with people. Being a reliable person is probably the best way to summarize this, but let me give just a few random (modern day) examples of where those traits of magnanimity come into play.
Everyone looks for a certain sense of safety or homeliness, preferably in other people. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to give this to people, and being strong and able to support people through tough times is a powerful way to achieve this. You cannot do this if you are weak, fearful, selfish and unwilling to protect and aid.
Boldness is sometimes necessary to get what you want. This could be anything from having the guts to ask out that girl you like, asking for a raise at your job, being a better entrepeneur or making new friends. For people who have some form of social anxiety, this is where the ‘defying fear’ thing comes in as well.
You want your partner to be reliable, loyalty is important here. You don’t want to come home to find your girlfriend blowing the next door neighbour on your couch.
One thing that I like about my closer friends is that their word means something. I usually don’t make promises to people, it’s very, very rare that I do. Despite not exactly being a christian, in this case I adhere to part of a Biblical passage from Matthew 5 that I like. “Let your yes be a yes, let your no be a no”. Say it like it is, don’t make promises you’re not sure you can keep, don’t spout all sorts of stuff and then try to nuance it when it comes back to bite you in the ass. Being reliable also means that your word has to mean something.
Things like honesty, openness and respect go a long way in limiting the amount of gossipping, shit-talking behind someone’s back and outright lying. You know, those stupid things that may spread untrue rumours, damage someone’s reputation, break up friendships and more.
Magnanimity almost feels like an archaic word. Perhaps that is part of the reason why so many people do shitty things and so many people are disappointed with others. Sometimes it’s like we have forgotten a concept that was once an inherent part of strong people that made us a strong species, and replaced it with… With what, really?
In previous articles in this series, I wrote about behavior towards women and about a few somewhat random subjects that I felt were relevant. This time I want to make another list of virtues, rules, etc. and sort of summarize them into a few ‘core virtues to strive for’ that I feel would capture at least most of the essence of this series.
Consume less, create more. Setting personal records in the gym, making someone happy and writing a song are generally more fulfilling than watching Temptation Island or Maury. This doesn’t mean consuming is a bad thing. After all, sometimes we learn from it, sometimes we relax with it and sometimes it inspires us. On the other hand, consuming can become a form of distraction from other, important things. An extreme example would be using drugs as a coping mechanism for stress instead of actually handling the stress. In a more subtle fashion, you could be consuming things as a mindless distraction, at the same time numbing yourself down to prevent yourself from investing energy in creating. Whereas consuming is generally a temporary fix for something, producing things can help you grow and give you a strong sense of self-esteem and self-respect. And no, lack of time is hardly (if ever) a problem. Priorities however, can at times prevent you from putting time/energy/money in creating, and sometimes that is okay.
Related to that, be passionate about something and grow in it. Some people think too much and give themselves little chance to really immerse themselves in their passion, which is a major pitfall and I have a strong feeling that this is related to so many situations of depression and ‘ennui’ among young people these days. Too much time to think, no focus, no reason, too little personal growth and too much mindless consumption of media. Doing this should be rewarding enough that you don’t have to concern yourself with constant affirmation of others. Your self-esteem will grow and you will radiate this through your behavior. Things like sex and alcohol lose their function as coping mechanisms for insecurity or stress and can turn into things you can genuinely explore and enjoy on different levels if you so wish.
Don’t glorify mistakes. They’re pretty much inevitable and they will most likely suck. Using them to learn is the best way to deal with them, but that’s no reason to accept them as desirable. Find a good mentor and learn from other people’s mistakes when you can. On the other hand, if you get off your ass and do something with your life you WILL make mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up over them.
Be magnanimous. I originally put ‘protect your honour’ here (inspired by the videogame ‘Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core’, yes), but had a hard time finding the words for what I wanted to convey. The Wikipedia page on honour stated the following:
“Dr Samuel Johnson, in his ‘A Dictionary of the English Language’ (1755), defined honour as having several senses, the first of which was “nobility of soul, magnanimity, and a scorn of meanness.” This sort of honour derives from the perceived virtuous conduct and personal integrity of the person endowed with it.”
When I found out what magnanimous meant, that perfectly described what I wanted to convey:
“It encompasses, usually, a refusal to be petty, a willingness to face danger, and actions for noble purposes.”
To me, it encompasses courage, boldness, honour, self-respect and benevolence. It encompasses being a reliable friend, an honest man, a compassionate and helpful person yet not a doormat. (Fuck. I could have summarized this whole post by saying ‘be magnanimous’.)
My mom recently told me about a guy she used to know. A while after his good friend and his good friend’s wife divorced, this guy met that woman at a bar and they got along very well after that and he took interest in her. Without so much as touching her, he went to his friend to tell him about it. He wanted to be open and honest about it, not doing anything behind his back, staying true to his own feelings yet putting things like honesty before anything else. Long story short: they quit talking for a while, but apparently the two guys and their new partners are now close friends who do a lot of stuff together and trust each other deeply. Hard? Awkward? Maybe even weird that he’d go after his friend’s ex? Sure. But his action did display some sense of honour and courage that I really see too little around me.
Hand in hand with magnanimity goes equanimity, a mental and emotional stability. Equanimity is about being resilient and having a stable mind that does not falter in the face of dramatic events. I guess you could say in videogame terms that if magnanimity is your attack power, equanimity is your defense. For those that Google this word: Don’t confuse it with the Buddhist concept of Upekkha. Upekkha suggests that you should not be moved by many things. I do not subscribe to that type of thinking, neither through positive nor negative events. I am referring to being resilient enough to get through life’s events stronger, not to trying to let everything that happens -even the good- just go by you. That’s throwing the baby out with the bath water. You ignore naysayers, gossipers and whiners. Not steaks, blowjobs and videogames. Stability, not apathy.
Practice selfishness. Sounds strange when put next to things like magnanimity and making people happy? Keep this in mind. You cannot share what you do not have. You cannot treat someone to a meal when you don’t have money. You cannot carry someone out of a burning building if you’re hardly strong enough to climb two flights of stairs without getting winded. You cannot properly protect your girlfriend from drunk idiots in the streets if you weigh a buck-twenty and have never learned how to deliver a proper punch.
Think of the well quoted example of you and your little kid being on a plane that threatens to make an emergency landing. When the oxygen masks come down, you put on your own mask first since your kid will survive the few seconds without oxygen. Yet if you pass out while trying to give him the mask, both of you could die.
Take care of yourself.
Never let misery be a comfort zone. Venting is fine if it brings relief and helps us cope with shit we go through, but we all know the person who finds comfort in complaining without doing anything to improve the situation. The worst thing is that this is a very serious issue that many people are well aware of. Don’t let yourself be caught here, because it can be easy and ‘safe’ to stay there, but it can destroy you, your relationships or people around you and it’s a hell to get out of.
Mudita. Simply put, this Buddhist value means valuing other people’s happiness and helping them up instead of being envious and trying to bring them down.
“It crushes and destroys the pain of others; thus, it is called compassion.” – The Buddha
Everything I have written so far in this series could be elaborated upon in 10 more posts, and books have been written about it since early Buddhism and Aristotle (and most likely since well before that), but I believe that most of the things I want to convey with Endure and Survive can be summarized with these four:
“When men evaluate each other as men, they still look for the same virtues that they’d need to keep the perimeter. Men respond to and admire the qualities that would make men useful and dependable in an emergency. Men have always had a role apart, and they still judge one another according to the demands of that role as a guardian in a gang struggling for survival against encroaching doom. Everything that is specifically about being a man—not merely a person—has to do with that role.” – Jack Donovan