The self-improvement focus in the red pill community is one of my favorite aspects of the community, and something that I think brings tremendous value to the many men who partake in it. Not only does it serve as a source of inspiration, it also keeps men accountable to themselves. However, the trouble with change is that it brings about a gap between present and future, in addition to creating a larger gap between past and present.
In the most recent Red Man Group podcast, we got a very good text-in question from one of the listeners, about the concept of “fake it until you make it“, the man, by his own description was accomplished in his professional life, had a solid income, a cool job and for the most part appeared to have his life in order. However, in attempting to change his persona in his interactions in general, and with women in particular, he “felt fake”. This guy appears to be a man of moderate to high value by his own description, alas this is not what he feels like.
This made me think of another gentleman with whom I conversed regularly some time ago, who was also attempting to change his life in a rather radical fashion. He found himself trapped in a constant vacillation between his past decisions, present desires and future visions, and in this sense he is a lot like the man who texted us on the podcast. At any moment, we exist in three states, our past, our present and our potential future.
Thus, we are at the same time our past self, our present self and our future self.
Past, Present and Future
Our past decisions are the reason for why we find ourselves in our present state. Men find the manosphere because they are finding flaws in their lives that they wish to change, but they do not know how. Many of us have made decisions in the past that to varying degrees have shaped not only our situation, but our perception of ourselves and the world. At the same time, reviewing our past from the position of our present permits hindsight, and we can often see where we went wrong. However, as is often the case with the good boys, they cannot see where they went wrong, in fact when evaluating their past, they see themselves doing everything right, but the actual outcomes do not reflect the outcomes they predicted.
They see themselves putting effort into getting good grades, a great, sensible college degree, a good job, predictable life, and developing the qualities they have been told to develop in order to make themselves into great potential husbands and fathers. Sometimes, this even appears to play out swimmingly just as they have been told for a while. They hit their late 20s, stable jobs, stable incomes, egalitarian-equalist mindset, relatively inexperienced with women, and having told themselves for the better part of 15 years “Once the girls grow up they’ll learn that the badboys are not right for them and will come find the good guys“.
Then suddenly, their ship appears to come in, the woman who wouldn’t give them the time of day in high school, or college, or right after college is sitting across from them in a restaurant, her eyes glittering, beaming smile and hanging on his every word. In a fleeting moment, he may think to himself “She’s not quite as hot as she was in high school, she put on a few lbs, she’s starting to get some wrinkles, and her eyes aren’t as lively as they were“, but it all disappears in a rush of endorphins and oxiotocin. He finds himself married, envisions a future where happily ever after, house, white picket fence and 2.5 kids finally seems possible.
5 – 7 years later many of these men find themselves sitting in a small studio apartment, having spent all their efforts over the past years attempting to fix what could be not be fixed. They are now locked in a state where miserable in the present they obsess over their past and are incapable of envisioning a future for themselves.
This is just one story, that repeats itself daily across the western world that illustrates the fact that our past shapes our present, however it does not have to shape your future.
Fighting Your Past
I recently tweeted that a person really only has 3 choices from the present, they can improve, they can decline or they can remain the same. Put into Gendernomics terms, they can invest more in themselves, invest less in themselves and thus not even cover replacement investment, or they can just barely cover the replacement investment. For most, the decision to do the first of the three comes from dissatisfaction with the outcomes that your past actions and decisions have generated for your present. The decision to decline is rarely a conscious one but it is often the natural state of things, decline happens naturally and in order to avoid it we must make a conscious choice to fight it. The decision to remain the same is also rarely a choice made with open eyes, but rather a consequence of defaulting to habits that feel comfortable to us.
The two men I referenced in the beginning found themselves at two different positions in the cycle, the man who texted The Red Man Group, appears fairly satisfied with his present state, but he wants to improve it further, to some extent disassociate with his past self, and become congruent with his current self in the future. My friend on the other hand was never able to fully disassociate with his past, nor did he really have the desire to do so. To quote Marx:
“To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions.” Karl Marx
It is fully possible to at the same time abhor one’s present condition, see the errors one has made in the past, yet fall victim to comfort, familiarity and habit. Einstein is frequently quoting as saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result, and in order to have your future be different than your present, you must make different decisions in the present than you did in the past. However, doing so inherently means breaking with those habits that you’ve developed, and voluntarily bringing discomfort upon yourself. It’s very easy to decide which state is preferable between two binary states, in a “cake or death” type dilemma, it’s much harder to continue to make yourself uncomfortable when you have yet to see the full fruits of your labor.
I’m going to assume that you’ve done what the first man did and greatly improve himself, yet you feel “fake” or like everyone can see through your new self. This is often called “imposter syndrome” and was coined by some clinical psychologists in 1978. The core of imposter syndrome are people who fail to internalize their accomplishments and have a persistant fear of being exposed as frauds. The research was done on women, but it does not appear to be a gendered phenomenon, and quite frankly in my talks with men, especially relating to sexual market value, it’s very common for men to under-value themselves and women to over-value themselves.
Signs and symptoms of imposter syndrome are:
- Undermining one’s own achievements
- Fear of failure
- Discounting praise
These are all very common traits among the good boys, and among many of the men who find themselves in red pill community for one reason or another. They’ve put immense volumes of work into themselves, often with perfectionist leanings such as attending the best schools, getting top grades, working at highly prestigious jobs, having strings of accomplishments, yet, despite all of this they consider themselves of lesser value than any woman. Part of this is simply the pedestal effect, but another and very significant part is that they never updated their self-perception.
Updating Your Self-Perception
My advice to the man who sent us the text was that he had to update how he perceived himself because the feeling of being an imposter comes from himself, not from others. On the podcast I related a story of a man I knew who was very severely bullied as a child over being weak. Back when I knew him, I believe his powerlifting total (deadlift, squat and bench) was in the 1200s, yet he still saw himself as a weakling. This is similar to how some men who suffer from “megarexia” can be 6 ft 4, 270 lbs and still view themselves as tiny. They have not updated their software to take into account the changes in hardware and external circumstances. This is one of the areas where I think affirmations can be very valuable by repeating your accomplishments to yourself, you can force a software update.
Imposter syndrome is a case of devaluing the positive and over-valuing the negative, thus landing yourself in a negative feedback loop, where continued progress is halted because by devaluing results, you also devalue the benefit of putting in continued effort. It’s very difficult to not be bound by the past in this way, every time you make a grand leap forward. First you are in a state of comfort, then you are in a state of discomfort, then you reach your goal, and you have no idea what to do now. You are comfortable with who you are, you are in a state of change, then you are someone new, but you’re not exactly sure who this new person is, and you must spend time getting to know them.
Summary and Conclusions
I recently listened to a podcast that AJA Cortes did with Rollo Tomassi and a major topic for the first hour or so of the podcast was congruence. Rollo had a great example, where if a man looks very Alpha, yet acts very Beta this throws women off because their perceptions of him does not reflect their experience of him. When some part of you changes, it takes time for the rest of you to catch up with it. In the case of the gentleman who texted in to The Red Man Group, he has made the changes, yet they are not an internalized part of his self-perception. In the case of my old friend, he was comfortable with his past self, his past perception of the world, and the illusions about his condition. He was uncomfortable with his present, the changes he would have to make, and the potential effects they would have, and thus he found himself with one foot on each side of the teeter-totter.
To step to one side would require that he give up some of his attachments to his past, including accepting the sunk-costs of his past choices. To step to the other side, would mean that his future self may not include some of the values that are dear to his heart. To remain in his position would result in perpetual anxiety as he attempted to balance two sides of himself that were like oil and water. In the end, comfort and habit won out.
You must own your past, without letting it dictate your future.
You must be present in the now, without losing sight of your future.
You must keep an eye on the future without forgetting your past.
We cannot change the past, but we can make decisions and undertake actions in the present to change our future. If we elect to do so, we must at some point accept and integrate the different versions of ourselves into a congruent whole in order to realize the maximum benefits of the journey that we undertook. The woman you’re hitting on now, doesn’t know who you were 10 minutes ago, let alone 10 years ago. The fact of the matter is, she doesn’t even care. Women do not look a gift-alpha in the mouth, especially not one who is unaware of his own value.