An interesting thing happens when we get out act together, drop our victim stories, start taking responsibility for our lives and getting what we want in life: Other people's response to us change significantly. The majority of people treat powerful, self-confident men with respect; but there will always be people who respond with hostility because they are jealous of our success. [caption id="attachment_3158" align="alignright" width="300"] Don't Get Trapped By Other People's Jealousy[/caption] The only real downside to letting go of our insecurities and learning to live life on our own terms is that other people's insecurities can start getting triggered by us. This happened to me today at music college when another male student walked up to a lighthearted group conversation I was having and suddenly said "Graham, you need to stop being such a cunt." That didn't feel good to me: I immediately felt deflated. When I thought about it later, I felt angry; but when I interpreted what he said in the context of possible jealousy towards me, I could see that his comment was really about him rather than me. (more…)
I was on my way to music class this morning and the peak hour train was a little more crowded than usual. As I headed downstairs to find a seat, I came across a couple of men occupying two opposite-facing three-person bench seats. I wasn't keen on standing for a half hour while two guys occupied six seats, so I politely said "Excuse me" to the guy on the aisle end of backward-facing seat, and he kindly moved over to the window to accommodate me. As I sat in the newly vacant aisle seat, I felt constrained by the man sitting in the middle of the bench seat opposite me. He was sitting forward with his legs spread wide in the classic genital display pose that male primates evolved to demonstrate dominance to other lesser primates. So wide in fact that his left leg and knee were taking up at least a third of the legroom in my own individual seat. His behavior may have been unintentional and unconscious; but it didn't feel good to have my newly acquired space dominated by another man's knee. [caption id="attachment_3160" align="alignright" width="300"] Assertiveness Makes a Man Feel Strong[/caption] I'm working on getting over my fear of conflict with strangers, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to be assertive with one who was overstepping my boundaries; albeit boundaries that I had just stepped into by requesting the seat. I made eye contact with the spread-eagled man and politely asked: "Would you mind moving your leg over a little please?" He kept his leg in place and said something that I didn't hear due to my noise-cancelling headphones. I removed them so I could hear his objection and replied: "I'm sorry?" (more…)
I recently got this email about the problem of people-pleasing and avoiding conflict:
I read ur article about fear of conflict and laughed hysterically. Ure fkn brave man! I like ur eastern take on things too where ure aware and u breathe n things. I recognize me being a people-pleaser too and I'm shitless afraid confronting people and coming into conflict. How do i go about it? Do I just do it? How do i do it if the other part is childish and runs from u like a scared little bitch? I want to please everyone but inside i know i HAVE to come into conflict cus i cant escape it. I have to let others know when they're being retarded. I focus too much about making others happy n i cant see em sad. Is this wrong? I think its good to be this compassionate and nice but the more i read up on it somethings telling me this kind of people pleasing is bad for u and ur future. and others?"!?!?! But isn't that another layer I'm adding to it? Stopping people pleasing to please others even further?!?! SO FUCKED UP. WHATS THE POINT OF LIVING WITHOUT VALIDATION and ATTENTION OUTSIDE YOU. FUUUCK. SEEELF IMAGE WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT. WHATS THE PURPOSE of FKN LIFE?!?!I hear your anger and frustration. This sounds like a classic example of how obsessive people-pleasing and avoidance of conflict undermines your sense of self to the point where your life seems meaningless without external validation. Here's how to fix it: [caption id="attachment_3014" align="alignright" width="300"] Obsessive people pleasing and avoidance of conflict will eventually crush you.[/caption] At the core of people-pleasing behavior is anxiety, most likely anxiety about being abandoned or unloved. My guess is that you're afraid that you won't survive physically or emotionally without the approval of people around you. The way to tackle this fear is to stop seeking other people's approval, build a life that is meaningful for you even without external validation and discover that you not only survive; you thrive. The big irony here is that the less you seek other people's approval, the more likable you will become to most people in the long run. That sounds great in theory, but the only way to really discover it for yourself is to take the journey yourself; and since the biggest impediment to doing this is the anxiety, that's what I'm going to focus on. (more…)
Many men have mother issues that undermine our self-confidence by stopping us from really growing up and fulfilling our true potential. Unresolved mother issues cause us to remain emotionally and developmentally immature; a boy in a man's body. If we had a critical or controlling mother we're particularly prone to having mother issues. Add in a passive father and a lack of tribal structure with initiation rituals in modern society to force us from the cozy comfort of our mother's breast, and it's easy to slip from childhood into adulthood without ever actually growing up. [caption id="attachment_2932" align="alignright" width="300"] Unresolved mother issues can leave you stuck in a permanent state of adolescence.[/caption]
This leaves us forever unconsciously seeking comfort and reassurance from our mother, and our neediness ends up projected onto any woman we come across; which is a disaster for our relationships with women.
In normal human development, we individuate from our mothers during adolescence as we grow into being our own man with our own set of values different from hers. This is a time of rapid brain rewiring and emotional upheaval as we alternate between feeling emotionally connected with our mother, and separating from her to explore the world and our place in it.
If our mother wasn't emotionally available to connect to, or tried to control our excursions into the world in order to prevent her feeling upset in case we got hurt, then everything can go horribly wrong. Nice Guy Syndrome and the associated approval seeking are classic symptoms of mother issues. Insecurity resulting from unresolved mother issues ends up being unconsciously projected onto everyone and everything around us, having a serious negative impact on our whole life.
Here's how to heal your mother issues: (more…)
I want to share with you a recent victory I had over the fear of being assertive with strangers, and why it's so significant for me. A few days ago I was sitting on a bench seat in a popular park down by the beach near where I live, reading a book written by my father about his early life. After a few minutes another man walked up and asked “Do you mind if I sit here?”, gesturing to the other end of the seat. “No, that's fine”, I smiled and said before returning to my book. [caption id="attachment_2886" align="alignright" width="300"] Would you like to be more confident about being assertive with strangers?[/caption] The beach in question is a popular tourist destination and attracts a lot of backpackers from all around the world. This guy looked like he might be one, and appeared to be by himself. While reading my book I started to feel a little guilty for ignoring him, as I imagined him being a lonely backpacker in a foreign land seeking someone to talk to. In reality I wasn't “ignoring him”; I was just reading my book which is what I wanted to do. But my old caretaker conditioning of putting other people's needs before my own was kicking in. I reminded myself that most likely he was perfectly capable of looking after himself and that I was free to choose to speak to him or to read my book. I chose to continue reading my book. (more…)
I developed an intense fear of conflict when I was young, and it has hung around with me for a long time. The fear evolved as a series of things led to each other: I used to find the fights between my parents very frightening as a kid, and never experienced any of their conflicts actually being resolved. Conflict was scary, and never seemed to have a positive outcome. My parent's anger during conflict always felt out of control and destructive to me, so I decided that anger was a bad emotion to be suppressed at all costs. Plus my religion taught me to “turn the other cheek” rather than to stand up for myself when I was being treated in ways that I didn't like. As an awkward, sensitive boy I was bullied mercilessly at my sport-oriented all-boys high school. [caption id="attachment_2767" align="alignright" width="300"] When we are afraid of conflict, other people can treat us like this.[/caption] So the message I internalised was that conflict was scary and often led to me getting hurt. I developed an intense fear of conflict: Any time I was under threat or being criticised, I would collapse into sadness or be overwhelmed with fear. I didn't know how to utilise my anger to stand up for myself in times of conflict, nor had I been taught the communication skills to resolve conflict in a win/win manner that left me feeling empowered. Once we've internalised negative experiences of conflict in our nervous systems, our default programming around conflict can be to run away from it, and it can be a challenge to reprogram our brain and nervous system to step up in the face of conflict, instead of fleeing from it. Standing up for ourselves in the face of conflict is how we overcome the fear of it. (more…)