Monday, 30 November 2015

Self-Improvement Without Motivational Myths

Pop therapists and other motivational writers rely on a number of core myths: the Integrated Man; the Intimate Relationship; the Meaningful Life; the Abundant Universe; and the Myth of Serendipity. These are counter-propaganda against the myths that the patient believes about themselves.

Integrated Man: the patient believes that they must hide their innermost thoughts and feelings, and pretend to be someone else, or to be the person that they think other people want them to be: the Myth of the Integrated Man tells them that they can be themselves and people won’t run away from them.

Intimate Relationship: The patient believes that no-one will love them, hear them, care about them, meet their needs (this is therapy-speak for sex), or help them in anything more than a transactional way: the Myth of the Intimate Relationship tells them that somewhere out there is someone, or a group of someones, who will fill that horrible emptiness with attention and love (and sex and cuddles).

Meaningful Life: The patient believes that they are doomed to a life of empty, unfulfilling day-job grind with accompanying commuting and maintenance work. They have half-formed dreams and plans, and interests and (often arty) abilities that are slowly rotting away in their soul. The Myth of the Meaningful Life tells them that if they identify and follow their passions, they will find a job, or clients, or an agent, or a gallery who will help them do work they find rewarding and fascinating and happy-making.

Abundance: The patient believes that there simply isn’t enough of the Good Stuff to go round, and that they won’t be there when it’s being dispensed. Other people get the good jobs, all the good women are already married, all the nice flats in reasonable parts of town are already taken, heck, they can’t even get a ticket for a concert. The Myth of Abundance tells them that, well, the Universe isn’t out to deny them anything, and in fact provides enough for everyone, even if you might have to be up earlier to get in the queue.

Serendipity: The patient believes that their life is in a rut, that nothing will ever change, that all doors are locked and all seats already taken. The Myth of Serendipity (Jung gets quoted a lot here) says that the Universe puts opportunities in our way all the time, if we could but see them, and that the important thing is to have goal towards which you are working, and that in and of itself will cause the Universe to swing stuff your way.

I'm not going to critique these myths for two reasons. First, because you know they are nonsense. Second, because these myths are not supposed to be descriptions of the world, but to help the patient shake off the despair, hopelessness and victimisation they often feel. If this happens over the short term, I can't really complain. However, these myths are a lot like pissing in your pants: it gives you an immediate warm feeling and leaves behind a mess. In three years' time the patient will be wondering what he's doing wrong, because he still isn't "getting his needs met" and he can't seem to find anyone to pay him enough for doing what he really likes to do.

Is there an alternative? Well, yes there is. Thou shalt (weight) lift. Thou shalt stop watching and reading junk culture, and read Great Books For Men instead. Thou shalt cut down on smoking and drink only when needed to chase after girls. If thy girlfriend has not consented to sex in the last month, thou shalt turn her out of thy dwellings, even as thou shalt take the day off to change the locks and put her possessions into storage. Thou shalt un-friend girls who tell you what a good friend you are but have sex with bad boys. Thou shalt smarten up thy wardrobe after thou hast lost fat and gained muscle. Thou shalt polish up thy CV, taking professional advice if needed, and post a summary on LinkedIn, and start to apply for jobs, because thou needest the interview practice. Then thou shalt apply for jobs where thou really wantest to work. Thou shalt try everything in an attempt to find something that thou likest to do. And thou shalt read Heartiste, and the London Daygamers. (But thou shalt steer clear of Roosh and his works as he's lost the plot, and neither shalt thou drink from the wisdom of Rollo, for it is nihilist in a manner that makes Nietzsche sound like your parish priest.) And thou shalt walk down the streets with thine head held high, and not give a damn that the previous evening thou didst rub one out to India Summer in a video. For what else is a man to do when surrounded by the women that surroundest thou? And remember, the greatest of all these actions, on which all others are built, is lifting. Bro, thou shalt even lift.

In other words a proven programme of practical action. Allez en avant et la foi vous viendrez as someone French said (roughly, "Where your ass leads, your mind will follow"). Take away the toxic crap of pop culture, exercise your body and mind, eat right, and don't spend more than you can afford, and you will recover. If you have substance abuse problems, go to the relevant Anonymous. That too will have a program of practical action.

Will the world love you after this? Will you "get your needs met"? No. But you will care a whole lot less. Because you will be living a whole lot better.

Which brings us to the third and final part: Red Pill nihilism.

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