Welcome to the Masculine Psychology Podcast, where we answer key questions in dating, relationships, success, and fulfillment, and explore the psychology of masculinity. Now here's your host, world-renowned therapist and life coach, David Tian.
David: Welcome to another episode of the Masculine Psychology Podcast. I’m David Tian, your host, and I'm very excited to welcome you to Episode 14.
In the last episode, we discussed the pathologies of success and why it's so difficult for achievers to succeed in creating long-term, intimate, loving relationships. We covered three points, how it's so hard for achievers to be present in their personal life because of a restlessness of unworthiness.
That led into the second point that it's actually a fear. It's based on a fear that we're not good enough or that we're not worthy, and specifically not worthy of love, which is ultimately what loving relationships are all about and that's what they're aiming for. [01:02.8]
Then, speaking specifically to achiever men, I gave the example of the bigger, better deal as an example of one of the main things that they fear of losing out to the bigger, better deal, and that could get cashed out in whatever ways that man, that achiever, happens to base his self-esteem on. That could be losing out to a richer guy or a sexier guy, or a more attractive guy, or a guy who has better skills with women or a guy who has higher status, or a guy who's funnier or a guy who just scores higher on whatever metric he's banking on to be worthy of love and attraction and affection, and keeping that woman's interest in him.
It's a moving target because it's all subjective to that woman, the woman that he's trying to create attraction in and keep and sustain that attraction. She's the judge of whether he's good enough, so his sense of self-worth is always at her mercy. His self-esteem is always at the mercy of things that are outside his control. [02:07.5]
This led into the third point. How can you tell whether you're actually suffering from any of this, the pathologies of your success? I'm speaking in this episode and the next one, and the last one, to achievers specifically. How can you know whether you are suffering from that, the achiever’s curse, the pathologies of success? Are you tired of this? Do you feel overworked, burnt out from always having to earn your self-worth, to prove yourself worth? Because if in your value system, you have to “earn” your self-worth, you have to “earn” love, then you can never rest. It will never be enough.
The big question of “When will it be enough?” normally applied to money or career accolades can also be equally applied to whatever it is that you're banking on to make that relationship work, to hold her attraction or to her sparker attraction. When will it be enough? Because actually you will always be looking behind your back. You will always be looking over your shoulder for the bigger, better deal. [03:14.0]
So, you will always be on this treadmill of having to prove yourself worth, of having to earn love in your life over and over and over, because you’re not enough just in who you are to earn it—you've got to keep doing stuff—so that even success that you earn in this way, this kind of tortured success, ends up feeding your narcissism, because on those days when you are successful at earning self-worth or earning love, you think to yourself, Yes, I am better than-- I compare better than-- I compared favorably to my competitors, and I am better than—
It looks like you have high self-esteem, but, in fact, narcissism is rooted in toxic shame. It's actually rooted in low self-esteem and you can never rest and you can never feel truly fulfilled or content, and there's no underlying abiding calm or peace in your life. This is the curse of the achiever and these are the pathologies of success. [04:16.8]
That's what I covered in the last episode and it's all about arriving at that point where you can effortlessly attract and keep the right woman to succeed in a long-term relationship. The attraction is effortless because it's just based on who you are. It's based on your being, not your doing, and in that sense, there's nothing you do that you need to do. There's no extra effort that you need to put into it. You're just you and that's the basis of love and your self-worth. Now, this is a really difficult idea, concepts, a paradigm to an achiever, for an achiever to wrap his mind around, so stick with this because there is truth here. [05:02.5]
If you're not understanding it yet, stick with this episode, keep an open mind, because if you don't, over the long run, if you haven't experienced it already, you will feel the underlying pain, that sort of background stress and the sort of gnawing feeling. Over time, it's not in the background anymore. It comes to the fore and it feels like this kind of weight on your shoulders that you can never rest. You can never actually be good enough. You have to keep earning it over and over and over.
And where does it come from? I discussed some of that in the last episode. I’ll be getting into it deeper in this episode. I've actually devoted whole seminars to it on my YouTube channel and entire courses, diving deep into the sources and origins of all of this for hours, and then helping to uproot it all and to heal and unburden, and grow from it and grow out of it.
Where does it come from? It starts from when we are very young, and we learned as achievers that we had to earn the love of our parent figures or caregivers, whoever we were dependent on for survival and for love, of course, love and connection to meet those needs. [06:11.0]
It went down to just even maybe earning attention from them, and then earning approval, affection, earning significance from them, earning love and connection eventually, it felt like that, though, even if our parent figures still loved us, maybe they just didn't know how to convey that in a way where we would still work hard at the things they want us to succeed at, which are so often born out of their own insecurities and their own fears that they pass down to us and then hamper us.
Then, it actually affects not just our self-worth when it comes to school or other worldly goals, but, of course, also, most importantly perhaps, in our attempts at creating a love relationship because we carry that fundamental belief about having to earn it, earning affection, approval, earning love and connection into—speaking to men now—your relationships with women. [07:10.3]
You don't want to have to be in that position of finding that out way too late down the road, because when you enter into a relationship based on that belief that you have to earn it, you have created and will continue to create conditional transactional relationships with-- You could call them conditional love.
Of course, conditional love isn't love where that kind of conditionality of that kind of transaction, the contractual relationship, and those are going to fail. They're going to fail either spectacularly in a divorce or separation or splitting up, or it could fail in a kind of deadening of affect, a deadening of passion, where it's just two people cohabitating, maybe living in separate bedrooms as is very common in Asian homes. [07:56.8]
Instead, you could be loved for you. We all want to be loved for ourselves, not for what we can do or what we have. Again, this flies in the face of the myth of value-based love. You've probably heard a lot of this sort of messaging in the men's development space of, hey, if you want her to like you or if you want people to like you, you've got to offer them more value. In a business context, this makes a lot of sense, and even in a school context or even perhaps in certain networking contexts it makes sense because those are transactional relationships and sometimes they're very obviously transactional relationships.
But in a love relationship, if what you want to create is a love relationship, a love-intimate relationship, then it can't be based on a value-based love because value-based love is not love. Value-based in the sense of they only love you for the value you offer them, what you can do for her. Don't fall into that trap. Don't buy into that myth that in order to be worthy of love, that you've got to offer some value. That is a big trap. [09:00.8]
How do you get out of a trap like that or how do you avoid it completely? I’ve got three points to share with you today and let's just dive right into those.
The first is the insecurity of achievement where your self-esteem is earned and it's based on your performance. You'll always have to keep performing. You'll have to perform better the next time. This is directly contrasted with being-based self-Esteem where your self-esteem is based on who you are, so it’s performance-based versus being-based self-esteem.
Performance-based self-esteem is based on insecurity, these core insecurities that you're not enough just in who you are, so you've got to do stuff to become good enough. Again, that makes sense in lots of other contexts, especially in a kind of competitive contexts like sports or school or any kind of transactional context, like business where you're exchanging some product or service for money and then money you exchange again for some other things, some other tangible thing that you want. These are all conditional spheres, so it all makes sense to have a kind of performance-based self-confidence in those contexts. [10:15.5]
But when it comes to intimacy and love, that approach completely collapses. If you create an intimate relationship with a performance-based self-esteem approach or if you enter into an intimate relationship carrying that belief that you've got to earn love or do stuff to be worthy of love, then you have guaranteed that your relationship will fail.
Then the next logical question is, okay, if it's about just being, then what would make someone worthy of love? What does make someone worthy of love? It's a worthy question. What makes you worthy of love? The problem is in the question itself. Love cannot be earned because love that is earned is conditional. [11:01.8]
Such conditional love is not love, by definition. You may feel just as, if not more intense. Its intensity may burn passionately, but its conditionality disqualifies it from being love itself. It is like maybe intense liking or infatuation, or affection or adoration or passion. It can be an ingredient that enhances the experience of real love, but because it's conditional and hence could be withdrawn and will be withdrawn whenever the conditions are no longer met, therefore it's not love.
This is the second point now that we've already gotten into—what makes someone worthy of love?—and that very question is the problem. Posing that question means that you don't understand what love actually is. One of the big stumbling blocks to understanding unconditional love or the unconditionality built into the concept of love is that a lot of people can, especially heartbroken men and women, confuse the conditionality of it. Unconditional love, they take it to mean indiscriminate or universal love. [12:09.5]
This happens to a lot of men and women who are still processing the pain and bitterness of a bad breakup, and are still reacting to the fear of either getting back together with that one who heard them or cheated on them so badly or the fear of getting into another toxic relationship, and they're still stuck in reaction to that trauma of that past toxic relationship. They see or hear unconditional love and they read into it an injunction to get back with your ex or something like that and they have parts of them that reject that entire notion and react very strongly to that.
Notice, though, that all of this protesting of, no, there can be no such thing as unconditional love. It's too dangerous. Thou doth protest too much. The energy and the rejection of the notion is a reflection of the attraction of the movement it's pushing against, that very energy. The more energy that's in it, the more that part is actually secretly attracting it, wanting it. [13:04.5]
Let's be clear. The unconditional in unconditional love is not referring to the person that you direct love towards. I'm not saying love everyone in the world unconditionally and I'm not saying you should not choose wisely who you decide to bestow your unconditional love upon, because we human beings are finite creatures with limited lifespans and we have measurable stores of energy and attention, and at any given time, you may only have the capacity to love unconditionally a limited number of people. Maybe half a dozen, two dozen individuals in the world. Any more than that and the love gets so attenuated, it gets so thinned out that it ceases to have any real meaning.
When a spiritual-seeming guru enjoins you to love all living beings, that feeling of love that you can direct toward all living beings—which are basically these unknown, faceless strangers, all billions of them, many of them on the other side of the world—is so thinned out, attenuated, that it's almost meaningless beyond a nice feel-good kind of glow and you can pat yourself on the back spiritually for that. [14:10.1]
But that's not what I'm talking about when it comes to love, because you kind of have nice feelings towards them, but that's not love. You can just boil it down to choosing who you love carefully because you only have the capacity to love unconditionally a limited number of people at any given time.
But when you do love, when you choose to love, love unconditionally, and that's just built into the concept of love, so it was a tautology what I just said there, unconditional love means that when you choose to allow yourself to love, it is to be unconditional. The best to paradigmatic example of unconditional love is that between parent and child. The love and a typical romantic relationship is a gradual approximation of the fearlessness in the parent-child love relationship. [14:58.4]
In ancient Greek, the emotion of passionate intimacy is called eros or eros. Eros is intimacy combined with sexual attraction. In other words, a loving sexual relationship between an adult man and woman is eros, passionate intimacy, plus love.
The passionate intimacy of eros is often confused with love however. It feels like love because it's an imperfect approximation of the unconditional love between a parent and child, which is why couples therapists can derive so many deep insights from analyzing the couple’s families of origin. As the couple’s relationship matures, it becomes less fearful and more confident, and grows into unconditional love, though most couples’ relationships never end up maturing that way. They just end up collapsing.
So, passion is different from love, though many young people can't tell the difference at first, if ever. For most young people, they go from passion to dependency to disowning, without any real love involved at all, only the unconscious promise or drive for it, which is what beats them into falling for the other in the first place. [16:09.7]
Unconditional love requires a lot of vulnerability, the potential of being rejected or abandoned or hurt, but passion requires very little vulnerability. When one is caught up in passion, the momentum of the energy makes one feel fearless and the passion can act as a kind of a whirlwind of armor, but this is only temporary riding off a momentary high of a fleeting feeling that comes and goes with the body's endorphins.
If a couple's love isn't a bit cautious at the outset, it'll end up dying on the vine and won't be able to mature into real love, which is unconditional. Giving unconditional love to another is a gift as it involves prioritizing and giving from your limited store of time and attention. [16:58.4]
Many young couples, no, not all, after that first bad breakup learn to be at least a little more cautious next time and that's good. They are becoming wiser. It's important to choose wisely to whom you will dedicate the limited store of your time and attention that are required in unconditional love.
Okay, returning to the love between a parent and a child, noticing that this is the paradigmatic love, this is the paradigm of love, when we are first born into the world, we are born completely helpless except for the ability to cry out loud and possibly our subjective cuteness. Newborns would be overwhelmed with the anxiety of helplessness and paralyzed by the fear of death, if not for the loving presence of a caregiver.
For the first several weeks of life, the newborn can hardly even recognize objects and is not yet even aware of itself or of the outside world as being separate from itself. In every sense, newborns are dependent on their caregivers for survival and for flourishing. [18:05.0]
When a loving caregiver is present and attending to the child, the baby feels the immense satisfaction of his fundamental human needs being met. When he's hungry, he cries a little, and then the breast and nipple appear to satisfy his thirst. But when he needs to relieve himself, he does so naturally, and after a short time, his old underpants are replaced with clean new ones. When he wants to feel security or significance or connection, he cries and in a healthy home, he is then held in a warm embrace. As he grows and develops, the baby learns that his mother smiles when he eats or praises him when he uses the potty and cuddles him when he cries.
All of these early childhood experiences create and reinforce the belief that “I am loved for who I am.” I am loved for who I am, or more accurately, in the words of Erich Fromm, “I am loved because I am.” Let me quote from Erich Fromm in Art of Loving here. [19:07.8]
“This experience of being loved by mother is a passive one. There is nothing I have to do in order to be loved—mother's love is unconditional. All I have to do is to be—to be her child. Mother's love is bliss, is peace, it need not be acquired, it need not be deserved. […] Not only does it not need to be deserved—it also cannot be acquired, produced, controlled. If it is there, it is like a blessing; if it is not there, it is as if all beauty had gone out of life—and there is nothing I can do to create it.”
End quote. That was Erich Fromm from Art of Loving. [19:50.7]
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When that unconditional love, which we crave from the moment we are born and it's built into our DNA just for our survival, and when that unconditional love is taken away, it feels to us as if all beauty had gone out of life because it reminds us of our primal fear of death. Without this love, we would have literally died or, at best, merely survived, just getting by emotionally and psychologically. That's why losing what we believe is our chance at love feels like life or death. [21:04.4]
We can stave off this fear for a while and bury ourselves in our coping strategies, achieving, hiding, acting out, but this is merely a distraction from the underlying pain and dread. Even the most driven achievers busy themselves with work; the toughest fighters lose themselves in mind-numbing training and the biggest hedonists distract themselves chasing more highs hoping the next hit will last; all to stave off the potential hurt and heartache that would come if they stopped their coping activities and allowed themselves to feel what they've been repressing all along, the desperate longing that eventually burst through even among those who refuse to allow themselves to let go or give in to the promise of love.
This desperate longing that burst through was so powerful because it is the primeval need for unconditional love. The reason we feel our need for adult love so intensely is because it's our unconscious attempt to recreate the unconditional love we craved as a child, and the more you didn't get this in childhood, the more you'll unconsciously crave it now. [22:15.0]
For achievers, the amount of energy exerted in repressing this need for unconditional love is directly proportional to how strong this need is in the achiever actually. Just to head off an objection that often comes up at this point, what I'm not saying here is to go and get a woman to love you unconditionally.
I've seen this in comments on YouTube where I speak about unconditional love and this is what we're all really after, etc., and guys who are hurt and in their pain, and I’ve mentioned them earlier, are thinking to themselves, Oh, okay, then I need to find a woman to love me unconditionally and that's the solution. No, that's not the solution. That's just recreating the initial problem. We started with that problem. We started with the problem of you trying to get unconditional love from outside yourself. [23:02.4]
Just to sort of skip or preview to the end, what I'm going to be saying, what I’ve been saying all along, what I’ve been saying for years—and maybe it's just too subtle and this is why I'm trying to say it more directly and trying to say it more often—is that the only solution is unconditional love from yourself and, even more accurately, from your true self or your higher self, from what some therapists might call the healthy adult self, the wise mind or something.
What I like, the term is the higher self that only you can bring that unconditional love to your own parts that are vulnerable and craving it. I’ve made many other episodes and done other podcasts on this as well that your partner, your intimate partner, can be the secondary caregiver and come alongside that and contribute that and even kind of re-parent you in that sense.
But you cannot prime depend on that person as a primary caregiver and the primary source of your unconditional love because that's asking too much of any human being. We're all finite limited creatures. Only you yourself can give unconditional love to you yourself. [24:13.0]
Okay, so that's skipping to the end. I'm going to be going deeper into that, but I just wanted to head off that objection at the pass here. Backing it up a little bit to the guys who are not yet in a relationship and who are just looking to get love, or maybe loving, some nookie, some action—nookie is too old of a word for it, maybe showing my generation here—getting some action from a woman.
What does this have to do with that? It also links up to the guys, single guys, just looking for casual sex, but they think they're looking for casual sex, but they're actually looking for something deeper and they get this attachment. They get the catch the feels, so to speak, and you can link up very easily to the most foundational concept with the most important lesson, which is neediness.
Your neediness, the amount of neediness you have, is directly proportional to how unattractive you are. In other words, your neediness and your attractiveness are opposites. The needier you are, the less attractive you are, and then the less needy you are, in fact, the more attractive you are. I’ve done other podcast episodes on that very point. [25:17.4]
Now, some guys think that the first stage of attraction is all they are and all they need to be concerned about, but if the guy's goal was merely sexual pleasure, he wouldn't normally go through all the trouble of going on the internet and researching and spending hundreds of hours like a typical guy would these days to devote himself to making himself more sexually attractive. He would especially not do this when there's free or cheap internet porn readily available or even for a few hundred bucks for a session with an attractive professional. This is available in most cities in the world.
No, the reason guys pour so much time and effort into bettering themselves in hopes of attracting a woman is so that they can feel like they deserve the sex with that attractive woman. He wants to earn it. He wants to earn it. Otherwise, he can't enjoy the sexual pleasure. Otherwise, it's not meaningful. He has to earn it. [26:12.1]
In fact, the earning of it often is what he's really after. That's the big ego stroke and then the sex is sort of an afterthought for many of these guys who are actually trying or are stuck in this sort of insecurity of achievement, this sort of pathology of success, the achiever’s curse. You don't even have to be an achiever to be under the achiever’s curse. You can just be buying into the achiever’s mindset or the achiever’s coping strategy.
It's clear then that it's probably not just the sex that you're after. Let's speak about them. It's easier to think about somebody else rather than activating any toxic shame on you so let's just talk about that, right? It's not just the sex they're after. That's just a nice byproduct of the attraction that they earn along the way, but they're primarily there to feel like they've earned her sex, but what's getting in the way of them being attractive is their neediness. [27:04.6]
But what's this neediness? It's not neediness towards sex because that's just horniness. If they were just desperately horny, they'd use internet porn and just jerk it off or they’d pay for the services of a real woman, and these options are readily available in most places in the world, so their neediness isn't that. It goes much deeper. It's deeper than the mere desire for sexual pleasure.
By the way, this is something that feminists really don't get, right? Just siding with those guys who are very anti-feminist on this score. The typical kind of neediness that gets in the way of a man's attractiveness manifests in lots of little and not so little ways, and I’ve covered this in other episodes. Neediness is of degrees. It's not either you are or you aren't. You could be 20 percent needy or 80 percent needy.
When you're feeling needy, you crave instant attention and constant reassurance from your love interest. Neediness gnaws at you, always there in the back of your mind, even when other parts of your brain are busy with some tasks at work, for instance. Neediness strives you to chase after contact or search for signs of interest or search for signs of love or beg others for advice. [28:11.5]
But none of these actions actually satiate or quell that continual hunger for certainty. Neediness also shows up in ways that are maybe less obvious to the average guy and that might even be considered normal by some societies. Neediness is not just horniness. At its base is fear. Neediness comes from fear that your fundamental needs won't be met, fear that your needs for connection or worthiness or significance or love may never be not met.
It's this fear that causes that awkward worry or desperate panic where you're checking your phone every few minutes to see if she replied or agonizing over what to do or say to get her to like you more, or puffing yourself up to appear more alpha so they will respect you more. [29:00.1]
The famous attachment researchers, both John Bowlby, Mary Ainsworth and others, were the first to do in-depth empirical studies on neediness. Among the many findings that their attachment research has shown is one of their central tenets, which is that all of us have basic primal needs for love and connection. The only sustainable way to heal our neediness is to satisfy these underlying unmet needs. The more anxious we are about having our needs met, the more quickly we want them met and the needier we are.
The first step to overcoming your neediness is to disentangle the needs themselves from the fear that the needs will never be met. Only then can you respect the needs themselves and learn to meet them for yourself instead of requiring an external source to meet those needs for you.
Okay, so the reason we feel neediness so acutely and the biggest impediment to a man's attractiveness to women is because one, we don't know how to meet our own needs for love, connection, and significance. [30:07.5]
Two, we become used to looking for external sources to meet our needs for us.
Then, three, our parent figures were never able to meet these needs and as completely, either not fully or not forever.
Then, number four, as adults, we try to find new sources of love, connection and insignificance.
Then, number five, when those sources pull away, our primal fear kicks in of losing and never again attaining love, connection or significance.
Okay, so this moves us into the third and final point, what to do about it. How do we get out of this trap, out of the cycle?
For all of us, whether we're achievers or not, we carry this longing for unconditional love into adulthood and we get it mixed up in romantic love with other fundamental needs, such as the needs for connection or intimacy or passion, and even the biological need for sex. What most young adults think of when they think of the word love is actually not love, but a complex mish-mash of other concepts of which only one of them might be love. [31:11.0]
Because of this confusion around the concept of love, many people fetishize this notion of love. Most people around the world don't even really know what love is and they talk about it using this word “love” and they just end up creating more confusion. They end up pursuing their needs in neurotic ways, partly because they fail to realize that each of the component needs can be effectively and efficiently satisfied apart from the relationship, rather than trying to get them all met in a single relationship with a single person.
Of course, there are times in a successful intimate relationship when multiple needs are all met at the same time and it can be for connection, intimacy, passion, sexual desire, sexual pleasure, unconditional love, etc., but to be wholly dependent on your one partner meeting all those needs at the same time is unreasonable and a recipe for disaster, unless you learn to meet your own needs, unconditional love foremost among them. [32:06.2]
You will eventually sabotage your intimate relationship and you will never be in control of your own happiness or fulfillment unless you learn to meet your own needs in yourself. Once you're able to meet your own emotional needs, then the intimate relationship can succeed on the longest of timelines because the partners, and assuming your partner also is able to meet her needs in herself, because now, as partners, you are no longer codependent. You're now free to come to the relationship as two complete individuals, secure on the ground of your own love and can form healthy, supportive, loving links to your intimate partner.
The thing we all crave the most is actually unconditional love. As adults, we mix this up with eros, as I was saying earlier, which is a complex concept, including sexual desire, mixing up sexual desire with ego gratification and friendship and affection, etc. Navigating intimate relationships, whether in the getting or keeping or growing stages, is a lot easier and becomes a lot clearer once you can satisfy that dominant need for unconditional love in yourself. [33:16.0]
The problem with this is that since childhood we came to believe we could only meet our need for unconditional love by getting it from external sources outside ourselves, first from our parents, then from our peers and lovers, and as long as we depend on someone else to meet our needs for us, our sense of security will always be at the mercy of others. Sometimes it's there, sometimes it's not, and it's not up to us, and that is not a recipe for a flourishing life.
Here is the solution. Here's the secret. You can meet your need for unconditional love simply by giving it. When you give unconditional love, you are, at that very moment, experiencing unconditional love itself. If you can give unconditional love to yourself, then you'll get to experience it from both sides, both giving and receiving love. [34:12.0]
This is the beauty of being driven by contribution. When you can turn it also onto yourself, contributing to the other parts of yourself. But most people are unable to love themselves unconditionally at first, and this is something that most people have to grow up to or mature into, and this is best experienced first with someone you're not romantically attached to because eros, romantic love, is mixed up with sexual desire, ego gratification, validation, significance, all of that.
My own personal first experience of giving unconditional love or, maybe more accurately, allowing unconditional love to flow forth from me, allowing because it would have taken a tremendous amount of willpower to hold it back, was with my goddaughter, starting from when she was just a few months old and I was mid-thirties. Sometime during the first couple of months of babysitting her between four to 12 hours a day, I experienced something that completely surprised me. [35:09.4]
For the first time in my adult life, I loved someone who is not my immediate family, so much that I would have sacrificed my own life to save hers and I expected nothing in return. It helped that there was nothing that a 35-year-old man could need from an infant. Thus, the conditions were set up for me, finally, to experience unconditional love flowing from me on a consistent daily, hourly, sometimes minute-by-minute basis.
This was not something I could have foreseen, but unbeknownst to me at the time, it completely changed my life, and I’ve made a whole separate video that I put a lot of thought into. You can find that on my YouTube channel, on the true meaning of life, and I discovered that as I gave unconditional love, I was experiencing the feeling of unconditional love and I was more than meeting my own need for it, my own need for experiencing it. [36:01.8]
Giving is the same as receiving when it comes to unconditional love because of the unconditionality of it. For most people, the tricky part is the unconditional aspect of love. It's easier to experience this with what I call an innocent recipient because it's someone you don't expect anything from.
If you enter an adult romantic relationship, hoping there to be their first time that you experienced giving unconditional love, it will be incredibly difficult, because in adult romantic relationships, there's a lot more mixed in, like I said, sexual desire, pleasure, validation, ego, significance, etc. It will be incredibly difficult to open up and give yourself fully when the other person not only may not reciprocate, but may actually do real physical, mental, or emotional harm to you, unlike what an infant can do.
It's easier to sort of have your training wheels on a more innocent recipient and that could be a pet or that could be a child, somebody that you can direct this love to in a way that you don't expect anything back from to practice with that before you get into the trickier terrain of a romantic relationship. [37:10.0]
I discovered this by serendipitous accident, really. There was nothing I needed from this infant goddaughter, which allowed me more easily to love her unconditionally. It was a more pure relationship, in the sense that the love wasn't mixed up with much else besides simple affection and a liking.
The next stage of growth is loving your own parts and the way that you love that innocent recipient unconditionally. This is hard for a lot of people because they harbor toxic shame with regards to their vulnerable inner child parts or aspects of themselves that they deem too dark or scary, or maybe more easily encapsulated in a single word, shameful.
This is how it worked out for me anyway, for the first few years of babysitting and just loving on my baby goddaughter. I found I was easily moved to tears just by focusing on how happy I felt whenever I got to spoil her or how much I missed her if I didn't get to see her for a week or more, or how joyful it was to see her face light up with a smile or laugh. Now, as a new father, I'm experiencing that all over again with my baby boy. [38:17.0]
With my first experience with my infant goddaughter, it was only several years later that it became obvious to me, and it would have been clear as day to my therapist friends at the time that one of the reasons I loved her so much was because she was a stand-in for my inner child parts that I couldn't make contact with on my own.
The parts of me that were in charge most of my life until back then, my various achiever parts, intellectual parts, warrior parts, were fighting hard to protect me from going there, from feeling the pain of that vulnerability of the need for unconditional love that they were striving to exile that they were hardened up and they had created this armor against. But their protective work also blocked me from feeling the joy of unconditional love, which is on the other side of that vulnerability. They prevented me from being with my vulnerable inner child parts. [39:07.6]
My higher self and my inner child parts were drawn to my infant goddaughter as a kind of natural bridge to my manager parts, the parts that were dominating my life at the time, again, mostly achiever, intellectual and warrior type of parts. They were independently trying to break through to my consciousness or rather to the parts of me that were dominant in my conscious awareness, the parts that I had been most blended with or identified with that had been operating most of my waking life up until then.
They were doing so with different intentions. My inner child was using the natural love my dominant parts had for my goddaughter to siphon off some of that for himself. Thus, whenever I was giving love to my baby goddaughter, I was also indirectly giving love to this inner child part of myself. Since I was so repressed, so closed off to my own vulnerability, so shielded by the armor of intellect and discipline and willpower, I was unable to attend to my own inner child parts for more than fleeting moments here or there. [40:06.4]
This was my inner child parts’ way of feeling that love vicariously through the eyes of my baby goddaughter because it was easier to love my goddaughter than it was for me at the time to love my own self, my own inner child parts, and my own higher self knowing this that my goddaughter was the gateway to my inner child parts knew that it was also my gateway to my true self.
It was only through this experience of loving my goddaughter that I discovered my true self and was finally able to love all the parts of myself unconditionally, even or especially my most vulnerable parts, the ones carrying the most sadness and grief, and fear and shame. Only when you begin to love yourself unconditionally are you ready and able to successfully navigate a love relationship over the long-term.
That's the third point and there's so much to dive into. I'm just going to stop here in the interest of time. The three points, to recap, that I shared today: [41:04.3]
The first point was just pointing out the insecurity of achievement and noticing the dichotomy or the difference, let's say, between performance-based self-esteem and being-based self-esteem.
The second point was to ask and answer the question, what makes someone worthy of love? Then we move into now your value system, really, and noticing that the problem is in the question itself because it comes from an incorrect understanding of the concept of love.
Then, the third point was, what do you do about it? I explained how the unconditional love of your higher self for your own parts is what's required, loving yourself in that deep sense. Then, of course, how do you get there? How do you get to that point? How do you grow to that level? How do you actually mature to that point?
Again, just as a reminder for the younger guys or maybe guys who are looking for help with their casual dating first, this is the same thing as what you're feeling when you feel needy towards the girl that you like. It's not actually sex that you need. That might be a small part of it, but the thing that's creating that emotional neediness rather than just horniness is this need that we have built into us for unconditional love and acceptance and connection and all of that. [42:21.4]
How do you get there? How do you grow to that point? One way is therapy and I highly recommend that. I’ve practiced therapy myself. Another way is to undergo therapeutic processes and I’ve created online courses for that very purpose, and these are ones that you can do on your own time and as often as you like, and I have courses that lead you through step-by-step this process of coming to love yourself, of accessing your higher self, and getting to know your various parts of you, including the managerial and protector parts, as well as those vulnerable inner child parts and being able to grow into that place where your higher self is able to give love unconditionally to yourself, to all of those parts of you. [43:06.6]
These courses include “Rock Solid Relationships”, “Freedom U”, “Lifestyle Mastery”, and so many others, and you can access all of those in the all-access “Platinum Partnership”. Click the link in the description and all that to access that and find out more about that program.
In the next episode, I'm going to be getting into what it's like to actually live and succeed in life while loving yourself, because that's one of the next big questions that comes up after they start to begin to have this understanding of what unconditional love actually means and what love actually means. How could that be? If I were to love myself like this, says the achiever, then I wouldn't bother doing anything. I would just sit there all day, loving myself. Not in the way that you dirty guys think, but, gee, just like basking in the glow of not having to go and earn my worth, earn my love and sort of significance. Then I would stop succeeding in life and I can't have that, and that goes back to one of the original achiever fears. [44:04.3]
In the next episode, I’ll be addressing that point, that question directly, what's it like to actually succeed in life while loving yourself? Come back for the next episode.
Thanks so much for all the amazing feedback I’ve been getting about these episodes so far, and I also look forward to getting any feedback about this episode, so please leave any comments that you can or send us a note to by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and those will get forwarded to me.
Also, if you liked this episode or if you like this podcast, please share it with your friends or anyone you think would benefit from it, and also please rate the podcast on Apple Podcasts. It really helps us with getting more exposure, etc., and just really appreciate all the support so far.
I look forward to joining you next week in the new episode on what it's like to actually live and succeed in life while loving yourself. I’ll see you then. Until then, David Tian, signing out. [44:56.0]
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