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 the Masculine Psychology Podcast. I’m David Tian, your host.
In the previous two episodes, we've been exploring emotional skill and how emotions are everything. We've explored how emotions guide behavior and decisions, and, in fact, everything in human experience begins and ends with emotions. That is the very motivation for setting goals. For even having preferences, it’s emotion. The fact that we want things or want things a certain way, these are emotions.
They're wants and that's what motivates us to achieve or go after our goals or aims, and the ultimate thing that we're actually after in these goals or aims, no matter how intellectual or devoid of emotion they may seem while we're trying to get them. [01:15.5]
But the end that we're hoping to get is some feeling, some emotion. All great goals and aims, begin and end with emotion, and if you're not good with emotions, you're not going to be good at life. You're not going to be good at enjoying life or finding fulfillment in life, or really succeeding at life.
Achievers and many people get lost in the middle part, and they forget that the beginning and end of it was emotion, and they get caught up in and lost in the pursuit of the thing and think that emotions don't matter, and they end up taking the middle as if it were the beginning, the end and everything. But, of course, it's not. It's just some means to some emotion that you want to feel, and if you forget that, you're going to have an unfulfilling life. [02:14.4]
Many achievers get lost in, for example, making money, forgetting that the whole point of it is because they're hoping that the money will give them some feelings, maybe security or certainty, maybe significance or worthiness, or maybe fun, for some people, but the money isn't an end in itself and it never has been. It's always, because we're human beings, driven by emotion.
The beginning and end of everything is feeling, is emotion, and it can be as simple as a desire, a want, or a preference, or it could be something deeper. If you look deeply enough, you'll find deeper needs that are aimed at and that are driving the behavior, and if you're not good at emotions, you just won't be good at life. [03:01.6]
You might end up spending decades, toiling away, having forgotten or not even consciously aware of the emotions that you're hoping to feel as a result of all of this hard work. Because you're so caught up in the hard work, you've forgotten what you're doing it for, and you mistakenly believe that if you just do the hard work, then somewhere down the line, you'll feel good, finally. Maybe you'll finally be able to rest, because then you will be significant or then you'll be secure in your significance, or then, finally, you'll be worthy of love.
But all of that, the needs that are being met, the emotions that are promised as a result of all of this hard work, those are forgotten, and instead these achievers get lost and many people get lost in the pursuit of the intermediate thing, the intermediate goals. The example I just gave there is of money, but it could be anything that is not emotion itself, and that is a tragic way to live life. [04:04.3]
Okay, two episodes ago, we looked at how there are no good or bad emotions per se; they're just emotions. We also looked at how there is a way to regulate or control, or manage or be skillful at emotions, and they, in fact, involve skills. Then, in the last episode, we actually went through some of these skills of emotional skills of presence or mindfulness, of endurance, emotional endurance, emotional regulation, the deeper psychotherapeutic skills of unburdening.
We also looked at cognitive skills. We also looked at behavioral skills. There are all kinds of different skills to help us master, control, or manage or handle or regulate, or tolerate or endure, our emotions so that you can become very skilled with emotions, being aware of them as they come up in you and being aware of them as they arise in others, and good at managing whatever emotions come up in you or someone else so that they're not overwhelming, so that, instead, you can enjoy them, and that in each emotion, there are important lessons to learn from each emotion and I covered that in the last episode as well. [05:18.2]
If you're good with emotions, that means that you're also good at engender them, creating them, sparking them, or activating or triggering emotions in others, and this is a big part of interpersonal effectiveness, being good with people.
In fact, for those men and women who are interested in attraction in knowing how to and being good at generating attraction, it's all about emotion, because attraction is an emotion, and if you're not good with emotions, you're not going to be good with attraction either. But if you are skilled with emotions, you will be naturally skilled at generating attraction, because attraction is an emotion. [06:01.4]
Over the past two episodes, I’ve also been bust in this myth that I’ve called their Cartesian error and I take that from a famous book by Antonio Damasio called Descartes’ Error. The Cartesian error being that we, as human beings, are simply thinking creatures and that we are disembodied, so we are thinking brains disembodied from our bodies and disembodied from our emotions. But, of course, you know that that is completely wrong, that if you cut out emotion, you have cut out the very thing that makes life worth living.
Now, in this episode, I want to give some specific case studies. I'm going to share three with you and I hope we'll help to illustrate the importance of emotional mastery in your life, and let's just dive in. [06:53.0]
The first case study is a client named Ian. Ian was in his early-thirties when he first came onto our online courses in our online course community and I guess you could say he was a typical dude in North America who was afraid of being vulnerable, but especially afraid of being vulnerable with women because his belief was that it was weakness and women wouldn't respect that, which in some ways is true.
If you are being needy towards a woman and you are needing her to meet your needs, then that is a big turnoff, not just to women, but to really anybody who is not themselves like a white knight or a white nurse maybe, or I guess there's no reason we can't have female white knights.
But Ian ended up overcompensating because of this fear of being vulnerable. He overcompensated with machoness, a kind of machismo, a kind of toxic masculinity of having this kind of fake bravado, always joking around, always deflecting, never getting real with others, but instead just keeping it completely surface-level, and always then he was just getting stuck in kind of frat-boy land of just party boy and that there was no connection, no deep connection with anyone else, especially with women. [08:17.5]
Eventually, in his early-thirties, he started to feel intensely lonely, even though he was quite popular and had a lot of friends, but they were never really there for him because he could never really open up, and so when he really needed people, he wasn't able to reach out to them and they had no idea because he had perfected this front of being this tough macho guy that doesn't have any emotions and doesn't care about them. But, in fact, underneath, he was feeling intensely and deeply, but was afraid of showing it even to other men.
Luckily, he found our community and our online courses and started to do the therapeutic work, and along the way, while doing this therapeutic work, he began to open up, partly because many of my online courses kind of forced that to happen. [09:15.0]
We have guided meditative exercises that lead you into encountering the vulnerable parts of yourself and sending them love and many other emotions, and especially inner-child work and grief work.
When he first came to our community and started the online courses, he was coming out of a breakup. He'd been seeing this girl for a couple years, but largely because of his inability to be vulnerable, he could never form a deep connection with her and she ultimately felt unfulfilled in the relationship.
Of course, that analysis only came to him almost a year later from doing our work and he realized that, but at the time, he just considered her to be more ending, because, of course, she was more demanding because she was demanding that he show up more and open up more, but he didn't understand what that meant and what she was asking for. [10:07.5]
Instead, he went and started seeing other women as backup because he bought into this lie that you find in men's self-help about abundance and bought into this common abundance tactic of having other women on the backup role, I suppose, having them on the go or in his phone, just working other girls, just in case this one he's with that he's committed to that he was seeing exclusively for almost two years, if anything were to happen with that relationship, he’s got other women.
This was the coward’s way of dealing with vulnerability, which is to avoid it by creating backups, so you don't actually have to be vulnerable. Of course, when she found out that he was flirting with other girls and having these text exchanges and that sort of thing, she didn't appreciate that they were just back up for him, because, after all, he was insecure about her because she had been asking for more connection with him and he didn't understand what that meant, and he just saw it as more shrill demands, so they broke up. [11:13.0]
Actually, she dumped him and he was heartbroken, but he didn't know how to handle it, so he just tried to see lots of other women, but he just felt like he lost his mojo because he didn't have his confidence because he got dumped and couldn't get her back.
Because of the therapeutic work he was doing with us afterwards, as a result, after the breakup, finding somehow on the internet, finding us and finding my work and going through the courses, he started to become a lot more comfortable with being with the inner-child parts that were holding this vulnerability that really just wanted love and connection, and intimacy. Then, of course, there were these protector parts that were macho and tough guys, and they were hiding the vulnerable inner-child parts. [12:04.5]
But because of his work, the therapeutic work that was ongoing at the time, he was able to own it, that he was a guy who loved deeply, that cared deeply, that lost someone that he cared for deeply. He was sharing that even when he was trying to talk up some girls that he was attracted to, some women, even one instance in a strip club, talking to a stripper there and having a heart-to-heart about how hard breakups are, because his heart was broken, it was hard for him to have the courage to open it up again.
Because he spoke from the heart and it was able to meet his own needs—and this is really important because this is part of the therapeutic work—the emotions of needing, of love, of connection, he was able to meet his own needs because he was able to spend time with his inner child and direct love to his inner child. [13:09.4]
Even though it was still painful because there was someone he cared about out deeply that didn't want to see him anymore or chose not to see him anymore and that hurt, but that was okay because he could still hold the ones inside him, his inner-child parts that were hurting the most, and let them know that it's okay and that this too shall pass, and it's okay to feel and it is even good to feel because you don't want to repress these emotions.
These were all lessons that he learned over the weeks and months of doing the therapeutic work in our online courses, and as a result of that, he had the strength, the emotional strength, to be able to look a beautiful woman in the eyes and tell her how much his heart was broken and that there were parts of him that were afraid of opening up again because they couldn't handle being heartbroken again, and forming deep connections with these women—even including the stripper, throwing that in there just to grab your attention because it's kind of unusual or funny. [14:09.6]
Then, in each case, he was sharing how it hooked these women, that it was a completely different reaction from the light, fun, flirty exchanges that he used to have years ago at the bar, a few years before when he had his, quote-unquote, “mojo.”
But now he was at a much deeper, more mature level as a result of the therapeutic work and could own any emotions that came up and any emotions he was feeling, because he was able to be comfortable with whatever came up, even if it caused him to tear up, or maybe even, especially, when it causes him to feel intensely, and as he's feeling so intensely holding eye contact with the woman he was speaking with. [14:50.5]
But, more importantly, that he was able to hold the one inside him, the inner child inside him, who was feeling those emotions most intently, and to give that one a big hug and to let him feel that it's okay to be feeling this way and he doesn't have to feel something different, that this feeling that he's feeling right now is okay and makes a lot of sense and is a beautiful emotion—because, really, he was a big love bug inside, but didn't have the courage to face it, to experience the emotions head on and handle however overwhelming they might feel or however intense they might be. Because there was a higher self in him, he was able to access, as a result of the online courses, that could welcome with courage any emotions that any of his inner parts were having.
As a result, his dating life just flourished, even while he was heartbroken, and the remarkable thing is, for him, he found to be surprising, was that he didn't find it to be a big deal because he wasn't all that excited about that, because what he was much more excited about and much more fulfilled by was the inner experience that he was undergoing of getting to know his own vulnerable parts, parts of him that were his inner-child parts and loving on them. [16:16.5]
What the women who he chose to reveal and share his emotions with, got to experience this, the intensity and depth of emotion that he was feeling all along, but that he didn't have the courage to face. So, it turns out he was a big love bug.
Then Ian ended up meeting a friend of his ex that word got back to the ex, and now they're exploring potentially getting back together. Whether Ian goes that route or not, he feels much more confident in being able to meet his own needs. Regardless of who he ends up being with, he has this confidence as a result of developing these skills with his emotions. [17:05.5]
Do you struggle in your interactions with women or in your intimate relationship? Are fear, shame, or neediness sabotaging your relationships or attractiveness? In my Platinum Partnership Program, you'll discover how to transform your psychological issues, improve your success with women, and uncover your true self.
Get access to all my current and future online courses by applying for the Platinum Partnership today at DavidTianPHD.com/Platinum.
Okay, now, the second case study I want to share with you is Dan who was in his late-twenties when he came to our online course community, and Dan was a nervous, anxious guy around other people, especially with women, but just people, in general. As a result of developing the emotional skills through the therapeutic work and our online courses, he became more and more comfortable in his own skin. [18:11.0]
As a good kind of “before and after” just to give you these snapshots of how this worked, when he first came to us, he was writing about how even at a house party and hosted by friends that he'd known for years, who were also very similar to him in his STEM field and they had been working together in many ways almost every day together, and then they host a social gathering and he's still very nervous and awkward because he's very much in his own head, not sure what to say, whether what he wants to say will invite ridicule and so on. Even among friends in a comfortable setting, as comfortable as it can get when it comes to parties, a friend's house with other friends, and yet he's still there nervous and anxious. [19:07.0]
Then going through our online material, becoming a lot more comfortable, first, with self-awareness, being just aware of what thoughts are running through his mind when he's like that and tracing those thoughts to parts of him that are afraid, and tracing that back to the roots of the fear and being able to heal and grow from there.
Then developing the skills of staying with any uncomfortable emotions that come up and having them be okay because he is able to endure them, and as a result of being able to endure them, he's able to stay with them long enough to learn the lessons that they have to show him, and then following that through into growth and healing. [19:46.4]
As a result of months of work on his emotions and the therapeutic material, he became so comfortable in his own skin that his friends’ remarked that, when they were out at the local bar, in walked a celebrity couple and they were standing next to him at the bar as they were ordering their drinks, and they’d just come in and this was an early evening, and he turned to them and started up a conversation because he thought they were just a well-dressed, attractive, lovely couple, and they really hit it off.
Then, later when two single female friends of theirs came along shortly after, the celebrity couple introduced him to the two women there and they really hit it off, and when they all the four of them left for their table and he turned to his friends, they were shocked because his friends knew, most of them knew who the celebrity couple was and he didn't know, and they said they were just shocked at how comfortable he was speaking with them.
Then, later on, the celebrity couple and their two single female friends came by to say hi and they all hit it off, and he actually ended up exchanging numbers with one of the women and ended up dating her and is still dating her right now. It was a remarkable shift in his confidence and his comfort in his own skin. [21:08.8]
But he attributes it to the many months of therapeutic work that he did on his emotions and developing that emotional awareness and emotional skill to not be intimidated, to be comfortable in his own skin with whatever came up, and to be clear in his own personal set of values that did not include overvaluing fame or wealth, but that whatever came up for anyone for himself and anyone else that it's okay for him because he had the courage and the emotional skills of endurance and regulation, and presence to be present with whatever came up.
Finally, I want to share the story of Tom. Tom was in his mid-forties when he came to our courses, starting with the course on relationships, “Rock Solid Relationships”, and he was in a marriage that was not going well and he shared about how, after losing his job, he became really sensitive about his masculinity. [22:06.3]
Of course, he didn't realize that at the time. He thought it was more about being insensitive about no longer being a provider and he spent a year and a half without employment. Despite, he says, he spent a lot of time looking for a job, it ended up being that his wife reentered the workforce and ended up becoming the breadwinner who supported the family, paying bills and all that for that year and a half.
As a result of not being able to secure a well-paying job for a year and a half, he was taking odd jobs here and there, he said, and some contract work that didn't pay much, but was enough to just keep him busy. But because he was feeling so insecure about his own masculinity, it ended up becoming a fulfilling prophecy that it wasn't so much that she was bothered by him not having a job, but that she was bothered by him being insecure about not having a job, which led to all kinds of needy behaviors, and not just needy, but demanding behaviors, as a kind of overcompensating, a kind of toxic overcompensation for his insecurity about his masculinity. [23:12.8]
Of course, this analysis, he only arrived at after doing quite a bit of therapeutic work and several modules of the “Rock Solid Relationships” and “Masculine Mastery” course. But as a result of the work in that course and around emotional mastery and the therapeutic processes in some of the other courses, he was able to become a lot more comfortable with where he had come in life, his background, who he was, his various protector parts and his vulnerability and so on, and he was doing the healing.
As a result, he was able to sense and feel his actual worthiness for love, that his worthiness for love was not reliant on, was not tacked to, was not dependent on what he could do, his role as a provider, but that he was of love just in who he was, just as you and I are worthy of love just because we are, just because we exist. It is not because of what we can do. [24:16.7]
Any love that is based on that, and I’ve covered this in many episodes, any love that is based on, dependent on and conditional on what you can do for the person isn't actually love. It is, of course, just an unwritten, unspoken contract then.
Luckily, he was able to learn, at a deep level, these emotional skills and go through the therapeutic process, while still in his marriage, so much so that his wife noticed this huge change in him and she wanted to know what these courses were about that he was doing and spending his time, in the evenings, on his laptop, so he started to show her. She got really into it and she wrote to me, basically asking for permission to go through some of these courses for herself as well, and then just to thank me for guiding him to this new phase of his life. [25:08.0]
Of course, I was happy to have a married couple go through the relationships course together and any of the other material, and it was an honor to be a part of his journey and still an ongoing journey of his, because he's still young in his forties.
That is, so far, the story of Tom, as a result of developing his emotion skills and doing the therapeutic work, and discovering his core insecurities, one of them being about his masculinity being tied to his job as a breadwinner and a provider, and then, finally, using that to discover what, for himself, at a deep level, true worth for love can only be based on, which is being.
Good news. Since then, he has found a new job that he's proud of and he's finding fulfilling and it’s paying him well, so there's a happy ending there, but that wasn't even necessary for his happiness or for his sense of worthiness. [26:06.0]
That's Tom's story, and it was Ian's story and Dan's story earlier. What's your story? How are you doing with emotional awareness, emotional skill, with your therapeutic process? I'd love to hear from you.
If this or any of the episodes so far I’ve spoken to you, I'd love to hear about that as well, any feedback whatsoever. If this resonated with you, I'd really appreciate it if you were to share it and rate it on Apple Podcasts, and any kind of feedback at all, I'd love to get that from you.
Thanks so much again for listening. I look forward to welcoming you to the next episode. Until then, David Tian, signing out. [26:47.5]
This is ThePodcastFactory.com