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 this and the next couple episodes, we'll be looking at the lie of self-improvement, the insecurity of attraction and achievement and masculinity, and if you follow along for the next few episodes, you'll discover how to get all the things that you want as a result of all the hard work of achievement, including the achievement of becoming attractive—and these things at the end of the rainbow include love, unconditional love, fulfillment, happiness, a sense of worthiness, a natural, authentic sense of worthiness, and how you can attain those, experience those directly, while also becoming more attractive. [01:09.4]
You've got to do it this way that I’m going to be showing you in this episode and in the next couple episodes. You've got to do it this way, because, otherwise, even if you do succeed in becoming more attractive or rich, or achieving higher status, even if you do, against all odds, achieve those things through hard work and hacking, and whatever else you've got going for you, through self-improvement, through self-improvement you get your ideal body, you become more attractive.
You learn lots of attraction stuff and become more attractive to women, and you hack how to make money and now you become rich, and you attain higher status by hacking social dynamics, and all that stuff. You can do all of that, but if you don't do it the way I’m going to show you, then you could still get all those things, attraction, being rich, status, through self-improvement, but you won't get love, fulfillment, happiness, worthiness, the things that you really want. [02:15.5]
Now, if you're young and immature or inexperienced in life, you may think that you want riches for the sake of being rich, but just a moment's reflection will reveal to you that no one wants the actual paper for its own sake, the paper money, and no one wants just the bits and bytes on the digital, in the digital banks for its own sake. You want it because you want to do something with it or because you want to look at it, and as a result of having achieved that, it gives you a certain feeling and it's the feeling that you want, as a result of having that thing, as a result of having the money itself. It's not the money itself that you want. [02:57.8]
It's a thing that you think money will get you, and that's the same with all of these lower-level goods, for instance, becoming more attractive or having higher status, these things that I call the Scarface values, the power, the women, the money—I translate women into sex, right, or the part of it that's becoming more attractive—that being more attractive or having more money or having higher status are meaningless, unless they actually give you the greater goods of a sense of worthiness or significance, of fulfillment, happiness, pleasure, of love.
What if there were a way that you could get all of those higher-level goods, the greater goods, directly, and get all the lower level goods along the way, and that whole process being not like a process of self-improvement where you have to work really hard to check off all of these boxes and just shift your achievement focus to now yourself? [04:02.6]
Instead of taking the self-improvement approach to finding happiness, what if I were to tell you that the only way to get all of the higher-level goods as low as the lower-level goods is through another process, one that I would call a therapeutic process and one that I will be unpacking in this episode and especially in the next episode? Is that something you'd be interested in?
If you've been feeling burnt out from all the self-improvement work you've been doing, and this could include fitness, getting that perfect body, because if you can just finally get that perfect body, then the women will be more attracted to you and you'll finally be enough, at least in that area of life. [04:48.7]
And it could include learning about conversation or improv comedy or trying to be funnier, and studying that and studying the principles of attraction of “female psychology”, quote-unquote, of learning, how to be more alpha, how to be more dominant, how to dominate social dynamics, how to do frame control; or maybe for your self-improvement, you've been focusing on making more money in the hopes that, if you have more money, then you will be more attractive and you can finally find love; or maybe it's not money; maybe it's status and you're working really hard on attaining a higher status, but more likely acting as if, behaving in such a way that you appear more high status. As a result, you're hoping if you can be more high status, then you'll be more attractive and you'll finally find love.
Whatever those are for you, are you tired? Are you tired yet of going through your checklist? Is there a part of you that just wishes you could be loved just for who you are now and not have to put on all these muscles or lose all that fat, or make all that money or climb the social status ladder, or work on attractiveness stuff? [06:10.8]
I think a lot of guys aren't actually working on comedy. They're more working on alpha-male dynamics of psychology and trying to appear more dominant, and all of that, checking off all those lists of your ideal you or your ideal man, are you tired?
Do you have a really long morning routine where you've got your meditation, your cold plunge, your workout, your butter coffee, or whatever, self-improvement shtick you're on and it has expanded from a 10-minute maybe journaling to now, maybe two hours, before you can step out the door? And if you miss any part of it, do you feel like your whole day is kind of thrown off and, and now you're starting over, and that this will never end, because even if you were to attain it, all those gains that you've made, if you don't keep it up, you'll just lose them again? [07:12.0]
Now it's just getting more and more and more, and it's almost like a burden that you'll have to carry you through with you all the way through your life and, in fact, if you are asking that question, you've already reflected on it quite a lot, because there are plenty of guys who just start on this morning routine and they never actually accomplish it? For them, they're just hoping to get it done properly once, right?
Then they're thinking, I’ll just keep this up until I can basically be attractive enough to dupe an attractive woman into being in a relationship with me, and then I will then be able to relax and dust all of this off and never have to do it again. Hopefully, you're smart enough, especially hearing it just put out there plainly like that, that you realize that that would be stupid. That would not work, because then you would just revert back to the loser that you were before all this self-improvement stuff. And, oh, no, you don't want to go backwards, right? Is that you? [08:00.8]
Are you afraid of going backwards in life and that you've worked so hard to make progress in your self-improvement, including your fashion, your fitness, your knowledge of social dynamics, your money-making schemes, your climbing-the-social-status ladder. You are building your social circle, your lifestyle, whatever it is, and you look at yourself back then as a loser that you are afraid of ever becoming again and you hope to God you can exhale that old you and that old you will never come back?
Yet, have you realized that all of this self-help that you have used to get you to this point or that you're hoping you can use to get you to the point where you want to be and finally can relax and be enough, because finally you'll be your ideal you, do you realize that you'll have to keep it up all the way through your life, because if you don't use it, you'll lose it, and if you don't keep running that achievement treadmill, then she should not be attracted to you anymore? Do you believe that? [09:05.7]
Do you believe that she shouldn't be attracted to you, unless you earn it, unless you hop on that, the treadmill of life, get the six pack, get the million dollars, get all of the things that are part of your ideal you? And if you can't get those things, you wouldn't be worthy. You wouldn't be worthy of love. You wouldn't be worthy of an unconditional love relationship, and you wouldn't, therefore, be worthy of the long-term happiness and fulfillment that you're hoping to God, you can experience as a result of all this hard work, which, by the way, never ends.
You're hoping that if you can just become that, then maybe all of this will be second nature and you'll learn to love this two-hour morning routine that you just float right through. In fact, I know two hours is right in the average probably, because I know guys who have a four-hour routine. [09:59.3]
Of course, I’m not saying there's anything wrong with any of those activities or pursuits, in and of themselves. Of course, I wouldn't say there's anything wrong with having a good fitness regimen or meditation. God knows, I’ve done dozens of episodes or other videos. Many of my courses and programs are centered around meditation, for instance. Of course, none of these things are bad, in and of themselves, but it's the reason why you're doing it
Is the reason you're doing it because you're hoping that, as a result, you'll then be more attractive or rich or have higher status, and then finally then you'll be enough, and if you can be enough in these areas, then you'll be enough to finally get love and happiness and feel worthy, and that there is an old you, the one before you did all the self-improvement that you are afraid of backsliding into, of becoming again, of reverting to. [10:59.3]
And are you tired? Are you tired of having to do all this just to be enough? And maybe you're saying, Yes, David, I’m tired. I’m tired of being asked whether I’m tired. Okay then, good, you're in the right place. You at least have realized and have the self-awareness to notice that you are tired and that you have this checklist of self-improvement that you feel you need to do, you have to do, in order to be enough for love. I’ll just focus on love, but I would also throw in there all the higher-level goods, fulfillment, lasting happiness, connection, worthiness, and, of course, a loving relationship, a loving, passionate relationship.
If you've bought into the lie of self-improvement, whereby you will improve yourself enough to be worthy of this love relationship and you check off the boxes of what that takes, your body, your money, your status, your personality, you're developing all of these so that you can be worthy of that woman, that ideal woman, that ideal relationship. [12:08.3]
And if you've had a relationship fail, a relationship in which you wanted to experience love and have it last, and it failed, and have you ever looked back on it and thought to yourself it's because you had stopped improving yourself, developing yourself, working on yourself, so she naturally lost attraction and, no, duh, that's what happens, and to prevent it, I am going to hop back on the self-improvement track, the self-improvement wagon, and get back in in it and build myself up again? Is that also something that's occurred to you?
And has it ever occurred to you, have you ever noticed that you're exhausted that you're tired of this, or maybe you're not yet tired, but you can foresee that if you have to keep this up for the rest of your life, that you will, at some point, become pretty damn exhausted and it's become a burden to have to improve yourself all the time? Is this something that resonates with you? [13:08.0]
If so, you really want to pay extra special attention to this episode and the coming episodes. I’ve addressed and touched on these themes in earlier episodes, but I’m really going to focus on it here, and that's the first point, this self-improvement lie, the lie of self-improvement, and I’ve got four other points and let's just get right into them.
The second point is just pointing out the insecurity behind the need to be attractive, and I know for a lot of guys, it seems like it's just natural logic that you build a relationship based on attraction, right? But, actually, not only are love and attraction completely separate things and I’ve done a seminar that I highly recommend everyone watch called Love vs. Attraction. I can't get any clearer than that. Clearly, they're two different things, but not only that, if you aim for attraction, very likely you won't actually even get attraction. Why? Because you're doing it out of insecurity and, therefore, you are needy. [14:12.3]
Now, we just did I don't know how many episodes on neediness as the main metric that you should be tracking, if what you want to be is attractive. Even just for same-night hookups or just casual dating or casual sex, it's going to come down to neediness, but neediness is also the thing that you should pay attention to when you're in a relationship because it will sabotage your relationship, because it will because all kinds of fearful reactions in the person who is needy, which, in this example, is you. So, if you're insecure about your attractiveness and then you go about trying to become more attractive, you're already starting off from neediness, and so the whole thing is already ruined and you just forget it.
Now, you might be able to dupe some women for a short period of time, maybe for a night, for a same-night hookup at a club because maybe she's desperate and she's drunk, so she'll drop her standards or maybe she doesn't even notice. She just wants a warm male body to do some things with, to have pleasure with. [15:07.6]
Okay, this is totally possible and there are plenty of guys who are just pickup artists or casual sex type of guys, players who are incredibly insecure, but they're very good at covering it up and they're very entertaining or they're seductive or sexy maybe, and maybe they're just straight up good looking.
It's easy to find the right type of conditions where a woman might also be very insecure, so she's also using him to shore up her low self-worth and she might just be horny and desperate, or horny or desperate, or drunk, or any combination of those. If that's what you're looking for, casual sex, that whole thing is a really messy field, but you can get away with tricking yourself to not ever noticing your core insecurities. [15:56.5]
But if you want a relationship or if you want to experience love and not just short-term hookups, then if you think the reason your love relationship failed or if you think the way to create a love relationship is by focusing on attractiveness and attraction, then you're looking at completely the wrong area and it will sabotage your relationship, because the very active looking at attractiveness, focusing on that as the telling metric, is insecurity, is neediness, because it assumes that you're not attractive just in who you are.
Now, you might not be attractive in that very moment. Maybe you got a big booger hanging out of your nose or maybe you got horrible breath or whatever. It's just not sexy, right? So, totally. But if that's the thing that you think will make a breaker relationship, then you don't understand love and you don't understand relationships, and you don't understand what it will take obviously to create and grow a lasting relationship, because if you think it's about attractiveness, then there shouldn't actually be any relationships because it's always easier to just get attraction from a new partner because of the novelty and it's just naturally easier to generate passion in a short-term relationship. [17:16.0]
It can't be attraction that binds a couple for 50 years, and the good news is for those who want a lasting relationship, you could start off a relationship with almost zero attraction and create attraction in it, but that takes work.
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.
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But that's not the thing that will make or break the relationship, because look at what happens if you focus on attractiveness as the make or break factor and let's just assume the lack of attractiveness is not due to something simple that is easily fixed, like brushing your teeth or combining your hair or whatever, and, instead, it's some kind of behavior that arises out of a kind of neediness, right? That's going to be the one that is persistent and will be much more of a turnoff than something that's just superficial and easy to fix.
Let's assume that that were the case. Even if it were superficial and easy to fix, you could run the same thought experiment, right? Whatever it is, that's preventing you from being attractive, if you focus on that in a relationship and try to get rid of that unattractive part of you by just covering it up with attractive behaviors, then on the basis of that, just the attractive view, the ideal you, the best, your best self, and then presenting that in the relationship, then, in fact, she will never get to know all of you. [19:15.0]
She will not get to know the true you, which includes all of you, which, by definition, would include all of you. As a result, you also cannot relax. You can't be anything other than your best self, because if you did well, gosh darn it, she's got the right legitimately, in your worldview, to leave you because you're not being your best self.
In fact, if that were the case, this isn't love. This is just a transaction, an unwritten contract that you're going to stick together as long as you are your best selves all the time, best selves all the time, and that you meet each other's needs. The moment you no longer meet her need, she has no obligation to stick around. This is called a transactional relationship. It's not a love relationship and those transactional relationships are really easy. They're really easy to fall into and they're really easy to break apart, because they're not actually founded on anything substantial or lasting. [20:09.0]
If you are focused on attraction as the main thing that you think will bring you all the good stuff, the love, the fulfillment, the connection, the unconditional love, especially, if you think that that's the main thing, you're doomed. That relationship will not last. Instead, it will devolve into a series of ever more desperate behaviors, as a result of the fear that is driving it, the deep insecurity of attraction, the insecurity of attraction.
Not only is there the insecurity of attraction, but there's also the insecurity of achievement, this idea and this is the third point, the idea that you need to achieve in order to be worthy of love, and maybe more to the point, worthy of a love relationship with your ideal woman. [21:01.7]
So, this is a different approach to it, not from the vantage board of retraction, but of achievement. This is a more global approach where you're trying to improve all of you or as much as comes under the rubric of achievements or the category of achievement. That could include fitness. It could also include making more money. It could include getting your status up or whatever it is that you think you need to achieve in order to be worthy of this love relationship.
For those who aren't just focused on a relationship with women or something like that, this is what really connects to self-improvement because that whole personal-improvement world is about working at it in order to finally achieve your happiness, and it goes back pretty far to the kind of programming and messaging you got as a child about what it takes and took back then to be worthy of love, attention, approval, affection and connection, and very often, that was a kind of achievement. [22:03.5]
I and many of my clients and students and members of our courses grew up becoming achievers, and all of these different coping strategies worked back then. Otherwise, you wouldn't have stayed with them. For achievers, it's worked in ways that the world has rewarded. If you were actually successful at it at achieving, you were probably able to make more money than the average person and get further ahead or further along in your career and so forth, and now when it comes to creating a love relationship, you bring the same approach of achievement.
But what you're hoping to get at the end isn't just more money or status, because that's part of the rules of the game, for the game that you enter. Maybe it’s capitalism or something. But, in this case, when it comes to love, connection, fulfillment, happiness, being enough, the very beginning of the project of achievement undermines the thing that you're trying to get, because you can't actually achieve your way to unconditional love, because if you could achieve your way to unconditional love, it wouldn't be unconditional anymore. It would be conditional. [23:14.8]
So many achievers who, if you bring the achievement mindset to love or to an intimate relationship, you've already polluted it. You've already sabotaged it. You've already undermined it. It's already going to fail. It's just a matter of time. Just like with attractiveness, you might be able to learn some short-term attractiveness stuff to cover over your core insecurities, so you don't notice it until years down the road. That was the case for me.
You might be such a great achiever that you mistake the surface level or superficial or materialistic rewards of achievement, which, by the way, there's nothing, in and of themselves, wrong with them. But if you think that that's the way to love, connection, fulfillment, the higher-level goods, the greater goods, as I’ve been calling them, then you're wrong and you're actually starting off on the wrong footing and you're actually sabotaging the whole thing. [24:09.6]
It will tank any relationship of intimacy that you engage in, that insecurity of achievement, because that, too, is driven by a neediness, this insecurity that you're not enough just in who you are, and it's such a mind-blowing idea for achievers because they have these manager parts that are actually quite young and have bought into this lie of self-improvement.
Back then, more accurately, you would call it the lie of achievement that you would need to achieve in order to be worthy of love that they bought into this lie and have lived it for decades, that they can't see the world in any other way. But, unfortunately, as long as they hold to that lie, they will sabotage any intimate relationship they end up in. [24:54.6]
The fourth point is the insecurity of toxic masculinity. There is obviously healthy masculinity. That's why, in this case, I’m calling it toxic masculinity, but there's certainly an approach to being a man that entails repressing your vulnerability out of fear and because it was punished when you were younger, maybe by your dad, who out of his own toxic insecurities, had a view of masculinity and how he had to be in order to be a man to be accepted and respected, and as a result, he did the same thing to you where you were conditioned or programmed in the same with the same beliefs and you ended up also adopting and harboring the insecurity of toxic masculinity.
All of these insecurities, the insecurity of attractiveness, whether you're attractive enough, of achievement, of toxic masculinity that you're not good enough as a man just in who you are as how you are, including all of those parts of yourself that are more childlike that are more playful, spontaneous, that are yearning for love and connection, and instead, those aren't part of being a tough guy, so you've got to exile those and that coming out of a deep insecurity. [26:12.8]
Once you can identify these insecurities, just remember this, any relationship founded on fear will fail, and any attempt to get unconditional love, if it's coming out from a place of insecurity, it will not work. It will be poisoned, as a result of the neediness of the insecurity, and these core insecurities of attractiveness, of achievement, of toxic masculinity ends up undermining the whole project of even self-improvement.
Then you can come back to the lie of self-improvement. The final point is that approaching happiness, more especially love, from the perspective of a checklist of self-improvement that, unless you improve yourself, you will not be worthy of the thing that you're looking for—love, for instance, but also I would add in there fulfillment, lasting happiness, worthiness, any of the deep human needs or the higher goods—it will be undermined and sabotaged by the agenda of self-improvement. [27:16.8]
And this is the big word, “agenda”, because in order to address your insecurities and your fears and anxieties, you're going to have to confront, or first find and then pay attention to, and then work with your vulnerability, which means the parts of you that are holding that vulnerability, these inner-child parts.
But if you come to them with this agenda of fixing them or of whatever you need to do in order to finally be attractive, get rid of them or change them up, or make them different from how they are, if you come to them with an agenda instead of from complete acceptance, if you come to them with an agenda, they won't reveal themselves fully, and whatever results you get will be short-lived, and, in fact, fake results, and very likely you won't get any real results of healing or unburdening. Not for real. [28:12.8]
You might be able to dupe yourself into it and this is where that kind of woo-hoo, airy-fairy self-improvement kicks in of the self-love and all this, because you can certainly approach therapy or therapeutic processes with an agenda from the perspective of self-improvement, like here's yet another thing you're going to add to your list of things that you need to do to improve yourself, to finally be enough. Add in there, I don't know, therapy and therapeutic processes.
Unfortunately, ironically and paradoxically, the very agenda itself, it guarantees that it won't happen, because coming to these vulnerable parts with an agenda causes them to close up and flee and run away, because they sense this agenda. [28:57.5]
Some of them that might be very clever might give you some false answers so that you will shut up and go away, and what's happening there is you have a manager part of you with an agenda, coming to fix, right? Like, “Let the healing begin,” right? Coming to heal these pesky little exiles. If they would just get healed, if they would just follow the unburdening process and finally be unburdened, then, finally, we will be attractive, and then, finally, we'll be worthy of the ideal woman. But, unfortunately, that agenda causes them to close up and flee.
Instead, instead of self-improvement, instead of focusing on becoming more attractive, instead of focusing on achieving more, instead of focusing on being tougher or more resilient, or whatever the toxic masculinity lie tells you, and instead of coming to your vulnerability with an agenda of fixing them so you can finally be enough, instead of all of that, there's a much more gentle and immediate process, what I’ll call for now, the therapeutic process that is incredibly enjoyable. [30:06.7]
It takes some courage, but is and feels completely different from what self-improvement does and what you've been experiencing through self-improvement. It is a lot less work in terms of time and effort, and checklists and things like that, and I will be getting more in depth on that, walking you through the steps in a way that, hopefully, will be able to also speak to your unconscious and activate and inspire a shift in perspective.
I’ll get into that in the next episode, and for now, I just want to recap those points, the lie of self-improvement, the insecurity and neediness of trying to be more attractive, the insecurity and neediness of needing to achieve, the insecurity of achievement in order to be worthy, the insecurity of toxic masculinity, and how, finally, all of those undermine and sabotage real healing and growth because it's coming to your vulnerability with an agenda to change them, which means you're not coming to them from a place of radical acceptance. [31:12.1]
As a result, they will flee or close up or go blank, and not only will you actually not address the core insecurities or deep neediness because you're not even focused on the insecurity—you're focused on the attractiveness or the achievement or the be more masculine instead of the neediness—not only will you not have those needs met, but also the parts of you that hold the greatest pain and vulnerability will be inaccessible.
You might have noticed this already when you hit a wall in your progress in self-awareness and your progress towards love and happiness, despite all the work that you've been doing in self-improvement, all the courses, all the meditating, all the working out, all of the routines and habits that you're trying to instill. There's a much more direct way that just requires shifts in perspective, and I’ll be getting deeper into that in the next episode. [32:09.0]
I learned all of these lessons, myself, the hard way, so as I’m sharing the lie of self-improvement, I know that intimately because, for years, maybe you could say for decades, depending on how you define self-improvement, if you also include under their general achievement, I was stuck in that treadmill of self-improvement for decades and it didn't bring the experience of deep, abiding worthiness of unconditional love, of lasting fulfillment, happiness, peace, and calm, because that's not the way that you get to experience those. It's actually the way that you guarantee that you undermine that you miss those. You're on the wrong highway, but it's a long road and it's a difficult, tiring, exhausting road, that road to nowhere of self-improvement. [33:04.0]
If that's you, you want to get off that road and you want to find the right road, and this right road is much more direct, much more pleasant and will get you directly to love, and along the way, you'll look back when you get to love, when you get to unconditional love.
You'll look back and you'll suddenly discover that all the things that you were working so hard for were right there underneath your feet, but you didn't notice them, and if you focused on them, then you would just fall all over yourself and end up on the wrong path, and so these are byproducts, attractiveness, achievement, secure and confident masculinity. These are byproducts of doing it the right way, which I’ll be covering in more depth in the next episode.
But make sure that you don't get sucked into the lie of self-improvement, and instead, pay attention to the actual, the roots of the insecurities of the neediness. If you take care of those, then all that other stuff, the attractiveness, the lower-level needs, the achievement, masculinity, that'll get taken care of along the way. [34:09.4]
But if you get swept up in the lie, if the deception of focusing on the lower-level goods of attractiveness, achievement, masculinity, and so forth, then you probably won't even get those because it's a long, hard road to get those, but you'll definitely not get those higher-level goods of unconditional love, fulfillment, happiness, worthiness, and so forth. So, come back to the next episode for when I go into more depth of the actual therapeutic process.
If you liked this, I would love to hear your feedback. Please type them into the comments there. If you liked this, hit a like on whatever platform you're on, and please share this with anybody that you think would benefit.
Thank you so much for listening. I look forward to welcoming you into the next episode. Until then, David Tian, signing out. [34:58.1]
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