“Generally speaking, envy, resentment, revenge and self-pity are disastrous modes of thought. Self-pity gets fairly close to paranoia, and paranoia is one of the very hardest things to reverse. You do not want to drift into self-pity. … Self-pity will not improve the situation.” – Charlie Munger
Recently, I found myself repeating an embarrassing behavior I used to do all the time when I was younger. But the difference this time was I recognized it and addressed it rather than pushed it aside.
I found myself obsessively watching every vlog on YouTube that had the Instagram model, Sommer Ray in it. Whenever she or another one of her friends would post something, I’d put it on.
That’s not even the embarrassing part. Plenty people are fans of her. But not as many normal, healthy people are obsessed with supermodels and super attractive women as me. A couple of years ago, a friend of mine pulled me aside on Facebook and said: “we had to talk.”
He told me that he kept seeing my activity on his Facebook feed and it raised his eyebrows. I was liking and commenting on dozens of models’ pages and even some pickup artist pages. He advised me to stay away from the weird pickup artists and that it likely came off weird to anyone else who saw my activity.
I was embarrassed and shocked. I was a naive, young boy and I guess I was swept up in the wave of social media and dating advice online and ended up in a weird place. I was learning from people I shouldn’t be taking dating advice from and getting too obsessed with the social media models out there. It crept up on me so slowly that I didn’t notice it.
For a couple of years, I’ve stopped doing that. I’m happy to say that I’ve been off of the pickup artist nonsense for a while. But recently, I’ve been reeled back into the model-loving world. I’m not alone. Many people have unproductive habits and unhealthy goals.
I’ve discovered wealthy entrepreneurs who were motivated to make money only to validate being accepted from a father that never accepted them. But when they got the money they wanted, it was never enough because it was a moving target. Their fathers were dead and they could never make enough. It was only until they addressed the deeper unhealthy psychological issue that they were psychologically satisfied.
There can other unhealthy motivators that can manifest themselves in different ways. Some people lacked companionship growing up because they were ostracized in school. Because of this, they seek unrealistic, glamorous relationships because they think this will satisfy the hole in them. But it sometimes never does.
Lately, I’ve been learning a lot from mentally healthy, successful people and psychology to help myself. Here are some tips to identifying and fixing your self-sabotaging psychological motivators:
1. Investigate Your Deepest Motivators
This time, I did something most people fail to ever do when they’re in this situation: dive deeper. Rather than sweep it under the rug, I kept asking myself “why” until I found the deepest motivators for my issues.
As mentioned, there are healthy and unhealthy motivations for a goal. For me, it’s embarrassing to admit, but I think my love of Sommer Ray and others like her comes from hoping that I can date a girl as attractive and popular as her one day.
I unconsciously use social media as a form of escapism when my life isn’t going that well, a common behavior for many people. Seeing these girls interact or date seemingly normal guys give me hope.
But the big question I asked was, “Why do you think you need someone so out of reach to satisfy your relationships?”
That was the glaring question that was standing out, which leads me to point two.
2. Dive Even Deeper
The answer to this glaring question behind my bizarre behavior was hard to uncover. But even harder to answer. After some thinking, I think I found out why.
Scarcity created unrealistic ideas of what my goal would be like.
When I looked at the turning point in my life when I first got obsessed with dating beautiful women, I was someone who didn’t have many friends, was an outcast, and never had any romantic interactions even though I was graduating high school already.
I hit puberty and started romanticizing what I was missing out on. Likely, I built up having a beautiful, popular girlfriend as the ultimate prize and joy. Some part of my unconscious never let go of that.
Other traumatic events likely made it worse. One popular, blonde girl in school seemed to show a little interest in me and I built that up in my head without really seeing if she was into me. In college, a moderately attractive girl showed interest in me but I was too shy to approach. I built up our connection in my head so much until months later, I was devastated when I found out she had physical encounters with other men I knew.
3. Recognize, Accept, and Commit
I’ve encountered a couple good self-help and psychology books to help people like me. One of them recommends an empirically based therapy called ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy).
The core theme of ACT is to accept the negative emotions you are feeling by acknowledging them rather than pushing them away or trying to forget them.
It sucks to admit you’re screwed up in some way. But by taking healthy, scientifically proven action, you are improving yourself in a mentally healthy way. Be proud of that. Many people, especially fellow Asian Americans I’ve seen, never consider this route. Instead, they end up following self-destructive pathways, like learning from pick up artists, that end up worsening or ignoring the core issue by addressing the symptoms rather than the cause.
4. Remind Yourself of Reality
Usually, outsized behaviors or reactions are an internal way of compensating for something. For someone who likes to show off their clothes and money excessively, like Dan Bilzerian, it can be a reflection of something they lacked as a child (acceptance, love, appreciation, toys, hobbies, or relationships).
I’m not a professional or psychiatrist so I can’t give you specific details. But one thing I’ve read that helps is to align your reality with realistic thoughts.
By reminding yourself out loud of what’s actually true, rather than what you think, it can help in your recovery process. How do you know what’s actually true? Consult with healthy, trustworthy people who can tell you.
For example, let’s say you are constantly beating yourself up and thinking you’re not good enough to talk to a girl or make a friend (something I struggle with). But in reality, you’re a good guy who deserves to talk to average girls, but you’re just not giving yourself enough credit.
Rather than consult your own biased opinions of yourself, consult socially intelligent friends you trust. If they all give the same opinion that you’re worthy, then, you know you’re underselling yourself. From there, you can repeat affirmations to remind yourself that you like yourself and are worthy. You can list specific details, like “I am a physically fit person” or “I am a kind, smart, and funny person. I shouldn’t beat myself up.”
In the case of my Instagram model obsession issue, I can give myself a reality check. What are the qualities I truly want in a relationship with a model? Laughter. Fun. Good times. Little to no fighting. Playful teasing. A relationship where both parties make the other better through motivation, laughs, and productive habits. A stunningly beautiful face and body. Kindness. Exploring cool new places and interests together. Enjoying interests we already share.
Well, why can’t you find these in someone more attainable, like someone who actually lives in your area with a normal job? The answer is I can. I don’t need someone who has millions of followers. That level of status would be cool, but it also has its problems.
When you crystallize reality in this way, you can identify what are “nice to haves” and “need to haves” rather than stay in a vague state.
5. Get Started with Baby Steps
It’s easy to sit in your chair and do nothing. It’s easy to refuse to make any progress at all because the results aren’t as high as you ultimately want. It’s easy to live a life that’s more comfortable even if it keeps you stagnant and far away from your dreams.
But the regret you will face isn’t worth it.
I quoted Charlie Munger at the start because his quotes on the dangers of envy are a theme to my biggest struggles this year. I’m not alone. Countless Millennials out there are also destroying themselves with jealousy of the rich, young kids they see on social media. They’re sabotaging their progress by drifting into self-pity and laziness.
Enjoy the process and the small wins because maybe you’ll like it more than the big end result anyways. It’s a cliche message but enjoying the journey is cliche for a reason: it works and it’s true.
After years of screwing around and excuses, I finally have been making substantial progress. I’ve gone out on my first few dates. Are they the most attractive women in the world? No. Was I moderately bumped out that they weren’t super attractive? Honestly, yes. But did I marvel at my progress and have some fun? Yes.
I’ve also been investing in my fitness, fashion, and career to become a better man every day.
Trending in the right direction and moving towards healthy, real practice is a great sign. We live longer than we think, so if you’re moving in the right direction, that’s a great clue that you may just one day reach your goals. Just keep in mind that you have to enjoy the journey. You may end up finding a goal that’s even better than a super hot Instagram model — like a girl who’s smart, nerdy, not as hot, but has the same interests as you.
Give yourself a chance to live a better life of less suffering. If you’re identifying any extreme or bizarre behavior that is a theme throughout your life, you can save yourself years or decades of struggle by facing it rather than ignoring it.
I want to live a normal, healthy, happy life. We all do. But we all have issues and memories that haunt us. Even an Instagram model who seems to have their whole life together, like Sommer Ray, has issues. She recently released a Q&A revealing that she was bullied so bad in high school that she was homeschooled.
Hopefully, with this article, you’ll at least have a chance at moving to a more mentally healthy, wonderful place in life.
Does this help? Is there anything I forgot to address that you need help on? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll try to answer.
Will Chou is a personal development blogger at willyoulaugh.com and has spent thousands of hours studying the world’s most successful people, especially businessman.
Image courtesy of Free-photos.