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Pickup Coaching
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Lumpy's picture
Joined: 05/30/2012
That's a terrible way to frame it really.

Manwhore and I were talking about addressing approach anxiety while out solo. He laid down an interesting explanation on addressing it. Boiled down: Tolle bro. Ignore both the world's and my own expectations. Find that place of emptiness inside and feel it. I then stumbled across a fucking bomb collection of posts on that I feel square beautifully with Manwhore's thoughts and are extraordinarily in-depth. Along with some super pragmatic recommendations that I intend to implement.

I can approach pretty solidly when I'm out with a buddy who talks to girlies. I can approach when I'm out with a guy who wants to see me spit game. You point at a girl and tell me to go—a celebrity even—and I will fucking do it. In a situation where I have to perform for other people, I will perform and perform well. I've pulled and fucked from a club (once).

Out solo I can barely talk to guys.

Why the community dogma of approaching sets until you "go numb" is a really bad idea

Wait, scratch, rewind

First, some context by Illuminatus: (original post: )


First is to realize that the emotional model can develop tolerances to its own responses. You can test this in many ways. One way is to take a cold shower every day. The first time it is almost unbearable. You can barely convince yourself to actually get under the cold water to begin with, such is the fear. Then, when you're under, staying in there till it no longer feels cold is also extremely difficult, and it takes around 2 minutes.

However, by the tenth time you do it, you walk straight in with barely a second thought, and you stay until it feels warm, and that time is now reduced to something ridiculous like 10 seconds. You have developed tolerance to the emotional responses within your emotional model. You have become tempered by experience on a core emotional level.

I picked cold showers because it is not something you are likely to assign meaning to. I purposely picked something so arbitrary, so unconnected to one's own self-image, that the logical model will have minimal interference in the experiment.

The only point of this experiment is to show you that the most basic emotional responses (physiological processes) themselves can be learned to be tolerated via exposure, and that they have their own model within which tolerance and other "offsets" can be "remembered". There is no need for meaning or other devices of the logical model to be introduced in order to learn emotional tolerance for cold water.

Following on from this knowledge -- that emotional responses can be tempered via exposure -- we will then seek to apply this tempering/tolerance-learning process to specific emotional responses which currently bother or overwhelm us.

One of the key parts of becoming attractive to women, once we've done all the obvious stuff such as fixing our looks as best we can, is learning emotional stability while interacting with women. I talked more about emotional stability being a key "levelling" (i.e. non-looks, non-status etc.) trait here: Women do not actually know why they find you attractive

Developing stability within the emotional model therefore involves developing a tolerance for all the feelings of anxiety, jitteriness etc. that arise when interacting with women. When you nix those emotional responses out, you become a lot more attractive to women. Anyone with a lot of experience knows that experience itself makes you more attractive to women. What I am describing now is the way this works, and therefore how we can speed up "getting experience".

At the moment, it is canonical wisdom that you just have to approach thousands of women to eventually develop this "unshakeable" emotional state. I say that this is true. However, there are ways to speed this process up significantly -- by learning the principles of the process. This is what my post on logical/emotional models is here to reveal.

Let's do a thought experiment with a guy who is just starting his seduction career and has made a dozen or so approaches so far, who we'll call Newbie X. If we consider the amount of awareness in Newbie X's mind as being a finite resource, and we analyse where his awareness is placed before, during and after an approach, we will probably see that it is something like this:

Before: 95% awareness on assigning an "anxiety" meaning to his pre-approach arousal, and in coming up with ways to make himself approach; 5% awareness actually experiencing the stimulated state.
During: 80% awareness on "finding the right thing to say" (more meaning); 20% on correcting his posture, kino, and other micro-management; negligible awareness placed on actually experiencing his emotional responses while interacting with the woman.
After: 50% awareness on the euphoria from actually approaching; 10% awareness on thinking "That wasn't so bad!" (assigning meaning and hoping it sticks for next time, which it doesn't); 40% awareness on analysing his failure (assigning more meaning, almost all of which will be incorrect, despite seeming very convincing explanations at the time).

The main thing I have tried to highlight here is that the guy's awareness is typically on the meaning he assigns to all the emotional events he is going through before, during and after the approach. His awareness is not actually on the emotional/physiological process itself. If it was, he would develop an emotional tolerance for approaching very rapidly, as he does when he has his cold showers every morning. This is what I am getting at when I say faster progress can be made by guys on the emotional level, if they place more awareness into their feelings without getting distracted by meaning.

If the guy puts his awareness as close as possible to 100% on the emotional/physiological processes he experiences, while ignoring the meaning completely, he will develop this solid, unshakeable, highly-tempered emotional state far, far more quickly. If he isn't aware that he can do this, he's going to continue to collect his measly 10% emotional awareness on each approach, and it's going to take him a damn sight longer to develop that tolerance than if he had experienced the emotions 100%.

I remember even after 100 approaches when I was at university, I still had almost the exact same level of anxiety before, during and after the approach. It got no easier as it went along. My awareness was all wrapped up in thoughts, meaning, and other nonsense, and meanwhile I was not developing this tolerance at the emotional level.

Any student should be able to strip the "meaning" out of pickup and spend the next 10 approaches purely having an awareness of the emotions themselves, having full faith that this awareness will "temper" his emotional responses for next time. An additional benefit of this is that, by having his awareness on his emotional state during his interaction with the woman, he will intuitively know when and how to escalate sexually, whether what he is doing is "working", whether she is horny or not, and so forth, because your emotions tell you all of this if you listen to them. One common factor which unites every guy who becomes halfway decent with women is that they learn to pay attention to their emotions when deciding how and when to escalate. What I am suggesting here is, pay attention to and experience your emotions during the whole course of the approach, even when you're scared. Make your practice count 100% in this way.

Do you know a poster called TheCostOfSuccess (a.k.a Cosy)? He used to post on the old mASF, and was a master seducer. When I met up with him in real life, and saw he had zero approach anxiety (whereas I had it in bucketfuls despite a few years' experience), I asked him whether he had ever had any anxiety when approaching. He told me that when he first started out, he went to a club, and felt an incredible amount of fear before and during his first approach. After it was done, he literally ran outside the club to throw up. He said within a few approaches however he had become extremely tempered to his own emotional responses. He had come to know them through experiencing them completely, without judging them or assigning meaning to them.

To throw up from an emotional experience, in my opinion, requires a full experience of that emotion. In fact, the first time I chose to accept and experience my fear fully, at a house party, I also threw up, as documented in my book The End of Social Anxiety. Little did I know at the time, but this was actually the first step towards overcoming my anxiety. The mistake I had made in my early approaches at university was twofold: a) Fighting my own emotions instead of putting my awareness into them and allowing myself to be tempered by them through exposure, and b) Getting drunk enough so I did not have to feel my own emotions. It was a culture of avoidance, which does not allow a tolerance to be acquired. My emotions terrified me because I assigned so much meaning to them. I made them say so much about who I was, and what their consequences were, which was simply not true. Emotions can and should be meaningless. We don't need a story for every emotion. What we need is experience, tolerance, and non-judgment of emotion, leading to a tempered state.

Cosy, by the way, if you are not aware of him, is a martial arts master and meditator, who has taught himself many disciplines including seduction via this method of direct experience without need for meaning. If you read his old field reports, people used to become infuriated by him, because they were written entirely in subjective emotional language, and the nerds and egomaniacs on the forum wanted to know the meaning rather than the content of his emotional experience. People used to write "Was that a poem?" after each of his field reports because on the surface they seemed so bizarre. A loner, with no need to impress anyone, Cosy only cared about the emotional experience itself, and he was able to allow himself to be tempered by and learn from emotional experiences non-judgmentally. He sees the world in his own emotional contexts rather than trying to filter them through other people's predefined meanings. There is an interview I did with him here if you want to learn more about him:

Let's expand on that.

Why the community dogma of approaching sets until you "go numb" is a really bad idea - NoMoreFatChix

The seduction community is an interesting study in itself. Due to the cult-like nature, Guru-worship, and tendency for people to "echo" each other on forums, we sometimes get this phenomenon of ideas "getting stuck", despite overwhelming contrary evidence.

One such idea is that you can "get rid of" your "approach anxiety" by approaching set after set after set, with no mention of what the outcome of the individual set is supposed to be. It's amazing to me that people still believe this to be true after the ridiculously large number of people who have tried it and not have it work, not to mention the incredible fact that people who have tried it themselves and not had any positive effect from it, STILL believe it to be true! It's truly fascinating.

Now, there are voices of reason out there of course. For example, Illuminatus has touched upon this in a couple of recent posts, and he has generally given the "solution" to this problem and how to do it "properly" here:

But I feel he is a bit to "diplomatic" in that he still give the old ideas a bit of a "benefit of the doubt". I will therefore completely remove that doubt in this post so that we can leave this utter crap behind us and progress to the next level.

First, what about all those PUAs who say they have done this and are now consistently getting laid from cold approach and have a PUA or Guru icon on!?!1!oneone Yes, a lot of resourceful guys are able to succeed even though their methods sucks. Here are a couple of reasons why:

1) He is in fact doing what Illuminatus prescribes, but might not know it. Especially if he has a low level of anxiety connected to approaching girls to begin with. When your stress-reaction is sufficiently low, your mind won't engage (much) in the repressive emotional reaction because it's just not necessary. He will go through with the approach, fully experience the unpleasant feelings and bodily sensations, and the integration process of those sensations will be successful. There are also "naturals" at this who are very good at dealing with high-stress situations without ever having put much conscious effort into it. They don't need a "spiritual teacher" to tell them this stuff, because they are already there and know how to let their body do what it needs to do. They are typically emotionally calm and very grounded guys, and most likely they are naturally good with people as well.

2) He is a well above average attractive male who keeps on doing the approaches, and thanks to his other attractive attributes he has a fair amount of success. His nervousness and unfortunate emotional reactions to his own emotions never really changes much or get any better, he just confuses the fact that he has success due to other factors with the "method" working.

As a side note: These types are obviously exactly the types who have a high probability of rising in the "pick up hierarchy" and spreading their faulty ideas. And the sheep will follow.

To explain why the "method" doesn't work in some detail, let's take a small detour into your brain:

We now know that experiences actually change our brain. You might have heard the phrase "what fires together wires together" when talking about neurons. In slightly more detail, what happens is this: You have an experience, causing neurons in your brain to "fire", which means an electric signal is going through them in the form of ions. When this happens, the genes in their nuclei become activated and "express" themselves. At the far end of the neuron a chemical neurotransmitter is released into the small synaptic space that joins the neuron to the next one. Experience also stimulates the production of a fatty acid that sheat the neuron and can give as much as a hundredfold increase in the speed a signal travels down its path. Under certain conditions, neural firing can lead to strengthening of this synaptic connection, and synaptic linkages to be constructed anew. These conditions are known to include:

- Repetition
- Emotional arousal
- Novelty
- And the focus of attention (hence the power of mindfulness/meditation techniques)

I would like to just quickly comment on the last item and what that means: The key thing to realize is that it is not just the sensory input that matters, i.e. "what happened" in an objective sense, but also how you put your attention to the various aspects of it.

This list should make it abundantly clear that our little "extreme sport" of social experimenting is in fact setting perfect conditions for altering your brain! Let's hope we use that opportunity to alter it in the most beneficial way (hint: You're probably not.).

By this "firing" of neurons in groups, an experience become "encoded" in your brain. The more often such a cluster of neurons fire in a certain way, the more likely they are to fire in the same way in the future. The trigger can be any kind of internal (thought/feeling/bodily sensation) or external event. Your brain is in a sense an "anticipation machine", trying to predict the future based on what has happened in the past. What is interesting though, and something that has not been understood in detail until fairly recent times, is that there are two types of "memories" of the past; implicit and explicit memories. The latter is what we usually mean when we use the word "memory" in everyday language. This would be you for example recalling what you had for breakfast today, and all the thoughts and emotions that brings with. The defining property here is that you see this as something that happened in the past, very distinctly separated from the present. An implicit memory on the other hand does not show up in this way. An example would be you going outside, jumping on a bike, and going for a ride right now. You probably won't get a lot of flashes of bike rides from your past into your awareness, but obviously the memories of all those rides are still there, otherwise you wouldn't know how to ride a bike at all.

On top of all these memories, we start forming belief systems. Opinions about what is bad and what is good. Explicit memories are, in this respect, tangible, and we can understand how some of our own beliefs can be based on explicit memories of past experiences. For example, if you had a bike accident, you might have come to the conclusion the riding a bike in traffic is dangerous. The difficulty with implicit memories though, is that they are all tangled up with the present, and we don't necessarily even know that we have them, i.e. that they are "coming form the past". For example you might have had a bike accident as a five year old, knocked your teeth out, suppressed this memory, and now have the belief that "I don't like riding a bike" without actually knowing why!

Let's consider a more relevant example. Say you're an aspiring PUA and you start going out to night clubs five times a week to "open sets". Looking back at our list of conditions priming the brain for adaption to new experiences we realize this is prime circumstances! If you are like 90% of guys, you're awareness will be used something along these lines when you open a set (let me just quote Illuminatus here):


Originally Posted by Illuminatus
Before: 95% awareness on assigning an "anxiety" meaning to his pre-approach arousal, and in coming up with ways to make himself approach; 5% awareness actually experiencing the stimulated state.
During: 80% awareness on "finding the right thing to say" (more meaning); 20% on correcting his posture, kino, and other micro-management; negligible awareness placed on actually experiencing his emotional responses while interacting with the woman.
After: 50% awareness on the euphoria from actually approaching; 10% awareness on thinking "That wasn't so bad!" (assigning meaning and hoping it sticks for next time, which it doesn't); 40% awareness on analysing his failure (assigning more meaning, almost all of which will be incorrect, despite seeming very convincing explanations at the time).

But what happens then every time you get that overpowering feeling of anxiety, focus 90% of your attention on how bad it is and/or what you can do to avoid it, "force yourself through it" by suppressing the feeling and "doing it anyway"? Well, you are effectively subjecting yourself to a small trauma every time. But the problem is in fact not the emotional response itself, but your emotional reaction to it. That's right, your emotional reaction to your own emotions is what matters, not the emotion itself, because that reaction is what will label the experience as "bad" and make it into a (implicit) "bad memory".

The key role in assembling all the bits and pieces of your responses to experiences and assigning meaning to them is played by a part of your brain called the hippocampus. It cooperates closely with other parts, such as the fear-generating amygdala, to couple the details of an experience with the emotional tone and meaning of that event. Rage is known to shut off the functioning of the hippocampus, and it is not uncommon for people to not have a very good memory of the events after having experienced serious rage. You might have heard people saying they "went blank" and "don't know what happened". Researchers now believe this is true for other high emotional states that are outside what we can normally tolerate as well. Excessive stress hormones can impair the ability of the hippocampus to function, making you especially prone to creating implicit memories that can impair you later. It might be especially interesting to note that alcohol is notorious for being able to temporarily shut off the hippocampus as well, hence "black outs". This all means that if you regularly go out to push yourself through barriers and drink a lot of alcohol you are putting yourself in a very vulnerable position!

The end results is that you will pile up a bunch of implicit memories cumulating in beliefs such as "night clubs are scary", "girls are scary", "I have approach anxiety" and similar. Notice that the beliefs typically do not have a rational explanation following them, "it's just the way it is". Even more commonly, it would not necessarily be formulated as a "belief" as such in your head, it might just be an uneasy feeling every time you are there, and you don't know why or where it is coming from. This tangling of the past with the present, and not recognizing your reaction as a memory, is the nature of implicit memories.

Side note: Sometimes the beliefs can be even further removed from the actual source, the true reason they are there. This will happen in people who are particularly out of tune with their emotions and body. There can be many reasons for this, and the topic is suitable for its own discussion, but a couple of reasons could be a lack of integration between left and right side of the brain, or between "mammal brain" and "reptilian brain". You can detect it by noticing that their belief systems just seem off, are incoherent, or just plain doesn't make sense. An example would be guys who have come to the "conclusion" that online game is more time-efficient, and/or easier, than day or night game, which is simply factually not true. These guys will particularly benefit from working on learning to use their awareness correctly so that they can tune in to the real world and learn to integrate experiences properly.

But isn't the idea of approaching a sets until your anxiety goes away just basic exposure theory? Won't you realize that "nothing bad happens" and your fear will eventually be removed? Say you know a kid who has some irrational fear of taking the bus. Who knows why, perhaps he has an image that the people on the bus are scary, or that he will be bullied by other kids there. So you take him with you and ride bus after bus all day long until you both want to throw up because you are so bored with taking busses. It could be that the kid will realize that there is really nothing to fear with taking the bus itself. I have heard similar argumentation applied to approach anxiety in various pickup literature. It goes something along the lines of "just do the approach, and no physical harm with happen to you, that way will realize that it's not scary", sometimes augmented with some completely misunderstood evolutionary psychology about this fear being something that was useful when we were cave men and other men would kill you if you tried to take their women. Are you really afraid that someone is going to beat you up when you approach a cute girl at a bar though? Is physical pain really what frightens you in this situation? No, of course not. What you are afraid of is rejection, which is a form of social defeat. If you want to go into the evolutionary psychology, this is part of your many "involuntary defeat strategies" that are designed to make you not take big social risks, and make perfect sense from an evolutionary perspective. We know that humans are highly social beings, and we are very concerned with social hierarchies, not to mention the role social status plays when females pick mates! Probably due to a combination of these evolutionary evolved strategies, and possibly things that has happened in your past, you now have a jolt of pain going through your body every time you experience "social defeat". That is what you are afraid of, not some caveman-like AMOG coming over and beating you up for saying hi to his girl friend. And guess what, if you are a newbie, you are going to experience just that what you are afraid of: getting rejected. A lot. Going back to the analogy with our bus-anxious kid, this would be like you prescribing him with a treatment of repeatedly taking the bus, only about 50% of the time you paid some bigger kids on the bus to harass him and make fun of him. Do you think his bus-anxiety would still go away? If you want to read more about involuntary defeat strategies and why this all makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, I highly recommend this article:

(It's a really good read.)

For some, usually those that succeed, there are sufficient good feelings connected to the act of going to a night club that the net experience is perceived as a positive one; you enjoy doing it and keep repeating it for that reason. That's fine, but don't confuse that with solving the actual problem. You're just "covering it up" by other positive feelings, which is in fact pretty close to the opposite of what you should be doing (cf. Illuminatus' post above). By suppressing an emotion you are effectively disallowing it to be integrated in your mind in a healthy way, and combine this with extreme repeated exposure you are on a path of super-efficient anxiety building. That's right, you are not "numbing" yourself at all, you're strengthening your own anxiety! If you are LUCKY you might keep your anxiety levels at a similar level, but for A LOT OF GUYS doing this they will actually get worse!

The only way I know of to truly realize that "nothing bad happens" is to focus all of your attention on the emotion and letting it be there and grow or go away as it likes, experiencing it fully, as Illuminatus and other have called it. If you do this right, which I am purposely not going into detail on in this post, experiences will stop being labeled as "bad" and your emotional responses as "bad feelings". If you keep going out and you keep approaching sets and you feel like you are just banging your head against a wall and nothing really improves in how you feel, you need to stop. The more you do this now, the more you will have to struggle with later. Expose yourself intelligently, with awareness on your emotional and bodily responses, and with an intention to be aware. Quality over quantity. One good approach were you actually learned something on the emotional level, meaning you got better at accepting your feelings and body, is worth more than ten crappy approaches where you just keep repeating the same old patterns of the same old neural clusters firing based on implicit memories giving a "bad" emotion which you amplify by "disliking/hating" it.

You can also release trauma after-the-fact, through a combination of mind and body work. If you think you have a lot of trauma I recommend you do a search for David Bercelli and try out his Trauma Release Exercises (TRE). They have worked very well for people I know.


So you sexly lil booger you, what do we do about it? Tolle bro.

Experiental Avoidance and Presence - NoMoreFatChix

Short Intro: Shyness has with out any doubt been the biggest obstacle to my PU success. If you've read DNYC's late post I fell squarely into the A+SS-PoB category. Now a lot has been written about overcoming shyness, and especially AA in the PU community. And some stuff works and some stuff doesn't. Also, surely, different stuff work for different people. For me, a lot of the traditional 'inner game' shit hasn't done much; affirmations and all that. Pumping 'state' does work to some extent, but is far too unreliable for me. Alcohol works like a charm, but it also has it's obvious downsides. So in this post I want to share something that has worked for me with you guys. I think it's pretty awesome actually.

Short summary: Face your fears, and do it in a mindful way.

* * *


Experiental avoidance is a term popularized by recent so-called third wave cognitive-behavioral therapies.

Wikipedia defines it in the following way:

Experiential avoidance (EA) has been broadly defined as attempts to avoid thoughts, feelings, memories, physical sensations, and other internal experiences—even when doing so creates harm in the long-run. The process of EA is thought to be maintained through negative reinforcement—that is, short-term relief of discomfort is achieved through avoidance, thereby increasing the likelihood that the behavior will persist. Importantly, the current conceptualization of EA suggests that it is not negative thoughts, emotions, and sensations that are problematic, but how one responds to them that can cause difficulties. In particular, a habitual and persistent unwillingness to experience uncomfortable thoughts and feelings (and the associated avoidance and inhibition of these experiences) is thought to be linked to a wide range of problems.

This is, in my opinion, obviously relevant to many non-productive behavioral patterns (or should we say non-behavioral patterns) that we struggle with in PU. If any kind of 'lack of action' is a SP in your game, this post should be relevant to you.

In this post I will look at how EA is typically a faulty strategies in attempting to cope with anxiety, and suggest alternative approaches, mainly inspired by the book Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life [1], a self-help book on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). This will be a theoretical post, but hopefully it shouldn't be too hard to translate this into something you can apply. (Because this truly is a PRACTICAL topic.)

Psychological pain can be divided into two kinds: The pain of presence, and the pain of absence [1]. The pain of presence is the unpleasant internal turmoil experienced directly when facing your fears, for example AA experienced before or during opening a girl. Whereas the pain of absence is the pain associated with the absence of things that you dearly want in your life. For example, a shy person typically intensely wants a social life and sexual relationships, and experiences these things missing in his life as painful. I think you will agree with me that it is the latter kind of pain that leads to true suffering and depression in your life, and in this light, the pain of presence is fairly harmless. The last sentence is a purely intellectual understanding though, as opposed to an experiential one; the pain of presence will be overwhelming and overpowering for the anxious individual, and thinking that just intellectually understanding the above will help solve anyone's problems is of course naive.

Now, to get back to EA, it can be a successful strategy in dealing with pain of presence, but it is counter-productive in dealing with pain of absence, and actually increases it by decreasing the probability of you having what you want in your life and your own sense of achievement.

The wrong solution: Avoiding unpleasant thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations (EA)

If we make persisting through some unpleasant/painful social situation, like starting a conversation with a girl, our target problem to fix, it is a very intuitive strategy for the human mind to try to avoid, or suppress somehow, the unpleasant emotions or thoughts in connection with the situation. The intuitive, but faulty, way to do this is to attempt to dismiss any AA-amplifying thoughts (like "she is too hot for me"), and suppress the sensations of AA in your body. Basically pretending/telling yourself they are not there. Most state-pumping or state-changing techniques seem to attempt to do this, and to be fair they are not all completely unsuccessful, but I believe their use is limited as it has been shown [1] that this type of avoidance makes things worse in many cases.

I quote from [2]:

The paradox of experiential avoidance is that attempting to hide or inhibit unpleasant thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations serves to increase the frequency and distress of these same experiences (Gross, 1998a, 2002; Wegner, 1994) and a sense that one is being inauthentic or disconnected from oneself (John & Gross, 2004). Moreover, chronic emotional avoidance interferes with the pleasures of being fully immersed in any activity, resulting in less frequent positive events and dampened positive emotions (Gross & John, 2003; Kashdan & Steger, in press). Rigid attempts to avoid negatively evaluated private experiences apparently lead to more frequent and intense episodes of psychological distress and interference with meaningful life activities.

In short, problem solving strategies that often work on practical external problems often do not work on psychological problems. Trying to avoid a thought, for example, will typically lead to you experiencing that thought even more. In the book [1], the authors make an analogy of fighting psychological pain with being stuck in quick sand: The more you struggle against it, the more you will get stuck.

The right solution: Presence

Yup, you guessed it.

To quote again from [2]:

All human beings will have moments of pain and suffering. This includes experiencing the full spectrum of human emotions, including intense, potentially disturbing states such as panic attacks, and a range of evaluative thoughts including self-doubts about the ability to perform in a particular situation and feeling that one should/ought to be better or present oneself more favorably. The content and form of these events are part of being human and living in the present moment; they are not necessarily problematic or dysfunctional (e.g., thoughts such as I am a loser or I am a banana are just thoughts). Moreover, taking action toward valued goals requires contact with a full range of emotional content, some of it quite painful. This is where experiential avoidance tends to get people into trouble.

The problem is not experiencing certain thoughts or emotions, but the fusion, or identification, with them. For those interested in eastern spirituality, this is of course old news. It should also be noted that Acceptance and Commitment therapy, from which a lot of the terminology and content of this post is taken, is very inspired by eastern spiritual schools of thought. In fact, it is in many ways preceded by a psychotherapy called Morita therapy[3], created by Dr. Shoma Morita a Japanese contemporary of Sigmund Freud, which again based a lot of his therapy on Japanese Zen traditions.

So the solution is to approach your unpleasant experiences in a mindful way. Opening up and feeling them fully, and accepting them and realizing that as any other part of the present moment they are inevitable. I'm not going to write much on how to achieve a mindful state, because so many other could do it much better than me, but I will give some resources at the end of this post. Also, note that this isn't a magic pill. It is a skill that needs to be practiced quite rigorously. It might especially take a lot of effort if you are an introvert.

Response-ability and Willingness

Replace from now on in your vocabulary the word "responsibility" with the word "response-ability." Response-ability means your ability to respond to any given situation. And if you think about it, you always have the ability to make a response, so you response-ability is in a sense limitless, only your action is, of course, limited. Thinking in this way is far more productive than dividing the world into different areas where some things are "your responsibility" and some things aren't. This might be a bit far out for you, as it probably is a very different way to think about things than what you are used to, but consider the following: If you decide a certain area is "your responsibility" (in the traditional sense), and something happens in that area that you can not fix (obviously, your action is always limited) you must take the "blame" for what happened even though there is nothing you can do about it. On the other hand, say something happens outside the area which you called "your responsibility" and you do have the ability to do something about it that would benefit yourself, are you not going to do it just because you previously decided it to not be "your responsibility"?

It might take you some time to grasp what I mean here, but by taking on the view that everything is your responsibility in the sense that it is within you response-ability, and only your action is limited, you will feel empowered and actually freer in your life. For now, I wish to only propose that you start considering your own emotions, thoughts and body as 100% within your response-ability, and no longer try to place anything happening within you outside "your responsibility." If you can internalize this useless stuff like blaming childhood happenings, statements like "I can't get in state" etc. no longer make sense. It is a bit of a practice to take on this new view, but try it out.

Now to willingness. Your ability to take action directly depends on your ability to accept and be willing to have the unpleasant sensations that accompany the action. Consider yourself to be equipped with two dials. One of the dials reads "pain" and sort of wanders up and down by itself. The other dial reads "willingness" and represents your willingness to accept and have what is. A high level on the "pain" dial and a low level on the "willingness" dial leads to EA. One of the basic prepositions of ACT is that increasing the level on the "willingness" dial will decrease EA which in turn will lower the suffering in your life. For example: If you were to truly accept and be willing to have the sensations accompanying your AA you would still be able to take action, i.e. open.

In [1] a gradual exposure approach is recommended here. The ACT book has a lot of practical exercises for doing this if you're interested. I decided to not make that the focus of this post, but here's an interesting example:

As an exercise, pick a certain "target" problem in your life, then choose say 10 different situations with respect to your target that would expose you to pain. Pick them with varying difficulty, meaning that some of the tasks you have a high level of willingness to do, as they do not elicit much pain, whereas others might be things you are not sure that you are willing to do yet. Then do the tasks, starting with the easiest, and exercise as high a level of presence as possible when doing it. Experience whether you are willing to have your troublesome sensations or not. Ideally your willingness to do the more difficult tasks will then increase. It is suggested in [1] that if you consider your willingness scale to go from 1 to 10, you should ideally have a 10 before doing a task, meaning you are fully willing to do it with everything that comes with. It is also suggested that you can repeat the same task several times before moving on to the next one.

Here is a bulleted list from [1] to help remember how to approach the tasks you decide to do:

- Notice what is around you. Appreciate your immediate environment.
- Do not avoid.
- Notice your thoughts, but just let them come and go. Don't follow them.
- Notice the pull to your past and future. Then notice you are here in the present.
- Don't fight.
- Notice the pull to act and to avoid. Do nothing about that pull except to notice it.
- Do something new. Perhaps even be playful.
- Use your reverse compass (but only if you are willing!) [Explanation: Using your "reverse compass" means trying to do more of a certain action if your mind is telling you not to. This is obviously something that must be done with some care.]
- Notice you are noticing all these things.
- List other things you might do below: [i.e. put preferred personal mindfulness techniques etc. here.]
- Stick to your commitment: Be present. No avoidance.

It is assumed that you already know what 'being mindful' means/feels like, and I recommend you practice mindfulness as a skill as much as possible in your daily life to get good at it.

Obviously, we are talking conventional CBT here, but the emphasis on mindfulness is new. Also note that there are no specific outcome that you should try to achieve with each task, except for doing it and being present while you do it.

Once you get this stuff, you might actually find yourself seeking out experiences that you used to be afraid of, looking forward to the challenge and excitement because it makes you feel alive and present. Which is pretty cool.

By the way, this is a pretty hot topic in psychology, as searchs on "experiental avoidance", "mindfulness" or "acceptance and commitmend therapy" on will reveal.

More resources: (talk on mindfulness) (talk on mindfulness) (videos on ACT)


[1] S. C. Hayes: Get Out of Your Mind & Into Your Life (book)
[2] T. B: Kashdan, V. Barrios, J. P. Forsyth, M. F. Steger: Experiential avoidance as a general psychological vulnerability: Comparison with coping and emotion regulation strategies.
[3] Shoma Morita, Akihisa Kondo: Morita Therapy and the True Nature of Anxiety-Based Disorders: Shinkeishitsu
Joined: 01/18/2012
Re: "I'm a bitch and can't talk to girls"
Awesome man. I also liked Illuminatus' post on affirmations:

I go in and I'm crisp, clean and my vocals are fucking coming out like music. - Anonymous MW student

- Autismus Terminus Finis (Root Cause/Cure of Autism Epidemic)

- Called Off My Wedding & Other Turn Tail Signs Of The American Male

Tap Or Click For Personal Coaching Information

Joined: 04/20/2012
Re: "I'm a bitch and can't talk to girls"

I just read the first bit, don't have time to read the rest now but seems like an AWESOME post.

I'm fairly deep into tolle-esque stuff now. Still a novice/intermediate but I've got good bearings on it. But I recently was helping a girl I'm fucking through some emotional stress she was experience at her job. He was working retarded days on no sleep and ha very stressful presentations to do. She'd power through but then detach from the stress which carried on to detaching from her outside work life too. This lead to her drinking a bunch and Goin out and acting like a club slut. As there's nothing wrong with this at all and I encourage it often ;) but she was becoming numb ad doing it to forget about her emotions and did things she referred and felt even worse about the next day.

I let her vent to me one day and I BREIFLY dropped some tolle wisdom on her. I basically told her that she shouldn't suppress her emotions or go numb to them. Instead realize what they are and really feel them an think about why they are there. In different words but that's what I told her. It immediately helped. All the behavior that went against her values ceased. And one day she was getting drilled by a superior at work and instead of "going numb" (her words) she said she just felt the emotions in her body and realized why the emotion was there (I feel nauseous, because he is yelling at me. That sucks. Oh well. Accepted, now what action can I take?) and although it didn't make her negative emotions go away, the resistance disappeared and she still felt bad but didn't identify with it and took right action.

Fuck the process in me has been a slow one and its hard to see the inner manifestation compared to outer results just because it feels like ive been at this inner game forever. So it's awesome to objectively see such instant gains in someone else. But when I think about the past.. WOW. I mean I haven't thrown my fist into any walls in a lonnggggg time. It used to be a regular occurance. And nothing outer in regards to that has really changed, only my views towards them. I enjoy making a fool out of myself at clubs instead if trying to look cool. And I usually burst out in laughter when I see negative shit or people are trying to get me to react instead of my usual way of reacting and aggravating the "problem."

Tolle every day.
Joined: 09/10/2012
Re: "I'm a bitch and can't talk to girls"
Thanks man, I have been having the same issues with approach anxiety when I'm solo and sober. This is a really good explanation that ties in with Manwhore's suggestions.

Additionally this from the link Manwhore posted-

"HOWEVER, you can say "Engage with the new experience" and your body will accept anything you then put in front of it as a new experience to be engaged with and learned about -- it puts your brain into "curiosity mode" which is the trump card to ALL fears. I believe curiosity releases dopamine, and this is the beautiful, tingling sensation you experience with NOVELTY. Make everything NOVEL."

Pretty awesome stuff.

Another book that's really helped me is Nathaniel Branden's "The Six Pillars of Self Esteem". Especially the part on self acceptance.
Joined: 01/18/2012
This is a fucking awful post.

This is a fucking awful post. Curious if this was part of the hackage. I've contacted OP


I go in and I'm crisp, clean and my vocals are fucking coming out like music. - Anonymous MW student

- Autismus Terminus Finis (Root Cause/Cure of Autism Epidemic)

- Called Off My Wedding & Other Turn Tail Signs Of The American Male

Tap Or Click For Personal Coaching Information

Joined: 04/09/2021
What's bad about it ? Seems

What's bad about it ? Seems like you even approved of it 9 years ago lol.

Joined: 01/18/2012
Actually there's quite a bit

Actually there's quite a bit of solid content later in this thread I was reading through some of the first points and it sounded like some "it takes me three hours to warm up" nonsense.

I've been a bit "sensitive" lately after finding the forum hacked.


I go in and I'm crisp, clean and my vocals are fucking coming out like music. - Anonymous MW student

- Autismus Terminus Finis (Root Cause/Cure of Autism Epidemic)

- Called Off My Wedding & Other Turn Tail Signs Of The American Male

Tap Or Click For Personal Coaching Information