Tuesday, February 1, 2011

True Self-Esteem

Many folks in the Manosphere talk about "fake it until you make it" with regards to building up confidence and approaching women. The point of this advice is to try and generate a positive feedback loop for which the struggling male discovers that women are attracted to confidence and resolve in a man, and while he may be faking it at first, the success he experiences while faking that confidence and bravado should boost his REAL confidence so that eventually he is no longer faking it.

That is because the true path to self-esteem for males is to struggle with adversity and overcome it through persistence and perseverance. It is the realization that you've triumphed through the force of your will. The experience gained from this process is what real self-seteem is founded on. This truth is one of the principles that is deliberately distorted by mass media culture - that self-esteem is the result of shielding children from negative experiences, protecting them from harsh criticism and avoiding any possibility of failure. We don't want to hurt their feelings...because hurt feelings is evidence of a low self-esteem. This philosophy that seems to be at the heart of our culture's principle in raising the next generation. It is one of the reasons why we are a declining civilization.

This false definition of self-esteem is at it's core, a dishonest philosophy...and an enfeebling one at that. This is one of the reasons why we have what is now commonly referred to as an "extended adolescence." Shielded from the consequences of failure, one never learns from that failure, so they never improve.

True self esteem is an honest existence. It's the realization that you can and did overcome adversity and struggle to accomplish something. I take pride in attaining my black belt in martial arts, although I am very circumspect and humble about it, I never talk about it or use it as a means of describing myself to people who do not know me. (It is only in the anonymity of the internet would I write something like this.) That is because I went through years and years of extensive, grinding and sometimes very painful training to achieve that rank. I've been knocked out cold, and I've knocked out others. I've had broken bones and an endless amount of bruises. The self esteem I built up from that is founded on honesty. I know what I went through to achieve that rank.

I've met guys who got their black belts from a "McDojo." They spent hundreds of dollars and a short period of time to be "awarded" the rank. It is a mark of false self-esteem. It is the seeking of status that is not really earned. When you see a McDojo black belt recipient "move" they don't move like a person who has gone through the extensive training required to attain that rank in an honest dojo. Any true black belt can recognize immediately whether or not a person has a real black belt versus a McDojo rank. Fraudulent self-esteem is easily recognized by those who attained it authentically.

Self esteem comes from truly learning about yourself through testing yourself and pushing your personal limitations as much as you can. This process of building up a real self-esteem is the basis for the type of advice given by Shark over at Solve my Girl Problems, when he advises men to "kick it up a notch":

I don’t care what you do for a living, what fetishes you have, what dreams you dream, or what hobbies you uptake to pass time.

If you are a professional male dancer trying to make your way to the Russian Royal Ballet, kick it up a notch.

If you spend your day playing Call of Duty and yearn to get a contract with MLG, kick it up a notch.

If you work at retail and have aspirations to become manager, kick it up a notch.

If you compete in Origami tournaments and spend your day making paper airplanes, kick it up a notch.

If you want a torn physique, kick it up a notch

If you’re on your high school basketball team and want to make it to the NBA, kick it up a notch.

If you’re a pre-med student in college who dreams of becoming a successful doctor one day, kick it up a notch.

If you have a 9-5 desk job but have been thinking for a long time about starting your own business, kick it up a notch.

If you smoke weed all day and aspire to achieve a level of euphoria few organisms have ever achieved, kick it up a notch

Move mountains, shake the earth, point your toes.

You want self-esteem? Find some goal that involves some sort of struggle. Apply yourself with persistence. When you experience difficulties or set backs, don't quit...

...kick it up a notch.

POST SCRIPT - Commenter Greg asked a question in the last thread regarding honesty and the "fake it til you make it" advice.

Greg: I have been struggling with this issue for some time now. On the one hand, I find I am most confident, centered, and strong, when I am unapologetic about myself, do not fake myself, and am honest about my intentions, desires, and actions.

On the other hand, doesn't game say specifically that you have to "fake it till u make it"? Isn't that dishonest? Doesn't roissy repeatedly say you should not "be yourself" but fake yourself in ways he says will earn "respect" from women?

Isn't this a contradiction or a paradox? This seems to be a central paradox of game - that in order to win respect you need to be yourself, but game tells u that to win respect you have to act in specific ways that may not reflect your true beliefs/desires/intentions and thus be dishonest.

Is it dishonest to fake confidence and self-assurance? I don't think so. For many, many men, approaching and talking to beautiful women is very intimidating. The fear of rejection can be so palpable, it overrides your normal state of confidence and causes you to be crippled with self-awareness.

"Faking" the confidence, and seeing how women respond to it, is exactly what is needed to begin building up real confidence. It's all about starting a positive feedback loop. Remember that probably 80% of Game deals with getting men to actually build up the courage to approach women in the first place. If the man doesn't approach, there is no game to play. The biggest obstacle to men approaching women is the man's own self-doubt and fears of rejection holding back. Acting like you don't have those fears and self-doubts is probably the only way to eventually overcoming them.

You may feel dishonest by faking confidence you don't really have...but it's not the same as using lies to avoid uncomfortable situations.


Simon Grey said...

Well said. True self-esteem comes by actually accomplishing something. I can be proud of myself for repairing my car on my own, for cooking for myself, for building things. Like you pointed out, the problem with the modern feel-good approach to dealing with self-esteem is that we praise people without first demanding that they accomplish something.

The proper attitude should be "if you want to feel good about yourself, then go out and accomplish something worthwhile."

Deansdale said...


And as a strange 'side note' I'll say it right here and right now: the manosphere is really getting somewhere. Our concepts and ideas are refined every day, be them about game or antifeminism or whatever. It actually feels good to be a part of this movement. We will make history.

Anonymous said...

What style of martial arts did you get a black belt in? Karate? Aikido?

Thag Jones said...

The difference between self-esteem and self-worth is that the former, too high or too low, is narcissism, whereas the latter is earned and much more solid.

Esteem is admiration and respect, and admiring one's self is not an attractive quality. Having self-worth is knowing your value - and the more you accomplish, the more value you have in society. It's based on something measurable, whereas self-esteem too often isn't.

Just my nit-picky little thing against this whole self-esteem racket.

Here's the little rant I did on the topic: http://forgetfulmuse.blogspot.com/2010/11/self-esteem-modern-crock.html

Greg said...

Thanks for including a specific reference to my concerns in your post, I appreciate it. I agree completely when you say that confidence is built by accomplishing things successfully. But when you extend this principle to women, I am less sure, even though it seems to follow logically. Let me try to state my reservations as clearly as I can (I am not entirely clear in my own thoughts on this).

I think there are several objections to this view. First, it assumes that most men actually can be good actors. I think this is a dubious assumption.

Second, it creates performance anxiety. Most men begin to worry about whether they are "doing it right". If the response is negative, confidence is not built, but shattered. What we want to do is REDUCE performance anxiety, not give another reason for it.

The result in most cases is that men act either overly nervous or "overact", which is a kind of nervousness. A confidence that feels natural and convincing is not attained. Men engage in "macho" behavior - i.e over-acting in an attempt to convince people they are "strong".

I feel that the distinction between convincing confidence and over-acting (posturing) is one that does not receive nearly as much attention as it deserves, and yet I feel it might be the most important issue in successfully mastering game.

I think part of the very definition of confidence involves not caring about others reactions. If so, then adopting a mindset of trying to elicit certain reactions from women, and judging yourself on his ability to do so, is more likely to make you a neurotic wreck than a confident person. It seems the opposite of "independent" to me, which I feel is an integral part of being strong.

Game is a collection of principles which sometimes contradict each other. Game says that you should not be invested in the outcome (be concerned about others reactions), but then tells you you must fake yourself to be respected and liked by women, which seems to me cannot help but make you emotionally invested in others reactions. Game does not encourage you to cultivate true mental independence.

Game correctly identifies one way men commonly care about the reactions of women - by trying to "please" them - and rightly condemns this, but then substitutes for this trying to "impress" women, which is merely another way of caring about the reactions of women.

Of course, Game DOES say you should not try to explicitly impress women, but then contradicts this principle by telling you all sorts of things you need to do to get a good response from women.

Game seems premised on a mistaken idea - that men fail with women because they are "themselves". But almost all adult males try either to please women or impress women. The adult man who does neither, but is truly independent and "himself", is rare. Perhaps natural alphas have this quality. It takes courage.

I know for myself when I enter into this mindset of faking emotions I do not feel, I become more anxious in my approaches, and often over-act. I've had several women tell me I am putting on an act.

Yet when I put this attitude aside and adopt a "this is me, take it or leave it. I play no Games" approach, I become supremely confident, naturally and spontaneously self-assertive, and enjoy great success.

I think it is possible that the "fake it" mentality in game might be one of its biggest mistakes and might be impeding many men from doing much better.

I am not SURE, though, that I am right and my own thinking on this is somewhat confused. I need to REALLY think this through!

Thanks for your interesting post though, love your blog!

Anonymous said...

This Anon is myself, I currently have log in issues, but rest assured, this is "Keoni Galt."

I know for myself when I enter into this mindset of faking emotions I do not feel, I become more anxious in my approaches, and often over-act. I've had several women tell me I am putting on an act.

It's not about faking emotions, but hiding or suppressing your uncertainty, your fears.

I only remember so well the last time I approached a beautiful chick in school to ask her on a date - the sweaty palms, the rapid breathing, the utter FEAR. I felt like a quivering mass of jello.

But I did my best to hide it...I certainly acted as if I had the confidence to ask her out versus being honest and blubbering like a scared moron or simply failing to ask her out in the first place.

That is what is meant by "fake it til you make it."

Because I certainly was not acting how I felt.

Greg said...

I hear what you're saying. Can't really argue with that. Let me hash out some ideas in my head - you don't have to respond if you don't feel like it - you've given me valuable insight already - although of course if you have commentary would love to hear it. I am doing this because ever since I have began learning Game I have gone from being reasonably well with women to being awful with them, and I need to understand why. My pre-Game approach was simply "be myself" and let the chips fall where they may.

I'm not saying you should volunteer negative information about yourself, or emphasize the unattractive emotional state you are in.

I guess I'm just opposed to the mindset of "everything I do is meant to impress a woman and make her like me" - instead I would substitute "this is who I am even if you don't like it and I do not apologize for it. I am not trying to impress you or manipulate you into liking me. Take it or leave it".

The first attitude strikes me as unmanly and as having bad psychological consequences. It will leave you uncertain on how to act, nervous, and likely to do the "wrong" thing, like be too aggressive and in the wrong way.

The second attitudes strikes me as essentially manly and will give you confidence as there is no "wrong" thing to do. It will give you firm guidelines on how to act and will make it easy to not be a push-over, as your goal is not making her like you or even sleep with you, but simply act out your personality and act according to principles that reflect your beliefs (like self-respect, etc).

If a girl shit-tests you, and you are operating from a mentality of "my goal is to exhibit behaviors she will find attractive" then your response will likely not be convincing or well calibrated, but if you are operating from the mentality "it is not my job to make her like me. I act out my personality and my principles, which include self-respect" then you will spontaneously stand up for yourself in an authentic and convincing manner, because you won't care if she responds well to you or not. That is not your goal.

I guess the purpose of action should not be to manipulate a woman into liking you (not because this is morally wrong but because it makes you come from a position of weakness), but rather to act according to a set of principles that reflect your true beliefs about how to interact with people (like don't be a push-over, etc)

I guess I object to the element of manipulation (again, not morally), that I am acting this way not because it reflects a principles of mine or an aspect of my personality, but because I think you will like this behavior - I think this puts you in a position of weakness, psychologically.

The goal simply cannot be to do things that women like, because this will always make you come from a position of weakness and likely to do the wrong thing, but must be I will act in the manner I think correct whether or not she likes it.


An Unmarried Man said...

Well said.
Self-esteem is mistakenly perceived as being entirely about the "positive" or fixating on it.
True self-esteem deals equally with the ability to absorb the negative.
It is very important to embrace and confront the negative. Our Mother Hen culture cannot come to terms with this.

Keoni Galt said...

I guess the purpose of action should not be to manipulate a woman into liking you (not because this is morally wrong but because it makes you come from a position of weakness), but rather to act according to a set of principles that reflect your true beliefs about how to interact with people (like don't be a push-over, etc)

I guess I object to the element of manipulation (again, not morally), that I am acting this way not because it reflects a principles of mine or an aspect of my personality, but because I think you will like this behavior - I think this puts you in a position of weakness, psychologically.

Greg, no offense, but I think you're over-thinking this whole thing.

Figuring out what behavior, attitude, demeanor and actions are attractive to women and those which turn off her attraction than trying to apply that to yourself is not manipulative, anymore than a woman figuring out that men like sweet, low-maintenance and in-shape feminine women. If she works out, eats healthy, and works hard to suppress her bitchy moods, nagging and complaining...is she manipulating men that find her attractive for doing those things?

It is only manipulative if she does those things until she gets the commitment (marriage), than stops doing all of those things that made her attractive in the first place.

Same goes for "game." You are trying to become a man that is attractive to women, and you want to stay that man, even after you've gotten her.

Deansdale said...

I've written a post about this stuff:

Thag Jones said...

Greg does have a point but it depends on how far you take it. Everyone changes their behaviour somewhat according to setting and company. It's really no different than a woman - consciously or unconsciously - walking with a little extra swing if she's passing a desirable man, or simply learning to walk in a more feminine way (I see a lot of women around here who could use a few tips on not walking like a man).

Joseph said...

Hey Guys,

First Post here, but I have been a reader for some time.

What I wanted to include was the actual problem we face with self-esteem. It is built into the definition.

Definition of SELF-ESTEEM
: a confidence and satisfaction in oneself : self-respect
: self-conceit


You can see by the definition itself, that it doesn't distinguish between a healthy level of confidence and self-conceit. That's the problem. Our culture doesn't recognize too much of something. The only fix psychologists and New Agers offer is "more" self-esteem. The reality, is a lot of people need less self-esteem (i refer to young women here) and a lot of guys need real self esteem (attained only by the process Dave describes). That's the core of this issue in my book. It's not that psychology and feminists want to be confident, it's that they intentionally disregard overuse of it.

Greg said...

Keoni - I do have a tendency to over-think things, but I feel through discussion I am achieving some clarity. I appreciate your responses!

Workshy Joe said...

I love Shark's advice about "kicking it up a notch".

He's not asking guys to strive for things that aren't personally meaningful or tailored to them.

Other men's goals will never be as inspiring to us as our own.

mnl said...


Yes, you're over-thinking things. But that's what guys tend to do: we want to mangineer it.

I think part of your unease is due to a conundrum: if you have to fake it 'till you make it, doesn't that simply prove that you've not made it? ...and that you can never make it so long as you keep faking it? Your brain then proceeds to chase its own tail and you can't get off the ground.

I hope it's not totally off-point for you but the philosopher Jean Paul Sartre had this same idea in his book Being and Nothingness. He describes a man *trying* to become a restaurant waiter. As long as the man is *trying* to become a restaurant waiter, doesn't that mean he can never in fact become one? To even *try* to become a waiter sort of reifies the fact that he's presently not (and never can become) a true waiter since a true waiter doesn't *try* to be a waiter; he simply is one.

Two solutions:

First, the fake-it-till-you-make-it idea is based on the fact that your unconscious brain is too dumb to process the above sort of logic. Your unconscious brain, your autonomic nervous system, simply tries to engineer a reality that's consistent with your present beliefs or dialogue--whatever their source.

You can prove this to yourself right now. Simply say out loud, "I'm very angry", a few times. Say it LOUD. After you're done, you can actually feel that your own muscles have unconsciously tensed, you'll feel your brow furrow, your eyes dart. If you pay attention, you'll feel your heart beat just a bit faster. That is, your nervous system has manufactured a physical response consistent with your conscious thought. You've created a reality consistent with your stated belief. The fake-it-till-you-make-it dialogue does this exact same thing. To your hindbrain, it simply doesn't matter the source of the thought or that you "faked" or *tried* to think it. You will tend to exhibit physical behaviors, even think of new thoughts and ideas, consistent with whatever beliefs or dialogue you're entertaining on your own mental stage.

Second, Sartre realized that there really is no such thing as a *true* waiter in some absolute sense. It's an illusion. The person that we commonly go about calling a "waiter" is simply a collection of waiter-like behaviors. (Someone who carries an order pad, retrieves food from the kitchen, who wears a black tie and vest, etc.) There is no such thing as a waiter apart from the conventional waiter-like behaviors. And, more importantly, anyone is a waiter who shows these consistent waiter-like behaviors.

As for how all this relates to you: you actually behaviorally ARE in fact the person you are trying to imitate when you fake-it-till-you-make-it. The phrase fake-it-till-you-make-it is actually a misnomer. In "faking" it, you actually are "it". By entertaining the inner dialogue, "I am a [whatever]", you will tend to seek out the behaviors and autonomic state that defines a [whatever].

As to your point about "game" being a form of pedestalization, you're absolutely right it is--or that it can be. It depends on what it is you're seeking from "game". If you define success at "game" simply as gaining approval from women, then it can easily become just displaced pedestalization. Perhaps the lesson in this is to be sure that whatever it is that you're trying to fake-till-you-make is going to make you happiest in the long run.