Ever find yourself wondering how to get what you want?
When was the last time you did something that was clearly not in your best interest?
Don’t worry, we all do it sometimes… In fact, most people do it A LOT:
- We go on a diet, and then order a pizza the next day.
- We sign up for a gym, pay the membership for a full year and then stop going after a month.
- We set a financial goal, and then never seem to get around to starting that business.
Do any of these sound at all familiar?
Why does this happen?
I mean, it’s not like it’s hard to figure out HOW to do these things… as Tony Robbins says, “We know what to do.”
Yet for some reason, we always feel caught and smile the smile of recognition when Robbins adds: “…but we don’t do what we know!”
What would it do for you, if you could take control of your own behavior and DO what you know will ultimately improve your life? If you suddenly found yourself with the power to get what you want? How much better would your love life be… how much more money could you earn… and how much better would you look in the mirror?
There is a second list of self sabotage… the list of the aspiring Lothario:
- We get a girl’s phone number, but then never call her
- We see a beautiful girl we want to meet, but never walk up and talk to her
- We want to improve our dating lives, but never even LEAVE THE HOUSE… or at least not often enough to make it happen.
What in the world is going on there? It almost seems as though our brains are wired to keep us chaste, fat and broke!
Of course this is not really the case – our brains are really wired to protect us.
If you’ve studied any evolutionary psychology, however, you know that our brains are wired to protect us… in a prehistoric environment!
- When there might be a drought or a winter coming at any moment, it is really in your best interest to eat as many calories as possible NOW and store some fat cells for later.
- If there’s a chance that a sabertooth tiger is waiting around the next corner, it totally makes sense to conserve your energy – you might need it the next second to run like hell!
- When you live in a tribe of 150 people in the Savannah (and unless you’re the alpha male and tribal leader), you’re really well advised not to be too sexually aggressive around the women you like.
If she’s spoken for, her lover might well spill your brains all over the cave with a sharp rock.
(Sexy cave girl… good. Brains on cave floor… Not so good.)
There are three problems with this:
- This ancient programming is VERY deeply rooted in our minds, at a neurological and emotional level .
- It’s UNCONSCIOUS.
- It has MUCH more control over you than your rational decision to eat broccoli every day, to work out seven days a week and to walk up to that supermodel who’s riding the subway to work with you!
As you can see, none of this is your fault… it’s simply a hardware conflict.
The computer inside your skull is just HOPELESSLY outdated. Surviving in the 21st century with equipment from 10,000 years ago is much like trying to play Modern Warfare 3 on a C64 computer from the 1980s.
We need to install an upgrade… and this post is your patch.
Somehow, you never seem to get around to going out, you never seem to put in the necessary time of practice. Something always comes up… you were planning to go out last Wednesday afternoon, but then you got a really important email that you had to follow up on.
On Thursday, you saw some beautiful girls at the super market when you did your grocery shopping, but you had to rush home to cut and cook the vegetables so you’d get that done before class that night.
On Friday there was a cute girl on the subway, but you weren’t wearing your lucky shirt, and besides… she was standing up and you were sitting down, so it was impossible to go talk to her.
That email was more important than the ENTIRE FUTURE of your LOVE LIFE? More important than your happiness?
Well… maybe, I don’t know. Maybe Obama needed your help URGENTLY to prevent a major war… hey, it’s possible!
But you really didn’t have TWO MINTUES to talk to the girl in the super market… to at least ask her if she was single and to take her number?
I’m starting to doubt how plausible these stories are…
You’re really losing me on number three though. IMPOSSIBLE to talk to her?
You mean there was a wall between you and her that made it physically impossible to… walk over and say hi?
I’ve made excuses just like those a million times myself. But unless we’re talking about an A-List celebrity who was riding the subway with her body guard that day (because her LIMO was in the garage getting fixed, and the taxi she tried to hail suddenly caught on FIRE…)
…well, unless that’s the case, your brain is likely just coming up with a bunch of nonsense to keep your brain from being spilled on that cave floor.
Don’t worry… there’s nobody with a sharp rock around.
But of course KNOWING this doesn’t make it easier to get what you want – because the fear is entirely EMOTIONAL.
And there aren’t a lot of things more frustrating in this world than living in a big city where you see hundreds of beautiful women each month… and NEVER get yourself to talk to even a SINGLE ONE of them!
Here’s the crux: the excuse generator in our mind is simply FASTER than our decision to ACT.
Maybe in retrospect, it’s always obvious to us that those were just excuses, and that it’s actually POSSIBLE to talk to a girl without wearing a lucky shirt. The mouth can open, the tongue can move, the vocal chords can make sounds, all without a lucky shirt!
But in the heat of the moment, these excuses seem perfectly plausible… and these moments never seem to last very long.
Chances like these come and go in the blink of an eye. If you don't move fast, they're gone.
How to Get What You Want: Drilling
You have probably heard of Pavlov’s dogs… Pavlov discovered that dogs have certain automatic responses that he could trigger very reliably by simply presenting the right stimulus.
In more simple terms: dog sees food… dog salivates.
More food for the dog… more icky dog spit on the floor.
The reaction we often have when we see a beautiful woman is JUST as automatic. The girl is the stimulus… the excuse we make why we can absolutely not approach her under any circumstances is the response.
You see a beautiful girl… (I hope you don’t salivate on the floor!)
…your brain tells you why you can’t approach her.
You see another beautiful girl… and your brain QUICKLY, RELIABLY and AUTOMATICALLY comes up with another reason why there’s just no way you could POSSIBLY talk to right this girl, right this moment!
Pretty scary stuff, actually.
Welcome to your auto-pilot, zombie.
As you probably know though, the second half of the experiment was more interesting. Pavlov was able to create a NEW neurological connection in the dogs.
He kept ringing a bell while giving them food, until they were eventually conditioned to salivating every time the bell was rung – EVEN if there was no food around at all!
We need to change up our own neurological connections in the same way, and also by repetition - we need to DISCONNECT the excuse generator!
The best way to do this is to start putting yourself into an environment where there are absolutely NO EXCUSES not to approach the women you see.
Take an afternoon off, wear your lucky shirt, and go out with the SOLE purpose of approaching beautiful girls.
Oh, your brain will still be VERY creative in coming up with reasons why you can’t approach THAT girl right NOW.
But since you KNOW you have all the time in the world and that you ARE properly dressed, the little voice in your head will sound a lot less convincing – and you will spot these “reasons” much more easily for what they really are: creative avoidance.
Your brain is making use of your creativity to QUICKLY get you to avoid the behavior it THINKS is dangerous, and telling you NOT to talk to girls.
Your goal is to practice seeing excuses for what they are until you can do it FASTER than your brain can come up with them.
Then you can put your creativity to better use … for example, to come up with something to say to her to strike up a conversation.
Leaving The House
This one was actually a big one for me... If you want to do the above drill, you need to first leave the HOUSE.
And when your intention is to do the kind of drill that your brain THINKS might get your grey matter all over the cave floor again, it will do everything in its power to stop you from even going out.
There’s Obama’s email again, and your laundry is really urgent because you need that white shirt for the meeting tomorrow, and then your annoying cousin calls.
Usually you’d just try to get rid of him, but today the distraction is quite welcome… it gives you a plausible reason to postpone the exercise.
Your friend Peter is married with two kids, and he met his wife in junior high. He doesn’t get it - “What do you mean, it’s difficult to leave the house? You just put on some shoes, open the door and walk out!”
Aaah, but the challenge is entirely psychological!
You need to trick your brain into believing that nothing dangerous is about to happen.
The secrets you need to know about how to get what you want? Use baby steps… and set small goals.
To begin with the drill above, make it your ONLY intention to go out and walk around. Don’t even think about talking to any girls; don’t even sweat what you’re going to say. Your only goal is to just walk around town and enjoy an afternoon off, taking a stroll.
Your brain is much less likely to resist this… and ultimately, Peter is right. You just need to get going.
Voilà. You’ve made it.
You’re out on the town, walking around and ready to do the drill… we’ve successfully short-circuited the excuse generator that kept you from leaving the house and just GOING for it.
Now comes the second hurdle… at some point, we’ll have to break it to your brain.
“Sorry buddy, I lied… we actually ARE going to risk getting you spilled all over the place. There’s a beautiful girl right there… let’s GO.”
Guess what your brain is going to say?
- She looks young… she’s probably under age… you can’t talk to THAT one
- See that guy in the other grocery aisle? He’s probably her boyfriend
- She’s with her mother, you can’t talk to a girl that’s with her mother
- She’s dressed to the nines, she’s probably arrogant and unapproachable
- She has a look on her face like she’s angry… you better talk to a girl that’s more friendly
Your brain can come up with MILLIONS of these in a split second. NONE of them make any sense:
- You can just ask a girl how old she is.
- The people with her won’t bite…
- …even if one of them is her boyfriend.
- The way she’s dressed has nothing to do with her personality…
- …and she might just have a serious look on her face because she’s having a bad day. Maybe she would be all the EASIER to approach because she’d really appreciate if somebody made her smile!
In any case, we could debate this all day long and never find out what’s going on with a girl. There’s just no way of knowing until you actually talk to her.
But when it comes to actually APPROACHING, your brain just won’t let you do it.
Approach anxiety kicks in and nixes that plan right quick.
We need those baby steps again… we need to lie to ourselves again.
Conning Your Own Brain, Part Deux
The battle is half won… you’re walking around downtown, you have time to practice talking to girls, you’re wearing your lucky shirt and you’re psychologically prepared.
Here’s how you can short-circuit the excuse generator and actually APPROACH the women you like… in 5 simple steps.
- With the next beautiful girl you see, tell your brain: “We’re only going to walk TOWARD her, we won’t actually talk to her. Only walk in her general direction.” Your brain will comply.
- Once you come close, lie to your brain again. “We’ll only get her attention and say ‘excuse me’, so we can ask her what time it is – we won’t actually hit on her.”
- Once she looks at you, fool your cerebral matter once more. “We’ll only say excuse me so we can then ask the time. Not going to do anything that could actually lead to a romantic or a sexual relationship.”
If you simply lie to your own brain three times in a row, it will stop getting in the way… and suddenly you’re standing in front of a beautiful girl, she’s looking at you expectantly because she just heard you say “Excuse me”… and guess what.
Now your brain can’t get you out of this situation anymore!
It’s TOO LATE.
You’re already talking to her… she’s already looking at you… your mouth is already open… she’s waiting.
Now just ask her if she’s single.
Your brain will thank you later, when you’re making out passionately on your patio. :)
Baby Steps Toward Getting What You Want
In a nutshell, if you want to know how to get what you want, you need to know you aren’t taking the action you want to take because your brain is trying to keep you out of harm’s way.
Your job is to SPOT creative avoidance … and then to start LYING to yourself until it stops!
Tell your brain that you’re not going to do that “risky” thing it fears… and then go right ahead and DO IT ANYWAY.
Baby steps towards making babies. (But glove up… don’t let your brain trick you into that one!)
Once you start using these steps, you’ll quickly find yourself AMAZED at how fast you’re able to start doing things that before had seemed impossible. After even a few weeks or even a single day, you’ll find yourself looking back on what you’ve accomplished and saying to yourself, “Wow... I did that???”
And at that point, you’ll just be getting started.
Onward and upward,