If there’s one thing my friends seem to enjoy doing too much of, it’s giving me crap about the fact that I love playing old Nintendo games instead of more “serious” games like Fortnite or PUBG. The reason why is that I always found those old Super Mario games therapeutic…
…while those shooter games have a way of making me rage and wanting to throw my controller at the screen. Every time I get killed, I start yelling at the game like…
“WHY!? Why did that kill me?”
…and then I come up with a million reasons—other than the fact that I suck—as to why I got killed.
- Was my opponent probably cheating? Yep!
- Does he have better skills than I do? Nope.
- Was it probably the lag that got me killed? Yep!
- Is it possible that my opponent had a better strategy? Nope.
And that’s why I play Mario instead of Fortnite.
This sort of behavior is relatively harmless (and mildly amusing) when it comes to video gaming. When it comes to other areas of our lives, though, mindsets like these can often hold us back in very real ways.
The things we tell ourselves when bad stuff happens
What’s the first word that comes to mind whenever something terrible happens?
You probably hear variations on this all the time…
- “Why did this happen to me?”
- “Why don’t girls like me?”
- “How come I hit every freaking red light on my way home?!”
When something bad happens, we tend to ask “Why?” For example, “Why did this happen to me?” As human beings, we don’t like the idea of not knowing why something happened, nor do we like to acknowledge that that there may not even be a reason why.
If we do find a concrete reason why something bad happened—but it’s not a reason we like—then we’ll continue to ask “Why?” as if we don’t already know the answer. Every time I step on the bathroom scale and see that my weight has gone up, I wonder out loud “How did I get so fat?” Of course, the answer could be that I like to eat this for dessert…
…but that doesn’t stop me from continuing to ask myself “How did I get so fat?”
When we can’t arrive at a satisfying reason as to why something happened, we may even make up new reasons and choose to believe those reasons instead, even if they have no basis in reality. This is how fans of the Chicago Cubs came to believe that their team was cursed. Why did they go 100+ years without winning the World Series. Is it because they just suck at baseball? No, it’s much more satisfying to believe that they’re cursed.
Like I said before, it’s funny when we use it in a non-serious context like sports. But it’s much more horrifying when applied to the “real world”.
The “Why” Direction
I like to refer to this strange quirk of human behavior as “The ‘Why’ Direction”, and the minefield of dating is rife with opportunities to have your “Why” pointed the wrong way. Too many men turn their “Why’s” in terrible directions when it comes to dating. Bad directions to turn your Why include:
- Toward your own identity
- Toward demographic forces
- Toward imagined conspiracies
Look, it does suck that men have to be the initiators when it comes to dating. I’m not saying that it doesn’t. And I’m pretty sure that it is easier for women since they often get approached merely because they exist. But spending excessive amounts of time and energy complaining about it is a great way to increase your blood pressure without actually accomplishing anything.
Back in high school, I used to have a crush on one of my classmates. I asked her out, but she ended up turning me down. This led me to believe, unironically, that I had been cursed by an evil star. It felt like everyone I knew was getting into relationships while I was struggling to even get a date. So, in my angsty-underdeveloped-teenage mind, I legitimately started to wonder if she turned me down because some evil deity had put a dark spell on me.
Yeah, I was dumb back then.
Luckily, turning your Why into a better direction is totally doable! Here’s how to make it happen.
Turning your “Why” into a better direction
Okay, so remember when I mentioned that I believed the reason I couldn’t get a girlfriend was because I was cursed? Of course, I wasn’t really cursed. Turning my Why into a better direction involved looking at the gap between where I was and where I wanted to be, and digging into the actual anticlimactic reason(s) that were keeping me from getting there:
Where I wanted to be: I wanted to have a girlfriend
Where I was: I’d never even been on a single date
The reason I was telling myself: Because I was cursed
The actual, anticlimactic reason why: Because I had not been asking women out
Yep. That’s it. The actual, anticlimactic reason why I’d never even been on a single date before was because I hadn’t been asking anybody out. Duh!
If desired, we can repeat the process and continue digging for more actual, anticlimactic reasons:
Where I wanted to be: Asking women out
Where I was: Not asking women out
The actual, anticlimactic reason why: I don’t know how to talk to women!
Once you uncover your actual, anticlimactic reasons why, the next step is to take action and come up with concrete solutions to those specific obstacles. Now that you know what–specifically–is holding you back, you can take steps to overcome it.
And sometimes, you honestly won’t be able to find the actual, anticlimactic reason why you’re struggling. Not on your own, at least. When this happens to you, try turning to outside help to get unstuck. Read some books/articles/YouTube videos on the subject or even ask a trusted friend for help!
Are you the reason why?
I’m not gonna lie. If all of this sounds difficult, that’s because it is.
It’s hard because thinking this way forces you to give up your victimhood. Blaming external forces is so easy. What’s not easy is accepting the fact that the reason you don’t have the things you want just might be because of something you’re doing wrong.
An amazing thing happens once you do, though. You stop being able to identify with other “professional victims”. You start being able to identify and connect with ambitious people. And you start feeling like you have more control over all areas of your life.
Wishing you all the best for 2020!