Potato chips and life lessons

Looking back on 2019, one of the biggest accomplishments I’m proud of this year is making a career change into my dream industry (yep, I work a full-time job just like everybody else). This is something that I’ve wanted to do for the past few years, but I’ve never gotten around to actually doing it.

It was always one of those “important, not urgent” things in the back of my mind. The fancy scientific term for this is cognitive dissonance—basically, that uncomfortable feeling you get when you’re doing something you know you shouldn’t (or when you’re not doing something you know you should.)

An example of cognitive dissonance that we can all relate to is eating a bag of potato chips even though you “know” it’s unhealthy. Whenever I do this, I always end up telling myself things such as:

  • “Ah, it’s just one bag of potato chips”
  • “I don’t eat potato chips that often anyway”
  • “I’ll work it off later”

Take a wild guess at how many times I’ve actually “worked off” a bag of potato chips after eating it.

Zero?

Yep, that’s correct.

Sure, it’s easy to identify this sort of self-defeating self-talk when someone else says it. But how many of us are guilty of sabotaging ourselves through our own self-talk, especially around women?

I’ve received a lot of emails from readers telling me stuff such as,

  • “I can’t get a girlfriend because I’m ugly”
  • “I’m a shy, introverted guy and I don’t meet many women”
  • “Why is it so hard for short men/guys with Asperger’s/physically disabled men/etc. to get a date?”

What’s the common theme running through these emails? They’re blaming external factors, yes, but even more subtle than that is that all of them have made it part of their identity that they cannot talk to women.

This is perhaps one of the most nefarious ways of all that your self-talk sabotages you.

Look, I’m not saying that it isn’t much more difficult for introverts or physically/mentally handicapped people to get a date. What I am saying is this – once you make it part of your identity that you cannot get a girlfriend, you also gain a sense of learned helplessness around dating.

To illustrate this, check out the difference between these two quotes:

“I can’t talk to women because I always run out of things to say”

-vs-

“Why is it so hard for short men to get a date?”

That first quote identifies a specific, solvable obstacle that can be overcome. The second quote makes it a part of his identity that he can’t get a date.

That’s just making it even more difficult on yourself!

Talking in terms of that first quote will take you much farther than that second quote. Don’t make it a part of your identity that you can’t get a date. Instead, break it down into specific obstacles and concrete action steps.

Specific obstacle: Feeling unconfident around women?

Concrete action steps: Practice talking to her beforehand! 

Specific obstacle: Keep running out of things to say?

Concrete action steps: Practice transitioning between topics during a conversation!

Specific obstacle: Not getting enough dates?

Concrete action steps: Ask more women out!

For the first few decades of my life, I struggled with getting a girlfriend. This led me to unironically believe that I had been cursed by an evil star. Once I stopped making it a part of my identity that I couldn’t get dates and started looking at my struggles as specific obstacles with concrete solutions, however, is when I finally started to see success in my romantic life.

This is my last blog post of 2019. It is an honor and a privilege to run this blog for readers like you. Thanks for reading, and I will see you next year!

Happy Holidays!

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