Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Where are you and where are you going?
white belt
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by white belt »

I really appreciated all of the discussions about moving from WL 5 to 6 as they have really helped to guide me over the past few months. I find I have been spending more recently like you point out, but the nature of the spending is quite different. The spending is on capital costs for different projects/skills like a shotgun for hunting, supplies and seeds for microgreens, and lines/hooks for fishing.

Everyone’s path is different, but for me focusing on my own inputs and outputs has really helped me to better see yields/flows in my system. I started with food because that was something I’m always consuming, which is why my expenses have all been along the line of food production. Additionally, my worm composting bin helped me to firsthand see that I can use my “waste” to create something useful. Closing loops and such. Of course I understood this in theory (or so I thought), but actually doing it has been quite transformational.

Anyway, I enjoy the journal so keep it up!

Jin+Guice
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by Jin+Guice »

Effecting Personal Change: Rewiring the Pleasure Structure of Your Mind

Over the past 6 months, I've devoted a lot of the time to studying psychology with a focus on emotional intelligence as well as human influence and persuasion. This is a huge blind spot of mine, and I've yet to synthesize most of the information into actionable steps. One of the most basic and powerful methods in this area is targeting your influence towards the other party's goals/ emotions. You want to let them know what you're going to be doing for them on an intellectual level and also have them believe that you will engage their positive emotions.

When the folks here try to increase Wheaton Levels, they often run into "moats" at certain points. I've come to believe that one reason these moats are so difficult to overcome is because they require a rewiring of our own reward structures. These are the inflection points where we're enacting real change in our life. For example, if we're used to getting pleasure from finding deals on consuming, but optimize this system and then move largely to DIYing things, the skill of finding deals becomes relatively less valuable and the identity/ pleasure structure we've built around it becomes less engaged. IME, this is experienced as a real emotional loss that takes time and attention to overcome.

We may be intellectually convinced that raising our "ERE Wheaton Level" (or making any important personal change), but until our internal reward structure changes, we're not going to install lasting change in our life.

Biscuits and Gravy
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by Biscuits and Gravy »

Why the focus on human influence and persuasion?

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Ego
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by Ego »

Jin+Guice wrote:
Thu Mar 11, 2021 9:37 am
I've come to believe that one reason these moats are so difficult to overcome is because they require a rewiring of our own reward structures. These are the inflection points where we're enacting real change in our life. For example, if we're used to getting pleasure from finding deals on consuming, but optimize this system and then move largely to DIYing things, the skill of finding deals becomes relatively less valuable and the identity/ pleasure structure we've built around it becomes less engaged. IME, this is experienced as a real emotional loss that takes time and attention to overcome.
Interesting observation! Would this be the process?
  • 1 set goals
  • 2 analyze how well actions fit with goals
  • 3 adjust actions as needed
  • 4 analyze how new actions affect pleasure structures
  • 5 adjust pleasure structures as needed
It strikes me that the typical consumer starts with whatever pleasure structures they have at 5 and work backwards to their goals.

Begs the question, how does one adjust their pleasure structure? I know it is possible. I know I've done it. I have to admit, I'm not sure how I did it.

A few weeks ago I was walking with two friends. I distinctly remember thinking, "What the hell is that smell. It's gotta be shit." It was terrible. At the same moment one of the guys stopped, inhaled deeply and said, "Ahhh, ribs. I love that smell." The other one inhaled deeply and agreed. We were a block away from a famous rib place.

Twenty-five years ago I used to eat at that rib place and absolutely loved it. Now is smells like shit. I know I made a conscious effort to make that happen but I don't know what I actually did to do it.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

When I was 14, shoplifting cured me of pleasure from shopping. What cured me of shoplifting was something like suddenly achieving more adult perspective on workings of economic system.

However, I believe there are known hard limits to this line of psychology. For instance, consider the horrifying example of humans attempting to be cured of homosexuality through aversion training.

Jin+Guice
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by Jin+Guice »

Biscuits and Gravy wrote:
Thu Mar 11, 2021 10:18 am
Why the focus on human influence and persuasion?
Short answer:

I wanted to have sex with more people.

Long answer:

I've come to consider emotional/ social skills as "zone 0" skills. I also include economic and personal health/ hygiene in zone 0. In all of these categories you are always playing the game, even if you don't realize it. For example, a middle class salaryman might not think about participating in debt leveraging or speculating on inflation/ currency exchange rates, but that is effectively what they are doing if they take on consumer debt, save in uninvested dollar-denominated money or make purchases of any foreign goods. Similarly, your emotional state heavily effects you, whether or not you are paying attention to it, and other people effect your emotional state, whether or not they do so in a cohesive and intentional manner.

We all need other people to do things for us everyday. For various reasons, I am terrible at persuasion/ influence and it's been giving me difficulty in negotiating and getting what I want/ need from other people. After years of assuming that I was just "not a people person," I decided that this was untrue and launch an attempt at doing something about it.
Ego wrote:
Thu Mar 11, 2021 4:32 pm
Interesting observation! Would this be the process?

1 set goals
2 analyze how well actions fit with goals
3 adjust actions as needed
4 analyze how new actions affect pleasure structures
5 adjust pleasure structures as needed
It strikes me that the typical consumer starts with whatever pleasure structures they have at 5 and work backwards to their goals.
Uh, I know Jacob hates when people use the Wheaton table as a map, but it is sort of a good map, if you decide that it leads where you want to go and it sort of takes care of this analysis for you. For other problems, figuring out where you want to go, is probably just as difficult if not more difficult than "adjusting the pleasure structures," which is something I hadn't thought of.

I haven't found a good method for rewiring reward circuitry quickly and I think it's why people get stuck in these places and also why it doesn't make sense to try and race through the Wheaton table. Being conscious that this is happening helps to get unstuck, because you stop beating yourself up about the time it takes to "level-up." "Oh I'm just rewiring my whole fucking brain, so maybe I should give myself a second."

Harder than rewiring, is the part of you that holds onto the old structure. For me, this is experienced as real loss, while reactivating those pleasure circuits is experienced as real pleasure. Either because and/ or in addition to this, it often becomes part of your identity. "Frugal consumer" is a different set of values/ cultural norms than "skilled DIYer" and those groups can sometimes be mutually exclusive. The mind loves nothing more than to backwards justify a positive emotion.

Thinking about it, I believe my small successes have come from getting bored of the old pleasure structure. Eventually the actions that give the reward are maximized and the pleasure hits are a little weaker*. Moving to the next step becomes the only way to progress/ get new stimuli. Eventually, after struggling with easy rewards vs. new challenge and relapsing to easy rewards several times, I do truly get bored of the old way and don't engage with it for long enough that eventually I realize it's truly not bringing me much pleasure any more and I have successfully rewired.

*I think this is also part of the resistance to presenting someone with ERE. If it's just not possible for the "average person like me," to progress to the next level, then you get stuck at the level you are playing in where you believe you are a skilled player and also know how to extract the rewards. Seeing a better solution to a problem you enjoy "solving" over and over again is therefore not desirable.
7Wannabe5 wrote:
Thu Mar 11, 2021 4:32 pm
However, I believe there are known hard limits to this line of psychology. For instance, consider the horrifying example of humans attempting to be cured of homosexuality through aversion training.
I think intent matters a lot here. Consider how personal boundaries/ self-confidence interact with each of the following voices telling someone pray-out-the-gay: Authority I don't respect; Authority I do respect; Family member/ close personal relation; uninformed internal voice; informed-internal voice. So the defense is not allowing others to tell you when to rewire your reward structure and only allowing your interests that align with your "truest self" to do so.

The breaking point for me of this kind of psychological thinking is, where do my internal desires actually come from? and who is this "me" that I need to get to know (though figuring out your "true" internal desires and aligning yourself more with them does seem to somehow be an important process)?

Anyway, I went sideways on your original point, but "rewire your pleasure structure" is an idea based on a month or two old observation so I haven't thought through whether it's an extremely important idea I will think through and coherently defend or just something that makes me go "oh, neat."

7Wannabe5
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

I think it is an interesting observation. Would note that you went sideways because our shared ntp pleasure structure favors sideways, whereas ntj pleasure structure favors up. IOW, we only go up when bored if/ when circumstances or focused effort limits our ability to go sideways when bored.

Biscuits and Gravy
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by Biscuits and Gravy »

Interesting. If I'm reading that right, you're trying to learn how to influence and persuade people to have sex with you. Maybe that'll get you sex, but I wonder if it's good or worthwhile sex. I guess it’s a question of what you’re after. I think if you have to actively angle for a connection, maybe it's best to just accept that it's not there with that particular partner. Many fish, after all.

Jin+Guice
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by Jin+Guice »

@Biscuits: Have sex with and work with/ for me, ideally not the same people at the same time :mrgreen: .

Your response is useful in describing why I resisted learning about persuasion/ influence/ “sales” and then eventually 180ed.

I agree that persuading someone who doesn’t like you to sleep with them is a losing battle. It’s pretty difficult to convince someone to act against their own self-interest for very long, and it is close to impossible if they have a strong sense of what they want/ need. Any good mens (and maybe womens) dating book will include a strong and efficient sorting mechanism for quickly eliminating uninterested partners.

What this leaves is a world of maybes. The point of studying this for me was (1) learn the social dynamics/ expectations of dating (which I was almost shockingly blind to) and (2) try to figure out how to turn those maybes into yeses.

This requires learning dating specific skills and a broader emotional and social toolkit which can be applied to other situations.

It’s not about learning how to become a shitty used car salesmen for your own junk. It’s about recognizing what in people might attract them to you and stacking the subconscious of your potential paramours in your favor, before they ever see you. 75% of it is actually just paying more focused attention to other people and their wants and needs.

Biscuits and Gravy
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by Biscuits and Gravy »

I dunno, that kinda sounds like self-presenting. Like, you think you have an idea of what this person wants/needs, so you’re trying to contort yourself to fit that so that you can then get them to do what you want? Maybe fine or even necessary in a “work with/for” relationship, but in a romantic relationship that sounds exhausting, disingenuous, and maybe even a bit manipulative. I dunno. I know next to nothing about dating, though. I think my approach would be, “This is me. If you see and love me, great. If I see and love you back, even better.” More self-disclosure than self-presenting. But my aim may be different (and not at all better) than yours.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

It does depend more than a bit on the purpose for which you are dating. If I am just seeking an enjoyable evening out, I do prefer the companionship of somebody who has some skill in the realm of behaving like a charming host. Are there men who are perfectly capable of being charming host for the evening, but also total PITA to live/relate with over the long run? Obviously, yes. At hand cultural example would be Felix Unger and/or Oscar Madison. If my preferred lifestyle is being a single woman who dates, I would happily accompany Felix to the opera or Oscar to a ball game, simply because they are reasonably attractive, intelligent men with decent social manners (also pretty good chance that I might have sex with Oscar if he didn't turn the light on revealing the filth in his bedroom), but I wouldn't want to live with either of them.

AxelHeyst
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by AxelHeyst »

As someone who had to design my own curriculum for learning social skills, like it sounds JnG is doing, I feel compelled to add a couple cents to this conversation.

"Just be yourself" was *shockingly* ineffective advice for me and many people I know in similar situations, to the point that I half suspect people who dish is out are doing so maliciously (I don't think you are Gravy). I suspect it comes more from people who developed "good enough" at minimum social skills organically, and for whom "being themselves" works more or less. To these people, any intentional work on improving one's social skills -- particularly when it comes to the objective of getting laid -- seems disingenuous, manipulative, et cetera.

And lots of people out there are disingenuous and manipulative! See 99.9% of the PUA community as exhibit A. So it's a very valid concern. It's also compounded by the fact that for a lot of people who are working on their social skills, they have to wade through a bunch of garbage to get little bits of gold, and they don't necessarily know what is "good" or "bad" advice, what is non-genuine, et cetera. I had to wade through a ton of basically totally offensive material to sort out my ideas on dating, relationships, women, men, et cetera, because a) mainstream society completely let me down in terms of educating me in this realm, so I had to seek elsewhere and b) there wasn't like a map or anything, so I had to wander around the wilderness meeting crazies and trusting my own evolving judgement, and keep at it until I arrived at a point where I now consider myself a basically socially functional human being.

Someone telling me to "just be myself" when I was, say 20, would have gotten a response like this: "So, you're saying, be super quiet but with too much eye contact, full of fear and self-hatred that manifests in the way I longingly stare at people having fun with each other, and when some poor bastard takes pity on me and comes over and talks to me, either go way overboard and talk about something they don't give a shit about/makes them think I'm psycho, or basically grunt monosyllabic responses to their questions until they final shrug and leave me alone?" I was *bad* at any kind of interpersonal communication, to the point that there was a lot of basic stuff I just wasn't aware of, and had to read about in a book to recognize. Stuff that people with organic social skills take for granted, because it doesn't occur to them that some people don't know it.

The purpose, as I see it, in developing social skills in the realm of wanting to get laid, is to figure out *how* to authentically express myself. *How* to overcome my social anxieties and calm down enough to let other people in without being a total weirdo, *how* to communicate who I am as a person, express my preferences and values, so that I have a chance of connecting with another person. And calming down about my own internal dialogue that I can have the space to notice what is going on with the other person, take delight in trying to figure out how to make them smile or laugh, make the relationship about *giving* more than receiving.

As Mark Manson writes in Honesty, any form of lying/dishonesty in relationships is a recipe for disaster, as Gravy points out. The art of influence and persuasion, to me, is the art of a) knowing what I want, b) knowing how to communicate my wants and desires with other people in an attractive way, and b) learn how to invite people to participate with me in the fulfillment of my wants and desires in such a way that also opens the door to the fulfillment of their wants and desires.

I'm all for honesty and straight talk, but it has to be acknowledged that a fair amount of implicit conversation is *part* of the game of intimate relationships, particularly dating. There's stuff that it's just not okay to talk about explicitly on date one, that's it's inappropriate *not* to talk about explicitly by date four. That's where the influence/persuasion comes in, knowing timing, give and take, push and pull - and not to fuck with people, but because getting laid for humans isn't about biology or physics, it's about playing with each other's mind's. And not playing in a deceptive or manipulative way, but in a fun way, like a dance, except with words, gestures, eye contact, body language, all the subtle ways humans have been messing with each other's minds since forever.

The only difference is that some people have to learn this dance explicitly, later in life, because for whatever reason they weren't taught it or didn't develop an ear for it organically. Once they build some skill they can clumsily follow the steps, and practice, and work on it, and screw up, and practice some more, and internalize it, and eventually they're a better human being with happier partners who value the work that person has put in to themselves. Because they suck less at being a human than they used to.

suomalainen
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by suomalainen »

Just my $.02

Differentiating between personality and skills, I think "be yourself" means to be authentic to your personality. It doesn't mean don't learn skills so that you're more comfortable "being yourself" around other humans. So, no, I don't think it's malicious advice, I think it's just a blunt instrument as all advice tends to be. So, for example, if you're
super quiet but with too much eye contact, full of fear and self-hatred that manifests in the way I longingly stare at people having fun with each other, and when some poor bastard takes pity on me and comes over and talks to me, either go way overboard and talk about something they don't give a shit about/makes them think I'm psycho, or basically grunt monosyllabic responses to their questions until they final shrug and leave me alone?"
Then you should realize that none of that is your personality. To the extent your behavior results from "fear and self-hatred", then get therapy for that. (I'm not being snarky; I've gotten about $15,000 worth of therapy so far). Once you've cared for yourself in that way, it will be easier to express yourself appropriately because you're not a needy child who's just vamping on any passer-by that looks your way.

As to personality, it is more about what you think about, what you enjoy doing/reading/watching, what makes you laugh, etc. Once you are comfortable in your own skin, it's easier to "just be yourself" and to put yourself out there to find someone who resonates with you. There's a lid for every pot; you just have to find your tribe; etc.

As to skills, yes, it's important to practice skills to learn how to interact with people - how to speak, how to listen, what to do with your eyes and hands, etc. But if you're gaining these skills in order to "get something I need/want from this person" or to "persuade someone to give me what I want/need", then you're just using them. First things first - take care of your needs yourself. Then, when it comes to socializing, learn the basic skills so that you can do the sorting that @axel talks about so you can find that group of people who willingly give you good things, not because you've manipulated them into doing so, but because them "being themselves" and you "being yourself" resonate. Another way to think about it is that "just tryna get laid" is transactional, and transactional relationships don't last long. Lasting relationships occur when two healthy people just plain like each other and aren't using each other to fill their respective black holes of need.

AxelHeyst
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by AxelHeyst »

Well put Suo.

I do think that once on is out of the "run, don't walk, to therapy" stage, it's an iterative, not linear, process with respect to learning specific skills, becoming comfortable in one's own skin, having rather "basic" or even transactional goals for relationships. At least it was for me - in the early days of my process, I was so starved for intimacy of any kind, it would have been extremely difficult for me to have any kind of nuanced approach to other's needs. I had to start with some pretty basic milestones, and build from there. I think it's super important to avoid a transactional stance towards other people, of course - I just also remember being a Wheaton Negative Two in the dating world, and what you just wrote would have flown so far above my ahead I would have needed binoculars and luck to notice it.

ertyu
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by ertyu »

I interpret "just be yourself" to mean, don't fall into that trap where you're a psychological dumpster fire, but you're trying to white-knuckle through it and suppress it and paste some sort of stunted social theater performance on top. it's not going to work. it will come across as badly adjusted and fake, and it will push people away.

Instead, work ON yourself until such point as your self is in a condition where you can be it authentically. All the little things you say, the timing, etc., are only sprinkles on top and not what makes one successful at socializing. Those sprinkles will get you exactly nowhere if you are still a psychological dumpster fire.

Source: am a psychological dumpster fire

Biscuits and Gravy
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by Biscuits and Gravy »

Axel, Suo, and ertyu all make good points, but to clarify, I wasn’t trying to give dating advice (which I have no business giving) and I certainly wasn’t trying to say “just be yourself!” I was trying to say that there are degrees of human connection, some of which can only be attained through mutual self-disclosure and vulnerability, and, you know, I don’t want J+G to miss out on the good stuff. If the aim or purpose is just to get laid, great, best of luck! I feel for y’all that have to work at that. As a pretty young thing, I can just don a pair of shorty shorts and go to the nearest dog park and be like, “who wants it?”, and no one would really care if I have refined social skills or not (at least not for a few hours). Not that I’d do that, because that’s not what I’m after, but I can see how it would suck to not have that option.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@Biscuits and Gravy:

For reasonably (or even extremely) attractive females, the social skills come into play at other levels. For example, most women who lack confidence or suffer from specific anxiety or experience of being burned in relationship, wouldn't even "go to the dog park in shorty shorts" or, in more general terms, "signal availability." Another problem might be not being tough enough. I was kind of a dodo head about men when I was young and attractive, so I am suspicious towards men who theorize about relationships that are not transactional being superior, because to me it smells like prelude to female getting "free love" ripped off :lol:

AxelHeyst
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by AxelHeyst »

@gravy I came off a little uncharitable/rude in response to your original post - chalk it up to some lingering tender spots wrt this topic. I think your perspective is right on.

+1 ertyu's "work ON yourself" - that's the heart of it.

Biscuits and Gravy
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by Biscuits and Gravy »

@Axel oh dude I wasn’t offended in the slightest. My fault for not clearly expressing my ideas from the get go. I actually really appreciated your comment. Fwiw someone who tells a 20 year-old to just be themselves should prolly be punched in the face. No offense to 20 year-olds, but I knew pretty much nothing about myself at that age, and suspect that’s a common occurrence.

suomalainen
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Re: Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Post by suomalainen »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Fri Mar 19, 2021 8:09 am
so I am suspicious towards men who theorize about relationships that are not transactional being superior, because to me it smells like prelude to female getting "free love" ripped off :lol:
I didn’t say non-transactional relationships were superior; I just said they tend to last longer. It’s also like “best friend” vs “friend of convenience”. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having work or school or neighbor or hobby friends that you only hang out with at that location or doing that thing. We all enjoy friends of convenience. But when someone moves away, they’re forgotten and replaced pretty quickly and easily. There’s nothing wrong with it; it’s just (intentionally) transient. Best friends or deeper friendships last through inconvenience, and we need some of those connections too.

The takeaway tho is the idea that psychological dumpster fires tend to use and manipulate other people and who likes to be on the receiving end of that for a long time? So, the answer as so many have no affirmed above is “work on yourself”. When you’re sorted and not a needy black hole, you can have deeper connections to round out your social circle.

Source: former psychological dumpster fire / needy black hole, who seems to have turned the corner a little bit

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