So yesterday on Twitter I shared a little story I saw on Roosh’s TL.
(I occasionally scope out what the more radical members of my community are up to, and Roosh in particular finds some interesting stuff)
but the gist is a woman in her mid-30s was depressed as she was coming to terms with the fact that she had, in many ways, wasted her life.
It was the usual observations.
She blew had blown through romantic relationships, never fully committing, and had focused on work… but since she wasn’t ambitious, her career was stagnant.
Meanwhile her other friends were all getting married and having children.
She was, in short, 35, single, lonely, and stuck at a job she didn’t really enjoy.
All her “free spirit” years out partying and traveling were now looking like irresponsible distractions.
And so she was writing in to advice columnist “Polly” to ask what to do.
Polly’s response was, as might be expected, garbage.
It was long and rambling (I hated reading it), but fundamentally told this women she shouldn’t feel any shame for her decisions.
That her choices weren’t bad, that she was just looking at them the wrong way.
As I said on Twitter, this is the criminal sort of shit women do to each other.
It is extremely difficult for women to get out of their ego and have some humility and self-awareness.
I don’t say this as a hater, men have their own quirks, but as I wrote in an email back, the female brain generally looks to self-justify rather than self-critique.
So it was a real sign of PROGRESS that this woman, at 35, was starting to question her decisions.
Because 35 might be late… but it’s not too late!
If she leaned into these bad choices, leaned into the shame, then she could really look at how to do things differently.
And the advice columnist was taking this truth away from her, diminishing it.
What would I do?
Unlike some people who were assuming, I WOULDN’T attempt to make her feel worse about these decisions.
Which is really the cream of the crop with this email.
First, I don’t want her ACUTE shame to become CHRONIC shame. Chronic shame is just feeling like a shitty, invaluable person — it’s like chronic pain, it doesn’t tell you anything except that you have a problem with chronic pain.
Acute shame, in contrast — like acute pain — tells you that you shouldn’t have done something, and that if you do it again, it’ll hurt.
This is a very important distinction dummies into the modern feel-good community have forgotten.
Shame is a key factor in growth.
It is the stick, and as we all know the stick is even more powerful than the carrot.
Moreover — if we’re being honest — acute shame is almost always based on a real, visceral sense of something being bad for you.
It’s why most people don’t feel good when they sleep with strangers.
Your conscience — your grounding towards who you really are, and what you really value — is telling you to stop.
All the little cognitive loops people get themselves, the “don’t slut shame me” etc. are all internal projections on other people.
“I feel like shit about myself, you need to make me feel better for my shitty decisions.”
HOW ABOUT NO.
But if I were talking to this girl, I wouldn’t attempt to make her feel worse about her past.
Because THATS NOT NECESSARY.
That could start to make her feel implicitly like a bad person, aka chronic shame. And that’s not helpful.
(Only tell harsh truths when the person is lying to themselves. That’s the difference between love and abuse)
So, I would instead focus on WHY she did the things she did in the past.
In WHY lies change.
Every problem is part of a tangled knot of other limiting beliefs. So while you can make some progress attacking the surface problem… you really won’t eliminate the knot until you can attack it from different angles, and see the problem at its core.
It would have allowed the woman to really understand the patterns and narratives that caused her to make these decisions, so she could truly start to date differently, and get her personal trajectory in order.
Knowing you fucked up just isn’t enough. If you’re going to stop doing it, you need to know why.
And that requires respecting the natural shame.
And only THEN, after the lesson has been learned, releasing it.
No, it’s not your average dumb counselor like Polly’s approach.
But as my clients can attest, it works.
The results aren’t overnight. But you *will* immediately look at things differently after our deep calls.
And over the coming weeks, your confidence and relief will start to compound.
(You should see where guys are at a year later…)
Apply here if you want this treatment for yourself: www.patstedman.com/application