Show highlights include:
- Why you can “grind” to success in business — but how the same approach sabotages your relationships (2:50)
- “Knowing” what to improve isn’t enough — here’s what it takes to boost your dating potential (4:24)
- How to deepen your romantic relationships by enjoying your shameful, painful emotions (5:08)
- Harness your masculine Warrior Energy to improve your emotional connections (even if you’ve used that same energy to bury your feelings in the past) (9:49)
- Your idea of “people who need therapy” is right — and why this stereotype is holding you back from loving relationships (11:25)
- How to transform your emotional “wilderness of discomfort” into a place of beauty and wonder (12:53)
- Why struggling to maintain an edge makes your efforts more difficult — and how therapy unlocks your ability to effortlessly succeed (26:01)
For more about David Tian, go here: https://www.davidtianphd.com/about/
Listen to the episode on your favorite podcast platform:
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Note: Scroll Below for Transcription
Welcome to the Masculine Psychology Podcast, where we answer key questions in dating, relationships, success, and fulfillment, and explore the psychology of masculinity. Now here’s your host, world-renowned therapist and life coach, David Tian.
David: Welcome to the Masculine Psychology Podcast. I’m David Tian, your host, and welcome to Episode 6.
In the previous two episodes, we covered why values are so important, why they’re essential for relationship and dating success, and in the podcast episode just before this, we went into the specific values. We went into three categories of values and gave you specific values that are best for success in your love life.
In this episode, we’re going to be digging into why the therapeutic process for evaluating your values is so challenging for so many people, especially men, and what to do about it, how to turn that into a strength for you. [01:02.8]
All right, so we’ve got three points today and I’m going to start off with three points, and then I’m going to introduce three more points about what to do about it to turn it into a strength, okay, so it’s three and three.
The first reason it’s so challenging for so many men is toxic masculinity and I covered that two episodes ago, Episode 4—so, if you want more detail going a little bit deeper on that, make sure you listen to Episode 4 or review that—but that’s one of the most prevalent reasons for why it’s so challenging for so many people, especially men. It’s because of repression and you can see that in the toxic masculinity.
Not all masculinity is toxic, obviously, but the parts that are toxic or the types of masculinity that are toxic are the ones that result in a kind of macho repression, where you’re repressing your emotions, especially your vulnerable emotions, but you can’t selectively repress or suppress emotions, it’s all or nothing, so in repressing your vulnerability, you’re also kind of deadening your affect. You’re deadening your emotional life overall. [02:07.8]
Because of that, it’s really hard to do the work of the therapeutic process of listening to your unconscious, of going to those places of vulnerability where the source of your anxieties are or your source, the source of your insecurities are. If you don’t go to the source and you’re always just dealing with the surface-level symptoms, and you’re always just sort of medicating with palliatives and you’re not ever getting to a permanent solution, you’re just clipping the branches, pruning the branches, instead of getting to the disease at the root of the tree.
The second reason the therapeutic process is so challenging for so many men is the normal coping strategies they’re used to relying on don’t work in this area. One of the most common coping strategies that I work with is achieving, where just working harder at it, just pushing, forcing it just through discipline and grind and hustle and hard work, and they’re applying that also now to the therapeutic process of evaluating values, but all of the things around it where they have to process it at the emotional level. [03:13.0]
So, it’s not just an issue of sitting back in your armchair and philosophizing because that’ll just keep it all in your head and not into your heart and when it’s just in your head, you’re dead. You got that phrase Tony Robbins. If you’re just in your head and it just stays intellectual, it will often not translate into what we need. It’s here the level of the unconscious where your emotions are automatically flowing from.
There has been actual research on how people who study moral philosophy for a living are not any more moral than people who don’t and, in fact, there’s some evidence that they’re less moral. Just studying it, philosophizing about ethics, in and of itself, won’t help you to become more ethical. Actually, it won’t help you to come to live out your values or to apply them, implement them in your life. It’ll just help you to rationalize yourself out of sticky moral situations. [04:06.7]
But it’s a start. It’s just getting you thinking about it and getting the whole range of various major positions on what is good, what is right, etc., and what is virtue. All of that is helpful because it gets your mind oriented in the right area.
But then what we really need to do is a therapeutic process to get into your unconscious. The process that we do, for example, in my course, Invincible, isn’t just to sit there and think, Hmm, what do I value? That’s not going to do you any good in terms of your life, in terms of your emotions. Instead, there’s a therapeutic process where we’re calling on your face, your voice and your body, and you really get into it, calling out of your unconscious what your real values are, and then querying those and replacing those, if they’re not helping and you create the life that you want. [04:56.2]
That’s at the level of your unconscious, so your normal big strategies of just achieving, of just forcing it, of applying hard work, pressure, discipline, hustle and grind, that’s not going to work here. In fact, instead, what you’re going to need is a softening, a kind of turning inwards, a kind of stillness and being with, and just staying with a completely different type of sensation that for achievers who have been repressing for many years or decades of their lives will be interpreted by those achiever parts pain.
But, in fact, the very same sensations will be interpreted and understood by your higher self and the parts of you that are more empathic as a necessary process that might even feel good, so you will actually get to a point where all of these emotions, including the ones that you’re so scared of, of sadness and more of what are considered vulnerable emotions, will actually feel really good.
That’s sort of like in the way that people who never work out think and interpret the feeling that they get from working out from the very first time in five years as being torture. The very same sensations physically are interpreted by people who have come to love working out as being a really nice feeling. [06:13.7]
Okay, so that process of transitioning from “this feels like torture” to “this feels really good” is paralleled in the therapeutic process and the normal coping strategies that achievers use, and everyone else, too, if you’re a rebel or if you’re a withdrawer, like you’re a recluse, you’re an isolator. Whatever normal coping strategy you usually use and have been using to repress these vulnerable emotions, that’s not going to work anymore in the therapeutic process, but we’re not used to anything else. That’s our standard MO, right, those coping strategies? That’s why it feels so strange and it feels like such a big challenge.
There’s a way to use your coping strategies as a strength and I’ll get to that in the second half of this episode, but just to point that out, the normal coping strategies aren’t going to work anymore and the achiever modus operandi is not going to serve you anymore. [07:05.7]
That leads into the third reason it’s so challenging for men, so many men and so many achievers to stick with the therapeutic process to achieve and experience happiness and unconditional love. Why is it so hard? Because of this third reason, which is that they’re used to performance-based self-esteem.
So, what is that? This is where you only feel good about yourself if you perform well, performance-based self-esteem, in contrast to being-based or existence-based self-esteem that you are worthy of love just because you exist, just because you are, and that’s a being-based self-esteem.
Most of the world that’s focused on and obsessed about success, the self-help world, the self-improvement world, they have a very toxic view of self-worth and self-esteem, which is entirely performance-based. They have hammered into their minds and have had this in their minds since they were young, so it resonates with them. They’re like, Oh, of course, this makes a lot of sense. [08:06.2]
They often don’t even question it that their view of self-esteem and self-worth is based on their achievements, based on their performance, that they don’t allow themselves to feel good about themselves until they have achieved some far-off goal that requires them to perform in a certain way.
You’ll hear this a lot, snuck in there with feel-good nice-sounding phrases, like be your best self, and if you’re not your best self, then what happens? Then you’re not worthy of all of this stuff, all of this happiness, this wealth, or this woman or these women, that you can never rest. This is performance based self-esteem and it’s toxic, and it will block you from being able to accept those parts of you that are in all of us, that we all have, that aren’t vulnerable, that are holding our vulnerable emotions of sadness, of pain emotionally that are experiencing pain, ongoing pain that we’ve repressed into our unconscious until something triggers it and then we go there. [09:07.8]
Part of what happens in the therapeutic process is triggering. It’s to trigger the things that we’ve been repressing, so that we can now bring them into consciousness and begin to process them properly and heal them and grow from there.
Those three reasons are the most common for men of why it’s so challenging for them to stick with the therapeutic process or even just begin it, which is toxic masculinity and the repression that comes from that. The second is their normal coping strategies aren’t working here in the therapeutic process, and the third is that they’ve bought into this a background value system of what it takes to be worthy, which is the performance-based self-esteem view.
Okay, so then what do we do about it? What can we do about this? How can you turn all of this toxicity and repression into a strength?
Okay, this is going to sound odd for therapists because they probably have never thought about it that way, but here’s how to do it—and I know you can do it this way because this is how I did it for myself and this is how I’ve helped hundreds of clients and thousands online to do it this way—and this is where they’re going to or you’re going to harness your warrior energy in a kind of challenge. [10:15.2]
The warrior parts of you, these more masculine or the healthy masculine parts of you will step up in the face of challenge and they respond well to challenge. I’m challenging you with the warrior parts of you to stay in the zone longer, the zone of discomfort, the zone of feeling your vulnerable emotions, the zone of sadness, of overwhelming sadness, where you feel like you’re going to break.
Harness that warrior energy, those warrior parts of you, to stay there longer. The first is to endure. Just get better at enduring that discomfort, and soon, you’ll go over the edge and you will reinterpret that as a good feeling, and I can attest to that. [10:58.5]
The first months of me trying to get to those places of vulnerability, I’d get really close and then my repression mechanisms would kick in. That could be blinking my eyes or just shaking my head and going, Okay, I’m out of that, or breathing deeply. Right at the moment when I was shallow breathing and I was there, breathe deeply and now I’m not feeling it anymore, so I wanted to be able to stay with that.
Now, a caveat—many people who need therapy and who go to therapy are actually the opposite. They’re continually lost in and overwhelmed by their emotions. That’s the common client profile that goes to therapy. They’re overwhelmed by their emotions, so much that they aren’t able to function well in their day-to-day life. For those people, they should also focus on those grounding techniques in just being able to regulate first, so that they can at least sit in the meditations, I mean, the meditation or therapy session, without getting triggered and becoming overwhelmed, so that’s important, to just learn those basic grounding techniques and self-regulation techniques, for them. [12:02.4]
I work with many achievers who are functioning in their day-to-day life very well. They’re successful outwardly and their problem is repression. Okay, so if that’s you, and that was me though, repression means that it’s really difficult for you to go there, for you to go to these, quote-unquote, “painful places” and you’re going to have your normal repressive mechanisms kick in unconsciously.
You won’t even know that you’re doing that and it’ll just be hard for you to go to the emotion.
What I’m doing is now, right now, challenging your warrior parts to stay in that, stay on the edge, stay in that zone where it feels uncomfortable at first, and at first meaning it could be several months, maybe years, where you just focus on enduring, staying there longer, endure longer.
The second point as a challenge also to your warrior parts is to embrace the wilderness. It’s going to feel like—and I take this phrase from Sarah Blondin who’s a great meditation teacher—the “wilderness of discomfort,” to embrace the wilderness instead of being afraid of it and avoiding walking into the forest, but embracing the beauty of the wilderness, that this is part of the journey. [13:13.3]
Then, when you embrace it instead of resisting it, you realize there’s great beauty in that wilderness. But, at first, it will feel like a dark forest and it will feel like it’s eating you up and that there’s no end to it. There is an end to it. It’ll just feel like it’s unending at the beginning, like a dark tunnel with no opening at the end. Just keep going. There will be an opening. Don’t stop. If you’re halfway through, so to speak, don’t give up. If you’re going through hell, keep going. The wilderness of discomfort and embracing the beauty of this wilderness and realizing, yes, this will feel this uncomfortable. That’s sort of the point and this is a sign that you’re doing the right type of work when it is uncomfortable.
Right, so the first point being endure, focus on endurance; second, embrace the wilderness of discomfort—and the third is a great image that I like to use a lot, the chrysalis. This is where the caterpillar is going into the cocoon to become the butterfly and I often wonder, does a caterpillar know that the butterfly is flying around him? It’s Cousin Vinny, or whatever, like that’s going to be him? Does he realize that because they’re so different, right? Is he looking up at these butterflies, recognizing them? I don’t know. [14:20.0]
What is it in the mind of the caterpillar before he goes in the cocoon, and then, in fact, what’s going on in his mind? Again, I don’t know if they have any thoughts like this, but you can imagine, just a thought experiment, what’s going on in the mind of a caterpillar in the cocoon? It must feel like a tomb, like he’s going to die, and there are examples like this of a cocoon being eaten or half-formed and the caterpillar dying inside—and this could be where you’re resisting the cocoon. You think you’re going to die and it’s a tomb and it’s a coffin, and you’re trying to get out of there, instead of relaxing into this process of this is going to be a death that will lead to a rebirth, a new birth into a new transformed reality. [15:03.8]
That’s what the therapeutic process is, going into that cocoon and multiple cocoons to emerge with multiple transformations, where you won’t recognize yourself, because you won’t recognize yourself anymore because you’re so much more powerful and free, and liberated and beautiful—and that’s the beauty of the Chrysalis image. Embrace that because that’s what is actually going on, your old self going into a cocoon, and what you’re learning is more about yourself. It’s not like any parts of you die off. That would be bad.
You want to understand and appreciate all of those parts of you, even the parts that you might be ashamed of right now or want to go away or exile because they are valuable parts of you as well. Part of the therapeutic process is embracing that, and I’m kind of jumping the gun, in that I’m just even saying that might have triggered some of the parts of you that want to get rid of the shameful parts. [15:57.0]
Entering the therapeutic process, I think it’s important to get into it with your eyes open, to know what you’re getting into, so that you’re not going to freak out when you’re halfway through the cocoon or halfway through the wilderness there, so that you understand the journey you’re embarking on here—and it’s not just one time. You’re going to be going through these dark tunnels of the soul, of the dark caves, so to speak, multiple times as you grow into stronger and stronger transformations.
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You can also, as we’re doing here and throughout this podcast, using your intellect. This is something that most therapists don’t use very much. That would mean that they don’t use their intellect and that they don’t champion their clients too much. [17:19.3]
It’s partly because their own client profile, like I said, the common client’s profile for therapy is somebody who is overwhelmed with their emotions and is not high-functioning in their day-to-day life. I generally have a lot of high-functioning clients and getting their intellectual parts on board is a really important part of this process, so that they can trust and relax into the therapeutic process. I’m telling you what’s going to happen and what it will feel like here, so that you can intellectually assent to it and say, Okay, expecting this to happen and I can relax into it, instead of resisting it or fighting it. [17:54.0]
Okay, so we’re going to be harnessing your warrior energy to stay in the zone, to endure, to get that courage, to challenge the warrior parts, to step up and do it right, and then we also challenge and invite the intellectual parts to trust and understand, understand and trust, and therefore able to relax into the process.
Speaking of the warrior parts, I’m also calling out to those parts of you that have that lover energy. If you have access to that, if you’ve taken my course, “Core” or “Rock Solid Relationships”, you will have access to that lover of energy in you and the lover energy loves that creativity and the passion and the emotions. Calling on those parts of you or the lover part of you, the archetype in you, also into the therapeutic process to kind of move things forward, because it will embrace this part of the process that will feel foreign to the intellect or the intellectual parts.
Okay, as a recap of what to do about it, it’ll be these three points of –
– Endure. Focus on enduring.
– Embrace the wilderness. See it as a chrysalis journey or chrysalis process of the caterpillar cocooning into the butterfly and harnessing, thereby, your warrior energy to stay in the zone longer. [19:08.1]
– To call on your intellectual parts to understand the process, thereby being able to trust and relax into the process. If you have access to your lover energy or your lover archetype, that they will really enjoy this process, so they can kind of spearhead things or move things along and kind of lead the way as you’re accessing your higher self.
Okay, so to recap everything, the first three points are the three reasons why the therapeutic process is so challenging for so many men.
The first reason is repression of toxic masculinity. The second is that our normal coping strategies no longer work in this area of the therapeutic process, including the standard achiever for the strategy of achieving.
Then the third reason being that the worldview of performance-based self-esteem will actually actively get in the way and block the therapeutic process from happening. That’s why it’s so important to think about the values of what it takes to be worthy of love and the being-based self-worth is the only one that will actually lead to unconditional love. [20:10.8]
Then, what do you do about it? How can we harness this? Again, just a real quick recap, to harness the warrior energy, to stay in the zone longer, to use your intellect to understand and, thereby, trust and relax into the process, and embracing the endurance and embracing the wilderness of discomforts, and then to understand it from the perspective of a chrysalis that it’s a chrysalis-type of journey and maybe even access your lover archetype or energy, if you have that, to be able to help lead the process.
Okay, so to illustrate this, I’ll tell you a quick story here of a client that I’ve really come to admire. We’ll call him Darren. Darren came to us a couple of years ago, coming out of a very tumultuous life. He had become a very successful entrepreneur and business leader, but then because he was repressing right so much and, by the time he came to us in his mid-fifties, he had been repressing so much that it was coming out. [21:04.4]
It’s a matter of time before the repression leads to burnout and then leads to acting out in your personal life, and he has ended up becoming an addict, a drug addict and an alcoholic addict, and eventually got in trouble with the law, ended up behind bars. He was actually writing to us from behind bars when he first started working with me.
It was an amazing transformation because he had such rich life experiences, so many varied life experiences that he could call on, and he very quickly learned all of the social skills of dating skills. You master that in relatively quick time and it was the therapeutic process or the processes that were included in our coursework, in our coaching, that was surprisingly difficult. I mean, for him, it was surprisingly difficult. He didn’t think that he would have trouble with this, but it brought up all of this repressed vulnerable material that was super challenging for him at first. [22:01.1]
He would run from it—he said this was the most difficult thing he has done in his life—but then, after that initial period of discomfort of entering the wilderness, the dark wilderness of discomfort entering that dark cave and getting to know the demons there that it turned out, as he got to know them, weren’t demons at all but were little children, his inner child parts there and the vulnerability there.
Even the protector parts ended up, as you get to know them, he discovered also that they were young, very young parts of him that were taking on huge gargantuan tasks that they didn’t need to do now that Darren was able to get in touch with his higher self more and more through that process.
One of the most beautiful turning points that he shared with me was that, as he worked in getting to understand and be with, and attend to and accept, and appreciate and love on his own inner child parts, that this helped him to reflect on his parenting of his own children and that that led to reconciliation between him with his children and they had been in strange for years. Then part of this process is that coming to love yourself allows you then to give unconditional love very easily and naturally to others, including to your intimate partner. [23:15.5]
It’s this beautiful story that is ongoing that I’ve had the privilege to witness of Darren going through this therapeutic process, having come from a really just a super-high-achiever place of energy, of worldview, of what it meant to be worthy, and then being able to see through the performance-based lies or the performance-based myth of self-esteem, and then be able to encounter, to appreciate and love his own inner child parts. It was just this beautiful journey that he has been on and it has been my honor to come alongside that and witness that.
Hopefully, that will give you some encouragement along the process if you are in any of our online courses and experiencing some of the same tumults or conflicts inside of “Oh, this feels so uncomfortable. I don’t know, I’m not used to this.” Great, that means that you’re probably in the right place. Make sure that you’re going through the online courses and the guided meditations. [24:13.5]
Not anybody else’s stuff, because I can’t vouch for that, but our material, if you’re going through it well, then you are able to harness that warrior energy to stay in the zone longer. You will be rewarded with the light at the end of the tunnel and then you will come to love that, because that is how growth happens and you will love growth, and then it will snowball for you and be much faster.
Part of the fear that achievers have of going to vulnerability is that the only way they know in order to succeed, because a protective mechanism is to achieve. The only way they know to achieve is this repressive way of pushing down all of the vulnerable emotions of sadness, of tenderness, and compassion and all of that, because that just gets in the way of performing the performance-based self-esteem of working really hard, grinding, discipline and hard work, hustle, staying up really late seven days a week, staying up 8:00 a.m. to 12 midnight, whatever pushing, pushing, pushing, that forcing kind of nature. [25:10.4]
They are afraid that if they drop that, if they turn inward, if they turn to compassion and empathy, then they’ll lose their edge, and then, therefore, they won’t be able to achieve and succeed and that’s all they’ve known. Speaking to those parts and to let them know that this thing that they’re hoping for at the end of that journey of success—they’re hoping that success will lead to love connection—that that’s not going to happen if you’re trying to do it through succeeding, that success doesn’t lead to happiness or love, not in any meaningful sense and not for any meaningful length of time. The only permanent way to that is not through performance, but through being, and the only way through that is the other road, the other way, turning around and going the other direction. [25:59.5]
The other thing is, once you’re on the other side of that, when you’re in the process of healing and growth, and your parts are unburdened and they’re not carrying around these fears of having to be a certain way in order to be worthy of love, then they morph and transform and shift into ways of effortlessly achieving—these ways of achieving that requires so much forcing, so much hard work, discipline and grind, and just beating yourself up to do it, and it doesn’t feel good, but you’re going to get up and force yourself to do it. That energy is no longer required in order to succeed. Now you will succeed and achieve effortlessly because you’re now doing it in areas that these parts naturally effortlessly want to do it.
Now, imagine, I’m sure all achievers have experienced this at some point because you probably were this way with regard to the activity that you’re so successful in or that you’re good at the beginning. When you first started doing whatever it is, that job, there was probably a freshness to it and you were optimistic about it and you really liked it. It’s only over the years and the decades that that becomes now something that you have to force yourself to. [27:05.7]
Now, there are things that you already love or enjoy doing. We all have that. We’re all motivated to do something. Motivation, in and of itself, is not the problem, ever. It’s the thing that we’re trying to force ourselves to be motivated to do that we’re not motivated to do. That’s the issue. But you’re already motivated, right? You’re motivated to do what? Play video games, hang out with your friends, watch movies, hang out with your love interest. You don’t need any extra motivation to do that, right? Maybe for some guys that’s the internet porn, right? You’re already motivated to do it, right?
Follow your motivations—maybe not the internet porn thing, but following your motivations—and even if it’s video games, man, in the ’80s, as I was growing up, there was no video game e-sports industry. You could only become a programmer or a tester and testing video games sounded like a pretty cool job, but, anyway, it wasn’t one that was encouraged by the schools or teachers or anybody. It’s now that you could become a professional video game player. I don’t know if, if I was growing up now, I’d think I might have a different, completely different experience with video games. [28:05.5]
But that’s an example of when you are freed, when your parts are not under this burden of having to be a certain way in order to earn love, then they will surprise you with how awesome they are at other areas of life and you might end up making even more money. As I should mention, Darren now has started another business that’s on track to do a billion dollars of revenue in a year and that’s something that he’s passionate about. That was different from what he was involved in before and it’s just part of following his passions now that he’s not having to force it that he can now proceed along the lines of his natural passions, because now his parts are unburdened and they’re able to access all of that spontaneous creativity.
That’s helping your achiever parts relax into this process. They don’t need to worry about not succeeding. You will succeed at the end of this in a different way that will feel effortless and feel amazing, and that you’ll enjoy your life so much more along the way. [29:02.3]
Okay, so if this intrigues you enough, you can go, explore this in my online courses. These are themes and processes that I cover in courses like “Freedom U”, “Lifestyle Mastery”, “Rock Solid Relationships”, and this is also covered if you can get a good therapist, I recommend IFS therapy. If you want to accelerate your therapeutic process, get my online courses. If you get the “Platinum Partnership”, they’ll give you an all access pass to all of them, as well as private coaching, so check that option out.
In the meantime, I want to let you know, our next episode is about the biggest attraction killer in men, which is also the biggest factor that will make a man attractive to women. Come back to the next episode to find out what that is and to explore how to get that and how to avoid sabotaging your own attraction. That’s all in the next episode. [29:54.8]
If this was something that benefited you, please share it with anyone you think would also benefit from it, your friends, family, anybody. I’d really appreciate you sharing this and thank you so much for listening. I would love to hear from you about what this meant to you and anything you learned from this, and any feedback you have about it at all.
All right, thanks so much for listening. I’ll see you in the next episode. Until then, David tan, signing out. Be well.
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