This is a work in progress.
I just heard about this massacre in Isla Vista recently, with a friend posting an article on Facebook regarding the misogynist extremism that largely influence this event. At first I thought that the author of the article was reaching to label this as rooted in misogyny. After it was pointed out how he had posted racist / misogynist statements, and was an active member of an extremely misogynist PUAhate forum online, I conceded that this was influenced by a type of misogyny I didn’t know existed. I didn’t even know about a PUAhate culture.
One thing that stands out in the context of Elliot specifically is that I really think that he’s a 3 with a 4 wing on the Enneagram of Personality. This can offer some understanding of his specific orientation of image consciousness, and envy, and how at his lowest level is predisposed to being psychopathic, prone to murder even (see Unhealthy levels).
I have my own form of PUA distain, and sympathize with the story and torment that Elliot Rodger described. But instead of running away from the pain and torment of my own self judgement, and opting to scapegoat women as the cause of my torment, I instead found a way of looking for the truth and liberation in the situation. I still continue to find out what is keeping me from getting my needs met as a human being who has a heart that yearns for friendship, love, admiration, affection, and deeply connected and satisfying sexual union.
I identify with Elliot Rodger, not in his envy and misogyny, but in the root of his story. I’ve experienced the same messages from our culture about what a man is supposed to be, and how he is supposed to act, to get his needs met.
If I was to write a letter to Elliot Rodger, or anyone who sympathizes with him, this would be it. It’s more a letter to my younger self, but I really suspect that it’s relevant.
The root of your torment is self judgement. Ever since you were a child you had experiences that caused you to form beliefs about what is good and bad. These beliefs formed a structure of your psyche known as the superego, which consists of our ego ideal (what is good for us and others to be) and the conscience (what is bad for us and others to be). Everyone forms this structure, as a normal course of ego development, and it can be quite useful to us as children. However as time passes, these beliefs are no longer relevant as adults, and thus the beliefs expressed by the conscience can be limiting. Instead of supporting our survival, our beliefs can become like a prison cell within our own minds, with our conscience/inner critic acting as the most negatively disempowering cell mate.
Our inner critic often takes the truth inside anything resembling criticism of us, and wraps the truth of that criticism with judgement. It takes the truth and wraps it with messages like “and so you’re unworthy”, “and so you’re eternally flawed”, or “and this is another example of how you’re not worthy of existence”. For example your truth might be that you made a mistake on a project. Our thought to ourselves might start off as “You made a mistake”, but then our inner critic continues it with “…because you’re useless and will never do anything right”. If you think about it, how does this help anyone? Wouldn’t it be better if we simple were able to think “I made a mistake”, followed up with “…and I can avoid this in the future if I learn from the mistake”. Condemnation doesn’t help to make people better. All it does it break them down and make them feel unable to be better.
And since no one likes to experience the negative unending emotional pain, we’ve developed many coping mechanisms to avoid the torment and depression that come from wallowing in the self loathing of our inner critic. Often this involves forming a story about ourselves that makes us superior to others, rather than the fear that we are actually inferior. This is just a delusion, and is the story behind most bullying that you have ever experienced. It’s interesting how the bullies were actually just as insecure and afraid as you are. It’s a mask of superiority that is meant to hide our true sense of inferiority.
Other various defense mechanisms exist, and they vary from person to person, and the defense mechanisms make it very difficult for us to accept the harsh truth about ourselves. Because the harsh truth can remind us of criticism, we can believe that those that point out the harsh truths about us are criticizing us with harsh judgement, because it triggers those harsh judgements within our own minds. We have to realize that these judgements are more internal than external. The only way to know the truth is to start owning what is ours.
If you can learn to accept yourself, where you are at right now in your development, you will not need to run away from the truth any longer, because it won’t be accompanied by the pain associated with self judgement. I encourage you to learn to be open and honest, not just with other people, but with yourself, so that you can see clearly how your attitudes and judgement not only hurt you, but also keep you disconnected from other people.
Undoing self judgement is one part of the process, but the other side of the coin is the judgement of others. I realized one day that my judgement of other people is something that causes me to avoid connecting with others. Even when you consider yourself a nice person, and you keep your judgements to yourself, it can rears it’s ugly head by making us uncomfortable around the people we carry judgements about, grimacing, and not fully engaged with full acceptance of them. When we identify these judgements as our own, we can be ashamed of them. We can disconnect from this though once we realize that it’s not our own, but something we picked up from the culture around us ever since we were children.
We have to learn to accept ourselves as we are. Even though we believe that doing so will mean that we remain stuck where we are, unwanted and unloved, the truth is that once you let go of your current orientation and attitude, people will be more comfortable around you. It’s not easy, but finding the way to be yourself, authentically, people react to you differently. There is more ease, and more energy available to you, when you’re not trying to put on a front, or trying to filter yourself. You don’t have to be up in your head, calculating how to be. You’re not going to all of a sudden be loved by everyone, but the more you practice self acceptance, the more you’ll be able to learn about yourself and grow, and eventually people will notice this and you will attract good people.
Like I said, you’re not going to all of a sudden be loved by everyone. This isn’t possible. You’ll eventually attain the ability to be comfortable around people, and thus have more opportunities for friendship. Believe me, having more friends in general makes you less tormented and lonely, which ins turn effects your mood, and makes you more approachable by people. A community of friends that you can spend time with are a great support system in not feeling that loneliness.
You may feel alone and isolated, but the first thing you need to accept is that all human relationships are not meant to be a great match. Even if you’re without friends (male or female), and the past 10 friendships you’ve tried to establish have failed, that doesn’t mean that out of the hundreds or thousands of other people that you could meet aren’t a great match for you.
You may think that because the last 10, 20, 30, etc people you’ve tried to create friendship with didn’t work out, that you are flawed, different, and too eccentric or strange to have good friends. This isn’t true. Everyone is so unique in their cultural background and personality type in so many ways that finding the type of friendships, and certainly close romantic relationships, that are effortless to be in are not easy to find for anyone. You have to get out there and meet lots of people, and find people that are compatible with you.
Even if you have some sort of condition, such as autism, that makes it difficult for you to relate to others, you may find that others with the same condition have much understanding and in common with you.
I don’t care about sports at all, and my co-workers at my last job talked about sports often. One of the outings our team did was to go to a baseball game, which I enjoyed, but I wasn’t deeply into it. I felt like I couldn’t connect with these people and their interest in sports that bonded them. I used this as the fodder for my lament, how I just am so unique in my political orientation, my interest in music, and nerdy computer topics, that I just don’t have things to talk about that people share interests with.
The thing that broke me out of this was realizing that everyone can’t be totally awesome with you. It’s not your fault, or their fault, it just is. Everyone isn’t destined to have chemistry with everyone. Conversations are going to vary in their potential shelf life. With some people, you’ll be able to have a conversation for 5 minutes before it dies off and you have nothing else to talk about with each other. Other times it will go longer. It could go on for weeks, and then at some point end. The key is to not have expectations, and to not take it personally when the conversation dies, and your interest in talking to each other is over. This doesn’t mean anything about you. It’s just the way it is. You don’t have to beat yourself up about it. Just be like “Okay, well it’s been nice talking to you, I’m going to go talk to others now”. Keep on looking, and actually learn to avoid situations that are not likely to involve people that you’d share interests with. You’ll find that people are more compatible with you at events that involve topics you’re passionate about. If you’re interested in hiking, join a hiking group in your area on meetup.com.
I know from my own experience that every time you approached a possible friendship, and certainly a possible romantic interest (a date), and it ended in rejection that it put you in a depressive state for several days each time. But you have to trust that there are people out there that you can have an effortless conversation with, where you’re not hiding behind some act meant to impress the person, but simply being you… plain and simple. In fact, sometimes you’ll find someone who is a wonderful friend, and this person has a social network of friends who you also will get along with very well to varying degrees.
Making friends with people, and being yourself, you may even eventually be brought to events that you didn’t know about, and meet new people with these friends as your anchor. Eventually, you may even meet a very compatible love interest. Do not think that you’re wasting time by spending time with friends. It will support your heart and provide some acceptance without all the pressure you may feel when trying to pursuit a love interest, and may lead to the introduction of compatible people. Plus you’ll be more stable and ready, less desperate, and thus more approachable if you’re more content with your life full of good friends.
Something that tormented me greatly throughout my childhood was being in a position of lesser privilege than others in the area I grew up in. I was in a lower-middle class family, and went to a school that was dominated by a culture of people who were middle class and trying to maintain the image of upper class. In middle school other kids were accepted into social groups that seemed to require the ownership of name brand tshirts such as Stussy or Mossimo that my mother wasn’t willing to expend the funds for, opting to purchase shirts from Walmart, possibly Target, or a thrift store. The same was true regarding single gear Mongoose bicycles, which were not common in Walmart during the 90s like they are today, but instead only available in serious independent bike shops.
Later during high school it became instead Tommy Hilfiger clothes, or other expensive name brands, as the status symbol. There was a cross over between the “Preps” that would wear these types of clothes, and another group of cliques that consisted of the jocks. If you were involved in football for the school, you were the beloved source of funding, and thus received preferential treatment. When ever I saw this form of privileged treatment, it always communicated to me that I wasn’t as valuable because of my own interests in computers.
The jocks also represented a type of false masculinity that I couldn’t adapt to or emulate. It always left me feeling gross.
Understand that this social hierarchy is a part of our culture. The children, teenagers, or adults in your life that treat others based on this become fewer as you go on through life. It’s not as prevalent in college as it was in high school. The children pick it up from their parents, and apply it to the cliques they would have formed regardless of the social hierarchy (based on mutual interests), and there isn’t anything to stop it. It’s like lord of the flies, with the children making their own rules. But this ends after high school, and it’s lost as people are put into the real world where hopefully they are forced to achieve their jobs from actual talent and ability, not based on the position of their family. Sure, this is a topic in itself, the topic of privilege, which is a serious thing that still exists… but it’s not the rule of the world like it was in your middle and high school years.
The “game” is bullshit. There is no game. The only way to get respect from people is to not play games and be straight up. “Games” are the tool of people operating from insecurity. People that play games do so because they’re afraid that their actual needs and desires are something shameful, or at least that being explicit and clear is going to make things awkward and ruin all chances of getting their needs met.
You’re only getting in your own way by hiding behind your own nature as a man with sexual desires and not being straight up. Hiding behind any sort of shame, trying to be coy and smooth is the bullshit of insecure men trying to act like they know how to be successful with women.
As far as those pick up artist techniques, run far far away from those. Your intuition already tells you this, I’m just speaking to it loud and clear. What you really want, true love, cannot ever come from any sort of compulsion or manipulation. Going down any path of manipulation or compulsion to attain getting your needs met, will not actually meet your needs, but only lead to frustration when that pain in your heart still continues because you know that it’s not really the true validation that you seek.
As I mentioned above, you cannot be fully yourself with all your natural qualities shining for others to see when you’re up in your head, caught up in how you should act, how you should be, what you should say, etc. etc. Engineering the social situation to get your needs met will never work. People intuitively can detect this, and it turns them off.
Strange as it may be, once you’re comfortable with yourself, and you’re not trying to be funny or charming, your natural ability to become funny or charming can manifest. It’s a fucking paradox, but that’s how it is. It arises naturally, without manufacturing, without interference, without trying. But you have to work on yourself to allow it. Many other aspects of your being can manifest as well the more you work on yourself.
The topic of confidence will come up, and you’ll struggle with it very much in trying to be “masculine”. Even though you know that you’re authentic and not afraid to admit that Girls Just Want to Have Fun is an amazing song, the alpha male concept will still plague you and you’ll wonder if you’re somehow missing something, and this is why you aren’t getting the attention from women that you crave.
It seems like alpha males are confident in some sort of playful yet cocky way. This may fool some women temporarily, but it’s bullshit. So what is real confidence? It seems like a paradox that you’re stuck in, but I learned the key to understanding it from Models by Mark Manson. Mark Manson is kind of a douche, so I’m not totally advocating for him as a person, but his book is chocked full of truth, at least if you’re approaching it from the perspective I did and were able to integrate it fully.
In a nutshell the thing that rang true from this book was this - Vulnerability is the key to confidence. Think about it. Only if you are fully being yourself, and vulnerable to how people might evaluate that, will people respect you and see you as confident. When you’re afraid of being rejected, you’re more prone to doing all you can to avoid it. But if you’re totally willing to accept rejection, and not see it as a personal attack, but just the way it is, people can feel more comfortable around you. They respect you because you respect yourself. Deep fully vulnerability is the only way to be comfortable, confident, and unapologetic.