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14.07.2015

A mentor’s fallacy: Acquisition of beliefs

The concept of false beliefs is probably as old as religion. Jokes aside, it is a common wisdom of the self-improvement gurus that it is often your false beliefs that hinder you. Like “I am worthless” or other meaningless stuff like that.

Yet if this is such a common wisdom, how come not everybody is on their way to be a superstar? Let’s take a positive belief like “there is no reason to fear girls”. Indeed, a belief like that can make all the difference between a successful player and someone who doesn’t even go out.

The guru’s disbelief

Sure, so the man who has come to believe this will say: Wow, had I only known this a year ago. It would have spared me so much trouble. I will share this knowledge.

And he cries it out into the world: You idiots, there is no reason to fear girls!

The guru cries it and stands there in disbelief when nobody seems to get it. These stupid grunts.

As if somebody owed him to get better through his words.

But yeah, as a reader, you possibly think this is great and construct a fantasy world in which you imagine not to fear girls. It seems plausible.

But everything can seem plausible in fantasy.

It is easy to tell people to believe something. It is even easy to see someone tell it and repeat it to others because it made you feel all warm and fuzzy and enlightened.

It’s not that the belief is wrong. I argue that the belief is – more often than not – irrelevant.

What matters is not a bunch of words. If it were that easy, everybody would be a superstar.

What made guru a guru?

What matters is conviction. How do you reach the state where you are so deeply convinced of a belief that you wouldn’t even consider seriously questioning it anymore?

There are beliefs that I carry that speak from some profound truth I have learned during my lifetime, for example from the experience of being a very respected web developer at university.

I have seen it in myself and in other people who are very good at what they do: It has become so natural to them that they look down on those who do not understand their little wisdoms that they effortlessly spout. They think that those people must be consciously trying to misunderstand and anger them. They become angry themselves and often tyrannical, to the point where they become too arrogant to answer banal questions or even question themselves anymore.

But the problem here is not that they do not have the skills they claim to have. They do have them.

The problem is that they often are not conscious of how they arrived at the place they are at.

I accused Sir Andrew Wayne of this and he replied something about carving out your own path. Well, fair enough I guess. But what exactly are you to do now?

It is unfortunately really hard to tell.

Guru’s journey

Some days, I will have an interesting dream, then lie in my bed for an hour and think about something, only to come up with an interesting thought.

But the whole thought process is lost. Frankly, this renders the resulting thought a bit worthless. Because without the logical backup, how can I hold on to it? Often, I will, anyway, vaguely remembering that it did make sense to make sometime back. Trying to write it down often shows me how futile it really is. Other times, I remember the logic behind it, because it flows naturally from all my past experiences.

Most of the beliefs I hold and hold firmly are a result of either absolutely strict and rigorous logic or otherwise hard work and experience. Often a combination of both. Being logical is sometimes hard work in and of itself, as you wade through the stupid emotions that some thoughts trigger in you.

Generally, it comes down to experience and effort. You have to actually be doing stuff, creating references in your mind for future connection.

You can’t just believe something. Your mind has no proof that it is true.

There is this affirmation stuff going around, like I can do anything.

I think it is stupid, because I don’t like to muddle my mind with anything but realistic assessments of my life. By now, even if something seems like it should be right to believe, I’d rather not believe it than believe it without proof. After all, how will you persist with you belief in the face of argument and discussion?

Blind belief is the domain of those who live in a fantasy world.

Goodbye, guru

So while it would be nice to just adapt the beliefs of even the most highly esteemed person, I cannot. It is not logical. My sympathies for somebody are no proof of their words. Their own belief – even in light of their success – is not a proof of the same belief in me.

Even the skill of a master does not hold the promise of him being a good teacher. Who knows what kind of shortcuts he took on his path of development and has now forgotten? Shortcuts that may create conflicts in your mind, but he may – if he is an idiot – insist that you do not question it.

What if my guru believes he can be UFC champion, building on a lot of reference experiences? I am a different person. I can not simply adapt a belief; I have to reach it through my own effort.

And it often happens. Sometimes I will make an effort to achieve something and when I do, I remember all those sentences I have heard and they start to make sense. But that doesn’t mean that they could have possibly made any sense back when I did not have the experience.

After all, what can words describe and represent if not something we know? If we do not know something that is described by words, the words can not show it to us. We have to see the color red before the word red starts to have meaning.

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  • You are spot on with this. Also, I appreciate the shout out. It is hard to simply accept an idea, or belief for just the reasons you stated.

    You mentioned something I found interesting. “There is no reason to fear girls,” is a belief. But acting as if, even on a subconscious level, girls are to be feared is just another belief. Take that a step deeper. What is fear? Where does it stem from? How do women tie into that fear? I say that women are not to be feared, or casually dismissed, but accepted for what they are, possibilities. Each girl I meet yields possibilities. Bad, good, fun, funny, etc… It can go anyway, and I will not know until I open that box. Maybe that is just another belief, but I find it interesting that a lack of willingness to accept a belief arises from having a belief in the first place.

    I say abolish all beliefs. But that is a bit too dramatic.

    “But what exactly are you to do now? It is unfortunately really hard to tell.”

    Yep, it is hard to tell, that is why you just keep plowing ahead. I am all over the place man. It has been a while since I wrote. I got angry and gave up for a bit. Now I am back on the wagon going in another direction. I will say that the new direction I am heading was in part due to your mention of the edge I possess. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

    Hope all is well Tom,
    Andrew

    • I figure that a belief is simply a conviction that is held on a subconscious level. It may be a correct one, like 1+1=2, or a false one. Abolish beliefs? But then you would have to act on an absolutely conscious level all the time. You would have to make each decision anew each and every single time. It is a nice ideal. But I personally do not see myself having that energy. It is more like training: Do something consciously often enough and it becomes a subconscious action. But what was the reason for doing it in the first place? What if there was an expectancy of gaining something that cannot be gained this way? Then it would constitute a false belief, more concretely an ingrained sequence of action and consequence that is faulty. Replace it with the correct sequence and you have a good belief.

      Unfortunately, the human mind and body is limited in its capacity and I am starting to accept that. Being absolutely conscious all the time, it is definitely something to aspire to, but beliefs, if they are well informed and correct, can make things a lot easier. With the right set of beliefs, previously complex things suddenly become intuitive. Liking learning to ride a bike. Or even walking straight. Suddenly you do not have to remind yourself all the time.

      I love your new article. It is fucking real. Partly reminds me of my own experience with “helping”. If I find the time, I will respond with my own article.

      When I started my blog, I wanted to help. But after a short while, I started to see it more as a lexicon of my own mind. When I write “you” in my articles, I often mean myself. I also see it as an experiment now. What will people like? What will be useful and what will be useless? What kind of revolutionary thought will actually have helped me a year later?

      That may be why I have absolutely no trouble to keep writing despite the little visitors. I do not give a fuck anymore. Besides, one of the key sentences that remained in my head until today is something from Mike or Victor: Most people just quit after a few months. I will not be that guy. I think that is a useful belief.

      Keep killing,
      Tom

      • HA! I know I am getting into semantics here, but I KNOW 1+1=2. No need for beliefs there. Beliefs often require an element of faith. A blind trust in something that may or may not be true. But I think overall we are on the same page, just using different language.

        “Keep killing,” I like that. I am killing it, at least I think I am, some may say I believe I am. I am glad you liked it. I am going to start being more me.

        Until next time,
        Andrew