A double bind, as I see it, is a situation where one is confronted with two conflicting desires, effectively rendering the person helpless and making a solution of the problem impossible. It is the scenario of being between a rock and a hard place. Having to evade an approaching train by jumping down from a bridge.
One of the meanest double binds I have experienced and lived with most of my life is something I would say is typical for co-dependent men, especially when it comes to dating, or, to be more precise, living out the sexual drive. But it does not only apply to fucking girls. It also applies to situations of open confrontation and conflict.
The double bind goes something like this:
- You have to be liked, wanted, desired and respected.
- To be liked, wanted, desired or respected, you have to be confident.
- To be confident means to not be dependent on being liked, wanted, desired or respected.
Now, note that I am not talking about objective truths. I am talking about deep, ingrained beliefs and compulsions.
Number 1 is essentially the core of the problem. If the mentioned approval is not provided, the organism goes close to a state of panic. Without it, it seems impossible to function. The reason is an overwhelming feeling of shame, although it is not recognized as such – if it were, it is likely that the awareness would have slowly transmuted it. Instead of recognizing the shame as shame, the organism focuses on beliefs that correspond with the feeling, like:
- I am bad.
- I will never have a girl.
- Everybody hates me.
- Nobody respects me.
- My friends are just using me.
- I am not allowed to speak up.
- I am useless.
Stuff like that. These thoughts are mind-based interpretations of the feeling of shame. Which is to say, the organism believes that it is feeling terrible because these things are facts.
On deeper introspection, there are two problems with it:
- The organism projects abandonment and rejection pains from early childhood on current situations. It thinks that the intense pain of shame actually comes from the current situation, while the situation actually only triggers the dormant pain-body. That is to say, even if those things were facts, they would not be causing that amount of pain in and of themselves.
- Since the pain is a projection, so are the corresponding thoughts. In most of the cases, it is unlikely that these things are facts at all. The organism feels an overwhelming and strong conviction that it is being judged, while the judgment is actually originating in the mind, out of a memory.
Since the mind is not aware of this, it proposes a simple solution: Stop the pain by negating those facts.
In other words: Become good. Get a girl. Make people love and respect me. Achieve greatness and become successful. Find friends who are not using you. Speak up.
The mind tries to solve the problem by trying to avoid the situations that seem to be the source of the pain. To not feel horrible because of being bad – be good. To not feel horrible because you have no girl – get a girl. And for the brief moments that these things are achieved, the organism does feel relief. The beliefs are negated by temporarily unarguable evidence.
If you have a girl at this moment, it is the perfect anti-proof to the belief that you can not have a girl.
But since the solution is based on a faulty interpretation of the emotion, it is not permanent. Even when I was with a girl, I was already terrified of the possibility that she may leave me again. One thinkable on-top-of-the-patchwork patchwork-solution is to completely shut off the emotions of caring. The attempt to completely cut yourself off from intimacy, so that you will not feel the pain of not getting what you desire. The poor man’s version of the Buddhist idea that desire breeds suffering.
And granted, these patchwork solutions may work for a whole while. Why? Because the solution is obvious. You know what to do to make the pain go away. All you have to do, so to speak, is to follow the rules.
You think you feel horrible because you are not successful? So you go to Google and look up How to be Successful and bam, there you have the solution. Follow the step-by-step guides to achieve success. A more or less serious issue with this is that you are not actually doing anything because you like doing it. You do it to run from pain. Hence maybe the saying of some people that life is hard and fear is what keeps us alive.
For most of my life, I got my approval by being good at school, being nice to people, trying to be morally good, whatever that means, by helping others, by being very good at my job.
The dark side of being good is that it makes you harshly judge and attack those who are not good in your eyes. The ego desperately needs to regard itself as good, and the best way to do this is to be better than others. The personal shame is projected onto those who – in your eyes – deserve it. In practical terms, it gets projected onto those who dare to live the life you don’t, due to your pain. A good example of this are male SJWs who attack confident men. They know that deep down, they are the same as them, but can not express that due to shame. Hence the shameful component of the self is projected onto others – with the dramatic downside that the projected component is one that is very vital to personal health. Assertiveness, masculinity, male sexual aggression. No wonder that the mind then comes up with stuff like: Why does she prefer that jerk to me? Jerk is the self-judgment of one’s own sexuality, one’s own sexuality which is projected onto another man.
Hence, so-called good people are, ironically, the most arrogant and judgmental ones. Actually, there is not much of a contradiction, if you think of it. The stronger your sense of being good and better than others, the greater must be the part of your self that you feel ashamed of. The shadow. The narrower your bandwith of goodness, the greater the mass of people you can judge for some minor bullshit. The better you are, the more of a monster you become. Because to be better, you have to be putting yourself above others. That is the dark side of morality.
And perhaps sexuality and intimacy and deeper friendship are the aspects of a co-dependent life where the patchwork-solution fails.
When I think of this, a particular situation always comes to my mind. I was staying over at a girl’s place. She confronted me about whether I wanted something from her. I was evasive, but I more or less admitted it. And she told me she would not have me, because I was not self-confident. Because I was too dependent on her liking me and did not have my own head.
That confrontation haunted me for years. It brought up the – then unconscious – internal conflict I described initially. I thought the pain came from her not wanting me. In order for her to want me, I had to be confident. To be confident, I would have to not care about her wanting me. It was an impossible situation. I felt trapped inside my own body, torn apart by conflicting emotions.
What I instinctively did was to try to appear confident. To imitate confident men. But I could not, because to do that, I would have to behave in a way that I held intense self-judgment and shame about. Here and then, I managed to appear confident, when I had had a particularly strong experience of approval beforehand. When I had just achieved something that was great in my mind and felt worthy, I had some confidence for a short while. But it faded oh too quickly.
But actually fake confidence, I could not. A big reason for this is that I would know it is fake and held a deep conviction that a girl would automatically know it, too. Which may not be totally true for insecure girls, but it was a strong belief of mine. Another belief of mine was that I had to be authentic at all cost. Or maybe it was just a natural strong desire for that.
Anyhow, this has been a major soul-crushing conflict for most of my life. To feel a strong compulsion to appear confident in order to get approval, while confidence is something I could only gain through approval itself. And the knowledge that confidence means not to care. Which also, for quite a while, put me on a track of trying to convince myself that I do not care. I kept telling myself, repeating I do not care in my head over and over, but it did not work. Essentially, that was the attempt to say that I do not care about the pain – while avoiding the pain was the main motivator of even doing it. As I said, an inconsolable double bind.
You end up seeking approval while hating yourself for seeking approval. You hate yourself for seeking approval because you know that seeking it is the one thing that prevents you from getting it. You hate yourself for seeking approval because it gets in the way of seeking approval. See the madness yet?
I think it is still too early for me to propose a solution – as I don’t want to be just advocating stuff I have heard – but the thing that works best for me so far is to meditate on the pain, go into it, slowly and bit by bit accept and learn to love it. Transmute the shame. Until there is no more internal pain to run from. With that comes, on its own, the realization that it was not really the situations that created the pain. Rather, any form of mild shame triggered the intense shame I carried inside myself.
What I can say with confidence, though, is that the patchwork-solutions do not work in the long run.
I feel this is relevant because I read a lot of articles that talk about rules on how to appear confident. While true confidence knows no rules. In fact, what got me the idea to this article was an article on Kyle’s blog This Is Trouble. It was about a slightly similar situation where one has to decide whether to admit that you are pissed at a girl for not having sex with you or rather to shrug it off to appear confident. While I bet that Kyle’s problems, if any, are nowhere close to mine, the principle is kinda the same. You kinda lie to appear confident, while true confidence would be to not care and just straight-out tell her that you are pissed, even if she thinks you are a wuss for it. Of course, I acknowledge that lying could also be seen as a sign of confidence, if it is less compulsive and more Machiavellian or pragmatical in nature. That is, if it is not there to cover up pain, but to get what you want. On the other hand, why would you, as a perfectly confident man, respect an opportunity for sex more than your personal emotions? Maybe there is a good answer to it, but I don’t see it.
Kyle’s article is a minor example of this, though, and quite harmless in my opinion. If you want a good example of that strong shame, just read The Game by Neil Strauss. How Mystery got suicidal. Yes, it feels that bad. And yes, it being that bad is why we fight so much to push it away. And if you look at all PUA-related blogs in general, you can clearly make out a pattern. It is about how to appear confident in order to sack a girl. If sex is only a band-aid to deep shame, it is likely the best one there is. And I think this is why men flock to PU. It gives them more or less easy to follow rules to get that band-aid. Because the band-aid seems more promosing than true confidence. Because true confidence seems impossible. Because that would mean to tolerate that pain.
As long as band-aids are changed in a compulsatory manner, a distorted version of the Now in the form of a belief like I am bad is seen as the source of the pain, not a past event that caused it. Of course, that does not lessen it. But it explains why so many people seem to give a fuck about not being beta and being alpha instead. Some part of their mind has decided that they feel bad because they are beta. Beta is just a word, of course, and the belief that being beta is the source of intense internal pain is ridiculous from a standpoint of higher awareness. Beta and Alpha simply replace bad and good. Be good to feel approval. Stay bad and feel horrible. Welcome to the black-and-white madness of the ego.
And I mean no judgment, because I can fully understand the appeal of PUA. Only that it never worked for me; I was/am too fucked up for it. Hence why I do not learn game. For me, the band-aid is really not an option.