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Stress Is Fucking Up Your Physique (And Everything Else) Bruh II

by | Apr 6, 2017

Ihate self help gurus; not because I think that they’re all full of shit, but because they always manage to skip out when the time comes to address the actionable aspects of developing a ‘mindset of abundance’, or whatever the fuck else they’re trying to sell you on…

‘Let go of the baggage’ they say

‘Unleash the slumbering giant within’ they say

‘Visualize your triumph’ they say

‘Believe in yourself’ they say

‘Get out of your own head’ they say

What the fuck does all this mean anyway? Is this seriously the best these assholes can come up with?

Tony Robbins et. al. will sit you down, deliver this intense, super inspiring, super vague  speech about how we were all created to rule over god’s green earth, and will not stop blowing smoke up your ass until you’re convinced that you’ve reached your final form. Which of course implies that you are now ready to command and conquer RIGHT after you drop an absurd amount of money to realign your Chakras… #livingthedream

My blood is boiling with unholy, unforgiving, wrathful hatred scouring the ‘Tube for some ‘inspirational’ videos to link into this article just so I can prove my point, because I promise you this: no amount of visualization and positive self talk is ever going to help you get jacked, achieve financially freedom, develop a healthy sense of self and live a full, satisfying life.

In our last post we discussed in some detail the ways in which chronic stress slowly and painfully bleeds us white by forcing us into a war of attrition against ourselvesIn this follow up post I want to outline the exact steps that must be planned and executed in order to:

  • ‘Calm down’, ‘relax’ and ‘destress’ when bad shit happens even though we have no idea how
  • Live with the confidence that apparently we’re just supposed to magically pull out of our asses because some dude with an expensive suit and a microphone told us that we could be anything we wanted to be
  • Develop the social skills necessary to not be publicly punked by our bosses, Facebook rivals and the assholes we call friends

Basically, this series is dedicated to helping you transition from average to savage. Are you ready to dive head first into the life that is waiting for you at the end of the rainbow?

The first thing that you need to get into that thick skull of yours is that your psychological stress is having a negative effect on your brain. Over the years, your brain has reprogrammed you to automatically assume a specific set of behaviors every time you’re faced with an emotional trigger; this has likely shifted your homeostatic set point, gradually locking your behavior patterns firmly into place, and assimilating your social handicaps into your beliefs and your personality. In severe instances full blown depression could be developed, and medical treatment may be required.

Some people respond to stress by:

  • Crying and making a scene
  • Going into hiding to cry
  • Eating themselves to sleep
  • Burying themselves in their work to forget about everything and everyone else
  • Heeding the call of their substance of choice
  • Retreating into their cavern of sullen silence
  • Self righteously waiting for an apology that will never come
  • Getting all up in your face in the hope of intimidating you into social submission
  • Passively aggressively tossing monkey shit your way when you’re not looking
  • Dealing with their emotions in a constructive, intelligent way

Have you ever noticed how quickly kids bounce back from a shitty mood? It’s quite amazing really; they have massive outbursts of pure cray and then go right back to being all funny and cute and non-homicidal. Adults, not so much: life has taught us to marinate in the gangrenous juices of disappointment, resentment and insecurity when things don’t go our way. We find a sort of macabre, masochistic emotional release in our despair, and find comfort and refuge in our excuses and rationalizations when we fail to achieve our plans. And on top of all of that, chronic stress is sabotaging your gains.

The reverse is also true however: the better we are at coping with stress, the less likely we are to suffer from stress related physio-psychological issues, and the more enjoyment we will be able to suckle from the generous bosom of Mother Gaia.

And that’s the big payoff: when we are happy, satisfied and fulfilled, we function better physically, emotionally, sexually, cognitively and professionally.

Stay with me here. Just because this may seem obvious doesn’t make it any less true or profound. We’ve been conditioned to view happiness through the economic lenses of productivity vs reward:

  • I get to enjoy a weekend away because I have worked super hard, paid all my bills, taken my kids to their piano recital and prepped all my meals for next week.
  • I get to cheat on my diet because I have been super strict for the last month.
  • I deserve a massage because I’ve finally gotten that promotion that was promised me last year.

I believe in outworking, outsmarting and outachieving the next guy. But my happiness and my inner peace do not depend on how well I score in relation to anyone else. My satisfaction is tied to my personal achievements, because only I know how hard I have worked to overcome my obesity and my depression. Only I know what it has taken to build my body and my mind. And only I know how much shit I’ve had to produce to take my writing to a new level of mastery. But it wasn’t always this way.

There was a time when my emotional reactions were so firmly bound to my behavior patterns, and vice versa, that I would start sweating and hyperventilating at there mere sight of a girl that I liked. And can you guess how my anxious ass brain would shit all over my best intentions in all of the following situations?

  • A sales pitch
  • A job interview
  • A business meeting
  • A concert
  • A birthday celebration in a club
  • A pool party

Yea, let’s just say that getting over my fear of public failure was a challenge. But I made it. You see, destressing is not a matter of going away for the weekend, getting a massage or spending time in deep meditation. Managing stress presupposes the resolution of our deep rooted emotional issues, and that sure as hell isn’t going to happen by casually dropping in on the odd areal yoga class.

Learning to manage stress requires a complete lifestyle overhaul

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that those pesky automatic/instinctive reactions that you have hardwired into your behavior matrix have to be de-automated. You have to stop reacting and start deliberately choosing your course of action by disassociating your emotions from the impulses that always throw you off your game. Stop cock blocking yourself.

I’ll illustrate with an example: I was always a happy, big hearted and friendly child. I knew instinctively that this was just how I was programmed, and embraced my role as the archetypal ‘good natured guy’. I was naturally shy in social situations but excelled at building trust on an individual basis, and never really had any issues making friends.

My idealistic naiveté, a character trait that I inherited from my dad, in time, would collapse from under me. Life would make damn sure of that. And as the disappointments, betrayals, emotional traumas and failures began stacking up and weighing down on my heart, my behavior started to change for the worse:

  • I began avoiding confrontation and competition
  • I stopped making eye contact with the people around
  • I developed a strong aversion toward crowds
  • I became increasingly disinterested in learning
  • I began embracing my festering resentment

I had essentially installed cowardice into my operating system and assumed fear, passive aggression and resentment as my primary emotions. My hormones had gotten so far out of whack by the time I graduated from high school that I eventually buckled under the weight of depression and flunked out of college. Yes. I was expelled from university. Fast-forward a decade or so later and there I was, a grown fucking man with a god complex that still struggled to make cold calls in his shitty sales and marketing job. It had to end.

I was sick and tired of being uncomfortable, so I made uncomfortable my bitch. I got all up in discomfort’s face and buried it.

I started tapping into the endless rage that I felt saturating my every cell and vowed that I would turn my life around somehow. In order to sever the ligatures connecting my emotional chain reactions I decided, little by little, to put myself out there and face my fears. And that I did. I have:

  • Gotten jacked af
  • Briefly worked on Vietnamese national TV
  • Played big concerts with my band
  • Given talks in front of hundreds of people
  • Finished grad school
  • Pitched a business idea to a team of consultants at Ernst & Young
  • Started a business and improved my sales game
  • Published my writing
  • Hosted my friend’s wedding

I put myself out there and got shit done. It wasn’t easy leading a revolt against my natural tendencies. It wasn’t easy to address my passive-aggressive anger management issues. It wasn’t easy to develop my public speaking skills. It wasn’t easy to break the chains of emotional eating. It wasn’t easy to recover from body image issues. But I did it. And so can you.

But before we talk about the practical aspects of developing a chronic stress management strategy, it’s incredibly important for us to look at the root cause of the problem.

Problem: We are the loneliest we have ever been 

True intimacy has been discarded for the sake of followers, likes and maxed out friend lists. From an evolutionary standpoint, despite the fact that we are constantly interacting with each other, we are trudging deeper and deeper into the abandoned coal mine of social isolation. Social anxiety has taken the wheel from our hands and we are slowly sinking into the quicksands of social retardation: we no longer know how to connect with each other and it’s making us fucking miserable.

Social neuroscience is the study of the brain’s activity in the context of human interactions; a social brain is a brain that functions within the normal boundaries of healthy social behavior, one that is capable of forming healthy relationships with well adjusted, high caliber individuals.

Solution 1: Figure out what kind of asshole you are and take responsibility for your actions

Ok so I can’t take Joe Schmo and turn him into Joe Rogan overnight, but you can bet your ass that I can take Mr. Schmo and teach him how to develop the social skills needed to override his natural (and self imposed) anti-social tendencies. The first step is to figure out what stresses you out and why it makes you act like an asshole. 

  • Are you critical, stubborn, judgmental, defensive, overly sensitive and combative?
  • Or do you enjoy the rush that comes with the public humiliation of your social subordinates?
  • Are you passive-aggressive, sheepish and tractable?
  • Or are you neurotic, hyperactive and prone to attacks of panic?
  • Do you try to fill the vacuum of silence with random bursts of incoherent, unintelligible nonsense?
  • Are you two-faced, calculating and Machiavellian?
  • Are you prone to outbursts of anger and physical violence?
  • Perhaps you’re a terrible listener and constantly interrupt others just to get your opinion in?
  • Are you the overbearing, hyper competitive control freak that always has to win at everything?
  • Or are you the anti-social hermit that is obsessed with conspiracy theories and aliens?

We have to own up to the fact that we are all assholes to one degree or another, and it’s critical for us to identify and fix the behaviors that hinder our social ascent. This is by far one of the most difficult steps to take because it requires us to take a long, hard look at the person we are in relation to the person we think we are and the person we want to be. And it’s not something that I can help you out with. Getting to know yourself, recognizing your mistakes, and then correcting them is a process that will likely take months and years: but it’s doable.

Note: if you have no clue what your social handicaps are, try asking your friends, siblings, co-workers, parents and pretty much anyone else that you know. Brace yourself for the butthurt.

Solution 2: Take note of the situations that trigger your inner asshole 

I know exactly what my social deficits are: years of failure have imbued into my heart a deep, dark form of hatred that I’m still working on ridding myself of. My resting facial expression is stern and severe. I am irritable and brash. And most of the time people piss me off with their stupid bullshit. I come across to most as either an arrogant prick or a weird social recluse that lives in a cabin full of guns, which works because it helps me keep (most) people at an arm’s length as I just don’t have the time or the patience to deal with flaky-ass, two-faced, posers in whose lives I can’t pour a little of myself into, and conversely, cannot learn anything of value from.

Notice that this is intentional and not because I lack the social skills required to meet, converse and connect with people on a real, intimate level. I just would rather spend my time doing things that actually interest me with people that I actually like. Everyone else could eat shit and die as far as I’m concerned. I know how my natural tendencies shape and mold my social behaviors, and use my bluntness as a tool to weed out those with whom I am incompatible, making it easier, in turn, to truly connect with like minded individuals. So what triggers you and why?

  • Do you get defensive and pedantic when someone disagrees with your values?
  • Do you resent others for their success, appearance or social status?
  • Do you feel threatened and judged in crowded places?
  • Do you panic when you meet that special someone you know could both fill and break your heart?
  • Do you burn with jealousy when less attention is being paid to you?
  • Do you lash out in aggression when you feel belittled or disrespected?
  • Do you feel entitled and superior?

Solution 3: Get out of your comfort zone & build a support group 

It will take a while for you to get better at socializing, and there will be many moments of hesitation, self-doubt and emotional discomfort. Hang in there, it’s normal: your mind has gotten accustomed to flooding your system with crazy stress hormones every time you find yourself in an unfamiliar situation, and finding your way back to social normalcy will take practice. The idea is not to rid yourself of stress: it’s to learn how to better cope with it.

  • Identify, seek and reach out to the types of people you want to associate yourself with
    • Study their social behaviors
    • Observe what they’re into and how they frame and defend their arguments
  •  Force yourself to do the things that you always avoid/postpone
    • Challenge and debate the opinionated loudmouth
    • Introduce yourself to random strangers wherever you are
    • Start lifting weights and eating well
    • Invest in your health
    • Improve your sleep hygiene
    • Dress to impress
    • Face the risk of rejection and approach the cute girl/dude at the bar
    • Take long walks (in a rural setting if possible)

Solution 4: Develop a sense of humor & engage in educational activities 

This one is pretty self explanatory but it’s worth revisiting seeing as laughter has been medically proven to relieve stress and soothe emotional tension. Besides, misery breeds more misery: If we exercised more discipline in filling our time tables with constructive, fun and exciting activities instead of weekend benders and other brain-damage-inducing shenanigans, we wouldn’t be nearly as emotionally stunted as we are.

  • Go to comedy clubs and watch standup shows until your ribs hurt
  • Drive to the beach and skinny dip at midnight. Preferably with a romantic interest
  • Make it a point to learn something new every single week
  • Make sure to apply and share the lessons you have learned

Solution 5: Find an outlet that you enjoy and share it openly with those around you

The upside of practicing the shit that you hate doing, is that it creates opportunities for you to share with your new friends and potential love interests the things that you are awesome at.

  • Host a dinner party at your place and cook up a storm
  • Take your friends to an open mic night and perform for them
  • Ask someone out to a salsa night and rock their world
  • Offer to DJ at the company’s Xmas bash
  • Volunteer to mix cocktails at your friend’s party
  • Help your colleague with his website if his tech game sucks
  • Organize a jam session with some of the people in your social circles

It doesn’t really matter what skills you have, anything and everything can be interesting if it’s presented with gusto, passion and confidence. Get out there and have some fun: the higher you are in the social hierarchy, the lower you are likely score on the stress scale, or put differently, the better you are at coping with psycho-social stress, the higher you are likely to be in the pecking order of your life; and it begins by doing the exact opposite of what you have become accustomed to doing.

Stay tuned for the final installment of the series where we drop a kick ass training program to get your started on your road to Spartanhood.

About the author

Daniele Moretti

Daniele Moretti

Head Coach, Managing Director

Wordsmith. Lover of Medieval literature. Heavy metal guitarist. History nerd. Dan mainly works with general population clients and normal folks that want to achieve their personal version of the extraordinary. He enjoys learning about what makes people tick, and to that purpose has decided to pursue a PhD in Business, focusing his research on the psychological imperatives that drive customer behavior – Basically, whether you’re looking to lose a little holiday weight or up your nude game to 12/10, he’s got what it takes to lead to the Promised Land.

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