November 19, 2013

On Why You Need To De-Sexify Reality

by Rob Hanly

“Life the way you people want to live it is very difficult, Mr. Wade. You want ‘less difficult’? Move to my country, study Hinduism. Meditate. Cultivate serenity. Much ‘less difficult’.

You want to buy atomic bombs… I’m afraid that is a more difficult way of life.”

— ‘Short Scientist’, The Losers

When I was younger, I wanted to be a Special Forces soldier.

Not because of the reality of the situation, but because of how it had been sexified. Learn hand to hand combat, shoot guns with unprecedented accuracy, save the world.

Be the hero. Save the day. Get the girl.

Become Jason Statham playing Jason Statham.

But the reality of the Special Forces soldier is not sexy. Far and beyond the duties they have, they have double the incidents of PTSD when compared to their non-Special Forces counterparts, the standard army units.

This is not a cost I’d like to bare, and not a story I want to take part in.

You Promised Me Sugar, But Gave Me Flour

It’s easy to fall into the trap of drama.

For many people, it makes the world go around. First, they happily trade five days of their week doing something they hate (in some cases, to impress people they don’t like) for two days of limited freedom. And then they complain about it on Facebook.

Maybe that’s not you, but it’s easy to get sucked into the drama. It’s even a little bit addictive.

Over conversations with a few close friends, we’ve come up with a name for it.

Sexifying Reality.

The perfect kind of behaviour for when you dislike your daily life enough to bitch about it, but not enough to change it. So you sexify it, hoping to make it more engaging and interesting.

But like watching four seasons of Keeping Up With The Kardashians back to back, it drains you. Not only does it normalise drama (and make it an expectation for daily living to be important), but it drains the energy from your soul that could be used to change it up.

Like the effect of your brain on porn, your brain on drama is damaging to your everyday life. And the only way it can be reversed is by sexifying reality.

When Reality Just Isn’t Sexy Enough, You Need Disenchantment

Life is unbelievably unsexy. And simple.

Ultimately, we’re all just sophisticated animals who have progressed passed past ‘eat, sleep, fuck and self defence‘ to the point where we attribute meaning to everything external… but fail to see the internal meaning in anything.

My favourite example of this is the Ideal Partner Paradox.

First, you start off by listing everything you want in your Ideal Partner:

  • Attractive
  • Mentally put together
  • Financially stable
  • Fit and healthy
  • Etc

With list in hand, you kick your feet up on the coffee table as you recover from a hangover and wait for them to come to you.

When nothing happens, it’s time to dive into the deeper reasoning that the Ideal Partner hasn’t appeared — cultural impositions, the gender roles of society, work schedules, commitments and more.

The argument carries long enough for you to be disenchanted with the idea that life will play out a certain way, and repeat the cycle.

The catch here, however, is that you’ve used a complex answer when a simple one would’ve done:

You’re not the kind of person that your Ideal Partner wants to be with, and you don’t do the things that your Ideal Partner would seek in an Ideal Partner.

Of course, this applies to every other facet of your life, too.

If you’re struggling to lose weight, but ignoring your diet while you train, it isn’t that your gym performance isn’t up to scratch (or that your job is stressing you out).

If you’re looking to build your own business but can’t close a contract, it might not be that everyone else doesn’t see the value you’re offering. You might just have something nobody is willing to pay for.

And if your day to day life sucks, because of your job or your social circle, calling everyone an asshole before drowning your sorrows for Friday Night Drinkies might not be the best way to address the problem.

The Long Hard Look At Night: If It Continues, It’s Your Fault

At the end of each week, I have members of Your First Four Figure Client review their week that was.

What happened? Where did they succeed? Where did they fail? What will they keep doing? What should they stop doing?

The goal of this exercise is to make them take stock of their reality, and place themselves at the centre of their own universe.

Why? Because then they can take responsibility.

They can take responsibility for the good things they achieve. For the mistakes they make. And they’ll always know the best place to lay the blame.

Because the best place to lay the blame is on yourself.

If something goes wrong, how could you have pre-empted it, avoided it or fixed it earlier?

If you aren’t closing contracts, how could you improve your value proposition (or product) and deliver something a customer wants?

If the girls don’t talk to you, is it because they’re stuck-up… or because you need to improve your confidence, posture and personality?

You see, once you realise that a problem exists — no matter what part of your life it falls in — there’s two paths you can take.

The first path is easy. You pass the buck, blame whatever happens on the easiest target, and continue to bitch.

The second path is a little more challenging. At the end of the day, you look at all the things you didn’t like during the day and figure out how you caused them. And then, you stop doing the things that cause them.

The hardest part of breaking this down will be overriding the stories you tell yourself.

The Death Of The Self-Narrative

Humans are story tellers. Not only is this the current hot-trend amongst marketers, but it’s a common theme from history.

Before we had the written word, we had oral traditions. We narrated the human experience to each other, and ourselves, through enchanting stories and detailed characters.

And while we’ve progressed to the Age of Wikipedia, we haven’t left our love of stories behind.

Especially the kind that we use to manipulate our perception of reality.

Enter the Narrative Fallacy:

The narrative fallacy addresses our limited ability to look at sequences of facts without weaving an explanation into them, or, equivalently, forcing a logical link, an arrow of relationship upon them. Explanations bind facts together. They make them all the more easily remembered; they help them make more sense. Where this propensity can go wrong is when it increases our impression of understanding.

—Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan

And again, in layman’s terms?

We like to make up stories that put facts ‘in a row’.

Because sometimes, it’s easier to believe an impossible story built on a few small facts, than a realistic story built on one overwhelming piece of evidence.

This is where the sexification of reality takes place.

When you sexify your reality, you change it — and at times, you change it to a point well beyond perception. You create the narrative of your existence.

That narrative, for better or for worse, will guide your interaction with the world at large. Your perception of how the world treats you, and how the story of getting what you want should go, will determine your Sunday morning.

There in lies the challenge.

Armed with the knowledge that you narrate your own life, creating your own perception of it, what will you do next?

Will you tell yourself the same old story, and sexify your reality to make it something you can cope with?

Or will you look at reality for what it is, warts and all, and make your reality something you want to experience?

A Final ‘Don’t Forget’ — You’re Little More Than A Sophisticated Animal

Ignoring your ego for a moment, you’re unlikely to matter in 1,000 years.

And you’re going to make mistakes.

You’re going to disappoint people.

You’re going to fail.

You’re going to lose.

You’re going to suffer.

This is just a part of the emotional roller coaster that is life.

Enjoy the drama that comes with life, but don’t feed off it.

And if you don’t like something, figure out why it’s your fault, what you can do about it, and get to work.

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  • David Pow Tabain

    I’m going to comment straight of the cuff before reading as I know this is going to be killer content! Love your work Rob! Now to the reading part!

  • David Pow Tabain

    And yet again, your content is like a breath of fresh air. Looking forward to Thursday skype session mate!

  • Nicholas Haslem

    Hey Rob, first article of yours and what an introduction it was! I’m a big believer in things like meditation, QiGong and Tai Chi – along with Buddhism (not as a religion) as ways to see things for how they really are, and making life simple.

    They way you wrote this post really spoke to me, and cut through all the bs stories we tell ourselves.

    I appreciate this post, keep up the good work.

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