The pesky thing about our ego is that it deceives us. Most of the time we can’t see our own ego even though it’s transparent to even mildly-calibrated outside observers. When someone points it out we tend to bristle. This is all very normal. It happens to me despite my efforts to be mindful. Within the daygame world we call it Avoidance Weasel.
The smart move is to process the feedback from reality and then introspect. You needn’t roll over and let others walk over you but if the world keeps telling you an unwelcome message then at some point you need to bunker down and listen to it. I call it percolation. Like coffee dripping through a filter I won’t back down or accept criticism in the moment but it will register and eventually will percolate through and be absorbed.
I sincerely want to be right. That’s not the same thing as winning the argument, or holding the frame.
To continue the metaphor, some people’s coffee filter is impermeable. It’s plastic. It’s designed to stop that criticism filtering through. Why is that? The same reason for most weirdness: low self-esteem. Some people don’t want to face up to their deep-rooted feelings of low self-worth. So reality must be rebuffed. This is where the ego becomes very devious.
When you get into Game you develop a vocabulary to parse these ideas. Whether you’ve watched The Blueprint Decoded, Deep Inner Game or Tony Robbins they all give you heuristic devices, jargon and mindsets to achieve long-term conscious control over your mind. I call it reflexivity, the gradual expansion of the realm under your influence. You must master yourself before you master the world. So we can introspect and begin to confront our ego. Perhaps we’re a Northern working class lad who drinks to excess and finds himself in pointless Friday night punch-ups. Some introspection tells us we feel low self-esteem from growing up excluded from The Good Life down South. That’s why we talk with such bravado about football and denigrate Londoners as “soft southerners”, “spivs” and “yuppies”. It’s just externalising and projecting our own low self-esteem – sour grapes.
So then what happens? The ego retreats briefly and, like HeWhoCannotBeNamed, returns in disguised form. Now perhaps we openly talk about how London is a good place full of high achievers…… Then someone tells us we are acting overly superior, that we are now swanning around saying how we’ve “made it” and enjoy looking down on our former comrades up North as being “small-minded” and “parochial”.
All that happened is our ego switched sides.
What was originally a self-important construct to valourise the identity of being a Northerner has morphed into a self-important construct to valourise the identity of being The Lad Who Done Good. The ego still achieves its two main goals:
- Build up grandiosity and
- Look down on the plebs
I use this example because it’s what happened to me. It’s very common. I’d suggest there’s a circular pattern going on:
Hide low self-esteem with grandiosity armour -> Reality breaks through grandiosity armour -> Develop new grandiosity armour
At no point does the original low self-esteem get addressed. The ego has outwitted conscious attempts to control it by a man who has both the inclination and guidance to try to control it. Self deceit is a powerful adversary. A common Intermediate Player ego trap is:
Original armour: Chode believes in Disney romance, pedestalises women and disparages anyone who would try self-improvement with a “just be yourself” dismissal
Reality: Can’t get laid. It knaws away. Probably a traumatic event (being dumped) forces them to confront the problem and they learn game.
New armour: Relentless approaching, routines, the PUA wizard-hat Super Player persona.
I think we’re all aware of that one so let’s float out some others.
- A guy grows up as an unathletic meek pushover, ignored by girls and excluded from the Cool Kids parties. After experimenting with alternative subcultures he discovers the gym. He can religiously monitor his diet, enjoy a Calvinist moral rush from the pain of training, and get jacked. He feels big and important and draws lots of looks, many approving. Perhaps he jacks up further on steroids, HGH and TRT to approach hulking proportions. He’s become a little boy in a gorilla suit.
- A guy is tired of being the soft kid at school. Always watching his mouth and backing down in case he gets into a fight he can’t win. Never able to express himself. So he watches the UFC and figures MMA will solve his problems. Ten years later he’s a BJJ black belt with decent hands. He’s also neck-deep in a new cult with religious training and new community norms to follow. His identity is all about being tough, unlike those “idiot” traditional martial artists or “lazy” cubicle jockeys. Watch The Ultimate Fighter for a glimpse of these types.
At no point do I suggest getting a great physique or learning to fight are a bad idea. Quite the contrary, both are noble pursuits that build value. The problem is leaving your inner game unaddressed. Your ego has just sent you on a wild goose chase and you’re still the same chode with the same low self-esteem. It’s just now you have a new hook upon which to hang your grandiosity. A new intellectual construct to blind you from your own idiocy. And everyone can still see right through you.
How to tell if you’re mired in a new ego trap rather than making real inner game progress?
- You feel the need to constantly tell everyone how good you are
- You feel the need to constantly push everyone else beneath you
- You still bristle at criticism and go off on rants
- You still need to be the centre of attention and act out when the spotlight moves onto someone else
- You are a One True Way-er in whatever beliefs are important to you
- You need to set up a caricatured straw man of The Other to then gleefully tear down to prove to yourself that you aren’t one of those idiots
I don’t exclude myself from consideration from this list. While my inner game is 100x stronger than it was I still have my share of grandiosity moments. The important thing is to recognise Ego Traps and avoid what you can. You cannot address your inner game by papering over the cracks. No matter how elaborately you construct a reality-weave, at some point reality will break through and that will hurt.
“Ego traps occur when you learn to recognize and try to combat one form of ego-driven superiority, only to have the ego reassert itself using sneaky, subtle disguised ways to take over your mind from new angles” – Ricky Raw
In the manosphere there’s alot of external referencing masquerading as internal referencing. There’s plenty of people telling you how high value they are while showing you the opposite. Ironically, they are often precisely the people calling out others for lack of transparency. Don’t fall for it. Look inwards and concentrate on getting your own house in order. You’re into Game to improve your happiness and your results, not to engage in pissing contests with self-aggrandising little boys with big mouths.
Men who have reached self-acceptance are chill, relaxed and non-reactive. They don’t need to tell you how they are better than everyone else.