Intentional Socializing

This is part of my Start Here series of posts aimed at teaching beginners the basics of the meditative journey.

I am by no means a master at socializing. In fact, I am somewhat introverted and reclusive, preferring my own company most of the time and using social contact mainly to “tick a box” on the human needs list. However, I have come a long way from where I started — a place wherein, due to disastrous parenting, I was completely clueless about the ins and outs of the human social world and as a result managed to broadly alienate or outright piss off just about everyone I came into contact with, to varying degrees.

The turnaround for this state of affairs came one day as a dawning realization: Interactions between humans are so profoundly based in the intent of each individual involved that they are better off modelled as psychic events — a mind-to-mind exchange — and managed as such. At that point I found that just changing my intent towards each person had dramatic effects on the interaction. I then went through a phase of trial and error, swapping in and out intentions based on real-world results, and this phase continues to this day — hence, “intentional socializing”. This process also helped reveal my existing (pre-installed) intentions which mainly came from my parents. One benefit of starting from level zero in this way is that I now have a good idea of the problem and the solution and can help anyone lacking in this department get up to speed potentially quicker than if they were just muddling through it themselves.

Despite my invocation of the word “psychic”, this article will not invoke “woo” and is designed to cater to people of literally any worldview — from scientific materialist, to religious fanatic, to model agnostic chaos magician.

The inspiration behind this article comes largely from my time spent on “pickup artist” forums, and my own forum here at PPM. A very concise history is that I started lurking on pickup forums (such as the old FastSeduction) back in around 2002, and came across some truly horrible advice for men trying to pick up women, which basically consisted of giving them a technique then having them approach hundreds of women till one “took”. The issue is twofold: first that the techniques themselves were largely ineffective, second that doing any of this from a basis other than social competence is guaranteed to make you look like a total weirdo and will batter your self-esteem via the negative results that ensue.

Later on, dealing with my mostly male readership on a more personal level on my own forum, I came to realize that many guys’ problems boiled down to an inability to get what they wanted from others, and from not understanding the intentions of themselves and others going in. Social anxiety itself can be very broadly recognized as an inability to navigate the social world, and this again comes from a lack of understanding of the interplay between intentions going on in any social interaction. An anxiety arises when you either don’t know what’s going to happen, or you assume everyone intends to get you, or you don’t think you can cope, or you don’t believe you can get what you want from others. The whole thing is just a frustrating, agonizing mess. There is a tradition of guys seeking esoteric techniques, drugs, jhana, enlightenment — you name it — to solve this problem, which is the equivalent of calling in a nuclear strike when a handgun would do. More accurately, you need a hammer and to be able to see where the nails are.

Good socializing is a matter of good modelling and methodology– how you think about it, and how you carry it out based on that model. There are infinite models, but the one I use is based on the intentions of the individuals — mainly yourself, since yours are the only intentions you can control directly (and they are far more programmable than you might think).

Intention as a Basis for Social Interaction

In any social situation you are trying to get something out of the other person. In the majority of cases this goal is an emotional exchange — you are scratching each other’s backs. This is probably the number-one thing to realize for overly linear thinkers who tend to assume interactions are based on informational exchange. They’re not. You usually don’t ask someone “how are you?” to get the informational facts about their emotional state, but rather to set the emotional basis of the interaction as “interested” and “caring”. That is the intention. This is real primate grooming stuff. But how you ask that question will completely shape the nature of what follows. If your intent is to just tick the box of bare minimum social convention — saying “how are you?” to “get it out of the way” — then you will come across as dry and disinterested. The words are polite, but that’s irrelevant because the frame you are setting is that you really don’t care either way, and this is how you will be perceived.

Such nuance has been modelled in the past in terms of body language, vocal inflexion, and so forth, and there are many materials out there instructing you on how to tweak those things (micromanagement-style) to get the result you want, in what inevitably comes across as manipulative and disingenuous to whomever is subjected to such practices. Make no mistake: for the vast majority of you, taking such advice will make you look like a maladjusted weirdo or creep who is trying to pull a fast one. Humans are massively attuned to the intentions of others no matter how well veiled the initiator believes them to be. Sadly, the pickup forums were filled with such techniques. Trying to disguise underlying intentions by masking their outward manifestations is entirely the backwards way to go about things. Instead, you should set the intention correctly from the outset. If you want to come across as caring and compassionate, then start off by actually deciding to care. In your mind, set the intention, I intend to care about this person. Then ask, “How are you?” All the body language, all the vocal inflexion, and all the basis of the interaction, is downstream from the intention. Those outward signs of caring manifest from the intention to care.

That, in the shortest way possible, is all there is to this, and is the crux of this post:

set intention → act

To start getting positive outcomes, you need to be very straight with yourself about what your intentions are, and begin getting into the habit of purposefully setting intentions mentally before interactions.

What’s the Problem?

For those who currently aren’t very good at this, it boils down to one problem — unhelpful intentions — which we can further split down into sub-problems:

  • Lack of intention. If you don’t set specific intentions before interactions then you are going to default to some autopilot intention. There is never “no intention” present. There’s always something driving why you are there and what you are doing (even if it is just something like “killing time”, which will tend to make you appear very disengaged).
  • Unconscious unhelpful intentions. These almost entirely come from your parents. This is where you are trying to get something from other people (praise, attention, even things like being treated as an outsider) which are virtual carbon copies of your interactions with your parents, or how you observed them interacting with others (there will be more on this in a moment). This category also covers intentions such as “just killing time” or “going through the motions” where nothing specific has been set in mind but you just don’t feel like staying at home that day.
  • Conscious unhelpful intentions. These are rare since (most) humans want to be liked, and want to experience social cohesion. However, I have included it for completeness. This category would cover things like setting out to make someone feel small, or setting out to fuck with people. Again, these are usually on the back of some unconscious intentions established via parents/upbringing (I doubt there are many people who would choose conscious malevolence if they had an alternative available).

The Parents

Most of your intentions, when first starting out, come directly from your parents. It means that you are trying to get from people the kinds of interactions you had with your parents or observed your parents participating in. I will assert at this point that, for the vast majority of people, almost all of these intentions are completely unconscious. If your mother is an attention seeker (due to not receiving enough attention from her mother), you will be an attention-seeker (due to not receiving enough attention from your mother who was too busy trying to seek attention from others to give any to you). It is the blind photocopier of history at work. It means that in your interactions with people you will have the unconscious intention to get a load of attention. It’s all about you. We all know someone like that. Hard work, aren’t they? That’s just one example out of almost infinite. Typically people will align along common themes of strategy, though, and psychology for centuries has attempted to categorize people via groups of dominant themes.

The bottom line in all of this is as follows. If you had really socially-adjusted parents who treated others with respect and compassion, who wanted to create win-win situations — in other words, who had helpful intentions — then you will have sucked up all those strategies like a sponge and you will be set for life (and you most likely won’t be reading this article). But, if you had maladjusted parents, always focused on the “little me”, always trying to get some inner emotional need met through desperate means, and who therefore created ongoing win-lose situations (which are really lose-lose situations), then you now have practically a complete explanation for your own social strategies and dysfunction over the years. It really is that simple.

Luckily, you do NOT need to find out all those little idiosyncrasies and bad strategies you have picked up in order to change them. You do not need to debug the old software. You simply format the hard drive and install something new.

This is rather at odds with previous strategies from the fields of psychology which would have you dig into your past and analyse every behaviour, under the incorrect assumption that knowing “why” something has gone wrong will somehow fix it going forward. In my view the “why” is irrelevant. It’s far better to just start something new and better in line with what you want. You begin setting conscious intentions before interactions (with win-win in mind) then act. The results are positive and a reward loop starts whereby the old software is systematically replaced with the new one. Fascinatingly, this is also the best way to figure out the “why” of how things were before: when you have solid positive results in your new system then the flaws of the old strategy become completely patently obvious to you. The memories of your mother doing X or your father doing Y will come bubbling up to the surface. Sometimes it’s nice to know the why, but ultimately it’s irrelevant when it comes to moving forward with your life. This is very similar to how, if you’ve been depressed for a while and now you are now happy, you suddenly realize how completely unproductive and limiting the thoughts you had while you were depressed were. You don’t go back and “debug” those old thoughts! You realize they were just a product of the mindstate you were in at the time and choose happiness as your preferred state going forward. Wipe the slate clean.

So, this article is all about setting conscious intentions, acting, getting the new results, then tweaking the intentions next time if necessary. This can result in largescale rewriting of behaviour and personality in a relatively short space of time. You also do not need particularly to try that hard to “act in alignment” with the intention. So, if you set an intention to care about someone, then ask how they are, you do not need (much) to emphasize some caring vocal tone or body language, either; the intention itself tends to take care of much of that for you. The intention itself literally shapes the interaction. The details of the doing are far, far less important than the thought behind it. You just have to be very straight with yourself about the intention beforehand and decide firmly upon it before you speak. You crystallize the intention in your mind then it becomes the point of reference for the interaction going forward. This can lead to the development of new habits very quickly.

Good Intentions

The basis of all good intentions is to create a win-win situation. This means a good outcome for all involved. How do you get what you want without someone else losing something? Usually it can be done. You find something they also want. For the vast majority of casual socializing it is just the exchange of positive emotions. This is the basis of all manners. We are just scratching each other’s backs. There is no cost to this. You don’t lose by “going first”. Feeling good about someone feels better than feeling bad about them. In this light, why would you ever choose to have bad intentions for someone? Pick the win-win.

That’s the best general rule. Now, drilling down, you get some nuance in what different people want as their side of the “positive emotional exchange”. Men and women are a good place to start since they are the first immediate division we find when tweaking the approach for different people. In general:

  • Men want respect.
  • Woman want attention to their emotional state.

This is blurring a little bit in recent times as the genders are becoming more alike (the reasons for which I won’t speculate upon in this article). This means that some women tend towards wanting respect and some men tend towards wanting attention to their emotional state. However, the bulleted rules above are still good general guidelines, and I have found the following intentions work well:

  • For men, literally think the words in your mind, “Bloody good guy.” Then shake his hand. That’s a very English phrase. Maybe you could say, “This is a cool dude,” instead. You firmly say it in your mind, then smile. The interaction is set. Men are basically that simple. The intention is that you will experience him as a great guy, and he will be.
  • For women, think the words in your mind, “I wonder how she is?” Then ask how she is and listen. She will most likely say, “Well, so and so happened, so I’m [some emotion].” Then you acknowledge that by matching her emotional state just a little and nod and say to her, “Oh, that sounds [bad, good, interesting, etc.]” Notice how she now seems like she has let off some steam and is back to happy (or okayish). She will probably now ask how you are in kind (emotional exchange). I will usually tell her some upbeat or funny thing that’s just happened to me because I intend to have fun conversations and do not intend to dwell on negatives (see? Intentions).

I will not begrudge anyone stuck on negativity for whatever reason; instead I will tend to just move on to someone whose intentions match or complement my own. This is the basis of all great friendships.

Notice how the “doing” in the above is the minor point. The major point is the intention behind the doing. Imagine if you had thought to yourself, “This guy’s a cunt,” while shaking his hand. Would the interaction have gone well? Unfortunately, unconscious intentions can often take that form. People are walking around all the time with those kinds of intentions as the backdrop to their interactions. They don’t know it. They’re walking into situations on autopilot, with intentions like:

  • “I intend to win this interaction to prove to my dad that I’m not a loser.”
  • “I intend to get from these people the attention and praise I should have received from my mother.”
  • “I feel weak so I intend to make this person feel small so I feel like a big man.”
  • “I intend to get mothering emotions from this woman.” (Oneitis)
  • “I intend to get this woman into bed so I can feel good about myself for a few days and brag to my friends.”

These are bad intentions because they do not set out to create win-win situations. They are mainly based on taking. That is why you must consciously insert a good intention before you act — an intention to both give and receive. Whatever autopilot intention may have been there is just totally negated and replaced by the new preferred one. It’s that simple. You could spend a lifetime poring over your past and trying to figure out what intention and why is developing at any given time, but what’s the point? Just do the right thing instead, forever.

Why is Existing Advice So Shit?

There are a couple of things going on here. Firstly, the people who are already good at socializing, for the most part, don’t really know why they’re good. Their intentions have just been conditioned positively from birth. If you asked them how to be good with people then their truthful advice would go something like, “Well, you go back in time and be born to parents who have compassion, self-reflection and forethought, a positive emotional base and mental stability, who sort problems out verbally rather than using emotional or physical violence, and you let their behaviours rub off on you over a period of about seven years.” One benefit of being born to atrocious parents is that I had to figure this stuff out myself and arrive at a map of how to go about it, which you’re reading right now, so there was a lot of insight to be gained and shared. That is the only benefit, though: the years have been hell.

The second thing going might involve the brain hemispheres. The right hemisphere handles the underlying emotional themes and contexts, including the autopilot intentions conditioned from birth. However, the left brain handles the execution, the doing, and is mechanical and linear, putting one step after the other to create a result. The left brain also happens to be the verbal centre. So, you ask someone who is good at socializing how to do it, and they have to then explain it to you in words. The left brain kicks into gear and it is its perspective, its processes, its worldview that comes bubbling up and out their mouths. The result is an explanation which falls on a frustrating spectrum of incoherence, from the vague (“Just be cool, maaaaaaan!”) to the overly complex and micromanagerial (“Pace and lead… mirror their body language… make eye contact when he does this but not when he does that!..”). This is a major problem with verbal communication: the narrator, the left hemisphere, always manages to inject its mechanical and idealistic take on things during the translation from thematic to conceptual. The key is to give greater awareness to the themes that underlie the behaviours of the person you wish to mimic, rather than their specific actions. Generally, the more complex and long-winded someone’s explanation of how they do things is, the more they have missed the point.

More Techs

I’ve given you all you need.

However, using the intention paradigm, some interesting tricks can arise. For example, if you are a shy guy walking over to meet a new girl for the first time and you want to create rapport, imagine her as being someone you already get along with, such as a female friend or cousin. Say “Hi” then think the name of the girl you already know. This will make you feel like you already know each other. The intention is to emulate the positive aspects of an existing relationship. It is techs like these that give things a more “psychic” feel. It can be extremely fun.

It would be great to hear other ideas in the comments section, making this guide a kind of living document where techs are shared using the principle of intention as their basis.

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48 Responses

  1. Edenist Whackjob says:

    I like your “everyone is casting spells all the time without knowing it” model. I’ve started applying it to productivity – instead of thinking in terms of Getting Things Done, managing projects, etc, I now think of productivity as a result of clarity and intent.

  2. Mayath says:

    Really good article.

    Every relationship, every interaction is based on giving and taking. If all you want to do is take people are gonna hate you. If you “give” something to another person whether it’s a joke, making them feel relaxed, giving them something interesting to think about, a bit of gossip or simply listening to you, they’ll like you. People really want to be liked, even people who are emotionally stable. It’s a nice feeling and it’s much easier to get through life liking other people and having them like you. People have to find the right balance between being helpful and being a door mat. If you can help someone relatively easy, do it, because if there not fucked up, they’ll do the same for you. But people can sense if you’re just doing something because you want to be liked and they’ll either despise you for that as they have no respect for you or they’ll take advantage of you or both.

    The trick isn’t to increase self-esteem( though that helps) but not to give a fuck about what other people think about you but in a good way. It’s not about becoming a sociopath who manipulates people but becoming someone who’s sense of worth comes from themselves and not other people. You can’t control how people are gonna like you and there’s no way to make everyone like you so don’t bother. Find out what you’re good at giving to other people and then other people will give you what you need. In a healthy relationship both people give each other exactly what they need and don’t take more then they should. We all hate people who try to take more from us then they should.

    The key is to be really honest and really relaxed. People will love you If they know exactly what they see, is what there gonna get. Don’t have any complex motives. Anyone who describes themselves as complicated is a fucked up asshole. Don’t be self-obsessed and dominate the conversation talking about how great you are or how much of a shit you are. People don’t want to hear it. A lot of people reveal intimate stuff about themselves way too soon and it really throws people off. People will either clam up if you do that or they’ll reveal stuff too but you’ll come a way feeling a bit used because enough time hasn’t been spent building up trust. This is a really manipulative technique and it’s generally used to make someone feel better about themselves and gain some sort of control or insight into you. Borderlines use it all the time and if come into contact with someone who starts spilling their whole life story to you then back off cos these are fucked up train wrecks.

    The thing about most people is, there really fucking good at reading other people even if they don’t realize it. People can sense your intentions and you can sense theirs. A large part of social anxiety is when you can’t tap into your natural inborn ability to read others. Depression also does this and people can very easily sense if your depressed and anxious and regardless of how empathetic they are, there will be somewhat repelled by you. I’ve been on both sides of this. I’ve been extremely depressed/anxious and it’s like I became socially blind and could not talk to anyone. People could pick up on this and were repelled. I really wanted to take from others and they knew it. Generating some way to make yourself feel good and relaxed either through meditation or exercise is one way to overcome this along side trying to overcome depression.

    A lot of people with social anxiety struggle with what it is there supposed to say to other people. All you need to remember is that this is awkward for everyone. Conversation with new people is uncomfortable for everyone so the key is to find out quickly what it is what you have in common with the other person as quickly as possible and talk about that. Ask questions, listen and even then if there’s nothing to talk about, being in the same room as someone is still something to comment on. If the conversation is a disaster and you’ve tried talking and listening in equal parts, the other person has to take on some of the blame too. It takes two to tango and if they haven’t been a good conversation partner, then give them half the blame for fucking it up.

    We’re probably really shit at dealing with new people because when we were cavemen we probably rarely interacted with someone outside of our tribe and if we did we did, we were probably killing them.

    It’s when people start ignoring their social intuitions and coming up with faux bullshit theories about their own behaviour or others behaviour’s that we get into trouble. Human psychology is really simple and we are far more simple than we like to think. We like to create complicated narratives about why we are a certain way but in reality, we are driven by really simple drives that we like to complicate.

    I’d like to contribute just one thing to the parent theory. I think it’s correct but I would like to add that I think you can have perfectly normal parents like I did but grow up in a really fucked up area and be socialized around people who’s parents were extremely fucked up and fucked them up. We learn a lot of our social cues from other children growing up and if there all fucked up, they’ll try to fuck you up to, regardless of your parents good work. For instance when I left the area I grew up in, it took me ages to adapt to talking to people who weren’t assholes and weren’t trying to always put others down to make themselves feel good. I just couldn’t comprehend people who were being nice for just being the sake of nice and it took me ages to get out of the pattern of being a complete dick who put others down.

    Metta meditation helps to create positive intentions towards others. A lot of people struggle with Metta but the key to Metta is to fake it till you make it. Ajahn Brahm and Bhante Vimalarmsri have good advice on cultivating Metta so look up any guided meditations they have in this area. I’d really recommend it towards socially anxious people a long with exposing yourself to social situations. If you get good at cultivating Metta, all you need to do is to try remember that feeling and positive intention training you’ve practiced in meditation the next time you see someone.

    • Illuminatus says:

      Brilliant and helpful insights. Thanks! 🙂

      “Borderlines use it all the time and if come into contact with someone who starts spilling their whole life story to you then back off cos these are fucked up train wrecks.”

      Spot on. I was at a little house party a few months ago and started bonding with a girl over playing musical instruments, which is a great commonality to explore. She showed me a song she had written on her phone and it was really good, and I told her that. She then asked what I thought it was about and I started getting those vibes from that avenue that you just described. I knew what was coming next, but just said, “Oh, I don’t know, a breakup?” She said no, she was raped when she was 14, then stood there waiting for me to drag myself into her “stuff”. I said, “Oh, right. That’s bad. Oh, I think a song I like is on in the other room!” then walked away. My friend went back in to where she was and I popped my head around the door and saw her crying with him comforting her, exactly what she wanted. He then white-knighted her for 45 minutes while we all waited impatiently to go out, which had been the plan. He’s rather clueless about these games and puts up with a lot of nonsense as a result.

      She had told me that after literally five minutes of meeting her. Massively disrespectful of other people’s boundaries and trust levels, like you say.

    • Sam I Am says:

      I have to disagree on several of your points. “If you “give” something to another person whether it’s a joke, making them feel relaxed, something interesting to think about…”etc. are all YOU focused and not OTHER focused at all.

      You telling them a joke is to make YOU feel funny and liked, not them.

      Giving them something interesting to think about assumes your dominance, and is again YOU centered, and will be picked up as narcissistic and arrogant, as well as “attention seeking” as described in a post below.

      There’s a certain maturity level required to be able to see your own unconscious intentions that is missing here. It is quite possibly age related.
      Contrary to what and how I’m writing right now – HUMILITY and CURIOSITY of others is what puts people at ease – NOT assuming a dominance and a need to control their emotional states.

      Your advice needs an introspective overhaul and a few more years of growth.
      Sorry for the harshness, but the things youve listed are the red flags so many of us look for when engaging in conversation with a new person.

    • Sam I Am says:

      And the same goes for your comment on “gossip.” Horrible idea. It puts you in immediate power position by
      Aj showing that you are in the know and they aren’t –
      B) talking shit about others so that it elevates you and
      C) a horrible idea all around that shows lack of thought as you don’t know where a stranger or even possibly a friend stands on the issue or person you’re about to gossip about.

      You have shown nothing that’s “give and take” here. It’s not that it feels like you’re just taking, but it feels like misguided desperate attempts that really don’t take the other into consideration.
      …There’s your “something interesting to think about.”
      Good luck

      • Mayath says:

        When I saw that you, criticized something I said last year, I was ready to agree with you, as I was in a real shitty place last year but after rereading my post, it’s cynical but I agree with the general gist of what I said. Haven’t reread the article and not bothered right now, so just going to defend what I said. Perhaps that “immature” but we all know starting, getting into arguments online is “immature”. Like the Buddha said, people with opinions just go around annoying each other.

        Anyway, gossip isn’t a good thing but everybody does it. In fact, if you ever do a proper personality test, one of the way they catch liars is by saying you don’t gossip. People enjoy chatting about other people and social interactions. It’s a fact of life. I didn’t even really recommend it, I just mentioned it. We all gossip and it can be harmless enough. It’s far better than just talking about yourself.

        Your reading way too much into what I said. I probably just said things like gossiping and something interesting to say because it was probably the first thing that came into my mind and I didn’t realize it would be over analyzed by someone years later looking for social advice on a site where people talk about their psychic powers.

        I don’t know what your ideal type of social interaction is if you think telling a joke is a bad thing? Have you met another person? Whats wrong with making you and someone else laugh? Your assuming bad motivations because you disagree about conceptualizing human relations as “give and take”.

        But hate to break it to you, human relationships are about give and take. Why wouldn’t they be? We all have needs and desires that are only fulfilled through being around people. You get to be around other people by not being a dick. Where did I advise be a dick? I just described how the process of being a dick doesn’t work to help us socialize. I wasn’t offering an ideal model of human relations. Just stating how I see it. Nothing I said contradicts being humble and curious, which I agree with.

        If you bothered to read, the rest of what I said, I don’t advise anyone to dominate or manipulate anyone. I was trying to say when you feel good about yourself you don’t need to do those things.

        Framing your interactions with others in terms of “what can I take is” isn’t good nor would I advise that. Better to think what is best for the other person but not letting yourself be walked over, as there are people who try to leech off others. Being altruistic is really good but you can’t forget to respect yourself either.

        Humans are mainly motivated by craving. Not in everything and some people more than others but it definitely applies to nearly everyone You may object morally to that but we all know people who drain others and don’t offer anything to anyone else. Your reading far too much into the whole “give and take” thing. There’s a point where it falls apart as a concept. I was just pointing out, if you go around expecting people to be your friend or whatever but your a demanding asshole who won’t be nice or help others you won’t get anywhere with people.

        Not basing your self-esteem on other people opinions of you is not trying to dominate and control other people emotional states. Unless you assume being aware of other people’s needs is manipulative? When your in a place where your comfortable with yourself, you don’t need to manipulate others.

        The points I was trying to make, were to challenge the type of mindset of guys on these kinds of websites who struggle with socializing. I was doing it in a language they’d read.

        I would have ignored this but I found it really annoying that you tried to paint me as some sort of sociopath in a post where I recommended cultivating Metta Meditation at the end.

        You’re snarky holier than thou tone is irritating. Next time, make a better job of criticizing the content of a post, rather than what you assume the poster is like. Just because your aware your being a little pedantic bitch doesn’t make it any less annoying. Hopefully it doesn’t take a few years for that to sink in.

  3. J says:

    “This is rather at odds with previous strategies from the fields of psychology which would have you dig into your past and analyse every behaviour, under the incorrect assumption that knowing “why” something has gone wrong will somehow fix it going forward. In my view the “why” is irrelevant. It’s far better to just start something new and better in line with what you want.”

    Edd, not true. You’re describing psychoanalysis.
    Hope you’re well. 🙂

    • Illuminatus says:

      Yeah. I KNEW you would jump on that. 🙂

      So what are the current strategies in “actual psychology” then?

      And is psychoanalysis not part of that field?

      • J says:

        Haha, seems you know me well 🙂

        Well, the most popular nowadays is CBT because it’s cheap, efficient, evidence based etc. People swear by it and it’s quite useful with phobiae, panic attacks, anx. disorders, some depr. disorders because thoughts change behaviour and vice versa.

        I’m a fan of gestalt psychotherapy. In your post you were desribing introjections – a gestalt PT term: a lot of stuff we think about ourselves and the world are not ours but were introjected into us through parents, society… It is recommended to, figuratively, take those out, examine them and see if they fit who we are now, if yes take back, if no, throw away. Then there’s family systems therapy: a disorder is actually symptom of a disfunctional family. The biological standpoint, transactional analysis (quite interesting), interpersonal, feminism, Adler, Horney etc etc etc

        Psychoanalysis is, at least where I come from and some German universities, frowned upon precisely because of what you wrote (the why thing which btw I feel is something I once said to someone, maybe even you :P). Anyway, PA is important because it was the beginning of it all and it helps understand certain processes like defense mechanisms. It also offers a good explanation for PTSD and some personality disorders. But like everything else in life, it’s a matter of preference, it’s a matter of which explanation you like best because it’s all Anekantavada. 🙂

        • J says:

          Oh yes, to answer your question. The strategy differs depending on your orientation!

          As usual, hope you’re well. 🙂

  4. Edenist Whackjob says:

    One good practice is explicitly asking people “how may I help you?” Ie build that mental muscle of always offering something to the other. Obviously do this to people who can stomach a bit of weirdness in the beginning, later on when you’re more calibrated you can do it to anyone and have it come off sounding “right”…

  5. Edenist Whackjob says:

    Good intentions to have:

    – We’re already close (ie no distance intention)

    – I’m proactive (ie going into brain and asking what do I really want from this? not just reacting blindy)

    – How may I help you? What do you need? (In an honest, unironic way)

    • Illuminatus says:

      I would lean towards “How can we help each other?” mindsets as it avoids the potential doormat invitation Mayath just described. No one’s doing anything for free and if we recognize this we can build win-win exchanges.

  6. Edenist Whackjob says:

    Re: difficulty learning from left-brain narratives: I’ve found that I’ve become much more “teachable”. Even a left-brain narrative just “clicks” a lot more because it’s internally being translated or something. I don’t collect unprocessed narratives anymore (which is what KJs do on forums)…

  7. James says:

    You guys should just try being naturally charismatic like me.

  8. Edenist Whackjob says:

    Also, the musical thing is key. Stand-up comedians “get” this – how things are so different when said in different ways. …

    • Illuminatus says:

      Stand-up comedy is a great example of psychic exchanges because you can so easily absorb into the comedian’s mindstate they are projecting at the time. This is a tech in itself, and applies to being both a great writer and a storyteller: Don’t say what you think, say what you see and feel. You should have a running visual going the whole time and react emotionally to that visual and use words matching it emotionally and visually. This is also how the human voice is maintained in writing: picture you are writing TO someone, and describe your experience as it occurs in your internal sense field.

      Materialistically I am sure it can be explained via mirror neurons and what not, but in terms of learning how to do it it is far more easily modelled and performed as a psychic event because it becomes such a vividly shared experience. If you write or say what you “think” though you tend to just list dry facts and the piece is lifeless.

      • James says:

        I remember back when I had awful social anxiety was pretty much just in a “kill or be killed” mentality in my youth. I was eating a piece of pizza and a guy came up behind me and put his hand on my shoulder – normally (even though I would hide it) my whole body would flip out into fight or flight mode from someone touching me when I couldn’t see them and didn’t know who they were.

        But this dude had the kindest, most sincere vibe to him having his hand on my shoulder was actually very comforting, and he just asked where he could get a piece of pizza at, I pointed him over to the vendor.

  9. Kautilya says:

    Great article…and fantastic idea of this being a living document!

    Agree with the attitude of respect to other men as a rule of thumb.

    With women, I prefer the intentions “how can I inspire her?”

    I son’t mean I MUST say something inspiring, witty or exceptional. Just that whether a woman is feeling good or bad inspiration is always welcome and to do that properly you kust understand how she feels anyway. Just feel this feedback into developing yourself as an all round inspiring person. I mean inspiring as an intrinsic part of you that naturally comes out always because its who you are.

    The rapid change is defintely true. Sometimes all it takes is a substance to go and talk to a girl or guy you may want to know. No “belief systems” were changed – you just did it.

    I will implement this wisdom.

    Noble Intention -> Natural Action -> Rapid Transformation

    • Illuminatus says:

      Thanks for the feedback, Kautilya.

      Now, I don’t want to sound like I’m shitting on anyone’s ideas because, like I said, I’m no master, and you might have some insight I don’t. At the same time however I will try to steer people (especially young men) away from certain things like “white-knighting” women if I get even the hint they are going that way, because it’s such a waste of time and emotional resources to do things like that.

      “With women, I prefer the intentions “how can I inspire her?””

      Well maybe you can elaborate on what you mean by “inspire her”. But it sounds to me like you’ve taken it as your job to go around trying to change women’s emotional states, which is a fool’s errand. If she’s having a bad day it’s best to leave her to it.

      But you’ve also left “inspiring” as very vague so maybe you can clear that up for us.

      “The rapid change is defintely true. Sometimes all it takes is a substance to go and talk to a girl or guy you may want to know. No “belief systems” were changed – you just did it.”

      Well, in the rapid change I’m describing in the article, I am talking about progressively rescripting behaviours and outcomes using new themes, which does filter back strongly into the belief system and alter it.

      Regarding drugs, they do in fact temporarily alter belief systems or, more accurately, activate certain paradigms and deactivate others. You can look at the mindbody as having “circuits” in this respect. If you’re depressed you are low energy and your belief system literally changes to ideas concerning not having the ability to, or the energy to, achieve certain things. If you take amphetamines then energy rises and that “energy conservation” paradigm (which is essentially what depression is) turns off and beliefs about your ability to achieve things, often GREAT things, suddenly begin to appear in your mind. Bipolar is sudden shifting between these two states. One effect of meditation and its ability to destroy bipolar (which I have done in my case) is to raise the energy level baseline (or “piti” in TMI) progressively so the energy conservation state rarely triggers. Raising energy = activating belief systems that contain more possibilities. It’s a progressive turning on of higher circuits. You might like the books “Prometheus Rising” and “Quantum Psychology”, both by Robert Anton Wilson, where he models one possible interpretation of these circuits called the Eight-Circuit Model of Consciousness.

      • Kautilya says:

        No, I defintely meant to convey NOT taking it as my responsibility.

        If interaction and I approach with the intention of wanting to know how she feels, then if shes having a shitty day no problem if she wants to be left to it.

        I may talk to her for an hour using jokes, anecdotes, wisdom, game or whatever because I WANT to do that or feel inclined….or ‘inspired to’. I may smile and say ‘cheer up’ OR just smile.

        Inspiration in one aspect setting the intention to connect to that persons spirit.

        Not in a bitch way of wanting to be the social Santa Claus.

        I think your explanantion of the Power of intention could make it entirely possible to generate the most authentic form of inspiration at that time, be it a split second from sheer presence or sublime use of language.

        It feeds back to the self that I’m inspiring as a person.

        I for one got inspired to meditate which has led to an established practice. These articles and posts are inspiring so even when technical details are discussed they are taken in with that same feeling. Inspiration provides ideas. Raw energy. Social opportunities. Learning. Risk-taking, courage. Amazing for ‘game’. Focus, persistence, alignment. I think its an excellent attribute overall and ideal for interactions with women of all sorts even those more on the respect side….in fact just as good for men – although the grounded friendly egalitarian masculine attitude of respect is probably best first.

        I think this rapid feedback and transformation is similar to that of Gratitude ‘training’. I.e. before eating, meditating etc. it can create rapid changes. Currently I am ‘trying’ to feel gratitude for every breath.

        Seriously….this shit is kinda life changing over time and not just a good tip and its a shame I never thought about it much before. I wonder why it doesn’t work as well for:

        ‘Have your intention that you will ace this business presentation’…… in reality practice, knowledge, calming techniques (breathwork) are better – but here ….. ‘pound for pound’ Intention seems to pull its weight in gold compared to hours of knowing and practicing ‘Social Game’.

        I would love to dive deeper into the power of intention as opposed to the commercial knowledge:


        Commercial knowledge: ‘Just focus on the breath’ = Relaxation

        True wisdom: ‘Stuff we discuss about here + focus (on breath?)’ = Jhana

        If properly harnessed Intention could be a reality transforming tool

        • Illuminatus says:

          ‘Have your intention that you will ace this business presentation’

          Well this is a good example of sloppy intentions the average person makes daily when wishing for success. (It’s right up there with “I want to feel happy”.) The problems here are that:

          1) The intention is totally vague. What is “acing”? It needs to invoke visuals and emotions of what that would look like, and also have more specific intentions built into the language.
          2) It does not consider the other people involved, and they are what determines whether the business presentation is considered “ace” or not.

          In my opinion the best way to think about this is in terms of what you are giving the other people (which determines if you are acing it or not). “I intend to give them all the facts in an entertaining and engaging way. I intend to give them value in this presentation.” Then the visualizations and everything that follow will all be about the HOW of giving value. The average person will instead fast-forward the visualization to the end where they’re smiling and everyone is clapping them. The middle bit gets left blank, which is akin to saying, “It’s in God’s hands now.” (And monotheism has something to answer for for encouraging this kind of deus ex machina thinking, in my opinion.)

          Again, the above is all about swapping the TAKING of glory for the GIVING of value. This is a good general rule when other people will be involved in the situation. You can however have more self-centred intentions when planning general future events, though, such as: “I intend X, Y and Z activities on this holiday I’m about to go on.”

          Back to making more specific intentions for a moment, another good example is nights out. “I intend to have a great night out” is a terribly vague intention. You want to drill down into what would make a night out great FOR YOU. So, “I intend to find myself in interesting conversations with five strangers” is better. “I intend to find adventure and intrigue in a new venue” is okay, too (be prepared for a new bar to spontaneously show up in your city, LOL).

          If you want to meet women but you’re shy you can insert into the intention circumstances in which you find it easier to talk to them, such as: “I intend to find myself in a conversation with a woman about [X subject] (comic books or video games or whatever nerds like these days). By intending the specific exchange the universe will tend to switch things around so the “bumping into her and getting talking” part gets taken care of for you via “accident” and “coincidence”. The reason deus ex machinas work in this case but not in the above example of a work presentation is that a night out is FAR more chaotic and random, and the situation you want has far more space potential to bubble out of (this is the main reason nights out exist in the first place — it’s a sea of potential energies from which a situation to cater to practically any taste can arise).

  10. Edenist Whackjob says:

    Final note: if you get really good at social telepathy, you can actually assimilate other people’s intelligence. That’s how it feel anyway. Imagine the possibilities…

    • Illuminatus says:

      I have certainly experienced the effect whereby stepping into someone else’s body language and mannerisms for a while appears to give access to their perspective. Being around creative people for example is inspiring and lets some of their creativity rub off on you. You can also find that certain people’s thought patterns become available to you if you mimic them enough. There are certainly broad possibilities here.

  11. Ram says:

    Illuminatus, is there any chance you might be doing a post on something like “basic intention” in the near future? I’ve discovered that you can do literally anything with intention, but you have to know what you’re doing and understand the difference between intending and just kind of hoping something will happen. You frequently on this website say things like “just set an intention” or “have the intention for x,” but I think that for a lot of people who are just starting meditation and getting to know their minds, it’s not immediately obvious what that means or how to do it productively.

    Personally, as I think I said in another comment, I wasted literally decades meditating uselessly, not understanding the basic principles, just because I had a vague understanding of “sit down and watch the breath.” It was only after I discovered this website, and the rabbit hole it led me down, that I started making any progress in meditation. And right when that happened, I started having the experience (familiar to many meditators) of things suddenly “going my way,” like I would intend something and it would just unfold. I still don’t have control over it, because I’m still trying to master the difference between the kind of intention that gets shit done and the kind that just reinforces your idea that you need or lack something. So, anyway, all of this is to say that a post explaining the basics of forming intentions, making resolutions, and generally using the power of will to make things happen could probably help a lot of readers with magick, but also just with getting their lives on track.

    • Illuminatus says:

      Sure, it’s a good idea.

      Do you really think decades watching the breath was a waste? I’d have thought you’d have many of these realizations just from doing that.

  12. Ram says:

    The biggest thing I was missing was just the knowledge of what constituted success, and that success was a real thing that many people had achieved.

    I grew up Hindu and meditated based on half-assed instructions given by a series of teachers and friends. So basically I would spend anywhere between ten minutes and half an hour getting frustrated at how much my mind wandered, thinking that eventually my concentration would get better by itself or something magic would happen. I lived in Japan and Thailand for some of that time, and I went to Buddhist meditation classes, but they also don’t teach you shit. They either just say “sit and let it happen,” or they describe in detail the technique that worked for them, regardless if it’s right for you. And they never talk about what you’re aiming for!

    The biggest problem with meditation culture, in my mind, is that more people don’t know about the jhanas. My life was completely transformed the day that I learned that there are these measurable states you can reach, a specific goal that can be considered success in meditation and that will start providing all the great results that everyone promises from meditation, and that these are very real states that people reach all the time given enough work. If I had known that when I was eight, it would have changed two things. First, I would have been way more motivated to work my ass off because I would have known that the benefits were real and I didn’t have to take them on faith. And second, I would have been much less frustrated when I didn’t get results, because I would have known that patience is part of the process and these are just difficult steps along the way rather than a sign that everything Hindus say is self-deluding crap.

    There are some things that I definitely gained from putting in all that time. I think I got an ability to watch my mind that has made it a lot easier to develop useful mindfulness. And I also find that it’s very easy for me to sit motionless in a meditation posture even for an hour or two at a time, which I’ve seen many other people saying is an important skill you have to work on to start making fast gains in meditation. But overall, I’ve found that the last two years have been mostly spent unlearning bad and lazy habits that I developed over the years. If I were to advise a child like myself at age eight, I would tell him that a single session of correct practice is worth more than a year of doing it wrong.

    • Kautilya says:

      Hello Ram,

      Could you maybe share what your previous practice was like and what bad/lazy habits you had to unlearn?

      Then maybe contrast them with what your version of a correct practice session is now.

      I didn’t even see these posts when I just posted mine above.

      Also asked in my not so subtle way that I’d also like Illuminatus’ ‘ever so subtle – extra penetrating chilli insight sauce, couple of drops of seasonal tweaks and a garnish of practical application’ on the Dish of Intention ….

      Lol! – I was just in the mood, why not?

  13. Pat says:

    Great post! Can you relate this model of socializing to why jhana practice seems to make socializing “flow” so much easier? Is it something to do with the bliss effect automatically making all your intentions good?

    • Illuminatus says:

      Yes. It also suppresses the “little me” thoughts and emotions which create win-lose situations by attempting to get gratification from people.

  14. OPN says:

    This is really fantastic I’ve followed this website for a while but meditation has never really clicked for me in any way. Yet this has really cleared up meditation and a lot of social things at the same time. I think a lot of why I can still have social anxiety is because I don’t know what I intend when I start speaking to person so I just feel ‘anxious’ which is probably the subjective feeling of me resisting myself. Even just reading about having the intention of asking how are you and really caring about what they say and why is so simple but how did I never see it before.

    This is the same with meditation where maybe I didn’t have a clear intention before or had a negative intention that this will be bad!! Edd what are your intentions when you sit down to meditate? What would be a good intention for me to pick as I sit down? Can it be something like to experience Jhana even if I’ve never experienced Jhana? Now I’ve seen the intention side but now I’m not really sure what I want from it I guess…

    • Illuminatus says:

      It is definitely a good idea to make a clear intention before meditating (this is also known as a formal resolution).

      I think you should strike a balance between what you believe is realistic for you, and how you want to progress. So rather than going straight for, “I intend to get a jhana” (which your mind may not believe you are ready for, yet) then you could say, “I intend to stay with my object for 10 seconds uninterrupted”. Then move onto 20 seconds the next time. Or you could try making bolder intentions if you are comfortable with it/ have a lot of self-belief in this area.

      I think it is a good idea to get an idea of the state you are trying to achieve in jhana. Ajahn Brahm gives a good description here: After exposing yourself to that then you could start setting intentions like, “I want to begin to experience pleasure during this meditation” and go from there.

  15. Pretheesh says:

    How to create healthy social connections or interactions when someone is always afraid of being mistreated or disrespected by others (possibly due to such past experiences in childhood/schooling stages) and hence find difficulty in approaching people without caring about being defensive.

    Any suggestions would be helpful

    • Illuminatus says:

      Hi Pretheesh,

      The answer is:

      – Very slowly (think of progress as over years, not weeks/months).

      – Start with situations you are more comfortable with first (join groups of shared interests, or get a job in a field you enjoy, where you have something in common with people). Then progress to situations you are less comfortable with until you have mastered those, then keeping pushing your comfort zone.

      – Imagine where you would like to be in a year’s time. Imagine those situations every day. Do not lose faith if things do not change immediately. Just keep imagining your desired outcome.

      • Pretheesh says:

        Very thanks for your reply.

        Your answer feels like a sensible way to approach life. I am kind of approaching life in that way right now.

        Thank You.

        • Illuminatus says:

          With regard to my third point on the list above, I would like to add something most people don’t realize: That their current situation is a result of how they have imagined it to be, over and over again. This “imagination” is often unconscious — so, you might think of the future and imagine yourself anxious in those situations (which creates more anxious situations). The trick is to recognize this and to create a NEW imagination where you are not anxious, but instead being how you want to be. It is adding these details to the imagined desire that is the most powerful way to create it.

          • Pretheesh says:

            Yes I get the point, going into a situation with the thoughts like people would want to shame me or want to prove I am weak, or they want to feel good at the expense of degrading me etc are anxiety-inducing.

    • Pug says:

      Hi Pretheesh,

      As someone who has struggled with social anxiety, from experience, I would say a very and efficient way of reducing social anxiety is practicing a ‘transcending’ meditation.

      I have found every time I get into a routine of practicing it twice daily, I would nearly immediately feel way less anxiety and especially low levels of social anxiety – the trick is to keep at it even when you think it is not working anymore and feel that you are not making any progress. This was my problem, I would always give up because I wanted something more exciting like a Jhana state and start practicing another meditation, and then my life would fall slowly back into anxiety and intermittent depression.

      Anyway, once the anxiety is minimal you will find yourself a lot more skilled socially than before – having small talk with a colleague will be as comfortable as talking with a friend. It is amazing how quickly it can work to do lower your anxiety – you may even find people come by to talk to you more for no apparent reason.

      For the type of transcending meditation to practice you have many to choose from:

      There’s Transcendental Meditation (the most famous mantra meditation) but it is quite expensive as it is taught in person over a few days. However the free or cheaper ones include Natural Stress Relief (with a mantra and costs $25 USD), AYP’s Deep Meditation (with a mantra), Surya Ram (no mantra) and Conscious Mental Rest (no mantra).

      I’d begin with Natural Stress Relief meditation, even though it costs some money, as it contains an excellent pdf guide instructing you on how to the practice right. You can then move onto a mantra-less meditation once you get a hang of the subtle ‘effortlessness’ required.

      Wishing you the best,

      • Pretheesh says:

        Thank You Pug,

        I do kind of a body scanning meditation myself, in which I immediately notice the discomfort in the body and the rest is whether I am willing to be there or go towards helpless thoughts like ‘this will not end’,’I will never be free from this panic fears’, ‘I will be embarrassed’,’I do not have the power to stand with fear’ etc even these thoughts will have an immediate discomfort in body if noticed.

        Regarding TM (transcendental) it is not difficult for me to find a teacher since I am currently working on a website for a TM and Reiki teacher in my local area and he is approachable. Currently, I thought I will stick on to body scanning and staying.

        Thank You

        • Pug says:

          Awesome, it’s seems to all be about allowing and letting go and I think transcending meditation and practicing staying with the emotional energy both do this.

          The latter technique was describe by someone here and it is very inspiring:

          • Pretheesh says:

            Thank You. That is helpful, especially it mentions about not caring much about thoughts related to discomfort(thoughts will arise anyway, but just need to not get fall for the thoughts as it demands escape and old pattern continuation). I think the key is to persist without excuse and with clear intention and make it a daily lifestyle practice until ‘letting go’ happens naturally.

  16. Pretheesh says:

    Thank You.

    I also have a fear of panic (exposing panic symptoms in front of people especially while walking) which is kind of a stubborn pattern inside me. It started in the past with ego issues in the office place etc (not going into that).
    So what I do in relation to that suffering pattern is to see it as a stubborn pattern that brain does not want to change (i like to see it as due to the discomfort of letting that pattern dissolve/disappear ), so I currently spend some time meditating by which I go straight to the uncomfortable sensation in body and just notice it moving from chest to shoulder to feet, etc rather than continuing the helpless thought pattern regarding it and I try to repeat that exercise while walking or exposing in public. As you had said I am keeping a mindset of showing up and continuing until the desired outcome (I no longer care of panic-thought) happens naturally.

    Thank You

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