Join David Tian on the “DTPHD Podcast” as we explore deep questions of meaning, success, truth, love, and the good life.
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For over a decade, David Tian, Ph.D., has helped hundreds of thousands of people from over 87 countries find happiness, success, and fulfilment in their social, professional, and love lives. His presentations – whether keynotes, seminars, or workshops – leave clients with insights into their behaviour, psychology, and keys to their empowerment. His training methodologies are the result of over a decade of coaching and education of thousands of students around the world. David was a university professor of philosophy and has a doctoral degree from the University of Michigan in philosophical psychology and Asian philosophy. He has also completed formal training in several psychotherapy approaches, including IFS Therapy (Internal Family Systems), Schema Therapy, CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), Gestalt Therapy, ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), as well as the coaching methodologies of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) and Tony Robbins-Cloe Madanes Coaching. Join him on the “DTPHD Podcast” as he explores deep questions of meaning, success, truth, love, and the good life. Subscribe now.
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DTPHD Podcast Episode 23 Show Notes:
2:40 What David and Micha have learned from many years in the pursuit of success
6:39 Why you need to “turn inward” to understand yourself and life fully
10:33 The crucial connections between narcissism, co-dependency, and addiction, and why these are important for EVERYONE
15:50 This is why many men get into “game” when it comes to their dating lives
18:27 What emotions make life most worth living?
24:24 The root causes of almost all human suffering
28:14 How to tap into your most powerful emotions
33:20 What’s lies underneath our anger that can not only soften it but also harness it
37:40 How to eliminate your fears
42:03 Why meditation will change your life
Rewards of a Relationship for a Masculine Man: Love, Power, & Vulnerability
David Tian Ph.D. and Micha lay out the rewards and challenges of getting into a great relationship.
Following pick-up artist methods won’t lead men to a successful relationship, David Tian Ph.D and Micha explains why.
David Tian Ph.D and Micha talks about how your fears may be preventing you from making your relationships work.
In order to have a long and lasting relationship, David Tian Ph.D and Micha discuss what men need to understand about themselves first.
Truth, love, and the good. Here we go.
David Tian: Welcome to the DTPHD podcast. I’m David Tian, your host. And in case you didn’t know me, I’m David Tian. For over the past 13 years, I’m helping hundreds of thousands of people in over 87 countries attain success, happiness, and fulfillment in life and love. And I’m joined by a good friend, Micha. How are you doing, Micha?
Micha: I’m doing great.
David Tian: We are live in-person in my home here in Taiwan, and it’s great to hang out in person again. We’ve been doing mastermind summits, so we just had a summit here in Taiwan. Just finished a big lunch, my belly’s out in the video and getting a little bit sleepy, but you got a strong coffee with you.
Micha and I have known each other for many years. I haven’t sat down and calculated it but…
Micha: I think we’re close to 10 now. Singapore.
David Tian: Yeah, that’s right. But yeah, 10 years, cool. We’ve changed a lot over those 10 years, haven’t we? Originally, I met Micha through the pickup coaches at Love Systems because you’re connected with them and doing some work with them. And I think when they came down to Singapore, we hooked up there. And since then, you lived out in Bangkok for all this time, just 10 years.
Micha: 10 years, yeah.
David Tian: Right, and then I moved out there, and we’ve had all these summits out in Bangkok. It’s been a privilege and a pleasure to see your transformation and it kind of parallels my own inner journey as well. So, we’re going to talk about that. And Micha, why don’t you give a quick intro for yourself?
Micha: My name is Micha. I’m from Sweden. What’s the more important to bring up here? I worked for Love System. I’ve been a dating coach. I do online marketing. I run my own company these days. I’ve been striving for freedom, and achieving, and become true to myself. Along the way, I’ve had some ups and downs with addiction. I’m a member of a twelve-step program, been a part of 15 years of my life. And the last four or five years, I’m into it really hardcore, and I really see the benefits of how it has, lets me in person.
David Tian: Awesome, so we’re going to talk about that, recovery. We wanted to talk about love, and connection, and how a lot of guys who are striving for achievement in terms of getting women, or making money, all the Scarface goals. First you get the women — the money, then you get the women. Oh, wait, what is it? First get the power, money, women, some order…
And a lot of guys are striving for that. And what have you discovered over the past year, several years about the real motivations behind that and how they can get there faster?
Micha: Obviously, I didn’t have a big problem with women growing up. I was the party guy, party a lot, lots of drugs, lots of alcohol, and women just came to me. It wasn’t until I stopped drinking when I was in my mid-20s. And I had a good year and a half where I didn’t meet any women at all. And it’s just, wow. And I remember that loneliness. It was like, I wanted women, but I confused it with I wanted to get laid.
The ability to meet women. I went down the rabbit hole of pick up, got relatively good, got hired for working for a company. Somewhere along the way, something just clicked my mind, it’s like, “Wow.” It’s just, I’m treating this as I treated drugs and alcohol. It was not about meeting people, it’s just about, I’m just going to hook up with one girl, just this one girl.
David Tian: And it was never enough?
Micha: Never enough. Suddenly, I was in this rat race. Just one more, and I’ll take this little bit here, and just one more. And I never really saw them more. After sex, there’s just the next one and the next one, the new excitement. [INAUDIBLE 00:04:13]. The people that I’ve seen that gotten the best at pickup is the one with the darkest backgrounds. The motivations are…
I know one guy, he was coming, driving home from looking at a house with his fiancée, and she broke it up with him. He got really good, so bitter, so resentful towards women in general. He thought the happiness lied in there.
David Tian: And then as they get more success and experience more and more, it’s increasingly less fulfilling. So they get some initial pleasure from the beginning of it, and then as they go down further, the years go on, they continue this pattern, it becomes more and more desperate in their urgency of filling that emptiness, that meaninglessness, and it comes on in a bigger way over time.
Micha: Yeah. Absolutely. I’m raised in a pretty dysfunctional family relationship. I never really knew emotional connection. I didn’t know how to deal with my parents. No one really showed me. It’s just my idea of what it was. I just went for the things that I got validated for, for my friends growing up, you know. “How many beers did you drink yesterday? Did you get laid?”
And the more beers you can drink, and the more women you could sleep with, the cooler you were. It’s some self-worth and my value came from my friends, like, you’re the man. “20 beers and you didn’t throw up? Wow. You got laid? That’s even better.”
David Tian: A lot of guys are still motivated like that. And when you tell them, “This isn’t going to be fulfilling for you.” They are like, “Yeah, I know.” But they still keep with it. And why is that? Why do you think they still keep at it? They have trouble understanding that what they’re really after is this other thing that’s deeper. But they keep trying to get that feeling by doing these other activities that are not going to lead to that feeling.
Micha: It’s so common with other things as well. What you really need is not this quick fix. What you really need is to look into yourself. And it requires a lot more work. It’s not a [INAUDIBLE 00:06:39] either. It’s like what you want is a lot of women and get laid, but what you really need is look into yourself, why you actually want to get laid? What is it that you’re truly lacking? Some people are just really afraid of looking into themselves. Like, why am I doing these things? They don’t want it. They have no desire for it.
David Tian: Can you talk a bit more about that? What is the fear of going inside, turning inward? Just as you think about that, because that’s a deep one, I’ve encountered that a lot now. Because a lot of the work I do is therapeutic. I call what I do therapeutic coaching. It’s a combination of therapy and coaching. And the first part might be coaching because they come with goals, for goal-oriented type of customers or client profile. They’re achievers. They want to achieve certain goals, whether it’s women, or whatever external achievement.
And then as they get to know that, why aren’t they getting that already, why is it so hard for them, that forces them to begin that turn inward which then leads into a therapeutic process. And I’ve tricked them into that so that it doesn’t alert their — trigger that alarm like, “No, I can’t go inside.” And I said, “Hey, try this meditation. It’s really nice and easy.” And they get into it like, “Oh my God, I can’t believe I just did that. I felt so many emotions that I wasn’t expecting to feel.”
Great, now we get in that. But as they go further down that road, there’s this resistance to feeling. There are certain emotions in particular like sadness, sorrow, the whole category of sadness emotions. Anger is another one because those are like two sides of the same coin, sadness and anger. They don’t want to feel that again because they can’t deal with anger either, because it just leads them out of control.
That’s what they’re associated with it. There is that resistance, and now I find it like, wow, why is it hard for you to put on a meditation track that will guide you to feel some sadness, and then some happiness and joy down the road? Versus I’m saying, “If you do this therapeutic process, it’ll save you thousands of cold approaches.”
They think it’s easier, so they say it’s easier for me to go out there, and talk to a thousand chicks than for me to do a 10-minute meditation. Are you out of your mind? Why is that?
Micha: For me, at least, when I came to the conclusion that I was an addict, when I could see it — because there’s a long process of not paying the bills, and they’re doing all the drugs, and getting collection, destroying something next week. And every Sunday you’re like, “I’m going to quit.” You see the clarity for a few minutes.
And then like a few days later, the clarity goes away. But the moment you know that something is truly and genuinely wrong with you, if you don’t choose to act and change that part or fix that part that’s really wrong, then you know you’re absolutely stupid. If I can avoid this reality that I’m in right now with all these things I can do outside, it’s so much easier. Even though it’s going to be a struggle every time I have a sex with a girl, and I was like, after sex, how do I get rid of her now? It’s like to see the actual true reality, it sucks man. You see that you’re not what you think you want to be.
David Tian: I discovered the 12 steps through reading about narcissism, of all things. The research literature on narcissism, on codependency, they’re very closely related. Narcissists will create codependence or they’ll attract codependence. And then the whole literature around codependency arose out of addiction research.
And what’s super interesting was all the therapists were saying that narcissists are addicts. And all of these — any neurotic — what’s neurotic? That’s a pattern that you are in that you can’t control, and it’s maladaptive. It’s causing some kind of discomfort, or pain, or some kind of conflict in your life, but you can’t stop. And here’s an example of an addict. There’s some obvious ones that they have their own groups, but there’s also the addict for ego.
That’s actually at the root of a lot of these things. So, they can’t stop trying to get women. They can’t stop trying to make more money. They can’t stop trying to look good in front of their buddies, even though they know, “Oh, I shouldn’t be doing that now because I’ve learned through this podcast that I shouldn’t.” But I still feel like… We have friends like that.
We tell them, “Dude, this isn’t going to make you happier.” They’re like, “Yeah, I know.” And then we meet them again a week later. They’re like, “Hey, I got this problem with this girl.” And it’s like an addict. I’ve created these courses out of that studying the 12-step process that leads them through the therapeutic process out of that.
But I tell you, man, the more I can learn about how 12 steps works and all that, that helps me help these other guys find what they’re really looking for. So, we were talking earlier about love and connection and how that’s really what these guys want. Can you talk more about that? How did you discover that?
Micha: It was not on purpose. I’ve had a long period — I actually got dumped by a girl. That’s how I ended up in Thailand. I was dating a girl that was completely emotionally unavailable. So I thought there’s absolutely nothing serious in this relationship. And obviously, I did quite like her. I can see now it was not a good relationship, but then she just saw [INAUDIBLE 00:12:53] I didn’t like her, so I thought she was just — I was just hooking up with her, so she just dumped me and I was absolutely devastated, completely.
My world was just pulled away. I was so arrogant. I never thought for chance she would ever dump me. So, I ended up here in Thailand. I saw a lot of women. I realized my patterns with women that it’s like, same pattern I was doing with drugs, same pattern, addictive behavior, ‘just one more.’ This external thing is going to make me feel better.
[INAUDIBLE 00:13:20] one girl, man. And the hotter she was, the more validation. I saw the pattern, I broke it off and I decided to focus on work instead. Same addictive behavior, became a workaholic. Always these things that I can never be happy with me and my moment and myself, so it’s either some achievement, something that’s going to make me feel that. And so, I was focusing on work at the moment, then I accidentally, I ran into the woman I’m dating now. Nine years later.
When I met her, I remember it’s the first time in my life — maybe not the first time, but it was one of very few times where I enjoy spending time with a woman even if I didn’t have sex. Eventually, we did have sex, but it was one of those… I did enjoy the time I was spending with a woman, even if it took like two, three, four years before I could even dare to talk about how I felt about her.
David Tian: A lot of this pursuit of validation from other guys, look cool in front of them, and pursuing sexual relations with women in a kind of neurotic way… What do they say about players, like not just on the bed post kind of thing. And that you know, “This isn’t going to be fulfilling, but I’d like it.”
And a lot of what they’re after is actually, they think if they can attain these things, then they’ll have connection with people. The guy friends will not leave them, or ditch them, or abandon them because now the guys like you because you’re awesome. You’re the man, and they look up to you, so they’ll never leave you.
And the same with the women. You’re starting these relationships — well, we are, as pick up guys, we get into these little one night stands or whatever, 10 night stands or whatever, and it’s just the beginnings of things. But as soon as it gets a little bit too vulnerable, something happens. Either she pulls away or you pull away depending on your attachment styles and all that stuff.
What you’re really after though wasn’t just the sex. I keep pointing this out to guys. You think that is what you’re after because it sounds cool to talk about that. But if you’re really a sex addict and you suck at game, because a lot of these guys began — when they started the journey, they sucked at it, it would have been a lot easier for you to just go, to have hacked, ‘how to get sex on the cheap.’ or you just be very incentivized to make more money, get a better job, get better pay, whatever it is, and just pay for it versus developing game.
What led you to the game approach? And in a lot of it is the fact that they actually want a real woman, not a robot or somebody they paid for. They want her to actually like him, and then he can do it, versus paying because then it cheapens it in that sense of, she didn’t do it with him if she weren’t getting paid.
So he’s like, “I want her to actually like me for me.” Oh, really? Okay. So now, you actually want real human connection, but you’re going about it in this other way that will ensure that you don’t get it.
Micha: Yes. It’s like my mind. The moment my reality is not up to the expectations. And even though I know the more I expect, the more disappointed I will be. The more expectations I have, the more it doesn’t line up with the reality. The more my brain will look outwards for pleasures. If it’s for sex, it’s for food, for validation, anything.
That’s why I always went for these things because my brain tricked me to, “I should get this and I will feel good.” Whatever that is, the discomfort will go away. Anything that was fearful, I would stay away from. That’s like if a woman in the beginning of the relationship, my girlfriend, I didn’t emotionally validate or secured her, I know that she was mine and I wanted to be with her. She would start discussions almost like, “Why do you like me?”
The pain inside, the fear in me will be, “What if I tell her why I like her and she doesn’t say anything back?” The rejection would be so deep. I would just try to get out of the conversation. It wasn’t until proper step work, I looked at myself [INAUDIBLE 00:17:43] get a little bit comfortable we actually do have flaws as a person. Before that, I was this arrogant [INAUDIBLE 17:51] I was king of everything.
I thought it was confidence, but mostly it was just arrogance. I knew I was getting more comfortable not being perfect. And at the same time, I was like, “You know what? I’m going to take this leap. I’m going to try to give her a compliment.” And I did those things and it was beautiful. I never would have imagined how beautiful it would be.
David Tian: Beautiful. It’s crazy that when you do open up to feeling those emotions, that’s really what makes life worth living.
Micha: It’s things you’re most scared of. I was at least, I don’t know. I know why though logically. I looked at it and [INAUDIBLE 00:18:36] holy shit. That wasn’t that bad. It was really nice.
David Tian: Was there a specific moment that you can remember when it hit you? Like, you can do this and this feels like this way.
Micha: It was at that old condominium there at Pathum Wan. It was something like four or five years into our relationship, actually. I don’t know why she stuck around so long. But yeah, it was the moment I did it that I was like, “Wow, I didn’t get rejected. I got accepted for who I am.” It’s like a safe zone just grew.
David Tian: I love the emotion there.
Micha: I haven’t talked that almost…
David Tian: Take your time.
Micha: But yeah, the big thing was the acceptance of the little boy that just wanted to be liked and loved by all friends and family. That this moment comes from the woman you love.
David Tian: It’s amazing. It blows my mind, too. I discovered it slowly. I’m pretty old now, I feel, but I didn’t figure that out until almost 40. I think it was during 38, 39, something like that. Because of various events in my life, one of which would led me to be quite suicidal for about a month. And that was always in the background. Nothing really changed except for me. Nothing in the external changed.
It was all me, my views, and my emotions, and it was raw as fuck. So, when I met my wife now, when we first met on the second date, we went on a vacation to Bali. The second night we were together, something got triggered in me to these memories that would lead to this inner child, and I couldn’t stop crying, so I was so embarrassed. I went to the guest bathroom, just lock the door, and I was like crying.
I couldn’t come out because I was like fuck, I keep crying, shit. I couldn’t make it stop. Like, I wasn’t good at suppressing it. Oh, and it was because I was also drinking at that night. So, my filters were gone. So, I came out and I was still crying because I thought — she probably thought I had diarrhea or something. So, which is more embarrassing? That I have a half-hour diarrhea or that I’m crying? So I just kept crying, and then she held me, and then I was accepted. I felt accepted. I was really surprised.
Micha: I think that’s the really biggest thing. For some reason, I didn’t feel — logically, I know that my parents probably love me but I never felt it. I didn’t feel it growing up. And I tried to get it from friends but it’s just not the same thing. And then this moment when you make yourself so super vulnerable, this unrealistic fear that I built up my whole life, and then you try it and you get accepted. It’s like, “Wow.” [INAUDIBLE 00:22:18]
I was like, “Wow, that’s really nice.” This is what I wanted. But I didn’t know it was what I wanted until I tried, until I made myself vulnerable. It’s like, “Okay, I’ll accept it. I’ll try. I’ll take the risk of going against this fear here and I’ll give it a go.”
David Tian: Why did you give it a go then?
Micha: Why did I give it a go?
David Tian: Why at that point in your life did you give this a go?
Micha: For some reason, I remember I’ve finished most of my step work, the regular. I’ve gone through it myself and I’ve looked at who I was as a person, all my character defects, spiritual qualities I should replace them with. And I was just at a level I realized that a lot of me… I was not the person I thought I was.
For some reason, I’ll be, “Okay, I’m not as good as I think I am.” Because it was not real. It was arrogance. It was not confidence. I had this blowhard personality, and I realized that and I started behaving a little bit different in the relationship. I wasn’t the arrogant, controlling freak because I didn’t know everything. It just made me a little bit more comfortable, finding out who I was.
She tried these things, too. And it all happened about the same time. I was more willing to not argue to win the conversation, but solve an argument, what’s best for us. It all happened in approximately the same time as like, “Okay, I’m not always going to try to win because it’s not always best.”
And I was quicker to say I’m sorry when I was wrong. I was like, all this stuff that I’ve been going against and fighting against this relationship my whole life, it’s actually quite nice. It feels really good. I’m going to try this other thing as well. I can give her a compliment, or when she actually doesn’t feel validated, I’ll try it.
All of a sudden it’s like, wow, man. I’m a 35-year-old man. I’ve been doing the wrong way my whole life just because my ego was just not — I can’t do that. And I tried. And I said, “Wow. It feels so good.”
David Tian: So it was accumulating over this time of doing the step work.
Micha: The step work, you look at your own psyche. “Who are you? What are your problem areas of your life?” And I’m like, all my problem areas in my life, 75% 80% of them were caused by me and my behaviors. I was arrogant, rebellious, controlling. And I was like, “If I can see that… Wow.” First of all, when you realize that, it’s like… I remember it’s like just a couple days, I was like, “Wow, I’m not definitely who I am.” Just started the rebuilding process and just trying these things.
I tried to date multiple women at the same time. I tried to have threeways. I tried all these things, external things. I have tried everything except this thing, telling her I like her. It’s like the more I went for what I felt was real at that moment, it was like wow. You can’t compare it.
David Tian: For me, it was imperative because I was actually in pain. That suicidal period, that’s what really pushed that shift. Before that, I thought it was quite simple. Life was very simple. I thought if I tick these boxes, like have a great condo in this great city, I have a great party life, I have all the connections in town to get into any club, all the stuff, and I was dating these girls and the people looked up to me, this thing, and I had this money, I should be happy. I was like therefore, you should be happy.
I had pleasure. And for a moment, I was happy, and then life continued. It’s like a race and you think you’re done after you sprint that hundred meters. And you prepare 30 years to sprint that 100 meters, and then the gun goes off and boom, you hit it, and you win. You actually succeed. You get past the finish line. “Boom, I’m done. Yay.” You celebrate and now you find out there’s another 21 kilometers and you thought it was a hundred-meter sprint.
And then you’re like, “Oh, okay. I guess I got to keep going because that’s what life is.” A lot of guys die before they even do the sprint, and a lot of guys think there’s a sprint ahead, I don’t even want to do that. So, that’s the really lazy guys, the bums, and they respond to that, “Hey, get off out of your basement and wipe the Cheetos off your chest.” That kind of motivation. Just make something of yourself.
But we’re talking about, we’re in the situation where we’ve run the race, and we have won, and we still find it empty because, actually, the race wasn’t the point.
Micha: I think you said it really well. We search for this pleasure. Pleasure is not happiness. But when I’m not happy, my brain will look for pleasure. So whatever it is, basics for me are sex, drugs, and food, you know, like always. Even I’ve had a period right now where I’m four years clean, stayed in a relationship. I’m about to get married. I decided I’m going to try no fap. No masturbation.
And this is the first time I really realized how my brain looks for pleasure the moment it’s not happy. I never thought to deny myself masturbation ever in my life. Why would I do that? It feels good. But as soon as there’s a problem at work, as soon as something didn’t happen when I thought it was going to happen, my brain would just be like… We just seek.
My brain, as soon as it’s not happy, it looks for pleasure. Definitely for happiness. It doesn’t look to be in the moment, to be here, to appreciate what I have, to feel gratitude. None of that. It looks for pleasure. It just hard-wires to pleasure, like the basic things that we think that we need to get about.
David Tian: One way to get to the emotions of your life quicker is to deny your basic, the usual pleasures that you go to. Netflix and chill, whatever the normal thing you’re used to numb yourself from dealing with what’s actually happening inside. And porn and masturbation is one, common one. And that’s one of the reasons why, in spiritual traditions all around the world for all through history, fasting was a big part of — and celibacy in many monastic orders, is a big part of the spiritual practice. The denial of the desires of the flesh or whatever, force you then to have the clarity to see what’s happening inside you, in your brain, inside your mind, all these thoughts swirling around, all these different parts of you in conflict.
Whereas you could just distract yourself from all of that by just numbing. Eating, sex, drugs, or the pursuit of those in the case of pickup artists. They’re not even really having much sex. They’re just out to try to get it all every night, if they’re even doing that. Some pickup artists can’t even get past the approach anxiety, so they really shouldn’t call them pickup artists. So, they’re wannabe pickup artists and they just feel the approach anxiety, and they geek out online learning all these different things and never actually do any of it. That’s like the majority of the guys.
And the whole thing is, the whole time, they’re looking in the wrong place. I discovered this when I was in this place of pain, so I started reading all of this clinical psychology research and got really educated on that. On paper, I learned through books, and courses, and things. But inside I’m like, “I don’t really know the difference between all these different emotions.”
And I hired a method acting coach for some reason. I can’t remember what started me on that. But I had an inkling that maybe if I’m watching Leonardo DiCaprio on this movie, he’s really good at depicting emotion. I wonder if he actually has the emotion while he’s doing it.
And I had to learn as I did research that they do. They’re supposed to. And the hard part for acting is when they yell cut to stop the emotion. You don’t carry it home with you, especially if you’re acting in a love situation with a woman who is not your wife. That’s one of the reasons why the emotions bleed across the movies.
Anyway, I started this method acting thing. I discovered on my second or third session, we were trying to do an emotion. I think it was like resentment or something. I was at the club. The scenario was like, “I’m a guy in a club and somebody is hitting on the girlfriend. And I have to feel like…” So, some kind of [INAUDIBLE 00:31:16]. It’s not just obvious like anger or something.
And the coach is like… I did the scene, like, “No, there’s something off. Do it again. No, just go and do it.” But I didn’t know what was wrong. Like, what am I doing wrong? There’s no mirror or anything. He’s just saying, I don’t feel it, it’s not there. So, it’s like, here, let’s do something different. Stare at this wall. And now, in this situation, imagine — just get into that emotion. What would you say if you’re in that emotion? Say it again.
Which is the longest time, we’re just throwing these — like, fuck you man. “No, more.” “No, keep going.” Like, okay. And I’m just in it. I keep going. He’s like, “When I tap your shoulder, you’re going to turn and deliver the line. Just one sentence.” And then he taps, and I deliver the line. My face was like totally different. I couldn’t move certain muscles. It was like — and I deliver the line.
“Yes, that’s it.” Like, fucking work. 20 minutes of work just to do one line. But that’s because back then, and maybe even now for that particular line, I wasn’t emotionally available, or flexible, or vulnerable. Some of my clients talk about it like, they lived in black and white until they did this therapeutic processes within our courses, and now they see in color. For much of my life, I experienced emotions in black and white. They’re very simple, very basic, anger, sadness, whatever.
There was no in-betweens. Even for love and connection, I didn’t know what unconditional love actually felt like back then. And I would say that even for me now, it’s only been seven to eight years of being able to tap into that emotion, and growing. So like seven, eight years ago, I just felt it a little bit sometimes.
And love and connection, when we talk about that to dudes… Imagine telling this to your 20-year-old self, he wouldn’t even get it. Like, I wouldn’t get it.
Micha: I wouldn’t want him [INAUDIBLE 00:33:09]. My emotional filter was really simple when I was younger. I was really happy and having fun or I was pissed off. Because what I really was feeling, I wouldn’t even dare touching. Anger was what I was feeling. It wasn’t sadness and disappointment. That’s what I was really feeling, but I would just cover it with anger, straight up.
To really, really look at it, “Why am I angry?” And that’s not fucking happening. I’m going to be happy now. Just look for the pleasure. That’s it.
David Tian: And underneath the anger and these more aggressive emotions will always be the sadness and [INAUDIBLE 00:33:57] emotions. And those will always be connected to fear. So like, the sadness and vulnerable emotions, because of the fear, when you add the fear in there, that leads to anger as a protective mechanism.
Micha: You really feel discomfort of all these things. It’s like no, not touching.
David Tian: Yeah, the fear of going there. I was like…
Micha: The biggest feeling, the biggest character defects and feeling, we wanted [INAUDIBLE 00:34:30] anger. Any choice made ON resentment is usually a really poor choice. Your decision-making process is really poor. You would most likely do things that will not better the situation. If you always walk around with these feelings and then looking for pleasure to cover them up, your decisions skills are going to get really bad. Yeah.
You have to feel this thing. And the addict’s state of mind is that, for some reason, life is always supposed to be perfect. And when it’s not, we look for pleasure because I want to feel good. Instead of accepting reality, that it is a roller coaster and there is positive emotions, and there’s sadness and life, and then there will be joy for certain things. I was like, “No, I don’t want that. I just want the happiness.” You end up feeling like shit. You end up being resentful, controlling… I don’t know why we are like that but the fear of feeling, you know.
David Tian: Absolutely. The psychological explanation is, when we were children and initially feeling those feelings. It was in some way we perceived it as unacceptable, or we weren’t held. So, one of the things about — we were sharing the story about our significant other, is that we found, “Oh, we weren’t rejected. We weren’t abandoned when we opened up. Oh, we were actually accepted and loved perhaps even more than we were before because we opened up.”
That’s what we didn’t get as kids, and that’s where that protective mechanism forms. Then it becomes, “Okay, as a barrier, I’m going to be angry now. As a barrier, I’m going to this other emotion.” “I’m going to do this behavior. Now, I’m going to go eat to numb this feeling because I’m not getting supported. This space isn’t being held for me here.”
But now as adults, and this is a big part of therapy, is that the therapist helps you, holds the space for you to feel that emotion and makes it normal for you to feel that emotion, which it is, and makes it acceptable. And then you internalize that like, it’s okay, and maybe even good to feel these emotions. And that goes through the — in your 12-step groups, or in a good therapy relationship, that’s the kind of maturation that forms over time.
Micha: In the end, the message would be, why are we having this talk? And it’s like, it’s really, why are you looking to get laid? Why is it so important? Is it just pleasurable or is it something that would make you genuinely joyful or content? Somehow, customers, as a dating coach, a good 15, 20% of them, they end up in a long-lasting relationship really fast.
For some reason, somebody would approach they didn’t know how to. There’s one that goes off the deep end and gets really good and never gets out. There’s a few of those guys who just need a little kick to get the human reaction.
David Tian: There are a few who actually just needed to know some conversational tactics or something. That’s rare, though.
Micha: There’s not a lot of them, but that’s where you want to be. There’s a reason why humans stay in long-lasting relationships because it is really rewarding. If not, we’d all be Hugh Hefner.
David Tian: There’s a lot of dudes with this anger and bitterness. And what you said about decisions made out of resentment are always going to be bad decisions. The same could be said of fear. The decisions made out of fear will always be bad decisions. And a lot of guys on the internet now, when I bring up, “You have these fears.” They’re like, “Yeah, of course. Doesn’t everybody? We’re all afraid of this and that’s why I’m going to punch her in the face.”
No, we’re not all afraid of it. You and your friends are because of your peer group and their crap, and that’s why. And yes, the majority of the world is immature and they have — they’re being driven by fear. But in a good therapeutic process, in a loving group, or a supportive group, or a therapy relationship, you’ll discover that you can remove these fears.
The therapeutic process is discovering the fear, finding out why it’s there, and then actually going through a process to remove the fear. So, you’re not afraid of that anymore. And once you remove the fear, life is now meaningful right now without having to do all this other stuff right now. That’s right. You don’t need to change anything about yourself. You don’t need to lose any fat. You don’t need to make more money. You don’t need to get more girls.
Right now, in the moment, in this moment right now, you’re fine. But because of fear, you don’t believe it. And then you do all this other stuff that takes you away from where you should be, which is being good in the moment, in the present, and going deeper right now. It’s deep, man. It’s amazing.
Micha: I didn’t expect this at all.
David Tian: Well, I’ve had the pleasure. We’ve been doing summits for like four, five years. But over the years as we matured in the way we do our work, and it’s deepened in the work we do, most of the guys who started with us as guests that I invite just haven’t been able to keep up.
The things that we wanted to talk about, they weren’t interested in it. They really were still after those other goals of achievement that they thought would give them the meaning that they want out of life. So, it’s hard trying to tell somebody 10 years ago what you would have known now in a way that you 10 years ago would have understood.
Micha: Yes. People ask me — they usually ask me, “How hard is it to quit doing drugs?” I would say no, it’s harder to come into the conclusion that I need to quit drugs. When I’m in that zone of, “Do I need to deal my problem or do I want to pleasure myself? That’s harder because certain moments, I feel like I need to deal with this, I need to deal with being an addict.
And then I’m like, “Fuck it. I’m just going to [INAUDIBLE 00:40:29].” It’s just up and down. It’s just disappointment, and then disappointment, and I go, “Now, I can do it.” That’s horrible. And it’s a little bit similar to just like, “Maybe I’ll try this out. Maybe I’ll try to feel better.”
But the pleasures are so much more attractive so many times. It becomes a hard sell. But if you choose to really work on yourself, the rewards are immense. I have a daily program routine of five things I do every morning. And then I go to meetings multiple times a week. If I do these mechanical things over and over again, I feel really good. I can be present more here and now.
David Tian: What are the five things we can end this off with? Some practical advice you can share with us.
Micha: They’re recovery-related. I read a text that is supposed to help me to focus on being there for others, not to think about my own selfish needs, to help others if needed, to listen for advice of other people because I don’t know everything. And there’s a reflection on the day. What was the feelings I was feeling? Was I feeling selfish, resentful? Was I feeling fearful?
David Tian: Do you just check in like mentally or do you write?
Micha: I have a group. I share it with friends. [INAUDIBLE 00:41:55] fearful three days in a row and I haven’t found a certain process, they’ll be like, “Hey man, [INAUDIBLE 00:42:00].” So, there’s 20 questions total. Every morning, I go for that, and then I finish it with 20 minutes of meditation.
When I do these mechanical things, it might be hard. And sometimes, I don’t feel like doing them. But when I do them, the days are all manageable. I feel good. I can be more present. I have more patience. I have empathy. I can be there for my girlfriend, my fiancée, yeah. Everything is just easy.
David Tian: I highly recommend a morning routine of reflection and meditation for everyone. I started meditating, it was 2013, six to seven years ago now. And man, if I go a day without it, I’m off. It’s just… I have too many cognitive parts in me that’ll just keep talking if I don’t attend to them. They’ll just like…
Micha: Yeah, it is exactly that thing. If I don’t do it, I’m arrogant, I’m controlling. I have no patience. I expect shit. But the meditation is probably half of my morning routine. But when I do that, suddenly, I’m filled with patience, all this qualities. When I have those, all the people around me that I care for feels better. They feel better. It kind of reflects back. It’s really good. It’s not sexy but it is amazing.
David Tian: I think it’s pretty sexy. So, I try mindfulness meditation for being present. Just being present with emotions that may be uncomfortable at first, like that prickly sensation. Or physically, you might have anxiety and you feel it in your chest or whatever. It’s good to just sit with that and there it is.
That’s step one. As you get better with that, you can attend to it, which means to focus on it. There’s that panicking in the chest. Let’s focus on that, find out why that’s there, and walk you through the therapeutic process. But you can’t even get that started if you can’t do basic mindfulness meditation. Just having you be present in your body, you can do it every morning.
Micha: It’s very easy. There’s multiple applications out there for your phone. Headspace, Calm.
David Tian: It’s easy to get started.
Micha: They all have a free trial for their guided stuff. I started without. A five-minute meditation. I was mind blown how the mind quieted down. I was like, holy shit. I never expected that before. There’s tons of resources free to get started.
David Tian: Highly recommended. I guess we can end off with that. Thanks so much, Micha, for opening up and sharing. That was awesome, man. I guess we’re not plugging anything for you. If you want to learn about Micha, message me. I’m at DavidTianPHD.com, and let us know what you thought about the podcast episode, and thanks again, man. Thanks for listening.
Micha: Good to have you here. Thanks very much.
David Tian: Hey, it’s David again. Before you go, a couple last things. First, all the show notes and links to resources can be found at DavidTianPHD.com/dtphdpodcast, or you can just go to DavidTianPHD.com and find it through the top navigation menu.
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