27th of April 2015

Helping Joe, Episode 13


In this episode of Helping Joe, Joe finishes Level 1 of improv but has insecurities about moving on to Level 2 with his class. Tucker and Charlie help him put his progress in perspective and convince him to keep going. They refer back to how meditation and journaling can change ineffective thought patterns and explain how with more demonstrated performance, real evidence of increasing success, Joe will build real confidence in his social life and with women. They also dive a little deeper into Joe’s personal history, friendships, and why he has no female friends.


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Joe’s Thoughts and Takeaways From This Episode:

Hey this is a running commentary of random thoughts, notes, and takeaways I had during or after this episode. – Joe


  • When it’s ineffective to compare yourself to others around you
  • How good parents with good intentions still fuck kids up
  • Give yourself more evidence of success (demonstrated performance) to build real confidence
  • Why meditation and journaling helps so much with changing bad thought patterns
  • How an improv class is a great of a social group
  • Why you miss out if you wait until you’re perfect before doing things
  • Why man/woman friendships are fundamentally different than man/man friendships
  • Why irrational emotions are real and one way to deal with them

@Beginning – Improv Class

I came into this episode upset at myself because I was at the end of my improv class and still had the same problems as when I started.

“You know that you can’t knock out 25 years of conditioning in 18 hours.” – Charlie

This was a good point and a smart mental check. Going through this is normal.

To bring back a point that Nils made in the last episode…
This is why it’s important to open up and talk to people about how you’re feeling because you can kind of check yourself or calibrate your internal emotions with what’s normal, what other people are feeling: Is what I’m feeling normal? Do other people experience this?
If you just keep things to yourself and don’t talk to people about these problems, then there is no way for you to find this out, you can’t calibrate or check yourself.

Also Tucker’s point about being on a continuum applies here:
I am getting better but it takes time. I was looking at my feelings about the improv class as binary: Self-conscious / nervous = failure; fearless & fun = success … which is kind of dumb. It’s better to look at improv class as a continuum, ups and downs, but in general putting in the work to move up. And with something like this you don’t necessarily see progress day to day, it’s like being in the gym, it’s process that takes time.

@3:00 – I was honest, kind of vulnerable with female friend at improv

This was cool because I took what I learned from the book, did it, and had a great fucking conversation with this women and connected with her.

@5:00 – Chick vs woman vs girl

I don’t know why I say “chick.” I think Tucker was annoyed by it because pickup guys use it. I don’t think it’s a big deal but whatever. I can see if I was a woman I probably wouldn’t like being called a chick. As a man, I wouldn’t like it if a woman called me bro all the time.

@7:30 – Having fun with improv

Improv is like going to the gym each week, it takes months of doing this daily until you see some results.

There are no hacks, techniques, or tricks. Just show up, do it.

Especially with improv, it’s about having fun, not comparing.

“Are you ever going to be as funny as Bill Murray?” – Tucker
“No” – Joe
“Then why not just give up at everything?” – Tucker

This was a great way to point out how ridiculous it is to compare yourself to other people in class. We’re totally different, running our own race. Just because someone else is better or great doesn’t takeaway anything from what I am doing in class.

@10:00 – How my parents helped me with problems = abusive

When I was a kid and had a problem at school (wasn’t making friends, sucked with girls) my parents, especially my dad, would just give me compliments and boost my self-esteem, telling me how great I was or whatever, instead of actually helping me solve the problem.

I guess this is called helicopter parenting and Tucker said it was “weirdly a form of abuse.”

I laughed at this because it sounds ridiculous. I was never abused by my parents as a kid. But the way Tucker explains it here makes a lot of fucking sense:

“Not teaching your child how to deal with negative emotions or understand problems and work through them, you’re impairing their development, crippling them emotionally.” – Tucker

@11:30 – Identifying thought patterns and replacing them.

Tucker goes into therapy talk here. It’s smart stuff but a little over my head.

“You change because you identify why you have these patterns and you replace them with good ones… nothing I say can replace that voice in your head, but if you start to do things that create better outcomes and look at those as proof of a better outcome. That’s how it changes.”

It’s looking at evidence of success, feeling better about yourself, and using that as a positive feedback loop: Getting better / changing -> success (and evidence of it) -> feeling better -> keep getting better

He mentions the speed dating thing and how I did well there (matching with hot women I liked) despite being dressed awfully and going in there feeling like shit. I’m getting better and recognizing the evidence of that.

“Once you start to accept good things about yourself, then you can accept other people’s compliments more.” – Tucker

I think this is how confidence works: “The more that I give myself evidence of being good at things, the more I will accept other people’s positive views of me.”

It takes a lot time to work through these patterns and build this confidence.

“In a journey of 1,000 steps, you’ve taken the first 20.”

@16:00 – Why meditation + journaling helps so much with this

Meditation clears your mind and helps you get crap stuff out of your head or at least deal with it and journaling helps you focus on the positive, put good stuff into your brain.

How confidence and real self-esteem works

Tucker explains this and is similar to stuff we’ve talked about before and what I read in Confidence (Book Notes)

“The more you think of yourself as attractive, then when others say it, you will hear it.”

@19:00 – Back to why I felt bad about improv class and expectations

Tucker helps me figure out that I have the same insecurities about an improv class (How am I doing? What are people thinking of me?) as I do on dates.

This was kind of a big realization. How did I not connect the dots before? It’s the same fucking thing. I look at going out on a date and going to improv class as totally different events, but the same patterns of performance anxiety, being self conscious, worried about what others think of me are running in both events.

@21:30 – Improv as foundation of a social group

“Improv fits all the criteria of forming real friendships: You have regular proximity (spending regular time togehter), common interest (being playful and vulnerable together), and in open environment where you can let your guard down. Builds and takes time. If you pull out or change class too quickly, you won’t get that.” – Charlie

This is a good point. I suck at making friends…. How do you keep a friendship going after improv ends? How do you take the friendship from just improv to doing fun stuff outside of improv? It’s probably the same way you set up a second date. Just go do fun stuff together or find out what the other person likes and go do that and hang out. Ask Charlie about this later.

@23:00 – Back to conversation with friend at improv

We were talking about if I was going to take the 2nd class and she was persuading me why I should.

They make fun of my inner monologue (Two bullies yelling at each other.) and it’s hilarious.

@25:00 – Being honest and leaning in (improv)

Charlie and I talk about a game called “Truth Chair” and this fantastic + hilarious improv guy I saw and why he was so good. “He takes whatever is there and rushes into it.”

This is called “Being (or doing) the obvious” and “committing” I think. And the best guys in my class are those that commit full on to characters and it’s great.

Tucker makes a good observation that this is the opposite of me. And he’s right. I don’t commit (couldn’t even commit to taking a 2nd class). I tip-toe and don’t engage, play it safe and withdraw way too much.

@28:30 – Improv games and improv stories

Charlie asks me if I was ever like this guy where I let loose or was committed. I talk about stories where I did things that got big laughs in class. I remember these very specifically because it felt great to get those laughs.

@31:00 – Driving analogy / parallel

Charlie compares getting good at improv to getting good at driving.

Tucker & Charlie make funny jokes here. “Stop sign… story of my life.”

But with improv when you get in an accident, nothing happens, and it’s cool. It’s a safe place to fail, get better, and improv.

@35:00 – Why I was thinking about not moving on to Level 2 of improv

What was going through my head at the time: Man I suck, I’m not good enough, I still have these same issues of being self-conscious, self-editing, comparing myself to others, that I had in the first few classes, I should go back and do Level 1 again, I’m not ready to move on.

The fact is that I’m about average in the class. There are 3-4 people who great, 1-3 people who are worse than me, and a handful that are about the same level. So if everyone is moving on, why shouldn’t I move on? Doesn’t make sense but I wasn’t thinking right.

At first I thought I was being overly self-critical and that was part of it, but I think the deeper issue was wanting to be perfect before I moved on. There was this quote in Daring Greatly and I think it really applies in this situation and how I was feeling:

“When we spend our lives waiting until we’re perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander precious time, and we turn our backs on our gifts, those unique contributions that only we can make. Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don’t exist in the human experience.”

I think this is a big problem I have, waiting until I’m perfect or skilled enough or I know enough or I have to read this book before I do X or whatever. It’s a really fucking bad habit and it played out here by waiting until I reached some subjective level of ability that I set arbitrarily before I could let myself move on.

@37:00 – Making friends at improv

“Those people want you to come. They wouldn’t have grilled you if they didn’t want you to come.” – Charlie

“You’ve made friends and they’ve tried to pull you into a friendship and you are resisting.”
– Tucker

Tucker’s point here was that being vulnerable with friends is risky but it’s worth it.

“As long as you keep being open and honest and emotionally vulnerable, you will continue to be interesting for a long time. It’s our job to bring it out of you [on the podcast].”

@40:00 – Past friends

We talk about my closest friends. I was uncomfortable talking about this because I don’t make friends very easily. I never have. Like I don’t have any high school friends that I keep in touch with, I only have a few great friends from college that I still talk with and keep in touch with. I’m not vulnerable with them.

There’s 1 guy who is really vulnerable with me and shares a lot and his stories are great so I love him for it. But I don’t think I’m the same way with him or on the same level of being so self-deprecating and open and vulnerable. I don’t reciprocate enough.

Charlie talks about sometimes going to friends with big problems, when he needs help, and having long 1-2 hour conversations with them about deep stuff. And Tucker talks about how Charlie sometimes helps him with emotional stuff (Charlie is more empathetic). This is something I can’t relate to that well because for most of my life I haven’t done this. I’ve been getting better and have reached out to people a little when I have big issues (getting fired or quitting a job) but I usually try to solve it myself. This is stupid and sad. A team will always know more and outperform an individual.

Tucker talks about how working through emotional issues and staying in one place for a long time, putting down roots, are ways to make deeper friendships.

They make fun of lifehacker type people who travel around a lot and post cool pictures of themselves.

Signing up for improv is a positive change.

@49:00 – Being friends with women

Charlie asks me if I have female friends. And to be honest, no.

Tucker is pretty smart at reading people and was able to guess correctly that I don’t have female friends based on my problems with empathetic, emotioning connecting.

These problems of connecting emotionally with women on dates are X10 when trying to be friends with women. “If you had female friends, you wouldn’t have these issues on dates.”

The good news: I have the ability to do this. There’s nothing that Tucker or Charlie can see that would stop me from being friends with women.

“Female friendships tend to be more empathy based or connection based than male friendships. The exact place where women connect with men is where you don’t connect with anyone.”

Tucker & Charlie advise me to try and make friends or pursue a friendship with this older woman I like talk to at improv. I think it’s a great idea. I just don’t know how to do it, do I ask her out to lunch? coffee? an improv show? I should have fucking asked them more about this, making friends with women and not send wrong signals or be weird, during the show but I didn’t, goddamn it.

@54:00 – Past female friends that I hurt

Girls I weren’t attracted to and was friends with then she made a move or wanted more and I didn’t reciprocate or I ignored it and they were hurt and then we weren’t friends any more.

Tucker talks about his experiences with mediocre girls thinking he’s a catch, but hot girls don’t. This is funny but might be same thing going on with me. “I’m in range for them.”

For the most part, this is not something to worry about because women are better at picking this up + you are just projecting 10 steps in the future of this awful scenario playing out.

@57:00 – Tucker’s comment about leaving things around his apartment.

He called me “feral”. I didn’t take it to heart because it’s funny and a ridiculous thing to call somebody. Christ, Tucker pisses with the door wide open, all the time. He burps into the microphone constantly on the podcast and he calls me feral. I didn’t bring this up on the podcast because I wasn’t quick enough to think about it. It was a good laugh regardless.

@58:30 – Why I didn’t followup with the improv girl I liked

This projecting or predicting negative things into the future is why I didn’t ask out the girl I liked at improv. I was afraid of looking stupid or fucking up with her then improv would suck or it wouldn’t be fun anymore or the people in the group wouldn’t like me….

Irrational emotions are real

Irrational emotions are real to you and you have to deal with them.

That’s why meditation is good. It allows you to catch yourself and you can observe that thought instead of letting it control you. It helps you lessen the pull that thought has.

You can’t get rid of it but you can deal with it. Goal is to handle it and not let it stop you from doing things, taking risks.

@1:02:30 – Relationships are the meaning of life, and most guys suck at them

Harvard study linked cultures with most happiness / life satisfaction are those with strongest relationships in community. Relationships, not health, diet, exercise, level stress, nope, relationships. It’s pretty fucking interesting. All the health benefits of relationships are unseen I think and unnoticed largely I think, that might be why we don’t put a priority on them.

@1:04:00 – Rescheduled a date with the nurse and might have blown it.

Last Thursday I made a date to go to salsa class with cute nurse I was seeing. This would have been our 3rd date.

I canceled on Tuesday because I wanted to hang out with a friend before he went back to England and I thought she might be able to go out another day. Wrong.

She was busy those other days, out of the city, then worked all weekend. Thursday was her only free day and she was going to hang out with me, but I fucked up. FUCK!

I didn’t bring her with me because I didn’t want to introduce friends yet. And my friends are younger, she’s like 32 so I was worried she wouldn’t have fun which was just stupid. My friends are cool, why wouldn’t she like them? And if she doesn’t, she has bad taste, wtf.

Tucker’s default is always action. My default is to hesitate, withdraw, tip-top. I suck.

“You are taking responsibility for her to have a good time and to enjoy herself. That’s not really up to you.” – Charlie

This goes back to the unconfident arrogant thing that we have talked about in past episodes.

@1:06:30 – Wearing different social masks with different groups of people

I think this was another reason unconsciously why I didn’t want to (and still don’t want to) mix girls I am dating with friends I have because I act differently or wear different social masks with each group and I feel like something will go wrong (but I have no idea what) and I’ll lose one or the other or look stupid or incongruent, I don’t know.

Charlie referenced a great Jim Gaffigan bit that directly hit on what I was talking about:
“It’s so stressful introducing groups of friends to each other…. ‘OK so my friends don’t know I speak Spanish, so if you could not let them know.’”

@End – “There’s a difference between looking pathetic and being honest about who and what you are and presenting your best side but being honest about the things that aren’t good.”

I still have trouble with this because deep down I have a fear of being vulnerable, showing a woman who I really am, and her just being totally uninterested or turned off and she’ll leave.

There’s this quote from Daring Greatly about what vulnerability is like: It’s “being naked onstage and hoping for applause rather than laughter.”

Right now, I am just expecting laughter. I can’t see a situation where I tell her about Helping Joe or I show her my place and she doesn’t laugh or is turned off or unattracted to me.

Or it could be that I’m just really insecure about who I am and embarrassed about things like, oh I live on a mattress on the floor OR oh I’m a podcast 1x a week where I get help because I suck with women.

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