4th of June 2015

Helping Joe, Episode 18 Part 2


This week on Helping Joe we split a longer episode into two parts. In Part 2, Tucker and Charlie talk to Joe about how humiliating rejections from women can get stored in the brain the same way as war trauma. They repeat Joe’s Two Rules for going out and the right way to tease girls to have fun. Joe gives an update with the girl from improv (see Episode 17), and he plays an awful audio message that he left her. Tucker also talks about how Joe can get over situations he is afraid of.


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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


  • How past emotional pain and rejection works in brain, it’s like PTSD
  • How to process PTSD (or past painful emotional events)
  • How to tease women and have fun
  • Joe plays an awful audio message that he left the improv girl.
  • Why you tell the world how to treat you
  • How to meditate on the worst case scenario to overcome fear

@beginning – It’s easy to forget all the progress you’ve made.

“The fact that you have conversations about not staying hard with girls is a major improvement. It means girls want to have sex with you!”

Yea this is a problem I have of forgetting where I was just a few months ago. It doesn’t feel like I’ve made a lot of progress because I still have problems but I have come a long way since we started.

The 5 Minute Journal and journaling in general is helping with this.

@3:00 – How past emotional pain and rejection works in brain, it’s like PTSD

Trauma or past pain can come from parents, family, friends, school, anywhere. It gets coded in the brain and stays there.

Trying to get past that pain to reconnect with someone else is difficult.

We talk a little bit about PTSD. Tucker says that getting rejected at a bar in a bad way can get coded or stored as a memory in your brain the same way it stores trauma from war.

The more I think about it, I can identify with this personally. There are a handful of memories I have where I just got rejected or turned down bad, like girls totally ignoring me or just saying “NO!” in an awful way like a total bitch. The fact that I remember those and feel bad about them means I probably took it pretty hard (there was a lot emotional pain) when it happened. It was awful and instead of going out and trying again, I was like “that sucked. Let’s NOT do that again. Just go home and jerk off. Way easier and less painful.” I’ve heard other guys say they were “scarred” from early experiences at 18, 19, 20 when they were being humiliated or rejected badly by women. And it stopped them from talking to other women.

I wish we had explored this a little more because I get the feeling they think I have PTSD from being rejected or humiliated by women and I don’t think I have PTSD.

“Sexual humiliation is one of the most threatening things a guy can go through on a biological level because that means ostracization which means no mating… [Rejection from a woman] is coded as a threat to our existence.”

“If brain evolved to navigate social relationships related to mating and survival in groups of 150 people or so. A woman laughing at you is as bad as a lion chasing you. They are both total threats to your survival.”

Fucking shit… well how the hell do I go over that? Because that’s not the case anymore, right, so how do I override my brain’s first evolutionary response to a woman laughing at me or a woman rejecting me?

@7:00 – How to process PTSD (or past painful emotional events)

How it happens -> emotional pain that is too hard to deal with in the moment, gets stored for in your unconscious.
Need to process it later by bringing it back up. The trauma doesn’t leave. It can come back up as flashbacks or nightmares.

Normally when bad memories or past painful events pop back up in my head, I try to forget them as quickly as possible and go about the rest of my day. Tucker says this is the worst thing to do because not dealing with it, it will come back up again until deal with it.

Best thing to do is to recognize, accept, investigate, no judgement, let it run and play out, let it wash over you and then you can let it go. I really don’t want to do this. I feel like it would take too much time or take the up most of my day if this is what I did every time I thought of something shitty or bad things happened.

This was a great metaphor: It’s like a program on your computer that was left open and it’s eating your memory / processing power so until you go back and find it and close it, the whole computer is going to run slower and be fucked up.

9:00 – The Two Rules For Going Out, Repeated

I tell a story about how I felt nervous at just the thought of going up and talking to a few cute women at a bar after an improv class and Tucker reminded me of the rules for going out: Find out something interesting about them & have fun.

Here’s the thing in this situation and in other situation when I’m out with people or with girls: Before I can think about those 2 things, I just get stuck in this loop of nerves. I feel self-conscious, nervous, I don’t want to fuck up what I’m going to say, what if I look like an idiot. And that is playing in my head instead of thinking or remembering those 2 rules.

I’ve had fun at bars before but not in a long time. Mostly it was in college or when I was traveling. Playing pool or beer pong or fooseball at a bar was fun and a great way to talk to girls. There was another time where we came up with bad pickup lines that another guy had to go use we each did this to each other and some of those lines were actually hilarious and playing this game was fun and we talked with cute women.

I came up with a few ideas here for how I could have had fun in this specific situation but to be honest, I don’t have any confidence in trying these out. I would just fuck it up or look stupid.

Charlie recommends that you take their picture, then take a selfie of yourself with their phone. I don’t know… this sounds weird or creepy to me. If they asked me to take their picture, I would be totally cool with it and it would be fine, but just walking up to them and asking if they wanted their picture taken sounds weird. I couldn’t see myself doing that.

This was especially disappointing because it was right after my improv class…

@14:00 – How to tease women and have fun

Charlie and Tucker talk about the difference between being a dick and teasing where everyone is on the same team.
When I was younger (20ish), I used be just a dick because I thought that worked. I quickly learned that 1) no it doesn’t work and 2) I don’t like being a dick. So now when I tease I always make sure that she is laughing and if she’s not I stop.

A good example of this was in Episode 14 where I was arguing that she was not a nerd, but she was arguing that she was.

@18:00 – I play the audio message that I left the improv girl. It’s awful.

We talked about asking her out in Episode 17. I blew it again in class and didn’t find the right time or just psyched myself out after class was over. So I left her this audio message and man oh man was it bad. Fuck.

The worst part about this is that I thought this was okay to send. I was just totally oblivious to how awful I sounded.

They break down the multiple problems with this audio message.

@21:00 – The difference between self-deprecation and self-laceration

They explain how self-deprecation is funny, not sad. I know this but still it was good to mention this here.

@24:00 – “Every interaction he has with this girls is defined by avoiding fear and avoiding admitting that he has fear”

I don’t think this is true. I’m anxious about asking her out or going out with her and dating, but I wouldn’t say that I’m afraid of her. She wouldn’t be attracted to me if I was afraid of her. Well, at least she was attracted to me. Now, after that message who knows…

“There’s no problem in being afraid. The problem is not recognizing it and not addressing it. That is what creates these situations.”

Tucker mentions his favorite quote again from the History Of The Peloponnesian War in the funeral oration by Pericles: “There is no shame in poverty. There is only shame in doing nothing to alleviate the situation.” He talked about this in Episode 15 too.

@26:00 – “It’s not even something to be afraid of!” – Joe

Wrong. This is something I didn’t realize on the podcast but I was wrong when I said this. It is something to be afraid of because that’s how your brain evolved. We just talked about this 20 minutes ago in the beginning of this podcast. It doesn’t make sense living in a modern times, but it does makes sense if you know how the brain evolved.

Tucker explains it here: “Here’s a girl that is in one of your social groups. If she rejects you, there’s a price to that far higher than the one on Tinder. It’s totally valid.”

And he’s actually pretty nice and accepting about it here, but I still feel humiliated that I am afraid of talking to or asking out girls. I don’t know why but it’s embarrassing and shameful, especially since I’m not in HS or college. I’m a fucking adult and I feel incompetent or weak as a man saying that I’m afraid to talk to women, even if that is the reality at times, I hate admitting that.

@29:00 – After this, now I have a show with her tonight, my improv show

Tucker’s advice is to go home and mediated on this for 10-20 minutes, playing out the scenarios in my head and all the consequences.

We play out the worst scenario, her playing that message and then making fun of me, and how I would react.
“What’s the humor in this?” haha that’s such a great fucking question…

I say something about playing a sad, moping around character to which Tucker responds, “You always play that character. It’s time to stop playing that character.” Haha another strong dose of truth.

“Imagine the worst possible scenario. Actually absorb it (play it out in your head). Emotions will come up. Let them have their say. They will punch themselves out, and then it’s fine. You’ve already played out the worst scenario in your head so anything else that happens will be fine.”

@32:00 – You’re not being honest enough. Be raw, too the fucking core.

I didn’t know what he was getting at here. He probably wanted me to say that I was afraid or something like that. I was just guessing and groping around in the dark trying to be funny and do different things until I got this right or was “honest enough”

@34:30 – Liking yourself and the situation

“If you say it and act like you LIKE yourself and the situation, then you can say that stuff and deliver in a way where people are like, ‘Oh he’s OK with himself so we are OK with him.”

Tucker’s spin on this: “You don’t have to like the situation… I like myself, but I clearly did something fucked up. So I’m going to point out everything fucked up about it and make a joke about it and we’re just going to move on.”
Tucker breaks down all the things I did wrong leading up to and with this audio message. This is funny but also sad. I fucked up in so many ways here. We were just talking about how much progress I had made earlier, and now this … god damn it.

“All the specific things you did wrong, dive totally into all of them, own all of the humiliating parts, and say, ‘I did it. It sucks. Now let’s move on.’” –Tucker

SIDENOTE: I actually did this when I was talking about Helping Joe (not with this but different examples and stories from past episodes) to somebody that used to work with Tucker or maybe it was one of his friends. I can’t remember. I was talking about it and just remember being raw and honest about how awful I was (stories in Episodes 3&4, I terrible choice of clothes, etc.) but I was cool with it because I’m getting better and meeting more people in Austin. I was confident and excited about telling him all the stupid shit I had done because it was in the context of “I like myself” and “I’m getting better”. I didn’t have my head down or mope around or have sad body language. I was engaged in talking about this. I also just got back from a 1st date that went OK so I didn’t feel like I was coming from a place of desperation. I had this date to talk about too!

“It’s an interesting social dynamic: people can say and do the craziest things, but if they just own it, they can get away with it and everything’s cool… but when you’re afraid or ashamed of what you’re doing or saying, people pick up on that.” – Charlie

Yea another thing about fear: It’s biologically contagious. At the recommendation of Nils, I started listening to the Invisibilia podcast and one episode they have is on Fear. One of the things I took away from it is that we (and all animals) might have alarm pheromones. So when we get scared or alarmed about something, we might pass that on to those around us.

@38:00 – “You tell the world how to treat you.” – Tucker

Consciously and unconsciously, I tell the world to treat me like shit. This is so hard to admit because it’s really fucking stupid. WHY WOULD I DO THIS? Why would anyone do this? But the more I look in the mirror and look around, I think this is sad but true. And it feels really weak to admit that I let people treat me badly, but for most of my life and different areas, at home, in work, out in the social groups, I think this is a regular pattern that pops up and I rationalize around it.

“And you expect it so it happens. Anything that is good or positive, you don’t process it because you’re waiting for the ax to fall.” – Charlie

This was a fucking great point that Charlie made. And this was delaying or numbing positivity or joy was a vulnerability shield (a way people prevent themselves from being vulnerable) that Brene Brown outlined in her book Daring Greatly.
I wish we dove more into this.

@39:00 – “I’m already dead. I have nothing to lose.”

Tucker’s advice going in is to accept the worst possible scenario, that’s already happened, then you can relax.
Tucker talks about a story from history of these Gaelic or Germanic warriors that would do this ritual where they metaphorically died before battling the Romans so that they were already dead which made them crazy. They didn’t give a fuck because they were already dead so they were hard for the Romans to defeat.

I brought up an example of probably my favorite TV Series ever Band of Brothers when Lt. Speirs, one of the heroes from Easy Company, a badass, said, “We’re all scared… you think there’s still hope, Blithe. But the only hope you have is to accept the fact that you’re already dead. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you’ll be able to function as a soldier is supposed to function: without mercy, without compassion, without remorse. All war depends upon it.” [VIDEO]

I did a little bit of research on the real life guy, Ronald Speirs, and somebody said about him: “As a combat leader you couldn’t find anyone better than Ronald Speirs. He had this mind-set around him: ‘Don’t worry about getting killed because you’re already dead. Just move forward and when it’s your time, it’s your time.’ Which I guess worked out perfectly for him.” From Silver Eagle – The Official Biography of Band of Brothers Veteran Clancy Lyall.
“He had already accepted the worst possible outcome so it frees you to be everything under that.”
That’s how I will go into the improv show later tonight.

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