Tag Archives: caveman

The Agony of Defeat

Don’t Fight The Caveman

When I was a kid there was a TV show called, “Wide World of Sports.”

One of the taglines was that it showed the “thrill of victory” and the “agony of defeat.”

When they showed the “agony of defeat” part, they showed some guy coming down a ski jump ramp and crashing horribly just as he got to the take off point.

Sports have been around for a long, long time.

All cultures from all times have some kind of sports in their ancient history.

Some suspect that as humans slowly made the transition from hunter-gatherers to farmers, they still had that “competitive spirit.”

To be sure, on the battlefield or on the playing field, winning is awesome, and losing sucks.

But that’s where it ends.

Or, rather, that’s where it SHOULD end.

The trouble with our instincts, especially the ones for competition, is we can really just “shut them off.”

This is easy to understand with something like hunger.

Feeling hungry sucks. Eating feels good. It’s VERY DIFFICULT to simply “not eat” when you’re hungry AND there’s plenty of food around.

This is kind of how it feels when you get into an argument over something really tiny, but you simply CAN NOT just let it go.

You HAVE to win at all costs.

That’s that ancient instinct rearing it’s ugly head.

We’ve got a lot of them.

We tend to follow authority figures, even when they’re clearly idiots.

We tend to follow the crowd, even when they’re running right off a cliff.

We tend to eat WAY more calories than we need, even though we keep buying bigger pants.

Caveman 1, Human 0 !

Of course, if you try and “battle” your instincts with sheer willpower, you’ll lose most of the time.

This is precisely why diets fail. You’re trying to battle your ancient drive to eat, which resides in your VERY POWERFUL reptilian cortex, with your conscious mind.

However, instead of CONTROLLING your instincts, consider learning to manage them.

Like not going shopping when you’re hungry.

Or being able to step back and see the “big picture” when you find yourself in a heated argument over which culture invented the bacon cheeseburger.

One thing that can help is having a CLEAR set of goals.

This makes it easy to step back and see if what you’re doing is to satisfy your inner caveman, or your rational human.

Rational humans choose and pursue goals, while cavemen and cavewomen follow their instincts.

There are a lot of ways to overcome those instincts.

Daily journaling can help.

Meditation can help.

Doing visualizations can help.

These can also help:

Mind Persuasion Ebooks

Acres of Cornfields

The Essential Skill That Nobody Knows

Why do people talk?

I mean why do us humans use words?

Sure, communication is nice, but why is it necessary?

How did it happen, and why were those who used it able to succeed better than those who weren’t?

I know, silly question.

Giving instructions, listening to stories, all this helped primitive humans a lot more than grunts and sounds.

But here’s an interesting experiment.

Next time you’re in a conversation with your buddies, and you’re just sitting around, go into “observer” mode.

Not for very long. And certainly NOT as an excuse to not participate.

But just to get out of the conversation a bit. Study the structure of the words and sentences that people are using.

See how well people describe their ideas.

It won’t take long to realize that most casual conversations are not really much more than grunts.

Not a lot of well thought out ideas.

This is even more eye opening if you position yourself next to a cute girl in a social setting.

And listen to how the guys hit on her.

Listen to how well (or how poorly) their language is structured.

Again, you’ll be surprised (or maybe not so surprised) how “thrown together” people’s approach at a clear attempt at persuasion.

If you wanted to take this experiment even further, take a walk into some high end retail shops. Car lots. Even a real estate office if you’re brave.

Reverse engineer the structure of their sales presentation.

See how well thought out it is (or isn’t). Most of the time, you’ll find that even the HIGHEST PAID sales people don’t do much more than tell you how AWESOME their product is. Over and over and over. Until you give up and buy.

Most people start a conversation, they have a very VAGUE idea of what they want.

Salespeople want a sale. Pickup artists want to get laid.

But other than that, most people have a half baked idea, they spit out a randomly chosen jumble of words, and hope for the best.

If it doesn’t work, they usually repeat themselves. Maybe swap out a word or two. And hope it works.

The truth about language is that BECAUSE it is hard wired into our brains, that we do it without thinking, we assume we can’t improve on it.

We can’t make it better. We can’t practice like we’d practice the piano or martial arts.

But we can.

You can.

And when you do, when you start to do the daily drills (just like you would for the piano or martial arts) there are few people you will meet throughout your lifetime that will be able to match your skills.

Isn’t that worth a few minutes a day of language practice?

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