Each and every one of us has strategies for getting what we want and need. You might be aware of some of these strategies you employ, but totally unaware of others. Not being aware of your strategies and even worse, failing to realize that you are even in a strategy, is a recipe for suffering. It is also a recipe for losing touch with your authenticity. It is so important to become aware of your strategies, and to consciously decide what to do about your strategies once you recognize them. Having this awareness will bring you closer to a fulfilling and authentic life.
As people, we are very strategic creatures. We do what we do for a reason. This woman wears a push up bra because if men find her attractive, she stands more of a chance of being wanted by a man and as a result, fended for. That woman gets a degree so that she can get the credibility she so badly craves. This man behaves in a very agreeable way because if he can create the feeling of social confluence, he will have a place to belong and people to belong with. That man gets a tattoo of tear drops on his face, because he believes that if other men see it, and know it means that he has killed another man, they will feel dominated and be intimidated by him and therefore, he will be safer. This child dedicates all his time and energy to baseball because doing so is the only way he has found to get his father to engage with him and feel that sense of closeness he so desperately wants in that relationship. That child rebels because she thinks doing so will grant her the freedom and autonomy she has been deprived of by her parent’s strict rules and limits. In fact, our very personalities are often a strategy in and of themselves. To understand more about this, you can watch my video titled: Why Your Personality is Fake (Distortion).
There is nothing innately wrong with strategy. It is a part of life on earth. But just like anything else, there are shadows that can come with being strategic. To name a few, we tend to be very subconscious about our strategies. It’s rare that we sit down and have a real ponder about what strategy to consciously employ in order to get what we want and avoid what we don’t want. Instead, it’s like these strategies simply deterministically and subconsciously happen. We also adopt them from the people we are around and the culture we are a part of. And so, we are not in the position of conscious choice about those strategies. And so, they have more control over us than we have over them. Also, because we are so subconscious about our strategies, we may not actually be employing the best strategy or even an effective strategy for what we want and need. For example, a woman discovers that what she wants deep in her heart is to be loved by a man. But she might discover that her method for being loved by a man is to co-dependently assume all of his interests and preferences so that they suddenly become her own. She might realize that by doing this, the man does not really love her. He loves the woman who she acts like she is; a carbon copy of himself. And that this behavior keeps leading her into relationships with narcissistic men. Thus, the very behavior that she thought at a subconscious level would get her what she wants so desperately, is the very behavior preventing what she wants.
On top of this, we adopt these strategies so subconsciously and often so young, that we mistake them for who we are. And as a result, we lose touch with our authenticity. To give you an example of what I mean, a little girl who grows up with a feminist mother, might become a tom boy, not because she is authentically a tom boy. But because she authentically wants to be approved of by her mother and needs to please her mother so as to not be shamed. So, she might annex anything “girly” about herself as a strategy for accomplishing that aim. She has sacrificed one aspect of her authenticity in favor of another. After all, making sure that we consciously act according to what we want is only one part of authenticity. It is only part of what is genuine about us. It is all too easy for our strategies to make us a deeply inauthentic and even a deeply dishonest, deeply strategic person. To learn more about this you can watch my video titled: Do You Want to Be Honest, or Do You Want to Be Strategic?
On top of this, people can feel when we are being strategic. The energy of a person doing something because doing that thing gets them something they want or need, is always there, like an undercurrent. This makes people very nervous, which is understandable because in many situations, this disguised motive ends up hurting people. And because of this, strategy can be what destroys relationships. For example, a person may pay for the bill as a strategy for forcing loyalty, putting the other person in a kind of alliance debt to them. Or a person may be two faced as a strategy to take advantage of two parties that are opposed, so they can enjoy some personal benefit as a result.
To avoid all of the potential pain of strategies, you need to recognize your strategy and decide consciously what to do about it. To recognize your strategy, you start from the presupposition that everything you do, is a strategy. And you ask yourself this question relative to anything you do: If (fill in the blank) where a strategy, what would (the thing you filled in the blank with) be designed to get me or to achieve? For example, you might ask yourself “If wearing spiritual clothing were a strategy, what would wearing spiritual clothing be designed to give me or to achieve?” or for example, you might ask “If maintaining a relationship with this person I dread were a strategy, what would maintaining a relationship with this person I dread be designed to give me or to achieve?”
In the case of the first example, where wearing spiritual clothing was the strategy, the answer might be something like “to get other people to recognize my spiritual authority” or “to advertise to other link minded and spiritual people, so that they will come up to me and I don’t have to try to initiate talking to other people first.” Or “to feel good throughout the day, rather than uncomfortable”. OR “to feel superior to the idiotic consumer driven normies, and make a statement about how wrong their lifestyle is.”
In the case of the second example, where maintaining a relationship with a person they dread is the strategy, the answer might be something like “to avoid conflict so that I can feel a sense of security”. Or “to be able to stay affiliated with them, so I can experience the benefits of their status.” Or “to be able to control them into not turning against me.” Or “to avoid the potential that I might be thwarting my own expansion because my dread of them might just be about something I suppressed, rather than something bad about them. And if that turns out to be the case, getting rid of them is pointless because I’ll just end up with a carbon copy of this person, but as another person in the future.”
When you are doing this exercise, try hard not to justify the thing you are doing. And try hard not to simply pick a reason that makes your ego comfortable. Justification and picking a self-concept preserving answer is common when you feel ashamed of your strategy or the reason behind why you are employing a specific strategy. You will know that you are justifying something when your answer is a kind of “defense” where your goal is to prove that the reason you are doing that thing is right or good. Justification of what you are doing and picking a self-concept preserving answer, will pull you in the opposite direction of self-awareness.
Once you have your answer, you are now in the position of conscious choice. You can never again not know why you are doing what you are doing. And you have the choice to:
- Continue with that strategy, but this time, consciously.
- Drop that strategy and pick a different, better or more effective strategy to accomplish what you want and need.
To make that choice, you need to look at the benefits and consequences of either choice. And you need to ask yourself how authentic or inauthentic either choice is. No one can tell you what is right vs. wrong to choose and there are likely to be both positive and negative consequences that will come as the result of choosing either. If you want to learn more about this, you can watch my video titled: Why You Should Consciously Choose Consequences.
Here is an example of this process. Roy realizes that he spends a good amount of his time accumulating things and doing things to increase his perceived status. He wears designer clothing. He collects very valuable watches. He leases a luxurious car. He attends events where he is sure to meet people with a high status so he can make those contacts. All of these strategies he employs are designed to gain status because he feels that status gives him prestige he so badly craves, especially since he felt so humiliated, disrespected, disregarded and unimportant growing up as a kid. Prestige feels like the antidote to his trauma. He feels ashamed that so much of what he does is to try to escape from these deep-seated feelings. He looks at the benefits and consequences of continuing with this strategy. And he decides that he will forever be on a hamster wheel of trying to gain more and more prestige if he continues. But he genuinely loves the lifestyle that status affords him. So, he makes a few conscious decisions. The first is to get off the hamster wheel of running away from feeling worthless and chasing prestige and instead, to go to therapy to face those unresolved traumas that drove him to chase prestige in the first place. The second is to keep wearing designer clothing for now because he loves the feeling of people looking at him with that look of admiration and wonder about who he is and what he does. The third is to start looking for something to dedicate his time and energy to that he can really be proud of, something that he feels makes it so he deserves respect and admiration, rather than just status itself, which when he looks at it, he feels is quite empty. He decided he doesn’t want to have prestige just because of the car he drives or clothes he wears or people he is associated with. He wants to feel like he has prestige because he is doing something that is worthy of respect and admiration. Because he makes this decision, he starts to pour his energy and his real estate credentials into converting abandoned malls into eco-communities.
When you are deciding what to do about your strategy that you have now become aware of, spend time meditating and questioning and talking with people about the positives and negatives of continuing that strategy, as well as what alternative choices and behaviors there might be.
Because so much of our life on earth is spent trying to get what we want and need, as well as avoiding what we really don’t want to experience, we spend the vast majority of our time in strategy. But that strategy will lead to suffering and blatant inauthenticity if it is not something that we are fully conscious of. So, what is your strategy?