“All That Jazz” and the Morning Ritual


There is a movie that changed my life.  I’ve spoken of it before: ALL THAT JAZZ, the semi-autobiographical Bob Fosse movie starring Roy Scheider.    In it, “Joe Gideon”, a brilliant choreographer and film director, is addicted to the high of sex, drugs, and musical theater.   He is flirting with death (literally played by Jessica Lang) and is a man turned inside-out.


Let’s say that the model of human beings in Milton Erickson’s work, Abraham Maslow’s work and especially the six thousand year old Chakra system is correct.   That is ABSOLUTELY my assumption–that 99% of people want to have healthy strong bodies, ethical sexual relationships, the money and power necessary to have reasonable control over their environment, to fall in love, raise families, understand the world around them, speak their truth, create goods and services their communities find of value, grow old with dignity and die at peace.


Yep, those are my assumptions, and some of them are more flexible than others (many people are genuinely deciding not to have children.  I notice that many of those are teachers, or doting aunts and uncles.  Same things in the modern world, IMO).


Gideon’s core challenge then is to evolve to spirit.   He makes it at the end but screws up almost everything along the way.


  1. Survival.  He compromises his survival by putting performance above being.
  2. Sex.  An addiction, one which has destroyed his intimate relationships, replacing them with temporary, intense experiences.  But his sexuality produced a daughter, who he loves…but not as much as he loves the spotlight.
  3. Power.  He has power, but it is illusory.  When he gets sick, his “partners” are immediately looking to replace him.  He is a fabulous choreographer at war with his own body (smoking, drinking, drugs, lack of sleep, etc.)
  4. Emotion. Gideon is a man turned inside-out.  He treats his private relationships (wife, daughter, girlfriend) as secondary and his occupation as primary.  As a result, his heart is in the hands of people who don’t care about him at all, who would happily squeeze him dry, throw him away and replace him.
  5. Communication.   He isn’t honest with himself. Does he want to live?  Doesn’t he?  Can he keep promises to himself?  Can he understand his actual limits? Is he clear on what he really wants?
  6. Mind.  On the other hand, he is an acknowledged genius. Probably the only part of his life that really works.
  7. Spirit.  He drives himself partially with an awareness of death and life’s brief candle.   But although he eventually embraces spirit (as must we all) he has reduced himself to meat for the pleasure of people who wouldn’t shed a tear for him.  Their reaction would be: “what a stud. Who’s next?”



I saw that movie and realized that what killed him was  a lack of balance. If he had force himself to focus on his family as much as his work, it simply wouldn’t have happened. And if he’d factored in his body as well…he wouldn’t have had the jagged, spectacular “sparking” ups and downs, but rather a gentle uphill spiral. His contemporaries would have outperformed him…at first.  But two things would have happened (at least)

  1. He would have outlived them, and  ultimately his work would have reached levels of maturity and insight they couldn’t match if lost in entertaining illusion.
  2. He would have achieved far more deep satisfaction, away from the roar of the crowd, in the bosom  of a family that actually loves him


And I realized that as committed to success as I was, I could fall right into that same trap:

  1. That the road to success is hyper-excellence
  2. That hyper-excellence demands hyper-focus, OBSESSIVE focus.
  3. That obsession throws you out of balance
  4. That imbalance can easily destroy you with mania.
  5. And that that destruction both cuts short your excellence, and reduces the very joy you were seeking in the first place.


It was out of this grim realization that I had one of the ten greatest insights of my life:


Success requires obsession. Obsession creates imbalance. Imbalance destroys life, which derails success.


PROPOSED: The only thing it is safe to be obsessive about is balance itself.


Can this go off the rails as well?  Sure. At the far edges of obsessive behavior, I can imagine someone paralyzed trying to match equal times and amounts of energy in different arenas, or figure out what amount of time in one arena is equal to that in another.  For instance, an hour a day of exercise pretty much maxes out basic fitness potential for 99.9% of the human race.  But an equal amount of mental excellence might require four hours.


The inability to match durations, intensities, arenas, and life interruptions (among other factors) could drive someone with OCD right up the wall.


But…given that, balance is still the safest thing to get obsessive about.  The question is: how to implant?



Pills, shower, music, eyedrops, headache powder, cigarette, game face, “showtime!”


All that matters is how it looks. How “it” feels is irrelevant. A man turned inside out.


This is his morning routine, the way he prepares himself for his day, because he has defined success as something separate from health and love and life.  And  that is the path to death and destruction.


What would have worked better (for instance)


Yoga (to repair the body and quiet the mind in preparation for action)


Shower is fine. A good way to wake up.


Music is beautiful.


Eyedrops and headache powders aren’t necessary like this unless you are destroying your life with alcohol and an inverted sleep schedule.


Cigarette?  A young dancer might want them for appetite suppressant. But this has no positive contribution other than perhaps a little focus.  Caffeine would work better with less damage.


Connecting with his most important task of the day: to complete (for instance) the “Fly Me” sequence.


Why?  To provide guidance to his dancers, an experience for his audience and a return on investment to his bosses. To express himself deeply and fully to the limit of his ability. To make his ex-wife and daughter proud of him.


You pile on those POSITIVE reasons until you feel inspired. And if you haven’t destroyed your body and nervous system, you should be able to “stack up” enough reasons to fulfill your most important daily action that you feel awake, alive, juiced.   You have nurtured your body, calmed your nerves, awakened your spirit, and are ready for the day.


No, you won’t be as “hyped” as that guy on benzedrine, sex, all-night benders and so forth…but you will be more connected to your being, capable of deeper art. And you will last longer. And even if you don’t, you will experience more genuine joy through expression of self, love of family, and feeling of connection to the world.


And the purpose of life?  Joy.   Pursued properly, you find it on every level of being. If you cannot…something has gone wrong.


What you see here is precisely the WRONG kind of “morning ritual”, one designed to produce short-term performance…and misery, and death.


What you want is long-term performance, joy, and the best life possible.


Design your “morning ritual” for THAT, and you win the game before it even begins.






Everyone Wants the First Four

So a few times recently I saw people discussing my advice for relationships, and replying in essence that they weren’t looking for what I was discussing.   My laughing question is: I am describing the territory I’m passing as I climb.  If wanna climb K2, why are you talking to a Sherpa on Everest?


Make no mistake: I don’t change my mind about things because it is politically convenient, or because an expert says something different, or because it might hurt your feelings if I don’t agree with you.  My only obligation is to speak the truth, and try to be as kind as possible about it.   If an expert says something, I’ll say it IF I AGREE.   I’ve disagreed with the Encyclopedia Brittanica.   Bring it.


So my position, clearly and unequivocally, is that better than 99% of people really, truly, deeply want:


  1. Health and fitness, to be beautiful by their own standards (look at what they are attracted to)
  2. Success at an art or activity that gladdens their heart and is held as valuable by their community
  3. Love and passion with another human being (and to love themselves and feel connected to the wellspring of life).  A sustained, committed, long-term relationship.
  4. Financial security and the ability to use money for pleasure, rather than just avoiding pain.

Notice how nicely they relate to the most basic chakras: survival, sex, power, love.   Maybe communication…maybe. But I’m not sure I’ve ever met someone who really doesn’t want ANY of these.  And as they are all connected, it is foolish to think you can pick and choose blithely. With deep consideration…yes.   Casually…no.

Everything I say operates from this premise. I know there are people who don’t want these things. But those people don’t complain about not having them, or their constituent parts. They also know that people are more likely to LIE about not wanting them than to actually not want them.


I won’t change.   If you want something different, find another mountain, or another Sherpa.  Please, please feel free to consider me deluded.   Doesn’t bother me at all.


And now, I return to my regularly scheduled musings.






“Escaping the Friend Zone”…we have a volunteer!

YES!  As I hoped, my essay on “escaping the friend zone” attracted an Incel-type guy, so that I could have a chance to analyze the thought patterns.    I will censor the language a bit, but the perspective is obvious, and the emotions powerful.






The fact he wrote this entire piece let’s me know he will stay in the friend zone. That “nice guy” sh*t is for the birds. What he did was made himself too available for her a$$.  If there is one thing I have learned from the experience I had with my ex, it’s being too nice get’s you dumped.  F***  all that. Next time he meets a woman like that, instead of wasting his time (cuz she wasn’t wasting hers) he needs to just be up front about what he wants.




Shall we analyze?

  1. Can you see the raw pain here?   The anger?  Anger is fear.  What is the fear?  Lack of access to sex/reproduction, sure…but more than that, if you remember “Core Transformation” it is fear of the sense of peace and connection a man feels in the arms of a loving partner.
  2. “The fact he wrote this entire piece let’s me know he will stay in the friend zone.”  In other words, he didn’t read it, he deleted everything that contradicted his preassumption: “being nice is fatal in relationships.”  The fact that I’m married to my soulmate for almost twenty years, and have had a blisteringly happy and bountiful sex life TOTALLY escapes him.  It doesn’t fit his model, so he literally cannot hear what I said.  That’s what people do: delete information counter to core beliefs. IF he believed what I was saying, HE would have to change and evolve. Take responsibility for his emotions. That threatens the ego massively.
  3. “That “nice guy” sh*t is for the birds. What he did was made himself too available for her a$$.”  A bare thread of reality here: every healthy  human being, every animal, will expend the minimum amount of effort to achieve the maximum result.  I remember a guy I knew. Nice guy  complaining about how he kept getting “friend zoned.”   He went into his litany.  “I’m nice.  I listen.   I’m kind.  I care.  I don’t get anywhere.”  This guy was quasi-homeless, obese, with personal hygiene problems.  The women he was attracted to were above his level. Simple as that.   And more–he was powerless. He was VERY smart, and funny, but had never focused himself to have a job any kid couldn’t have had his first year out of high school.  NO POWER.    So…frankly, I asked him a question: “you’re nice, kind, caring. What have you described that she can’t get from one of her girlfriends?”  Man, the look on his face was almost comical.  For at least a moment, he GOT IT.   He had approached life with an “I’ll do the least I can do to get by” without ever investing his time and energy in becoming someone capable of supporting a family.  I don’t know what stopped him, honestly.   I can only figure that a bomb went off in his family, that something in his childhood shattered his belief that he could really be an adult in the world.  But he had an adult’s cravings for sex and connection. Tragic.   “Nice” is critical to make a heartspace connection. But sex is right next to survival, chakra-wise. And if you don’ t grasp that it is an ADULT GAME, with ADULT RULES…you will be a whiny little brat, never understanding why the Big Kids are having all the fun.
  4. “If there is one thing I have learned from the experience I had with my ex, it’s being too nice get’s you dumped.”

So there you have it. A broken heart.    “Too nice”?   Of COURSE you can be “too nice” if by nice you mean weak.   “Nice” has to be balanced with strength.   A spine. A sense of core self. Will women try to get all the commitment  they can without exposing themselves to the risk of a reproductive relationship (and birth control has nothing to do with it: our hind-brains have no understanding of that).  You bet. Just like men will try to get all the sex they can without commitment.  Peas in a pod.    If you don’t model the behaviors and attitudes of people who actually succeed in relationships (say…happily married for 20 years) you will get your attitudes from movies and books, from other kids.  Frankly, guys who act the way women say they want guys to act get “friend zoned” with the same frequency that women who act the way men say they want women to act get turned into “fuck buddies.”  Oh, it’s a mess.  Grow up, people.  Want to bet this guy doesn’t know any healthy relationships? What are the chances he has high skills in ANYTHING?  Think he loves himself, both his male and female aspects?   Hah.

  1. “Next time he meets a woman like that, instead of wasting his time (cuz she wasn’t wasting hers) he needs to just be up front about what he wants.”  I did. But…what did I want?  Sex, sure. But sex was easy for me, once I developed power, found a tribe of people who appreciated the kind of power I had, loved myself enough to be attracted to female versions of myself, and just put my “available” light on.   Jeeze, it was like rolling off a log.  Never really “tried.”  Know what I did?  I just got to know people.   Everyone. Male and female.  Be genuinely interested in their lives and goals.   I never had pick-up lines.  Never  “Picked up” a woman in a bar in my life, and rarely at parties.  Drop me into a new social context and NOTHING happened for about six weeks. Then…BOOM!  My social calendar filled up, and it was raining ladies.   And I really, genuinely loved them. All of them.   Cared about them. Would take their calls at 3 in the morning.  What did I want?  Connection, in any way that was good to them.


To this day, I’m not jealous of Tananarive.   It isn’t just that I trust her…I do, and all the way. It is that if she really, truly believed someone else was better for her, I’D WANT HER TO BE HAPPY.  We only get to live once.  I want the woman in my life to want ME, to feel that I am the best for her. As I want to feel that the woman in my life is the absolute best I can do. I CAN’T DO BETTER THAN TANANARIVE, can you understand that?  She is everything I need and want in a woman.


And…she is my buddy.  We watch Marvel movies together,  write together, watch Robot Chicken before we go to bed, do yoga and kettlebells together, and have all the good, raunchy fun you could ever want.   She’s what I was looking for.  I’m what she was looking for.   Bob’s your uncle.


The poor guy who wrote this has missed the boat. He wants what everyone wants: to mature, to satisfy his sexual needs with integrity, to learn to navigate his world with power, to love, to reproduce and raise a family, to speak his truth, to develop an accurate map of reality, to contribute to his community and be applauded, to grow old with dignity and die at peace.


I agree with Milton Erickson: THAT’S WHAT EVERYONE WANTS, with trivial exceptions.  Can you see how far he’s gone wrong?  How far off the path he is? That anger you see boiling in his words is naked fear.


What would I do with him?  I would use Core Transformation.   Drop him in a trance and take him through the different stages: if he had all the sex that he wanted he would feel connected, and able to open his heart. If he did that, he would realize his loneliness and fear is a matter of disconnection to his OWN inner feminine.   If he connected there, he would feel peace and joy.  If he did that, he would feel that the pleasure and love he has sought was always within him.  Make that connection. Let him stay there, the “Inner Child” basking in that divine light and warmth.


And then…let him rebuild. Commit to being an adult man who can protect and nurture that child.  A man who doesn’t NEED anything from anyone outside himself.  And because of that lack of desperation, he would be self-contained and attractive.  And then, as he gained power, he would be more and more attractive to the kind of women who have THEIR own power. Their frequencies would match.  And however far he got along that road, he would treasure the woman who genuinely offered her sexuality and heart to him.  And it is my experience that people who find lasting relationships really don’t have to date that many people before finding them.  The average is less than twenty.


But you have to love yourself.  REALLY.  No faking. No games.  And you have to be genuinely interested in other people.  Not for what you can “get” from them, but perhaps…just perhaps for what you can build together.


You can’t fake this.  But it is hard-wired into us, all you have to do is remove the garbage you THINK you know, and you’re there.


The Incel guys are filled with pain, and fear. They are like rats who can’t figure out where the cheese is in their maze, or even worse, are running a maze where the cheese is long gone. Make no mistake: women have matching dysfunctions.  I really do suspect that the “friend zone” and the “fuck buddy” are the yin and yang of this shit.


Another topic.


For now…wow. There is so much pain out there about very simple things.


  1. Money?  Save more than you spend.
  2. Weight?  Burn more calories than you take in.
  3. Love?  Love yourself first.


Simple.   Sort of like lifting a ton. It is SIMPLE.  I didn’t say it was easy.





Escaping the “Friend Zone”

Let me tell you about the worst insult I ever got.


When I first attended Pepperdine University, I was still something of a geek.  Well, some would say I still am, and I probably couldn’t argue convincingly.   At any rate, there were a number of women there I was very attracted to, but from whom I couldn’t get the time of day.


One was a gorgeous Jamaican girl who worked as a secretary in the business center.  I found reasons to show up there frequently, flirting with her, and over the months we actually developed a bit of rapport. She was interested in my dreams and aspirations, and I think she found me a bit amusing.


Then one day I finally got up the nerve to ask her out.  I remember that she got very serious, and she said something to me I’ve never forgotten.


I wouldn’t go out with you,” she said.  “But I’d marry you.”


I was kinda thunderstruck.   WHAT?  What precisely did she mean?   To be honest, I walked away a little dazed, and feeling insulted.


What had she meant? That she didn’t find me attractive, but would be willing to get her citizenship by marrying me?  (No…she was already a citizen)


How about she didn’t find me attractive, but would be willing to let me support her and her children? (Ummm…there are some implications to that.  Wouldn’t that imply that she believed in my dreams, thought me a good gamble?)


No matter what I thought, the REJECTION loomed large.  But there was something in what she said that made me think that I needed to dive deeper. There was something there for me, if only I could find it.




The truth is that I never sat her down and got her to explain what she meant. It hurt too much. But over the years, as I matured, I came to some conclusions that helped me transform my relationships, and my life.


I believe that somewhere in the following cluster of thoughts could be found the truth…but I cannot mind read and say precisely which notions are most likely.


I really was a geek. I wasn’t “fun” on her terms.  I probably couldn’t dance, wasn’t “cool” (I’ve never been “cool”), had no sense of fashion (still don’t, really), and probably wouldn’t have fit in with her friends.  But…she saw something in me that she felt she could actually love, and bond to for a lifetime.


I was insecure, didn’t know how to talk to women, didn’t “turn her on” in that sense…but that’s the exterior stuff.   In her heart, she felt that she would be able to help me gain that confidence if she invested herself.  That I’d be a good bet.


I probably wasn’t as good looking as the guys who she wanted to glide around with having fun at clubs and parties…but on a gut level she knew I would commit to my family. That her children would be safe, and that I would develop into a partner she could trust and have faith in.


In other words…while I didn’t have the exterior polish that sparked her in the “hey, we could have fun for a weekend”…I did have the qualities she felt she could love for a lifetime.


And at the moment she said it, I didn’t understand that.   And it felt like one of the worst insults I’d ever heard, because it didn’t match what I wanted to hear.  I didn’t want to hear that I needed to grow, to change, to focus, to mature.  My “surface” didn’t match her “surface”, but she sensed that my essence matched her essence.


Wowsers.    What a lesson, and it took me years to realize that I had NO right to expect a woman to have trust. There are too many predators, fakes, and wannabe males in the world.   No higher a percentage than manipulators, fakes, and wannabe females, of course.   They deserve each other.


It wasn’t at all wrong for her to ask for fun, and flash, and gorgeous good looks and power in her dating life, while she made the best choice she could for the longer term.  Not at all. In fact…I’d damn well think it was her responsibility.


It was MY responsibility to make my outside match my inside.  To clearly and unequivocally broadcast: “this is who I am. This is where I’m going.  This is what you can expect from me.”  I had no right to expect her to take me on “trust” unless I was willing to extend a similar level of trust to her.  I wanted her because I liked her outside and her inside. She was better integrated, smart, lovely, sexy, confident.


IT DIDN’T MATTER WHAT MY “POTENTIAL” WAS unless I was willing to bond with a woman with a similar amount of work remaining to be done.  She was a lioness. She needed a lion.


I was a cub.




Yeah.  The “Friend Zone.”  We were friendly.  Maybe even friends. But she didn’t want more.  Because I wasn’t ready.  All I had to do was invest a couple of thousand hours actually BECOMING and I’d have popped up on her radar as potential mate material…AND fun for a weekend.  Then, GAME ON.


I don’t even remember her name any more.  But remember her voice, and her eyes, and the gentle way she told me the truth.  She helped me become a better man because I wanted to be the kind of man who could attract and hold a woman like THAT.


And if I had resented her?  Blamed her?  Said it was her responsibility to climb down from her cloud rather than raising myself up?   I’d still be a cub.


And never, ever, would have been worthy of the woman in my life.


It is the responsibility and right of every human being to find the best, most powerful and beautiful partner they can find, by whatever standards they hold in their heart.   To complete ourselves as much as we can, and to hopefully find someone who feels perfect, who you relish in every way, who rocks your socks off and lets you love them half to death.


Whereever she is, I hope she found her lion.  She sure as hell helped me find my lioness.





Separated from our own being

As a futurist, I think of both the positive and negative aspects of the technological culture we’re creating. And I see something that might relate to certain discussions of late.


Fandom has a disproportionate number  of people who came from abusive backgrounds, are brilliant, but stunted emotionally.  Does it take much to suspect they simply “clumped” all their mentation into one category, where they could get approval without being emotionally vulnerable?


Interesting that there are people who have no empathy with others, and others who cannot grasp that their personal view of reality or experience of events is not universal.   The “One soul looking out through many eyes” doesn’t mean that the other person is identical to you.  You can have a zillion containers holding water-based fluid, with no two of them having the same composition, shape, or temperature. Infinite variety.  Humans have the same basic motivations: avoiding pain and gaining pleasure.  They have the same basic emotions: fear, anger, love.    The same basic fears: falling, loud noises.  Hunger and discomfort.


A few other things that seem universal, with everything else learned along the way.  Basic animal drives of personal and genetic survival.


What is the genetic component of what we are?  What is the environmental?    Make no mistake: this stuff has been debated for thousands of years.



I remember a guy “Chuck” who couldn’t separate his personal feelings about a movie (“it’s good.  It’s bad”) from a general objective sense of what it was.   In other words, if he didn’t like it, he couldn’t believe anyone else did.  If he loved it, why, others must too, and if they said otherwise, they must be paid off by a studio.


Chuck had trouble understanding women.  His miscues were legendary.  I noticed that he assumed that they would enjoy the same interactions, at the same pace, in the same ways, as he.    A little grabby he was, because HE enjoyed being grabbed.


He didn’t understand because he didn’t ask.  He assumed.  And when he was proved wrong, he assumed there was some conspiracy to confuse him, or that they were nutty.


Needless to say, he was confused, lonely, and what we would now call a little “Aspy.”   He just didn’t get it.   His “theory of mind” was skewed.   What are the extremes?

  1. People with NO empathy.  Others are totally different from them.
  2. People with TOO MUCH empathy.   Others are the same as them.   There are a number of pathologies here.


I have a suspicion that we’re breeding more and more people disconnected from their balanced emotional empathy.  Why?    I’d say it is the degree to which modern people don’t have to interact with the physical world, with other real live physical human beings the way our grandparents did.   This is just a hunch.  Some things I think are growing problematic:


  1. A disconnect between the effort needed to earn a calorie and the number of calories available.    Danger: obesity.
  2. Communication via chat.  Danger: losing the ability to interpret facial expressions, vocal tonalities.    Miscommunications due to loss of those vital channels.
  3. Seeing the world as “flat” rather than three dimensional.  Reading and staring at screens.
  4. Seeing the time-flow as malleable because of freeze-frame and rewind.  A different quality of attention is created, one that works great in an artificial environment…but not so great in the “real” world.
  5. Confusion of mating cues.   “People” who seem real (but flat) acting according to the strings manipulated by writers and directors rather than real human emotions.    We absorb those lessons. Then when “real” people don’t react that way, we get confused and resentful.  “Incels” anyone?
  6. The danger is developing a twisted “theory of mind”, not being able to understand other human beings.  Or even our own interactions with the real world.   We don’t know why we can’t leverage our intellects and emotions to hunt and gather (earn), can’t connect with a mate (sex), can’t understand why our bodies bloat.  OUR CONNECTIONS ARE BROKEN.


Without the feedback of the real world, actually barking our shins on reality.   Both romance novels and porn set up unrealistic expectations.   Video games shelter us from the pain of actually learning physical skills.   We develop flash-friendships, anonymous internet groups to play with, and while they are fun, they aren’t real. Those people don’t care about you.  If they heard you got run over by a cement truck they’d say the current equivalent of “gnarly!” and play on.


I saw this with the first generation of computer programmers, with people who buried themselves in fantasy books, with people addicted to video games, and FB and work in offices and never get outside.


Lack of connection with the natural world, with other human beings…and perhaps with themselves.  This is why meditating, contemplation, connecting with nature, and physical exercise are so important. You can hallucinate all you want about your body, but a mile doesn’t care.  You either walk/run it, or you don’t.


You can’t “level up” by buying virtual coins. You have to actually do the work, push through the pain and fear, learn to overcome “sensory motor amnesia” and learn how your body works.


“Exercise is BORING.”   Yeah, because you’ve never engaged your mind and emotions.    Like your ancestors had to, OR DIE.  “I don’t understand men/women.”  Yeah, because you have surrounded yourself with fantasies about what they’re like, and when they don’t match your expectations, you blame THEM, not your fantasies.


I could be wrong about this, but its what I see.  The answer?

  1. Connect with your own heart.  The most basic piece of emotional reality we have is our own hearts. I think that if you don’t understand others…you don’t really understand yourself.
  2. Connect with your body.  Exercise.  Move.  Your body evolved to hunt, gather, evade predators.  Society evolved to express that with games and mating rituals (dance).  Re-connect there.


Just these: opening the heart, awakening the body, will anchor you to the world.   The opposite?   “Awakening your kundalini backwards”.  Smart, but body and heart “stupid”.   It isn’t your fault: humanity has won a battle with the natural world.  Don’t be road kill.




“Incel” and the Dating Game

Conversation about “Incel” men (“Involuntary Celibate.”)   Guys who can’t make a sexual connection.

I remember back when I taught martial arts, and I was attracted to a couple of ladies in the classes.  One at a time I asked them to stay after class, and as politely as I could,   I asked them out.    They thought about it, and said no.  I was disappointed, but enjoyed them as people and students, and continued to be connected to them in the way that they felt comfortable. One I was friends with until the end of her life, the other is still a friend to this day. They found other guys.  Good guys–liked ’em both.


And that “sting”?  As soon as I found a girlfriend, the sting died. All it is is fear of not finding reproductive space (on the biological level), and fear of being unlovable, or not being loved, on an emotional level.   Easiest fix is to find a connection elsewhere. Fastest way to do that is to stop resenting potential partners for not wanting you.


Do YOU want everyone?  Anyone?   If so, you should have no problem finding a girlfriend/boyfriend.  But you have standards, don’t you?  Tell the truth.


So what really bothers you is your fear that you wouldn’t match your own standards.  That what you want is beyond who you are.   Easy fixes: either raise your game, or lower your standards.  Don’t like that?  Say its not fair?


Yeah.  Life isn’t fair.  It isn’t unfair, either.  It just…is.




Guys who can’t get laid (and are “friend zoned”) are kind of like women who CAN  get laid but can’t get in a relationship. I find the two states very similar, and it has a nice symmetry.


(As an aside, I’ve had countless women, even “plain” ones, tell me with confidence that they know they can go into any bar, any party, and find a guy to take them home.   Guys with that level of sexual confidence are called “egotists.”   But it really does make sense.   If you think there’s no difference, good luck with that and report back to me how your relationships work out, wouldja?)


The trick with these angry, frightened men and women is that they have standards, but are unhappy that other people have them as well.


I ran into this back in Junior High School.  I saw the pretty, popular girls.  Not one of them was interested in me.   Resentful at this,  my answer to this was to study the women I desired and the men I admired. What kind of men were the women attracted to? What kind of women did those men have? Were the things these people did congruent with my values? Yes? Was I doing them? No? Then start. Simple as that. And a couple of things happened.


  1. I stopped noticing the women who weren’t attracted to me.  They were there as HUMAN BEINGS, but I stopped…reacting to them “as women”.  My reaction was either “this is a nice person” or “Hey, Now!!”  And with a bizarre increasing frequency, the women I was attracted to were also attracted to me.   It wasn’t necessarily that there were MORE of them now…but I was broadcasting a more specific signal, perhaps. And paying attention only to those who were “of my tribe”–I was on their wavelength.
  2. IF they were “of my tribe”, on my “wavelength”, and they were ALSO unattached, the mating dance began.  Sniffing each other out. Interests? Goals? Values?  Energy levels?  If those things matched, and we were also heading in the same direction (at least for the night, ahem) then Game On.
  3. And the women I was attracted to, but weren’t attracted to me?  After a while, they faded away…as potential sexual partners. They were still there as business associates, neighbors, students, friends, mentors, sisters, daughter-figures, mother-figures.  But it didn’t sting, because they weren’t what I was looking for.  I was looking for someone who was looking for me.  Not interested in me? Have a nice life, but why should I be upset?
  4. If you love yourself, and would be attracted to yourself, you should have no problem connecting with those attracted to you. We attract people at our “level” and below. And are attracted to people at our level…and above.  The trick is to expand that “sweet spot” so there are plenty of possibilities: people on your wavelength, going in your direction, available for relationships.
  5. Just as an aside, if Tananarive got hit by a meteor, and I was in a strange city with no connection?  I’d start taking yoga classes. Why?  Because I like the focus, physicality, mindset and attitude of the kind of women yoga attracts, and there are generally more women in the class than men.   “Target rich environment.”  I’d wait about six weeks, scoping the situation out, focusing on a powerful practice.  See who smiled back. Chatted back.   And after about six weeks…I’d very politely ask if anyone wanted to go for tea afterward. Coffee. Lunch.   Look to see who sparked.


It would work like gangbusters.  Because I’d be genuinely projecting who I am (you can’t fake a yoga pose) that I shared at least some of their values, was respectful and polite.  All you have to do is remember that human beings generally want love and sex–you don’t have to convince them of that, you just have to convince them that they want to buy your brand. 


Cold blooded?  Not really.  CALCULATING it is. Cold it is not, at least not to me.  If  a woman didn’t want me, if I cared about her I would hope she’d find love and happiness elsewhere.


I SURE as well was going to, no slightest doubt.  Why?  ‘Cause I like me. If I wasn’t me I’d want to be me.  If I was a guy, I’d want to be my friend, and if I was a woman I’d want to jump my bones.


And frankly, I think ANYONE who likes and loves themselves that much will have no problems at all.





Happy 90th Birthday to a master

The reason I do the Paperback Book show in Glendale is the chance to see friends.  Every convention and event is an opportunity to see people I simply don’t see otherwise.  And one I seriously enjoy seeing is William F. Nolan, one of  the last of the generation of fantasists who were part of Ray Bradbury’s circle.   Co-creator of Logans Run, writer of countless books, stories, movies and television episodes, Nolan is a writer’s writer.


He uses a walker now, but at 90, I’d say he’s earned it.   His mind is sharp and clear, and he is still in love with life, and in love with writing.  His secret?


He writes every day.  He works out every day.  “Every day of the year,” he said.  “Christmas, Thanksgiving, my birthday.  Every single day.  People ask why I don’t take a day off.  I don’t.”


Why?  Because that’s when you start dying.




He works out to have the energy to write.  He writes to have the energy to live.  Every day. EVERY DAY.  That is mastery.  Remember the definition?


“Mastery is a verb, not a noun. A vector, not a position.  When you have the basics of your craft at `unconscious competence’ and have committed to your discipline for a lifetime, you are as much a master as anyone else on the path.”


Why?  Because no matter how far and how fast you run, you’re always the same distance from the horizon.  And so is everyone else.  There is just…the path.


You are either doing it, or you aren’t.  I have noticed that the greater the master, the more they tend to see themselves as just…students.  And they have a genuine curiosity about where YOU are on the path.   Martial artists don’t ask me my rank. They ask where I train.   Writers don’t tend to ask what you’ve written (READERS ask that question), they ask what you’re working on.


Are you on the path?


There are three things I care enough about to commit to mastery:


I have to work out EVERY DAY.

I have to write EVERY DAY.

I have to engage with my family and friends, be sure they know I love them EVERY DAY.


Everything you can think of in life can be tied into one of those three arenas.   You simply can’t name something I cannot.  Because those three (martial arts, writing, family and friends) are DIRECT connections to my core energy, all I have to do is connect anything I want to do to one of them, and BOOM!  There’s the energy.


I remember years back I wanted to see what Tony Robbin’s personal coaching was like.  Knew I couldn’t afford Robbins, but did some research and found one of his top trainers who was also his best friend, and had written a book with him.   I offered him 4500 for two days of work, and he accepted the deal.


We met at a hotel near LAX, and it was intense.   One of the first things he did was get into my head to find my “triggers” and discovered that any time he mentioned my daughter Nicki my energy shifted.   Blew up.   Instant clear and positive response.  Why?  Because my emotions toward Nicki are uncomplicated.  It is simply love.  Period.  No questions or conflicts.  He was then able to teach me to tap into that energy for ANYTHING I wanted to do, because you can tap ANY activity into any core emotion.


I just took that knowledge and created three different arenas with clear psychological USB plugs: Martial Arts, Writing, Family.


Boom!  Done.   Wake up in the morning.  Geeze. Why should I get out of bed..?  Jason needs me.   There is writing to do.


Boom!  Feeling lazy.  Why should I work out today?  Oh…because otherwise I won’t be energetic enough to be a good father for Jason. A good husband to Tananarive.   And I won’t be keeping my commitment to the little boy inside me who needs his daddy.


Boom!   Why should I write today?  I’m feeling lazy.   Because I promised myself I would.  Because we need to pay our bills. Because I have stories to tell. Because if I can sell this piece, I’ll use that money to attend a Danny Inosanto FMA/Silat workshop….


Boom, boom, boom.


What are your core goals? What are you willing to commit to EVERY DAY?    The clearer you are on what they are and why you want them and how they relate to your core identity, the easier it becomes to access your passion.


Find something that gets your juices running:

  1. Personally.  Family and friends, your inner world.
  2. Physically.  Some physical movement that gets you excited, that requires fitness and health to perform.  Dancing, hiking, martial arts, SOMETHING that makes the little kid inside you happy.
  3. Mentally.  Something related to problem-solving in hunting and gathering.   Money, career, education.    Something that thrills you, which IF you could get good enough at it…and also MARKETING it, would pay your bills and support that inner child’s playtime.


All three.   If you lack one of the three, you are going to leak life force.   You also will lack critical feedback about the world, and will tend to hallucinate that you understand things that are really only conceptual for you.


You can hallucinate all you want about your profound knowledge of human nature.  How are your intimate relationships?


You can hallucinate that you understand the world and your own physical being.  But if you don’t have your kinesthetic sense, you are blind and deaf to an entire range of human experience.  And won’t even know it.


You can believe you ae intelligent.  But if you can’t solve the problem called “how do I create products and services for which  my community is willing to exchange their time and energy, and learn how to communicate its value and demand what I am worth” you are either addressing the wrong problem, or aren’t as smart as you think you are.


In animal terms…you would starve in the woods, or be eaten by predators, and die without reproducing.   A failure as an organism.


The route out is to accept the challenge to master these three arenas.  Learn the basics.  Commit for a lifetime.   Walk the thousand-mile road.


It isn’t easy.  But it is natural.    Nothing more natural, and if you cannot do these three things: create and sustain human relationships, care for your body, hunt and gather…you have lost the basic animal capacities every rabbit in the wood has in their DNA.   The most frustrating thing is that you’ll numb yourself to the missing qualities:


I don’t care about relationships

I don’t need exercise

I don’t care about money.



I used to believe it when people said that crap. Then I noticed how often they complained about being lonely…or aches and pains and being thought unattractive…or how tired they were of being broke.


And realized they were lying. Just…lying.  “Do not think dishonestly” Musashi said.


And lying to yourself it the greatest sin.  It leads to everything else.  So easy to get lost.  Unless you commit to taking at least one more step, every day.


Well done, Mr. Nolan. You’re showing us how its done.


Write the story that heals the world…



Healing Your Heart

How to Get Rid of Loneliness, Emotional Pain and Regret


My name is Steven Barnes, a NY Times bestselling author, master hypnotist and and martial artist, creator of the “Lifewriting” system of personal development.  And after working with thousands of clients for three decades, I have something wonderful to offer you.


If you suffer from depression, fear and emotional isolationif you feel unworthy of loveif you are frustrated with life, believe you will never find love, and can’t motivate yourself to strive for your dreams… then this message is just for you. Heres why


    No one ever taught you that the purpose of life is happiness. And that the door to happiness, success and healthy relationships is to LOVE YOURSELF FIRST.


    And you need to realize, there is a cost to not dealing with this


If You Ignore That Hole in your heart,  It Just Gets Worse


    What most people do when facing loneliness and anxiety is believe it is their natural state. They try to salve it with  external accomplishment, meaningless sex, compulsive eating, drugs or alcohol.  Does this sound like someone you know?  Maybe someone you see in the mirror every morning?   If so you know an ugly truth: None of that works.  

      • Every meaningless action simply sinks them deeper
      • Relationships fail because desperation is the un-sexiest thing in the world
      • If success doesn’t lead to pleasure, their motivation to even TRY dissolves, so that they spiral into failure after failure until their despair is clear for all to see.


    And what happens if you just do nothing? If you just keep doing  what youve been doing?

Let me tell you the moment I hit “threshold.”

I remember teaching at a kid’s summer camp about twenty years ago.  There, one of the other counselors, a young martial artist named Uli asked me: “when will I stop being afraid?”

To my regret, he took me by such surprise that I had no answer for him.  And within six months, Uli  had taken his own life.

How I learned to help people learn to love themselves.

When I heard what had happened, I swore never to be without an answer again.  NEVER.   Haunted, I searched exhaustively, until I finally found an answer that works.

Searching through martial arts, NLP, Eriksonian Hypnosis, Transcultural Shamanism and more, I  learned some terrific techniques for dealing with fear, and experimented with them on wealthy clients as a stress and movement counselor at the prestigious Moonview Clinic in Santa Monica.   It rapidly became clear that removing fear wasn’t enough: unless my clients loved themselves, removing fear could just leave them feeling “numb.”  Feeling nothing at all.

In fact, if they could learn to love themselves, instead of fear, what they got was ENERGY, the power to protect those you love from threat. They became DYNAMOS.

So…I went more deeply, and combining methods from a yogic, Western psychological and Shamanic traditions I created a process I called the ANCIENT CHILD, and taught it to clients paying FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS A DAY and up.  They were floored.

Experienced healings they called “magical” and “amazing.”  That’s well and good: rich people have a LOT of options.  I wanted to create something that ANYONE could use.

And did.  

It Worked For Me, and My Clients, and It Will Work For You

Heres what it did for me…I use this technique every morning to prepare myself for a day of writing, healing, working out, and being the best husband and father I can be.


But more importantly, this discovery has enabled me to help others, even when separated by thousands of miles:  Daniel Christopher Riewe, a student of mine in Europe said:


Thank you Steven Barnes. Strange. After living in a state of “sleep” including depression, anxiety and panic (and much more) for 44 YEARS (!!) a door opened. It happened after an incredible painful separation from  a woman I loved deeply. But despite the expectation of even more desperation HAPPINESS came.   I feel profoundly whole and integrated (more than “healed” as I never was sick/wounded but just not “whole”). I don’t understand the “logic” of this process, but maybe that IS the point: there is no logic. It’s about having the balls to confront suppressed negative emotions without any drama…. and giving yourself attention as long as they persist…   Let´s see where this leads to!”

That’s great, Daniel!

And La Veda Mason said:  “Thank you Steven Barnes. You more than changed my life. You SAVED my life.”


THAT’S what a healer wants to hear. That somehow, after thousands of hours of practice and research, desperately wishing to help those who trust me…that I found something that works.


Finally, Its Your Turn

When you get the  ANCIENT CHILD THIRTY DAY CHALLENGE, youll get the key to


      • Healing childhood trauma
      • Loving yourself enough to fight for your dreams
      • The key to living every day at the top of your game.


It all comes as part of this downloadable collection of visualizations and PDF lessons.    Imagine spending a few minutes a week listening to an MP3…then doing a few simple, pleasant things every morning to “anchor” your new emotions in…and being  on your way to a new life, one where love replaces fear in your life, and your feet are on the path to real happiness, emotional health, and success.    

“Winning” every day, for the rest of your life!

And you are 100% safe to try this out. Thats all Im suggesting. Just try it for 30 days to see if it works for you. If it does, youll be delighted – and I think thats exactly whats about to happen. If for some reason youre not delighted with the kind of joy, peace and self-love you deserve,  then just let me know – and you get all your money back.


Its Decision Time


You have a choice to make: Do what youve been doing (or worse, do nothing at all). You know where that can lead. Is that really where you want to go? Take a new action, and get a new result. Finally get a new life, the life you deserve, one of love, and possibility, and the abundant natural energy you deserve.  


Answer this one question: what would you do to protect and nurture your own most beloved child?  If you would do one ounce less for yourself, right now, YOU NEED THIS AMAZING COURSE!


Which do you really want for yourself? Heres what to do now… JUST GO TO:   WWW.THEANCIENTCHILD.COM


I’ve sold this originally for $99.00.  Then after I’d made a ton of money, dropped the price to $49.95.   Now you can have my Valentine’s Day Special for only $39.95!


Please, do yourself a favor.  You only have one life, one heart.  


Live it.  Heal it.


Yours in love…

Steven Barnes

Happy Valentine’s Day


One of the groups I belong to is Matt Furey’s email copywriting group.  The “Zen Master of the Internet” is a fun guy, who has created a life that fits him just fine, thank you, and has aligned his voice with his intents in a way that allows him to make boucoup bucks in a flow state.  He said something valuable yesterday:  “The true goal of the truly successful people I admire is to be locked in on a process. The process is the end result rather than the end result bring the end result.”


Get that? The PROCESS is the end result.


In other words, you want to live your life so that the natural flow of your days provides the values you seek.  Chop wood, carry water. Get up, brush your teeth, wash your face, love your family, support your friends, laugh, love, play…and at the end of the day, look back over those 16 hours, happy that you’ve helped make the world a better place, and fall into slumber.


And because you have given to others AND properly aligned your adult and child personalities, you find your wealth increased, your body stronger, your family connections more intimate and satisfying.


Just…naturally.  It starts with love.


Love for yourself. A willingness to strive to create your dreams, and to protect yourself from predators and the drowsy drivers one encounters on the road of life.


Love another person enough to extend that love beyond your own skin. To create a world together, perhaps children, anchoring you to the external community, beginning to see the same patterns of growth and life everywhere.


Understand humanity enough to understand that those same fears and yearnings exist in every heart, however their actions manifest.   We are all doing the best we can. If we could do better, escape more pain and/or gain more pleasure…we would.  That’s how we’re wired up.  And to do better, we need more resources and role models and better strategies and more faith.


Find a tribe of people who hear your song, and strive to uplift them. And if you have aligned your child and adult selves, this becomes your “business”.  It is just hunting and gathering for your tribe, and having the heart to care and the head to demand to be treated with respect, and the healthy body to be an energetic force for good.


And to always be in the flow of your life. Hard? Easy?  Joyous?  Stressful?  Be with it.  Flow with it. Be kind to yourself, and to others. There is never a need for casual cruelty, even if you must from time to time defend yourself.   Remembering both kindness and strength.   That those who sleep can be awakened. That snakes are not evil and rarely aggressive unless hungry or fearful. That in the light of day, or reason, or love, even monsters are  often revealed as wounded children seeking lost love.

If we can forgive and love ourselves….we can forgive and love others.


One day a year, let us be gentle with each other.  Love each other.  Remembering that that is how we began, and with any luck at all…it is how we will end as well. And that the road between birth and death is one we all travel, and that, again, love is all that makes it worth while.



The divinity within me salutes and acknowledges the divinity within each and every one of you.




A lesson from “Shelly”


I remember my first girlfriend in college was a smart, pretty lady we’ll call Shelly.  I met Shelly in the music department at Pepperdine when I was doing a nighttime radio chow. We started dating and finding out more about each other, as people do at that phase in their lives.


One day, I remember just hanging out with her, and she started talking about the life we could have together. Me teaching martial arts, her teaching music.


It was a lovely dream.  I could easily see myself enjoying the cycles of life, learning, growing, helping people and growing closer to this lovely lady who shared my life–




Wait a minute…I didn’t want to be a professional martial arts instructor.   I didn’t know WHAT I wanted to be, but at that point in my life I knew that wasn’t it.  She DID know what she wanted, and that was being a music instructor, and being married.


Even though we were walking different paths, and eventually drifted apart, I remember that conversation, and how easy it was to drift into a lovely trance…


–of fulfilling my own dreams. (Being a martial artist, having a family)


–of a partner on the road of life (someone supportive of my dreams, but with her own destiny)


Because she had painted a picture of how things could be, rather than ask a direct question, I got to FEEL what that life could be. And had I known what I wanted, I might well have said: “well…not a martial arts instructor…but how would you feel about a writer?” And we might have laughed and dreamed together, and who knows?


That’s what storytelling does.  It slips past the filters, touches our hearts.


T and I just did an interview for a social activism podcast, asking questions about Black Panther.  What should people do to get ready for it, we were asked.  While we discussed the history of the character, the reasons for the excitement and the place of Afrofuturism within the broader category of science fiction, my real advice was: just go and have fun.


Yep.  If Ryan Coogler did his job right, you don’t have to consciously THINK about the component parts of the story to get the value, any more than you have to know the names of the macro and micronutrients in a dinner salad to get the nutrition. They are right there.  Enjoy.  Have fun.  Nourish your soul, or just release stress and get swept away for two hours.


But then, if you wish, go out with your friends afterward, have coffee and talk about the movie you just experienced.   Share your FEELINGS about it.


That’s building community.  Want to do more?  Become a more discerning consumer of film, patronizing those that support your values.


More? Teach others about the connection between myth and consciousness.   Use your knowledge of that connection in your own life, and with your family.


More?  How about creating your own stories, learning how to KEEP rapport with your audience (so they don’t “pop out” like I did!), singing your song, expressing your view of humanity, or the universe.  I know that I felt that if I sang MY song loudly enough, I would find another bird in the forest who was traveling in the same direction.


Shelly needed someone on a particular life path.  So did I.  And she did the smart thing: declare “here I am” and if I’d been the one, if I’d wanted such a path, I could have done far, far worse than that young lady. She kept telling her story, until she found a man who shared her dream, and they’ve been married all this time.


You can change your own life. Change the life of another.  Build a career.Change the world.


Myth is magic.   If you would like to learn more about the Lifewriting notion applied to the myth and fantasy of the African Diaspora, check out the AFROFUTURISM: DREAMS TO BANISH NIGHTMARES class at



And if you’d like to “merely” understand how writing can change lives…and life change your writing, join us at



Write and live with passion!