It's been a tough week over here in the land of Arden Leigh. Personally, financially, healthwise -- this week has pretty much sucked. I injured myself in a stupid and rather preventable manner at a performance, spent two days in a hospital, got stuck with a great big ER bill, spent the majority of my birthday hooked up to an IV, and was let down pretty hard by someone I cared about. Despite how grateful I've been for the support of my dearest friends throughout, this was really not the way things were supposed to go this week.
But every week can't be a good week, and so I figured I would take advantage of this time to address today's topic of how to operate when you're feeling less than awesome.
Truthfully though, the topic came up a few weeks ago when I was having dinner with a lovely woman whom I regularly mentor regarding seduction matters. She was feeling less than awesome herself, and asked me to remind her of reasons why she could feel she possessed high value and worth. I indulged her and reminded her that she was indeed awesome -- because she is -- but told her that more importantly, she wasn't always going to feel awesome, and wasn't always going to have me around to remind her of how awesome she is, so therefore she was going to have to find a way to operate from a place of less-than-awesome and be comfortable in that.
Maybe this goes back to acting school again for me. The particular technique I studied was developed by David Mamet almost as a reaction to the Stanislavsky "method" acting philosophy that suggested that actors try to manipulate their emotions through sense-memory in order to portray truthfulness onstage (e.g., think of your dead puppy in order to be sad). Mamet dismissed the idea that human beings can control their emotions at all and that to rely on that ability to perform was foolish at best:
"An actor on the stage can no more act upon the order 'Be happy' than she can upon the order 'Do not think of a hippopotamus.' Our emotional-psychological makeup is such that our only response to an order to think or feel anything is rebellion. Think of the times someone suggested you 'cheer up,' of the perfect young person your friends wanted to fix you up with, of the director who suggested you 'relax.' The response to an emotional demand is antagonism and rebellion. There is no exception... It is the job of the actor to show up, and use the lines and his or her will and common sense, to attempt to achieve a goal similar to that of the protagonist. And that is the end of the actor's job." (David Mamet, True and False)
In essence, we cannot control how we feel. However, we can control what we do. This is critical to seduction.
You won't always feel great about yourself. You will have days when you want to stay home and cry, days when you feel needy and want to call your target ten times in a row, days when your dress just doesn't sit right on your body and your makeup just doesn't sit right on your face, days when you will swear that you're fat and ugly and that nobody will ever love you. You will have days when you feel so awful that the last thing you feel capable of is seduction.
Um, welcome to being human! We all have days like that. Myself included -- though I do what I can in advance to minimize them. What makes the difference is whether we continue to take action toward what we want, regardless of how we feel. Do you think you're unique in your bad hair day? In your heartbreak? In your hellish stress-filled existence? You're not. What separates you from the other women out there is how you handle it.
So here are some tips on how to operate from a state of less-than-awesome:
First, sit down and think. Think before you do anything. My weakest moments in seduction happen when I start to panic, so when this happens I isolate myself, clear my head, and come up with a game plan that sounds smart and executable. Usually I have to go back and read my own damn book. I am completely serious about this by the way -- there are times when the raw emotions involved with love and relationships screw with my head so much that I have to read my own damn material all over again just to remember how not to fuck everything up. When you have a plan and feel confident in your next several moves, you will feel calmer and, if not awesome, at least capable. And you won't make mistakes in the moment that you will regret later.
Second, remember you never look as bad as you feel. Often despite the fact that you might feel you've gained five pounds, no one else around you is likely going to notice the difference. One of my most remarkable first impressions of last year occurred on a day when I'd overslept for a seminar I was attending and in order to be on time was forced to arrive in my glasses with no makeup on and an outfit picked up from my floor. A good-looking man there started flirting with me after the class and I was shocked -- I mean, I figured I was just going to chalk up a loss and give up on trying to make any impressions that day. He complimented my speaking voice and my contributions to the discussion and asked if I'd like to join him and his friends for lunch. I was unable to that afternoon, but I did run into him unexpectedly two months later and he showed me so much attention that it was blatantly apparent to all my guests that he was interested in me. I was shocked that on that second run-in he actually recognized me, when I was done up to my best. We always think that what we look like at our best and what we look like at our worst are remarkably farther apart than they actually are -- most people simply don't judge us as closely as we judge ourselves. So just assume you look as good as you do on your best day. Even if you don't feel it, fake it.
Third, work on making it as effortless as possible to maintain your inner state of awesome, even when circumstances conspire to bring you out of it. For example, I don't keep sweatpants in my house, because it would be too tempting to wear them during weeks like this. Instead, I reach for the silk pyjamas hanging on the back of my bedroom door or the soft linen lingerie in my drawer. That way, I still feel like me, even if I'm not feeling like the best me possible. Similarly, I own a lot of dresses that are miraculously comfortable while still being glamorous and flattering (think swingy jersey wrap dresses -- they feel like pyjamas and take about five seconds to put on, but they make you look dressed up). I put effort into maintaining healthy skin and hair so that I don't need that much makeup or everyday maintenance. Basically, I put a lot of effort into making it effortless to wake up and be me on a daily basis. That way, it's easy for me to maintain my default state even when I'm feeling terrible -- I can be in a state of self-comfort sans track suit. (Maybe that's why I still got hit on while wearing my glasses with no makeup and a swingy jersey wrap dress I'd picked up off my floor.)
But even more important than maintaining your superficial level of self is making your inner thought frame such that potential sucky circumstances of the outside world have a hard time getting in the way of your own good opinion of yourself. This is why the fact that I study seduction comes so much in handy -- I know the value inherent in the way that I go about attempting to form a positive romantic interaction, so in the aftermath of something that doesn't work out, I usually don't blame myself or start to assume that something's wrong with me or that I'm unlovable. At the very least, I figure, even if I did do a few things wrong, I probably did more right than most women would have done. It's hard sometimes to fight off those feelings of worthlessness when you're feeling less than awesome, especially since you can't control your feelings, but work on setting a positive frame of your own self-value during your better times, and it will come in handy when things go wrong. Heck, I'd far rather be Arden Leigh during a bad week than be Susie Secretary during a great one, any day of the year. Work on creating a life that you love, and even when things go wrong, you will be grateful that you still have the foundation of everything you've built.
Furthermore, find the utility in your bad week. There's a strength in every weakness. The fact that I accidentally cut my arm open during a performance and had to be rushed to the hospital was definitely not fun, but a lot of my friends came out of the woodwork and showed a lot of support, and in addition to how awesome it felt to know what great friends I have, seduction-wise it was also great social proof. Also, you land in the hospital? What a great opportunity for selective vulnerability! (Whether you should choose to solicit the aid and/or company of your target during your indisposition depends on the nature of your relationship.) And even dramatic screw-ups can be played off well. In fact, I like to think that my seduction heroine Madame Recamier (who was known to dance publicly in sheer white gowns until she nearly fainted and had to be carried off by her enraptured entourage to her dimly-lit boudoir where her maids would fan her and wipe her brow) would be proud of the fact that I did an act where I accidentally covered myself in my own blood, then hurried off the stage clad in little other than a white sheet, and was rushed barefoot and mostly naked to the ER by four friends who were in the audience. Had that been a premeditated calculated effect (and had it not carried with it a scar and sizable ER bill), it would have been awesome. In fact apparently some of the audience members swore that the ER trip must have been faked just to make the act more memorable. Meh, use it.
And finally, understand that you are going to have times that you feel less than awesome, and accept that fact for what it is. Think back to what I said in my last blog entry about saying yes to life and everything it entails. Strive to be awesome in the way that you handle your less-than-awesomeness. Maintain your frame, embrace what life throws at you, love being broken and crushed, love the hurt and the fear and the crying and the ecstasy of despair and the agony of over, and turn it all into something you can use. Create some great art. Indulge in a little decadence. Spin it your way. Let them talk about you. Shrug it off. And realize that when you're naked, cut open, bleeding, and clad in nothing but a bloody white sheet -- whether that's literally or figuratively speaking -- the only thing you can do is grab the nearest cute tattooed boy, throw up the devil horns, smile for the camera, and say yes.