This is a resurrected post from the first blog I tried to start about two years ago. I wanted to repost it here because it has a lot to do with failure and perseverance. While it’s focused on men and dating scenarios specifically, I think the principles are universal and can be applied to success in life as a whole. After all, if I wasn’t practicing this principal I would have never kept writing after my first, second, and third blog catastrophically bombed.
I played a lot of video games with a particular friend growing up. Like most kids we would come home from school, immediately boot up the Nintendo or Playstation and spend the next few hours ignoring our homework. Our favorite games to play were any involving some type of competition. Whether it was a sports game or a first person shooter, we always wanted to be beating each other into virtual misery.
Once in awhile I would get on a winning streak, and my friend would lose two or three times in a row. Each time he lost he would become increasingly aggravated. By the time I had beaten him a fourth or fifth time in a row his blood pressure would be soaring. After that he’d really start to lose it.
He’d fly off the handle into an enormous rage and begin to curse, throw his controller, and declare, “I HATE THIS STUPID GAME I’M NEVER PLAYING IT AGAIN!” As if his failure was somehow the game’s fault.
Do you know anyone like this?
With these people it’s like road rage for competition. It doesn’t matter if it’s video games or monopoly with Grandma, there are plenty of people in life who hate losing so much that it puts them at risk for an ulcer.
I never understood this frustration.
Not because I’m amazing at everything I do and never get frustrated, but I just never understood why yelling at inanimate objects or sweet Grandma was in any way helpful.
The funny thing is these people never improve. Instead of realizing that they lost because of a mistake or shortcoming of their own, they furiously point the finger at everyone and everything else. They refuse to take any ownership or responsibility.
I heard some hilarious blame shifting come from my friend. Things like, “oh yeah you won because my character sucks in this game” even though the developers spend years making the game as balanced as possible. Or, “you beat me because my controller sucks” even though that’s their “favorite” controller with which they play most often.
And even if those excuses are legitimate, a true master would foresee those problems and plan ahead. They’d buy a new controller, or spend the time practicing with all the characters to master each one.
See these blame shifters simply don’t want to face the reality. The reason they lost is because they lost. They did not perform better than their opponent. The responsibility is theirs. Whether you agree the full responsibility rests upon them or only some of it is irrelevant because it does not change the outcome.
At the end of the day, they still lost.
The Negative Rejection Loop
Sadly, this is also how most guys handle rejection with woman. I call it the Negative Rejection Loop.
Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar:
A guy spends days, weeks, months, even years obsessing about a girl. He knows he has feelings for her, but he’s not sure what to do about it. He thinks he probably should talk to her, so one day he finally works up the courage to approach her.
He plans it all out. He waits for the opportune moment and he makes his attempt. Sadly, he gets rejected. Instead of shaking it off, this rejection crushes him. Especially because he spent so long building the situation up in his mind. He’s invested huge amounts of emotional energy into the outcome of this scenario, so to have it fall apart so quickly truly destroys him.
His reaction is to become frustrated, hurt, even bitter. He cries out, “this is the worst feeling I’ve ever felt! I never want to feel this way again!” and his confidence suffers drastically. Worst of all, now he’s far less likely to try again with someone else. If he does try again he’ll have to work up that much more courage to overcome his new fear of repeating the failure.
This cycle continues until the guy spirals down emotionally into a solemn pit of despair. Continually getting rejected, shifting the blame towards anything but himself, learning nothing, losing confidence, seldom trying again, only to get rejected when he does finally try again because he lacks confidence.
Changing Your Mindset
I have another friend, he also likes to play games, but not video games. Sometimes when he goes out he plays a game where he tries to see how many times, and in how many different ways he can get rejected!
He makes a mockery of rejection. To him it is literally a laughable occurrence!
In any given night he expects to get rejected more times than not. In fact he plans for it. He knows that every time he gets rejected he can learn something from the experience and improve the next time.
Can you see how this is a completely different way of looking at rejection?
Instead of making it personal and acting like it’s the worst failure to ever happen to him, he thinks rejection is fun because it teaches him how to be better. To him, it’s not a failure but a learning experience.
I’m not saying we should develop failure mindsets and walk into every opportunity thinking it won’t work. I’m saying no guy, no matter how confident, is successful 100% of the time, so why don’t we develop a mindset that anticipates rejection and uses it for our gain?
Awhile back I was out with friends, and I thought I had come up with the greatest pickup line ever. (FYI my pick-up lines are horrible, extremely cheesy, and hardly ever work. But I’m a huge nerd and I think I’m funny so I try them anyway).
My line was, “Excuse me can I ask you something, how does it feel to be the prettiest girl in the bar?”
You probably don’t need to guess what happened.
That’s right, like 90% of my pickup lines, it bombed horribly. My favorite part was two completely separate girls both told me they had boyfriends that lived really far away…Yeah, and I’m Batman.
So what did I do?
Instead of throwing a hissy fit, smashing my drink on the floor, and storming out of the bar enraged that I would never be able to talk to pretty girls (this actually happens). I thought, “ok, I guess that line doesn’t work.”
The Positive Confidence Loop
You see I took responsibility for my own actions and the results they produced, and I used my failure as an opportunity to learn how to improve. I focused inwardly on the things I can control i.e. my words and used my results to learn what to change.
Instead of spiraling downward towards emotional doom, I’m becoming the best guy I can be. In opposition to the Negative Rejection Loop, this is the Positive Confidence Loop.
Learn. Move on. Try again.
A guy gets the confidence to approach a woman, but he knows there’s a possibility for rejection. He almost expects it. He anticipates it as an opportunity to learn. Sure, like before, he might still get rejected. But now he observes and analyzes what went wrong. Now he’s learned something giving him the confidence to try again. Each successive attempt produces more learning, more confidence, until he gets it right which produces the most confidence.
Now the loop is spinning the opposite way. And unlike before where there’s a rock bottom, there’s no upper limit to the growth in confidence.
There’s Plenty More Fish in the Sea
Now it would be easy for me to stop here and say, “So just be more like my friend and become confident” but that wouldn’t actually change anything.
And some of you are going to say, “well maybe that works for your friend, but he was born confident, that would never work for me.”
But what if I told you that you could change your behavior and mindset? What if I told you I myself used to be caught in the Negative Rejection Loop, but I found a way to break the cycle and reverse it?
I can show you the exact tactic I used to change my psychology, but it won’t work if you’re unwilling to take the necessary action to change. If it were easy, every guy would do it.
But on the flip side, if I can do it, so can you.
I call my mindset the There’s Plenty More Fish in the Sea Technique. Here’s how it works. In order to break the Negative Rejection Loop we’re going to use logic to halt the cycle. We’re going to reason with ourselves to begin to change our mindset and give us enough confidence to take action. Then, and this is the important part, we’re going to use that bit of confidence to take the first step in the right direction. Finally, because we’re now headed the other way, that first action will beget more action kicking off the Positive Confidence Loop.
I studied Mechanical Engineering in college so I love numbers. The numbers give us a bit of confidence.
You’ve always heard your friends say, “Don’t worry man, there’s plenty more fish in the sea.” But what does that really mean?
It means is there are truly limitless amounts of eligible and attractive women out there. So one singular rejection means nothing! But how do we actually begin to believe this?
By logically convincing ourselves.
Today it’s estimated that there are just over 7 billion people on this planet.
Let’s just say roughly 50% of them are men and 50% are women. That leaves about 3.5 Billion females on Earth right now. Of course they’re all different ages, so let’s be extremely conservative and say 90% of them are ineligible for dating, meaning they’re not close enough in age. That still leaves 350 Million women globally that are eligible to date! That’s more than the entire U.S. population.
But of course you’re picky and not every one of them is attractive. So let’s be conservative again and say 90% aren’t attractive to you. This still leaves 35 Million eligible, and attractive girls that you could end up with. That’s only 4 Million less people than the entire state of California!
But Eric, you say, I only like girls that love camping, and video games, and all the things I love! Fine, let’s say 90% of those eligible, attractive girls don’t fit your personality. Even still, that leaves 3.5 Million eligible, attractive, and compatible girls. Close to the entire population of LA.
And just to prove the point, let’s say that 90% of those girls have boyfriends. Well you see the pattern now, that leaves 350,000 eligible, attractive, compatible, single girls for you.
But Eric, 90% of girls reject me. Fine, 10% of 350,000 is still 35,000 girls.
How many Facebook friends do you have? What about LinkedIn connections? Is it anywhere close to 35,000?? (If it is you’re a badass and you don’t need my help.)
Right now I have 2,812 friends on Facebook. It took me 24 years to meet 2,812 people! At that pace, even if I lived to be 100 I wouldn’t even come close to 35,000 lifetime Facebook friends, let alone girls I’ve hit on!
So what’s my point?
The numbers are in your favor! There is no limit to the number of girls you can get rejected by. You could get rejected by every girl for 10 years and still not run out of opportunity!
Imagine if every time you got rejected you learned something to improve on. Imagine if with each attempt you didn’t get just slightly better, but you got vastly better. Imagine if your rejection rate was 50% instead of 90%.
The point isn’t the numbers because we just ball parked them anyway. The point is what they imply.
Let me say that again, the point isn’t the numbers it’s what they imply.
You’re only looking for one yes. Out of a vast sea of opportunity you’re only looking for one to work. So why are we focusing on the negative? Why are we focusing on how often it doesn’t work when we could be concerned with how often it does?
That same friend of mine that goes out there and tries to get rejected… Well every once in a while it actually works! He’s not even trying and it works on confidence alone!
What if on top of confidence you knew the exact things girls were looking for. The exact things to improve to increase your chances 10X, 20X or even 50X?
What if you developed a strategy for learning those things? Do you think you’d be more successful?
Now Do Something About It
Do you feel a little more confident now?
However, information alone isn’t going to reverse the loop. Even with the empowerment of this logic, it’s not enough. It’s time to act.
Next time you find yourself wanting to approach a girl, stop and quickly remind yourself of this logic. Actually say to yourself, “There’s more fish in the sea. There are at least 35,000 eligible, attractive, compatible, single women out there for me. If I get rejected right now I’m only increasing my odds.”
Then use this little boost of confidence to ACT. I don’t care what you say, just do it. Try your best. Start small. Just start a conversation with a girl in line for coffee. Just talk to someone you’ve never said hi to before. Just do something.
If it works, YOU WIN! But you’re not expecting anything other than an opportunity to try.
If you get rejected, shake it off. Say great! Now I’m even more likely to be successful! Ask yourself what you think you could have done better. Then tell yourself, “There’s more fish in the sea, there’s at least 34,999 eligible, attractive, compatible, single women out there for me.” And most importantly, ACT AGAIN!
After enough attempts you won’t need to remind yourself of how many fish are out there because your behavior will inform your mindset. You will have successfully changed the framework of how you see rejection, and you will only be able to continue to grow in confidence.
Don’t be like my friend growing up who failed and just threw his video game controller never getting better. Instead be like my friend who makes a game out of rejection and laughs at it.
Become the best guy you can be, the one you’ve always wanted to be.
I want to hear from you! Send me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know why you think the There’s More Fish in the Sea Technique is different from other confidence building advice you’ve heard in the past.
And if you’re really bold, leave a comment about your worst rejection and what you learned from the experience, could be dating or beyond.