Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Graduating Gamma 3

Step 3: Emotional

The Gamma lives on an emotional roller coaster which goes from anxious repression to emotional outbursts which can accumulate into rage and then despair. A Gamma is effectively out of balance emotionally and which is why they are so obnoxious to people around them and especially to women.

I have a couple of ideas of why this is so, and my guess is that a Gamma was a boy who was just a little more emotionally sensitive and a bit smarter than the average boy, then experienced some combination of the following factors: a Gamma father or father figure, raised by women alone, bullied rather heavily, socially awkward and had trouble knowing how to act, overweight or possessed some other physical trait that made him overly self-conscious. I don’t think it is any one thing, but rather a combination of several influences and events beyond which slowly turns a boy who might have some tendencies towards being a Gamma into a full-blown Gamma in adulthood. If you suspect you are a Gamma you’ll probably find this list or events like this to be still painful in your memory. Take that same boy and surround him with strong, but patient men, and have him enter into a masculine profession or the military, and he’d probably turn out a Delta or a Delta with a few Gamma traits.

Swinging the pendulum

After a lifetime of Gamma reinforcement how does a man turn things around? I suggest for one month swinging the pendulum far in the opposite direction. Almost like an emotional detox, the Gamma needs to completely turn around for a time and get off the emotional roller coaster. I suggest one month of practicing the ancient philosophy of Stoicism. The first step is to get yourself a copy of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. My favorite version is by Everyman’s Library as the language has been updated, but it costs money, so there’s a free version here, and if you want a printed book they are easy to find used or are always at the local library. This is the place to start because it isn’t a philosophical abstract but instead a portrait of an Emperor and how he lives out the philosophy in his daily life. It’s also a damn good read.

As for a definition of Stoicism I’m going straight to the dictionary:
1. the endurance of pain or hardship without a display of feelings and without complaint.

A philosophy that flourished in ancient Greece and Rome. Stoics believed that people should strictly restrain their emotions in order to attain happiness and wisdom; hence, they refused to demonstrate either joy or sorrow.

You can read more about it on Wikipedia, but for our purposes the above are sufficient. I’m sure there’s someone out there who will take umbrage with this definition and can’t wait to spam the comments with a debate about the true definition of Stoicism and their “oh so interesting” knowledge about Stoicism. Don’t do it because it doesn’t matter here and you will be missing the point. I don’t bring up Stoicism to debate its meaning or to claim it has superiority over all other philosophies or other such irrelevant topics, only that it can be a useful tool to help one graduate from Gamma.

Practical Application
  1. Drop all snarky, flippant, and silly comments and voices about people and things. Its fine to tell an actually joke, but stop trying to be cute and funny all of the damn time. Witty remarks are useful, but you need to take a break for a bit.
  2. This month drop all online forum debates, especially when you are really emotionally invested. Go silent in your profiles unless it’s reassuring a community you are OK, ONLY if they ask.
  3. Stay away from social media unless you have to get on it for a specific reason. Social media is a hotbed of emotional flame wars.
  4. When in groups of friends and families and a hot-button topic comes up in which you’d typically dive into (and of course wow the ladies with your stellar command of minutia!) keep your mouth shut and simply watch and listen to the participants instead.
  5. Stop watching any and all reality TV shows in which there’s a lot of screaming and emotional manipulation going on to get a rise out of the audience.
  6. Stay away from news stories which you know act as a trigger for you to instantly get upset about.
  7. Try to schedule some time, even if it’s just most of a single day to go somewhere solitary and quiet in the outdoors. When there make an effort to quiet your mind, drop the internal debates about politics, religion, etc., going on in there and instead focus on good things in life that you’ve been blessed with. This can be done multiple times if needed.
  8. If you have a wife or girlfriend don’t be baited by the typical arguments you two have this month, and be aware of what you say before you say it if things get heated. Instead show them love as it covers a multitude of sins, and patience as you realize you have probably been just as guilty as them in emotional manipulation.
  9. Kindly tell your female friends (especially that one you really want to date) to unburden their emotions on someone else. Don’t be rude, but be firm.
  10. If someone emotionally vomits all over you, tries to get an emotional rise out of you, engage you in a rhetorical argument, or tells stupid and silly jokes, simply grunt in reply. I’m serious here, grunt. Don’t get baited in; don’t tell them all about how you are now a quiet Stoic. The responses you get from this will be eye opening to say the least, and are sometimes quite funny. Just be sure to keep a straight face. Please practice your grunt now.
Staying Put, Continuing On, or Seeking Help

Hopefully after one month you will have a substantial increase in clarity of thought, emotional balance and most importantly become more aware of your emotional triggers. You should be able to start controlling your actions when you become emotional. You cannot control the fact that you have emotions, but you can limit exposure to situations in which you know you will become extremely emotional, and you can work on always controlling your actions regardless of how you feel at the moment.

If after one month you feel you need to continue in stoicism and introspection then go ahead and do it for up to six months. Sometimes you need a reset to get yourself out of a behavioral pattern. Vox has said more than once that he got to a point in his life where he finally stopped doing much of anything but martial arts training for six months.  I stopped trying to date, and concentrated on working out and just thinking about life for several months before I got back into it and found success. Sometimes a man just has to step back for a while and re-evaluate his life in order to improve his actions. It can take time.

On the other hand, if after a time of introspection you find that you are becoming more upset, emotional, depressed, or even suicidal, then please seek professional help. Sometimes the shock of leaving trying to leave Gammahood, especially if there has been childhood abuse, can be overwhelming for a man, and in that case he will need more that just a good friend and introspection. It's not a statistical quirk that causes suicide rates for men to be higher than for women and you need to take care of yourself.

Leaving Stoicism

I think Stoicism is one of the greatest philosophies of Man, and it can be especially helpful for men when they get out of balance, but the point to this post isn’t to create philosophers or hermits. I don’t think that repressing joy in vain hopes of philosophical happiness is a good idea. A man should be able to have a good belly laugh with his friends, be of cheerful spirit, and show deep love and affection for his children and wife. Don’t think at a funeral of a friend or family member you can’t cry, even Jesus wept at the grave of his friend. Stoicism is a tool, not a straightjacket to use to turn you into Spock. After practicing it this month, take the positive elements from it and work them into your life. Wouldn’t you like to be known as the guy who is cool under pressure? The man in the extended family who can be relied upon to be sober-minded and reliable when there’s an emergency? An employee or businessman known to be fair and evenhanded even when chaos swirls around him?

The anti-Gamma conclusion on Emotional aspect of life: You can’t stop yourself from having emotions, but you can control your actions in response to them.


Rek. said...

To OP,

You used to be a gamma. What are you now? Where are you going? What's holding you back in your efforts to further climb the SSH ladder?

Dystopic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AmyJ said...

These have been informative and enlightening posts, OP, and the discussions they've sparked have been interesting. Thanks for doing this. Here's hoping the seeds fall on fertile ground.

cailcorishev said...

Lots of great advice. I'd add to #1: avoid all snark, from others as well as yourself. Snark isn't necessarily bad in small doses, but it's how the gamma passive-aggressively keeps the world at bay while feeling superior to it.

Things that make you laugh are great, especially if you tend to be depressed, but it needs to be open, honest laughter, not superior chuckling at the expense of others. That's hard to come by these days, and it probably means keeping the TV off most of the time. Stick with older comedy, the kind of stuff your friends would say is unsophisticated.

swiftfoxmark2 said...

Everyone should go on a Stoic detox periodically. Part of the problem with modern society is its inability to repress emotions. Instead emotions are used to justify all sorts of wickedness and evil while doubling as a moral compass.

cailcorishev said...

Vox, here's a related thought I've been kicking around: should gammas, especially gamma boys, be steered away from SF/F?

My thinking is that a gamma, instead of being inspired by stories of heroes, may use them as an excuse for inaction. So many such stories involve the protagonist being swept away by Destiny and forced into heroism, so the gamma may spend his life waiting for that to happen. When things don't happen, he has a ready excuse: "Well, I'd have a princess by now if I had a magic sword and there were dragons about." He's like Garion on Faldor's Farm, except that his aunt isn't a sorceress and Old Wolf isn't coming to sweep them away on an adventure, so eventually Zubrette marries Rundorig because he's tall, and Garion grows old sitting around trading snarky jokes with Doroon.

Seems like a double-edged sword to me. Such stories could inspire a kid to go out and seek his own adventures, but for the gamma-inclined, they could have the opposite effect.

Dystopic said...

"Instead emotions are used to justify all sorts of wickedness and evil while doubling as a moral compass."

Gospel truth, there.

Dystopic said...

"My thinking is that a gamma, instead of being inspired by stories of heroes, may use them as an excuse for inaction. So many such stories involve the protagonist being swept away by Destiny and forced into heroism, so the gamma may spend his life waiting for that to happen. When things don't happen, he has a ready excuse: "Well, I'd have a princess by now if I had a magic sword and there were dragons about."

This is remarkably insightful. I can look back on my youth and see where I used this excuse used many times. Where were my lottery winnings? Where was someone to come forth from the ether to declare how special I was, how someone, somewhere, needed something only I could do. Meanwhile I waited, and did nothing, wondering why nothing ever happened.

So much of fiction these days is based around this sort of notion. Look at Harry Potter or Percy Jackson. Ordinary boy finds out he is *special* and goes off on some adventure, gaining fame and fortune. Years later, you sit and wonder just what happened, why nothing ever came your way, why adventure didn't find you. You aren't special, you have no great gifts or talents. It's profoundly disappointing. But even that mercy is denied to most Gammas. Look at how they act. They still believe their great adventure lies just around the corner, should someone only recognize it.

I'm exhausted of this. I'm older and I've achieved nothing of substance. What talents I had were wasted. Forget waiting and go make something happen. The more I read these posts about Gammas, the more I wish I had a time machine so I could meet my younger self and beat some sense into him.

But I can't. This middle-aged man is all that's left, and I'll make the best of it anyway. Better late than never. And I can still slay one dragon by defeating my own personal weakness. It's no grand adventure, but it's something.

Ron said...

I'm going to try this challenge.

Ron said...

@OP or VD

I really appreciate this, emotional overreaction and subsequent emotional vomiting is a major problem for me. Your assessment as to how it came about was very accurate - but when I read it, I did not feel so much pain, as relief.

I am going to try all 10 of your practical recommendations. Especially the grunt! (I practiced it a few times, it made me smile). I am going to print them up and put them in a place where I will see them first thing in the morning.

I will also read Meditations every day for this month.

OP and VD - Thank you very much. I am very grateful to you both for this series.

Earl Thomas said...

'You can’t stop yourself from having emotions, but you can control your actions in response to them. '

It seems the emotion gammas have very little control over is anger. It bodes them well to take this advice.

He who is slow to anger has great understanding,
But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.

Proverbs 14:29

de ti said...

This is probably the most important and influential series of posts AlphaGame has ever published. Well done, Vox and OP, for presenting them.

Dystopic said...

"This is probably the most important and influential series of posts AlphaGame has ever published. Well done, Vox and OP, for presenting them."

Fully agree with this sentiment. Well done.

Arvind said...

absolutely true on the sf/f part here. used to read a regular library of them as a kid, and they kept me out of the world completely. waiting and sitting on your ass becomes a habit for life. breaking it is best done with exercise and a walled of emotional time period - now i try to get all my emotional shit free for a 10 minute period in a day - and then go on with what i planned to do. to do lists are great as well. they keep you accontable and focused.

childhood gammas need rotc or martial arts or some kind of male socialization. extreme feminization has can be due to fatherly neglect as well. what vox says about single mom scalzi ( i like that term, someone please pick it up) seems dead on to me.

dystopic - if i may ask, uh, how old are you sir.

gamma is like the princess - one day my prince will come, one day he will come on a charger ... natch. get off the arse and keep going along.

my only savior is work. arbeit mitch frei, at least until i can start making money.

Dystopic said...

"dystopic - if i may ask, uh, how old are you sir."

I am 34.

Tommy Hass said...

I was telling my parents a story about Gamergate and /baphomet/ in the car. My mother interrupted me with something INCEDIBLY pointless and ireelevant and it made me lose focus. I snapped and her and berated her at least for 15 minutes, mostly because she does this all the time.

I also get mad and emotional when someone disagrees with me about a topic that I'm passionate about.

But I am also not even close to a pedestal polisher and I don't shy away from confrontation in the slightest. I'm not snarky and I'm perfectly cool and suave when with people outside of my family.

Am I Gamma?

Daniel said...

Geez, dystopic, do you realize that your profound disappointment and defeatism and regret is Gammadom simply rearing yet another of its hydra-like heads?

I don't care if you are 64 deaf and in a wheelchair, you aren't dead yet. Go shoot something for pity's sake. Better yet, rent a Ferrari, pop on some crappy sunglasses and thrift store reject clothes and go party at the local college tonight. That's an adventure at about the lowest difficulty setting possible. Simultaneously lame and awesome. You'll have a blast.

Dystopic said...

"Geez, dystopic, do you realize that your profound disappointment and defeatism and regret is Gammadom simply rearing yet another of its hydra-like heads?"

You're right, of course. However, the OP suggested going dark on social media, and so I'll choose to take that advice. The Ferrari is out of the budget, but going to the range with the 12 gauge isn't, so I'll take that too. Thanks.

heyjames4 said...

Is there any inspirational literature examples of graduating gammas? Movies or novels or biographies?
The only one I can think of is Andre Braugher's character from Glory.

Daniel said...

For those interested in learning practical ideas on how to apply Stoicism to modern life, I'll add one more book recommendation: "A Guide To the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy" by William B. Irvine. I read it last year and found it to be extremely useful, even life-changing. Can't recommend it highly enough.

Desert Cat said...

34 Dystopic? Do you realize that per many game analysts you are at your prime age for the sociosexual marketplace? 34 is YOUNG to this 52 year old! And I'm not giving up any time soon.

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