I’ve been spending a lot of time realigning my life and refocusing my efforts into what will help me be more effective in getting what I want out of life. And a lot of this entails looking at habits I’ve developed and ways that I frame my experiences.
Yup, this is a post about ego magic.
Usually when I talk about ego magic, it is as a corrective to excesses in the positive range. In short, ego magic is effective at deflating over-inflated egos and delusions of grandeur. I’ve told stories of old friends caught up in this trap, and been inspired to other commentary based upon observations of others.
Most of the work I have done in ego magic is inspired by Phil Hine, if not taken directly from his book Condensed Chaos. Hine discusses bad habits, obsessions, and personal demons, as well as how to recognize these things and deal with them.
One of the most useful processes I have undergone in the past is the Charting of the Self, which helps to increase self-awareness so that you can change what behaviors you need to.
Some exercises that Hine suggests:
- Third-person accounts. Write an account of yourself as if by another person. Discuss your strengths and weaknesses. How do you think others really see you?
- Lists of strengths and weaknesses. Two columns, strengths on one side, weaknesses on another. Can also include successes and failures.
- Book of Blunders. Take a blank journal and write down experiences of pain, guilt, or embarrassment. This is not to dwell on them, but to gain a sense of what kind of negative events are actually floating in your past.
- Suppressions. Make a list of the impulse or thoughts you actively try to suppress
- Conversations. Keep track of the internal conversations or stories you tell yourself about what you can or can’t do. What if’s or Should have’s are a big element of this.
- Destroying the Stereotype. When you encounter a person that seem to fit a stereotype, come up with alternative explanations of why that person looks or acts as they do.
- Storytelling. Invent stories created around other people talking in a room. What are they talking about? Are they discussing how good lunch was, or the philosophical implications of quantum physics?
These exercises are a great way to get an idea of what kind of thought processes you are undergoing, and help to adapt and adjust to new ones. And when you’re stuck in a rut of your own greatness, and are convinced your shit doesn’t stink, going through a process like this can help a lot.
But what about the flip side?
As I said above, most of the time when I hear about ego magic, it is about reigning in an out-of -control ego. It is a person who is unduly overconfident and arrogant, we learn, who needs to work these exercises, to bring that ego in check. Ego is bad, you see. When we speak of someone as “having an ego” we mean that said person is arrogant and off-putting, and probably a douche canoe as well.
But your ego is your sense of self. It keeps you strong-willed and resistant to manipulations from others. Being a weak-willed pushover for the sake of keeping your ego in check doesn’t help you much.
And most of what we’re talking about when we talk about “ego” is really confidence. And Hine tells us that confidence is important to magic. It’s very important, he tells us: so important that a good magician should have a confidence “bordering on arrogance.” (I’d say “cocky” does it well.) Which is almost ironic, given the emphasis at ego-deconstruction.
And Hine defines confidence as a skill: “the sill of being relaxed in the immediate present.” So this is something that can be learned. And this is a good thing. Because what it means is that if you suffer from social anxiety or any kind, you can learn how to do things differently.
They say “fake it until you make it.” get out their and act like you’re confident, and you will be. That makes it sound magical and mysterious, and frankly, really scary for people who aren’t feeling confident enough to “fake” it. They should call it what it is: practice.
Once thing about confidence is that it’s situational. You can have confidence and social status in one sphere and none in another. A person who is perfectly at ease giving a lecture on a known topic, or even interacting with a new discussion group, may freeze up when approached by a member of the opposite sex (or even worse, when expected to.)
So people try to learn social skills. They try to learn techniques for interacting with people in a way that puts their fears to rest and allows them to relax in a situation. And much of this really comes down to being comfortable with status and power in social interactions, and being able to increase both of those things. And a lot of that comes from confidence.
Hine offers some exercises. The recently emerges field of Neurolinguistic Programming offers a lot of techniques for reading people and establishing rapport. And what a lot of that translates to is being assured that if you do one thing, most people will do another. That helps eliminate fears of what-ifs that plague the anxious. It helps put you at ease.
But a lot of it can be very abstract and esoteric. And that means finding a concrete application can be tricky. Sure, theory is always nice, but how do you implement it?
In case it’s been alluding you, I’ve been suffering due to inertia lately. I lack in social interactions. And having been in a relationship for almost seven years, now that I’m single I’m not overly comfortable approaching the ladies. So in addition to magical techniques (especially dealing with Solar energies), I’ve looked for other sources. And I’ve actually found a series of exercises, drawing from multiple schools of thought, including NLP and psychology,designed to help boost personal confidence.
I’ve been reading a Pick-Up Artist book.
That’s a dangerous admission in the pagan and metaphysics community, especially given the strong feminist overlap. And I know for a fact several of my regular readers will have rather negative reactions to the above statement. But before you give up on me, hear me out.
The real central theme of the PUA community is this: women love confidence. Display confidence, and women will respond positively to you. The detail vary widely from there, as gurus fight over prize techniques and grandiose goals. But one blogger I have perused, who is himself an admit ed misogynist, has stated a surprisingly humble goal: To give men enough confidence to have the kind of relationships they want with women, instead of suffering from fear of rejection and potential manipulation. And while for some men that is defined as absolute conquest, for most it is a solid relationship with a woman they have developed a strong rapport with. And those principles translate to other areas of life: that confidence is applicable to work or family or other social interactions.
Yes, there are a lot of scumbags who use those techniques to seduce women indiscriminately. But there are people who do the same with magic. A community with suspect goals has honed these techniques, but that doesn’t invalidate the techniques themselves as a way to build confidence in all social interactions.
And improving in social interactions is a good thing. And learning to be more confident can make you more successful in life, which is a good thing. And making positive and beneficial adjustments to the self is also a good thing.
Essentially, PUA gurus are teaching ego magic and NLP. And that’s powerful, and should attract the attention of any Chaos Magician.
I’m by no means advocating that you should learn magic to be able to seduce women (although I’ve already admitted that this was my initial goal). What I’m saying is far simpler.
Use what works.
There have been gallons of ink spilled into self-help books. And most of them are crap. They’re crap because they give you anecdotes and pep-talks, and make you feel good when reading them, but they don’t offer many ways to translate this into practical action. They don’t have ways to measure success.
And I’ve found a source that does, no matter what its initial intended use is for.
I’m working with some of the techniques, and a lot of them are interesting and have already helped my social and work interactions. (Make small talk with five random people today. Look them in the eyes. Remember their eye color at the end of the day. Seriously, try it.) Chaos magicians are well known for taking from usual sources, and this should be no different, political repugnance be damned.
As I work through the techniques I’m studying, I’ll make some reports on the results. I will be accompanying this project with the aforementioned ego magic techniques to keep from delving into the arrogance end of the spectrum, and to keep close watch on how the source is affecting my attitudes toward sex and women. I invite readers to call me out on any negative attitudes that appear in my writing, especially if they seem out of character for what has appeared on this blog.
Because these techniques should be adaptable to everyday life. And to everyday magic. And I’d be a fool not to take advantage of that.