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Submission-Assertion-Aggression Spectrum: Tempering Aggression

Hey Lucio, I wanted to say thanks for this course. As I go through it, I am getting a lot of value out of it. As I continue to grow and develop into a healthy, emotionally stable man who has his shit together, I remember your teachings and apply them to my life. As someone who has been naive to the reality of social dynamics and life in general for far too long, and who still faces that vice now and than, your lessons on attention, assertiveness, and dominance have been very helpful indeed. After months of struggle, I am finally seeing results and a light at the end of the tunnel. I know, that if I keep going, I will get the respect and security I desire.

With that said, I'd appreciate your insights on a few things too. One thing that stood out to me was your quiz on the submission-assertion-aggressiveness spectrum. Submission isn't much of a problem for me, I'm more than capable of standing my ground. But I can often be too aggressive, especially when defending my boundaries. I never lacked courage and boldness either, but those qualities, not socially calibrated, often got me into trouble. I have a lot of determination and drive, but I can be very stubborn too. At my worse, I know I am capable of cruel, sadistic and even downright abusive behavior.

And yes, sometimes aggressiveness got results. Especially in public school, when I was bullied a lot. Having a reputation of being 'that guy' who is ready to fight, take things to the next level and do whatever it takes to win is useful for keeping threats off your back. Standing my ground and counterattacking women who made serious breaches of boundaries not only got respect, but sharply increased their attraction for me as well. Internally, being utterly ruthless with myself, facing my faults and vices head on and doing whatever it takes to claw my way out of rock bottom is what separates me from many who give up and never try again.

I'm still learning to temper my aggressiveness - to not either blindly lash out after the fact or live life naive, soft and off guard, but to use my anger to proactively set firm boundaries without going too far. I seek to harness my source of masculine strength, to direct the fire within towards creative ends, to stand for something good, to use my aggression healthily while also still being able to defend my domain when needed. I remembered what you mentioned back, about a balance of validation and using bad memories to keep motivating you, and that came in helpful here as well.

From that, the question I have, and I'd honestly value your input, is this: When my boundaries are transgressed, how can I stand my ground while controlling my anger? What is the balance between assertiveness and (preemptive) aggression? How do you value yourself while not taking things too personally? Thanks for your time Lucio, and have a great day 🙂

Hey mate!

Great self-analysis as usual, that's going to serve you beautifully as you keep working on yourself.
Especially admirable your ability to engage in critical self-analysis, without fear of highlighting the less flattering aspects.

Focus more on a process of self-development than on "getting it right"

The very first thing I would tell you, is this:

Worry less about getting it right, then learning from it

No matter your level, it's always better to focus on a process of self-development than on demanding from yourself perfection.

One because like that you do keep improving.
And two, because it also helps you with your question: "how do you value yourself without taking things too personally".

When you shift your mindset to "learning", you enjoy the process more and you naturally take things less personally.

Even today, I still come back home after a social outing and write down my lessons learned.
I write down where someone was rude to me, when someone ignored, what I did, and why it worked or why it didn't work too well, and I reflect on what I could have done better.

Try things out, calibrate as you go

As a matter of fact, I would even tell you to to do the opposite for now.

Scrap "getting it right" for now and try on purpose to go to the extremes.

If you've already been at the extreme of aggressions, try submissiveness, just to see the different reactions.
Next time a girl tells you to move over for her? Move over and ask her if she needs anything else. Just a couple of times, to see if you can spot the differences.
Maybe later you can even say "ahah, I just did that to see if you were going to take advantage of me and demand more and more".

That will also strengthen your will and ego: you're not feeding on positive external feedback, but you're focusing on growth.

It's better to start aggressive, than passive

Usually, it's easier to rein-in aggression and become assertive than go from passive to assertive.

As an aggessive, you can always also try passiveness -that can be powerful too, sometimes-, but for a passive to try aggressive, that's often really hard.

Focus on not being abusive or violent -you can train the latter in a dojo if you want-, and anything stopping short of those extremes is fine.

Take note of what happens to your status when you go aggressive, too.

I remember when I first got a driving license, and I escalated a fight with a friend of mine, stopped the car in the middle of nowhere and said: "shut the fuck up, or go out now".
But I didn't even the strength to physically pull him out even if I wanted and the group wasn't ready to give that kind of backup, either. He said he wouldn't go out, albeit he calmed down and I got some support from the other two, which ended up splitting the group in 3 VS 2 (great job in splitting your own group :S).

That was bonehead, but it taught me two lessons: avoid fights with your friends unless they really deserve it -and he didn't-, and never threaten if you don't have the strength to back it up.

Shameful behavior from my side, but we go back to the importance of learning more than being perfect.
I learned and grew -and today we're great friends, needless to say-.

Also, your apology after aggression will often work great. And can even bond you stronger.
But you have no way to go after you let someone run over you.

With age, you'll naturally grow more nuanced

I think you're young, right?

Younger people are naturally more extreme, and they also move in more extreme environments of bullying and social-climbing, so don't make too much about it.

I remember when a senior student in my first year of high school wanted to "baptize me" in the bathroom -he "only" ended up throwing me out- and I thought of bringing a knife with me to slash him if he tried again, which I did when we went to the school trip- (I had lowish status in school).

Or when a guy from my group took my bike as a sort of "bullying-prank". As much as teen groups can have leaders, outside of school I was probably the leader of the pack, but this guy sometimes loved to challenge me.
And in response, I took my dad's rifle ready to fire it in his direction if he was going to drive it back -he should have driven beside my house if he was going to take it home, and luckily, he didn't. To be precise, it was an air rifle, LOL, but one of those using lead pellets, so it would definitely pierce skin and do major damage-.

Back then, they were powerful urges of retaliating just to prove a point.
Today, I still get upset at abuse, but with time, you'll naturally rein it in.

Standing your ground while controlling your anger

Finally, I wanna end with a more actionable tip.

the next time someone transgresses your boundaries, try one of these two:

  • Soft power and shaming

Instead of going on the assault, which is 1 VS 1 from a position of equals, focus on going "above".
Think of "stepping to the side and taking the judge role" instead of (socially) beating them down to a pulp.

A bit like this:

Hey man,
I feel like this thing you did now is quite rude.
I have nothing against you and actually wanted to be on good temrs.
But it seems like you're trying to overpower me or something.
Why are you doing that.

If they explain or balk, which is a very likely outcome, you won.

  • Go meta

With this one, you go one level above to explain exactly what they're doing.

I describe one example in the first article here on "alpha male handshake".
For example:

I’ll tell you what you just did.
You came in guns blazing interrupting us all.
What you were doing was throwing your weight around, trying to assert your social standing or something.
I’m not a fan of that behavior, but whatever. Where I do draw the line though is when you behave like a dick towards me, because I haven't behaved like a dick towards you, have I?
So please either deal with me in a respecful manner, as I do with you, or we don't need to interact at all.

Both of these would work wonders among older crowds and you'd get a huge boost in status.
In younger groups, which are more about being crass, it's possible that need to have some pre-existing social status to make it work. But give it a try. And I'd be curious to see how it goes (unluckily I wasn't at the level of delivering any of these in younger years :).


All in all, I see you in a very good spot.

Focus less on perfection now, and more on testing what works.

And merry Christmas 🙂

Kellvo has reacted to this post.
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Hey man, thanks for the input! Really appreciate the depth and dedication that goes into making these articles and replies. It's clear you've faced down some real shit too. You got the perfection thing on the head, yeah - I gotta chill a bit, enjoy the process more. I'm still young, still making my way, and making up for lost time - I've let myself not grow and remain in a really immature mindset for far too long. To be honest, I still got a ways to go, but that's okay. One day, one step at a time.

I get what you mean about retaliating just to make a point. I've been there. I remember the first time I stood my ground. It was in fourth grade, with this guy who was picking on me all year. His friend beat me up not too long ago, and we were in the playground one morning. He taunted me, and man I just snapped. I went completely berserk on his ass. I mean I chased him like some kind of wild animal. Than I threatened to bite his friend when he was bullying a frail boy I swore to protect. A few years later, I chased down another bully in the alley using my scooter as a flail while screaming at the top of my lungs.

... Yeah. Some martial arts or something will do me a lot of good lol. I'm actually gonna buy some boxing gloves for Christmas and practice at the gym, get some of that aggression out. See about signing up at the dojo too. Find a way to channel that aggression and make something good of it.

Doing the role change scares me, I'm not gonna lie. I know I unintentionally let my guard down sometimes, I'm fixing that, but showing weakness deliberately, yeah, that's frightening. But my philosophy is to move towards the fear and face it head on. So I'm gonna do it. I'll experiment with body language a bit, look more submissive, and note the internal and external changes, see how it goes.

Going above... I never thought of it that way before. But it makes sense. When I'm doing the aggressive approach I'm still buying into the hostile frame. If I can take higher ground and come from the judge role like you said, I can not only protect myself, but do so in a civilized and overall much healthier way. And even turn it around and make something better instead of getting drawn into an unnecessary and wasteful war.

Ultimately, aggression has its place, but it seems limited too. It shows that you're ultimately still bothered by the problem, that you're still afraid and that they can still get to you. I'd like to move past that into more genuine strength, into a more high-status, warmer, assertive place, while still being able to back it up when necessary. Not just for myself, but for the men and women around me too.

Much appreciated again, Lucio, and have a merry Christmas too 🙂

LOL nice initmidation moves there mate :D.

Going crazy in the sense of acting crazy can be extremely effective in deterring aggression.
Few people wanna mess with crazy, no matter the physical advantage the aggressor might have.

Yelling is also effective as "psychological warfare".
As crazy as it might sound at first, some muggers actually prefer men, and women are often more effective than men at preventing mugging.
Because women often yell. Men rarely do.

Did it work in stopping bullying for good?
Sometimes stopping bullying requires more than just physical fighting back, but at times that can be enough (I'll do an article on it eventually, I know there is interest from the emails I get).

Submission - Assertion - Aggression: The Intensity Changes Depending on Environment

As a last not on this topic: the intensity of what's submission, assertion and aggression changes depending on the environment.

With bullying, "aggression" can oftentimes mean brawling, while submission can mean giving up some material possession.

But as people mature, the scale becomes more nuanced.
In high school and in your younger years, you pay a smaller price for being more uncalibrated and "exaggerating", but the higher you go, the more important proper calibration becomes.
Until the point where misplaced aggression decreases your status as much as submission does.

Quote from Kellvo on December 24, 2019, 6:10 pm

Going above... I never thought of it that way before. But it makes sense. When I'm doing the aggressive approach I'm still buying into the hostile frame. If I can take higher ground and come from the judge role like you said, I can not only protect myself, but do so in a civilized and overall much healthier way. And even turn it around and make something better instead of getting drawn into an unnecessary and wasteful war.

Exactly, when you answer at their same level, you are reacting to their frame and you play within their frame.
In a way, you are following their lead.

Sometimes you can also still do well within their frames, but most of the time you get mired into a quarrel where both lose.

Whenever you can go lateral or above, you keep control of the interaction and can steer towards more collaborative frames.
Alternatively, sometimes you can also sidestep the affront with minimal effort, obeying the law of social effort: they put a lot of effort trying to tool you, you shrugged it off without a care.

For example:

Him: Yo, Kate, Kellvo here really likes you. Why don't you tell her Kellvo, come on, ask her mate
You: (look in his direction, nods towards him) Hey man, what's up (then quickly looks away, keeps talking to the girl or doing whatever he was doing)

Enjoying the Process

Yes, exactly.

This is an issue common to most driven people.
When you demand a lot from yourself, you also often fall short of your own sky-high expectations, and you're never happy with yourself.

In the end, you will still achieve a lot.
But the quality of your life can take a huge hit.
Basically, you achieve and improve, but you're less happy and satisfied than the guy who's drinking beer and watching Netflix all day.

Tony Robbins is very good for rebalancing and enjoying the process a bit more (his "personal power II", for exapmle).

Kellvo has reacted to this post.
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Hey Lucio! Thanks man - yeah, I was a bit crazy back in those days lol! Still have the capacity for that really, but I do my best to channel it into healthier ways like working out. Hitting the weights hard and showing them who's boss is SO satisfying. Would've definitely been cool to have those power dynamics info back in the day though 🙂

With your advice for driven people, I've been taking time in the last several weeks to apply it in my life. I'm still moving forward every day, crushing weight goals, doing things I'm afraid to do and meeting other milestones, but I've been slowing down a bit and taking it easy too. I've signed up for Yoga and some cardio exercise classes, did some introspection (I realized I was overreacting based on childhood memories of being bullied) and been applying Buddhist/Stoic material such as 'Calm, Cool, Collected' into my life. I've also been looking into cultivating discipline more, so that I can keep going forward without relying solely on motivation.

With dominant people and managing frames, I've been making headway there too. I've done deeper studying into the Judge role and took your law of social effort into mind - when someone does a dominance play, counter, preferably with less effort, and go after the frame if possible. With a recent power battle, I was able to stand my ground, than deescalate by agreeing to handle a common foe. Before I would have just escalated with the mindset of 'crush him at all costs', but I understand more and more how being strong AND win-win is the best way.

I still make some slipups, mostly out of obliviousness and being off-guard, but that's okay. I take every day as a learning experience, and enjoy the process of cultivating dominance, both in victory and defeat. I am simply a human playing the game like anyone else. I don't take others playing games as personally anymore, seeing them not as an intrusion that must be paid back at any cost, but more and more as simply a normal process of being human, and learning how to play in turn as completely normal. Not that I condone manipulation, but I'm more chill about it now.

I wanted to say, sincerely, thank you for this course. I'm still learning, still growing, and I embrace the mistakes I know I'll make along the way, because I am learning - not only how to play the game, but how to function in society as a whole. It's too easy to fall into the two extremes, being naive and blind to power dynamics, or going to the other end and coldly manipulating and seeing everything as war, and I've been at both ends, believe me. Learning power dynamics has made it easier to see the world as it is, in shades of grey much more than black and white, and more organically too, as a dance and play between gradients much more than just binary true/false, moral/immoral and the like. It's not only armed me with more tools to handle life with competence, but given a deeper appreciation for life, women and people in general. I got a ways to go, of course, but I am making it, and taking it easier too along the way 🙂

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Oh man, I wouldn't even know what to quote there.

I absolutely love your message, it's like a manifesto of enlightened self-development.

P.S.: with that mindset towards weight-lifting, and deriving pleasure from it, you're going to grow huge!

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