One of the biggest misunderstandings in the world of dating instruction (and by association, the larger self-improvement world) is the belief that one must always be “congruent.” Specifically, the idea that what you say and how you say it or who you are should always match up. So in other words, if you say something that a “cool” person would say but you don’t seem or act “cool,” then you’re incongruent and people see right through your words.
This concept was originally popularized by Erik “Mystery” von Markovic and was revolutionary in its time for explaining why just saying the right lines wasn’t enough to drastically improve your interactions with women.
But along the way, congruence became something that people started to use as an excuse for why they couldn’t improve. It became a way of holding themselves back. Men learning how to improve their dating lives began striving for congruence not by improving themselves and learning to be confident with what they were saying, but by simply not saying or doing anything that didn’t match up with their existing persona.
In essence, men were learning to take the easy road – to hold themselves and each other down instead of risking temporary incongruence.
True change and transformation always come first from incongruence. In order to become confidence, you must act like someone who is confident. And in doing so, you are going to be incongruent for a time. You are going to say things that a confident man would say, but you’re not always going to look confident saying it. You’re going to do confident type actions without seeming confident at first. That’s part of the process. You can’t become confident without the incongruence.
In that sense, “fake it ‘til you make it” still applies. Many psychologist will tell you that modeling or emulation are one of the most effective ways to change. You just have to remember that the point of “faking it,” or modeling, or being incongruent, or whatever you want to call it – isn’t to deceive people. It’s to actually make it. It’s to improve and change.
And this concept applies to nearly every significant transformation in your life.
A lot of coaches will tell you to never peacock because you’re not congruent with it. At a conference once, a student asked a coach from another company why I can sport a giant mohawk even though many coaches say not to peacock anymore. The coach replied that, “DJ Fuji is congruent with it, that’s why it works for him. But you won’t be congruent with it. It’s not ‘you.’”
The thing the coach failed to realize is that when I first wore the mohawk, it wasn’t “me” either. In fact, the mohawk was horribly out of place in my sense of fashion for at least a year. But it eventually became congruent because I grew into it. That is, my confidence, body language, and overall fashion sense improved to the point where now it was congruent.
The greatest benefit to peacocking isn’t that it gets attention. It’s that it teaches you by necessity and experience how to create a strong frame. It teaches you how to resist and be immune to social pressure. That’s why students should do it. Not because it makes women like you. Because I’ll be the first to tell you that it often doesn’t. Peacocking repels just as many women as it attracts. It’s not especially effective in generating wide-scale attraction by itself.
So why do I still do it? Because it’s become part of my own sense of style.
So why should a student do it? Because it makes him intentionally incongruent with his existing (usually limiting) belief system, and thereby causes long term change and growth, especially with respect to external validation.
Translation: It forces you to care a whole lot less about what random people think about you.
Like in many other things, you must get weaker before you get stronger.
So in the end, by recommending that the student not try it, what that coach was really telling him is to “just be yourself.”
He was saying be congruent with your lack of confidence.
You know, don’t go out of your comfort zone. Don’t try something you’re nervous about. Don’t push yourself. Don’t do things that might scare you.
Just be yourself.
I don’t need to elaborate on why that advice is counterproductive.
At its core, the problem with “being yourself” is the false belief that the things we wish to change (our fashion, our physique, our social skills, our humor, even aspects of our personalities) are representative of who we are.
The truth is, all of those things are merely external facets of you. They aren’t who you are. In the words of the immortal Tyler Durden (the one from Fight Club):
“You are not your f**king khakis.”
In other words, changing or improving your social skills, or your confidence, or your beliefs about yourself, or even your self-esteem is not changing who you are any more than buying a new phone is changing who you are.
Once you understand that point, the congruence paradox becomes clear.
Any time you want to develop a skill, belief system, or talent, you have to be willing to be incongruent for a while. You have to be okay with it. Otherwise, when men are more afraid of incongruence than they are hungry for success, they never even begin the journey. They remain content to stay where they are and never improve.
Success, like victory, has a price. The question is, are you willing to pay it?