Thirteen years. Thirteen LONG years I’ve been waiting for the next album by the rock band Tool. That day has finally come with their release of Fear Inoculum (Spotify or Apple Music).
Tool is infamous for poetic, profound, thought-provoking lyrics around life’s deepest subjects. As ridiculous as it sounds, I owe a lot of my personal transformation to them.
My brother introduced me to Tool when I was eight years old. Over the next decade, their lyrics made me curious about concepts such as challenging the status quo, forgiveness, humility, seeking external approval vs self-acceptance, spiritual growth, and seeing past our limits.
But what makes Tool really special to me is that their messages have been both timeless and perfectly timed to each stage of my development. Even now, their current work revolves a lot around developing more human connections — which, of course, is my passion!
I recently listened to the lead singer, Maynard James Keenan, on the Joe Rogan podcast. He expressed how we all need to reconnect with people and communities in the real world. He was concerned about how online networks leave us more disconnected and fearful of others.
Then Keenan shared a new idea for a reality show. He suggested that someone should get six people in a room together with strong opposing views. Then allow those people to eventually accept each other through shared values.
Wait a sec…that’s exactly what we’ve been doing at my retreats!
We get 6-8 people in a room from every background imaginable. And over four days, they become incredibly close. Because despite their differences, they all want to find self-acceptance and build meaningful romantic relationships.
So if you haven’t heard Tool before, let me inspire you to give them a listen. While I love all their work, I chose lyrics from five songs off my favorite album, Lateralus, to showcase their dating wisdom.
Over thinking, over analyzing separates the body from the mind
Withering my intuition leaving opportunities behind
Feed my will to feel this moment
Urging me to cross the line
Reaching out to embrace the random
Reaching out to embrace whatever may come
A lot of men try to get everything perfect before taking action with women.
Men always try to prepare for every possible scenario in dating. They don’t want to screw anything up.
So maybe you see a beautiful woman and try to think of the perfect introduction. You agonize over whether or not she wants you to say hello. You imagine every possible outcome and become paralyzed by the unknown. Then, you inevitably feel the wave of regret as another opportunity passes you by.
When you go on dates, you try to think about the perfect time to flirt or kiss. You obsessively try to read a girl’s mind to predict how she’ll react. You then wait until the last minute to make an awkward move when the spark has dwindled. Or you delay until the next date (which never comes because the woman didn’t get a chance to feel that romantic connection!)
You think your overthinking is helping you. Really, it’s preventing you from growth and forward progress.
If you just said ONE sentence to introduce yourself, you’d see how many women were excited to talk to you. You’d have an abundance of connections. Over time, you’d get more comfortable and more courageous in these situations.
If you took a leap of faith to show your interest, you’d see many of your dates return that interest. You’d see that it’s okay to make a move and if it wasn’t the right time, it wouldn’t blow up in your face.
To stop overthinking, feed your willpower in the moment with empowering emotions. Embrace your excitement, curiosity, passion, arousal, and desire for connection. Let those emotions overtake your anxious mind so you can take action.
This body holding me reminds me of my own mortality
Embrace this moment, remember, we are eternal
All this pain is an illusion
Many of us have wrestled with anxiety and fear.
As one of my readers, you may struggle with social anxiety and the fear of rejection. In your mind, there is little else more painful than those two things.
So you likely go out of your way to avoid those feelings at all costs. When you do get anxious, you feel ashamed and criticize yourself for it.
But this way of thinking reinforces your anxiety. Those feelings are not the problem, but rather your perception of what they say about you.
These uncomfortable feelings hurt you so much because you take them personally. You think that you are less or broken when you experience them. You think they’re a permanent mark on who you are.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth: they are simply fleeting moments of being human that we all experience. We all face anxiety at some point…during interviews, when professing our feelings, or while doing something thrilling like riding a rollercoaster.
Moreover, the people you admire in love and business have endured the same. Your cool friend has had a beautiful woman turn them down and are now with someone else equally as beautiful. Your favorite author had a dozen publishers reject them before someone finally appreciated their work.
They still found a way to persevere despite these moments of pain. The only difference between you and them is how you handle these feelings.
Did you recognize in the moment that these feelings are temporary? Did you acknowledge them as a normal like any other emotional response? Did you sit with them instead of fighting against them?
Did you let your feelings of anxiety and fear define you? Did you let them prevent you from getting back up again?
There is no way to eliminate these feelings. You can only control your reaction to them. The suffering you put yourself through is an illusion.
Cold silence has a tendency to atrophy any sense of compassion
I know the pieces fit cuz I watched them tumble down
No fault, none to blame it doesn’t mean I don’t desire to
Point the finger, blame the other, watch the temple topple over
To bring the pieces back together, rediscover communication
Arguably, no one knows us like our long-term intimate partners. That also means they’re the ones who can hurt us the most. When we feel attacked or betrayed by them it leaves us raw and vulnerable.
In those moments, the easiest path seems to be to disconnect. To walk away, to shutdown, to go cold. We want them to feel the same sense of isolation we feel.
But when you do this, everyone involved tells themselves stories. You imagine the worst in your partner. You think about how they must enjoy hurting you and how they’re resenting you right now. Your mind runs wild with anger and blame.
In reality, your partner is probably feeling really hurt, too. They might feel bad about how they handled the situation. They might want to explain themselves and apologize.
And they’re stuck imagining you’re thinking the worst and are ready to abandon them. So they want to protect themselves by putting up their guard and not showing vulnerability.
All this does is leave you both feeling detached and disconnected — when all you really want is love and acceptance.
I’m not saying it’s easy, but one of you NEEDS to re-initiate communication.
Communication is the only way you can see one another’s perspectives. That’s how you’ll empathize with them. That’s how you’ll recognize your stories aren’t true. Talking it out will help you see that you’re both in pain and just want to feel better together.
Wear the grudge like a crown of negativity
Calculate what we will or will not tolerate
Desperate to control all and everything
Unable to forgive your scarlet lettermen
Clutch it like a cornerstone, otherwise it all comes down
Justify denials and grip ’em to the lonesome end
Clutch it like a cornerstone, otherwise it all comes down
Terrified of being wrong, ultimatum prison cell
Give away the stone, let the oceans take and
Transmutate this cold and fated anchor
Give away the stone, let the waters kiss and
Transmutate these leaden grudges into gold
Past relationships can leave us bitter and scarred. When we feel someone has hurt us, we never want to feel that way again. So then we carry that emotional baggage into new relationships.
Sometimes you assume your new partners will be just like your old ones. You build walls to protect yourself and don’t let anyone get too close. And to avoid experiencing that same pain from the past, you try to control the situation at all costs.
You put your partners through unfair tests of loyalty. You withhold sex as a weapon. You take things too personally and prepare for worst case scenarios. You unfairly compare them to other people and hold them unreachable standards.
You believe all this behavior will ensure the safety of your heart. In reality, you’re just pushing away the people who care about you. You end up losing connections and feeling abandoned — the exact thing you were afraid of in the first place.
You can learn from your past relationships, but you have to let the resentment go. At the end of the day, the person who this hurts most is YOU.
Only when you give people a fair chance can you pave the way for something beautiful.
If there were no reward to reap, no loving embrace
To see me through this tedious path I’ve chosen here
I certainly would have walked away by now and I still may
The path to a fulfilling dating life is rife with setbacks. You will inevitably face awkwardness, discomfort, self-doubt, misunderstandings, and rejection. This is normal.
This is the same path for getting better at anything. When you start a new venture, you’re still acquiring knowledge and reference experiences to build your confidence.
You accept this truth in your careers and personal hobbies. You don’t expect to be a great doctor or marathon runner overnight. You might get frustrated at times, but you accept it will take time to see the rewards you’re looking for.
So why should dating be any different?
When it comes to matters of the heart, we are so much more critical and impatient.
Men want to learn one line that will suddenly get a woman’s attention. Women want one aloof tactic to make guys see them as valuable. Then they give it a shot and when things don’t change immediately, they beat themselves up for those temporary setbacks. It all feels so vulnerable that they quickly give up.
You have to accept that improving your dating life is a journey. And on that journey, you have to see the value in the small steps you take. You have to show yourself compassion for your efforts — whether you think you succeeded or not. Otherwise, you won’t appreciate your amazing progress and will lose ALL motivation.
Take consistent, manageable action. Then be patient with yourself. Before you know it, you’ll have arrived at the destination you wanted all along.
You can stream Tool’s new album, Fear Inoculum, now on Spotify or Apple Music. I highly recommend you pull up the lyrics for the full mind-bending experience.