Homethe shedDefeating the Mammoth: Unleashing Inner Freedom by Embracing Your Authenticity

Defeating the Mammoth: Unleashing Inner Freedom by Embracing Your Authenticity

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Half 1: Meet Your Mammoth

The primary day I used to be in second grade, I got here to high school and seen that there was a brand new, very fairly woman within the class—somebody who hadn’t been there the earlier two years. Her title was Alana and inside an hour, she was every thing to me.

Once you’re seven, there aren’t actually any actionable steps you possibly can take whenever you’re in love with somebody. You’re not even positive what you need from the state of affairs. There’s simply this amorphous craving that’s part of your life, and that’s that.

However for me, it grew to become all of a sudden related a number of months later, when throughout recess someday, one of many ladies within the class began asking every of the boys, “Who do youuu wish to marry?” When she requested me, it was a no brainer. “Alana.”


I used to be nonetheless new to being a human and didn’t understand that the solely socially acceptable reply was, “Nobody.”

The second I answered, the heinous woman ran towards different college students, telling each, “Tim mentioned he needs to marry Alana!” Every particular person she informed lined their mouth with uncontrollable laughter. I used to be completed. Life was over.

The information shortly bought again to Alana herself, who stayed as distant from me as potential for days after. If she knew what a restraining order was, she’d have taken one out.

This horrifying expertise taught me a essential life lesson—it may be mortally harmful to be your self, and it’s best to train excessive social warning always.

Now this feels like one thing solely a traumatized second grader would assume, however the bizarre factor, and the subject of this publish, is that this lesson isn’t simply restricted to me and my debacle of a childhood—it’s a defining paranoia of the human species. We share a collective madness that pervades human cultures all through the world:

An irrational and unproductive obsession with what different folks consider us.

Evolution does every thing for a cause, and to know the origin of this specific madness, let’s again up for a minute to 50,000BC in Ethiopia, the place your Nice2,000 Grandfather lived as a part of a small tribe.

Again then, being a part of a tribe was essential to survival. A tribe meant meals and safety in a time when neither was straightforward to come back by. So on your Nice2,000 Grandfather, virtually nothing on the earth was extra essential than being accepted by his fellow tribe members, particularly these in positions of authority. Becoming in with these round him and pleasing these above him meant he may keep within the tribe, and concerning the worst nightmare he may think about could be folks within the tribe beginning to whisper about how annoying or unproductive or bizarre he was—as a result of if sufficient folks disapproved of him, his rating throughout the tribe would drop, and if it bought actually dangerous, he’d be kicked out altogether and left for lifeless. He additionally knew that if he ever embarrassed himself by pursuing a lady within the tribe and being rejected, she’d inform the opposite ladies about it—not solely would he have blown his likelihood with that woman, however he would possibly by no means have a mate in any respect now as a result of each woman that might ever be in his life knew about his lame, failed try. Being socially accepted was every thing.

Due to this, people advanced an over-the-top obsession with what others considered them—a yearning for social approval and admiration, and a paralyzing concern of being disliked. Let’s name that obsession a human’s Social Survival Mammoth. It appears one thing like this:


Your Nice2,000 Grandfather’s Social Survival Mammoth was central to his means to endure and thrive. It was easy—maintain the mammoth properly fed with social approval and pay shut consideration to its overwhelming fears of nonacceptance, and also you’ll be superb.

And that was all properly and superb in 50,000BC. And 30,000BC. And 10,000BC. However one thing humorous has occurred for people within the final 10,000 years—their civilization has dramatically modified. Sudden, fast change is one thing civilization has the power to do, and the rationale that may be awkward is that our evolutionary biology can’t transfer almost as quick. So whereas for many of historical past, each our social construction and our biology advanced and adjusted at a snail’s tempo collectively, civilization has lately developed the pace capabilities of a hare whereas our biology has continued snailing alongside.

Our our bodies and minds are constructed to stay in a tribe in 50,000BC, which leaves fashionable people with a variety of unlucky traits, certainly one of which is a fixation with tribal-style social survival in a world the place social survival is now not an actual idea. We’re all right here in 2014, accompanied by a big, hungry, and simply freaked-out woolly mammoth who nonetheless thinks it’s 50,000BC.

Why else would you strive on 4 outfits and nonetheless not ensure what to put on earlier than going out?

Trying on Shirts

Trying on Shirts

Trying on Shirts

Trying on Shirts

The mammoth’s nightmares about romantic rejection made your ancestors cautious and savvy, however in right now’s world, it simply makes you a coward:

Pursuing a Girl

Pursuing a Girl

Pursuing a Girl

Pursuing a Girl

Pursuing a Girl

And don’t even get the mammoth began on the phobia of inventive dangers:


singing 2

The mammoth’s hurricane of concern of social disapproval performs a consider most elements of most individuals’s lives. It’s what makes you are feeling bizarre about going to a restaurant or a film alone; it’s what makes dad and mom care a bit of too a lot about the place their baby goes to varsity; it’s what makes you move up a profession you’d love in favor of a extra profitable profession you’re lukewarm about; it’s what makes you get married earlier than you’re able to an individual you’re not in love with.

And whereas holding your extremely insecure Social Survival Mammoth feeling calm and protected takes lots of work, that’s just one half of your obligations. The mammoth additionally must be fed usually and robustly—with reward, approval, and the sensation of being on the appropriate aspect of any social or ethical dichotomy.

Why else would you be such an image-crafting douchebag on Fb?

Or brag whenever you’re out with mates despite the fact that you all the time remorse it later?


Society has advanced to accommodate this mammoth-feeding frenzy, inventing issues like accolades and titles and the idea of status as a way to maintain our mammoths glad—and infrequently to incentivize folks to do meaningless jobs and stay unfulfilling lives they wouldn’t in any other case take into account participating in.

Above all, mammoths wish to slot in—that’s what tribespeople had all the time wanted to take action that’s how they’re programmed. Mammoths go searching at society to determine what they’re purported to do, and when it turns into clear, they leap proper in. Simply take a look at any two school fraternity footage taken ten years aside:


Or all these subcultures the place each single particular person has one of many identical three socially-acceptable superior levels:



Generally, a mammoth’s focus isn’t on wider society as a lot because it’s on successful the approval of a Puppet Grasp in your life. A Puppet Grasp is an individual or group of individuals whose opinion issues so a lot to you that they’re primarily operating your life. A Puppet Grasp is commonly a dad or mum, or perhaps your important different, or generally an alpha member of your group of mates. A Puppet Grasp generally is a particular person you look as much as who you don’t know very properly—perhaps even a star you’ve by no means met—or a bunch of individuals you maintain in particularly excessive regard.

We crave the Puppet Grasp’s approval greater than anybody’s, and we’re so horrified on the considered upsetting the Puppet Grasp or feeling their nonacceptance or ridicule that we’ll do something to keep away from it. Once we get to this poisonous state in our relationship with a Puppet Grasp, that particular person’s presence hangs over our complete decision-making course of and pulls the strings of our opinions and our ethical voice.

puppet master

With a lot thought and vitality devoted to the mammoth’s wants, you typically find yourself neglecting another person in your mind, somebody all the best way on the heart—your Genuine Voice.


Your Genuine Voice, someplace in there, is aware of all about you. In distinction to the black-and-white simplicity of the Social Survival Mammoth, your Genuine Voice is complicated, generally hazy, continually evolving, and unafraid. Your AV has its personal, nuanced ethical code, shaped by expertise, reflection, and its personal private tackle compassion and integrity. It is aware of how you are feeling deep down about issues like cash and household and marriage, and it is aware of which sorts of individuals, subjects of curiosity, and sorts of actions you actually take pleasure in, and which you don’t. Your AV is aware of that it doesn’t understand how your life will or ought to play out, nevertheless it tends to have a robust hunch about the appropriate step to take subsequent.

And whereas the mammoth appears solely to the skin world in its decision-making course of, your Genuine Voice makes use of the skin world to study and collect info, however when it’s time for a call, it has all of the instruments it wants proper there within the core of your mind.

Your AV can also be somebody the mammoth tends to disregard fully. A robust opinion from a assured particular person within the outdoors world? The mammoth is all ears. However a passionate plea out of your AV is essentially dismissed till another person validates it.

And since our 50,000-year-old brains are wired to offer the mammoth a complete lot of sway in issues, your Genuine Voice begins to really feel prefer it’s irrelevant. Which makes it shrink and fade and lose motivation.


Ultimately, a mammoth-run particular person can lose contact with their AV fully.

In tribal occasions, AVs typically spent their lives in quiet obscurity, and this was largely okay. Life was easy, and conformity was the purpose—and the mammoth had conformity lined simply superb.

However in right now’s giant, complicated world of various cultures and personalities and alternatives and choices, shedding contact along with your AV is harmful. Once you don’t know who you might be, the one decision-making mechanism you’re left with is the crude and outdated wants and feelings of your mammoth. In the case of probably the most private questions, as a substitute of digging deep into the foggy heart of what you actually imagine in to search out readability, you’ll look to others for the solutions. Who you might be turns into some mix of the strongest opinions round you.

Shedding contact along with your AV additionally makes you fragile, as a result of when your id is constructed on the approval of others, being criticized or rejected by others actually hurts. A nasty break-up is painful for everybody, nevertheless it stings in a a lot deeper place for a mammoth-run particular person than for an individual with a robust AV. A robust AV makes a steady core, and after a break-up, that core continues to be holding agency—however for the reason that acceptance of others is all a mammoth-run particular person has, being dumped by an individual who is aware of you properly is a much more shattering expertise.

Likewise, you realize these individuals who react to being criticized by coming again with a nasty low-blow? These are typically severely mammoth-run folks, and criticism makes them so mad as a result of mammoths can not deal with criticism.

Low Blow

Low Blow

Low Blow

Low Blow

At this level, the mission ought to be clear—we have to determine a option to override the wiring of our mind and tame the mammoth. That’s the one option to take our lives again.

Half 2: Taming the Mammoth

Some individuals are born with a fairly tame mammoth or raised with parenting that helps maintain the mammoth in examine. Others die with out ever reining their mammoth in in any respect, spending their entire lives at its whim. Most of us are someplace within the center—we’ve bought management of our mammoth in sure areas of our lives whereas it wreaks havoc in others. Being run by your mammoth doesn’t make you a nasty or weak particular person—it simply means you haven’t but discovered tips on how to get a grip on it. You won’t even bear in mind that you’ve got a mammoth in any respect or of the extent to which your Genuine Voice has been silenced.

No matter your state of affairs, there are three steps to getting your mammoth below your management:

Step 1: Look at Your self

Step one to bettering issues is a transparent and trustworthy evaluation of what’s occurring in your head, and there are three elements of this:

1) Get to know your Genuine Voice

meet AV

This doesn’t sound that onerous, however it’s. It takes some severe reflection to sift by the webs of different folks’s ideas and opinions and determine who the true you truly is. You spend time with lots of people—which ones do you truly like probably the most? How do you spend your leisure time, and do you actually take pleasure in all elements of it? Is there something you usually spend cash on that you simply don’t really feel that comfy with? How does your intestine actually really feel about your job and relationship standing? What’s your true political opinion? Do you even care? Do you faux to care about belongings you don’t simply to have an opinion? Do you secretly have an opinion on a political or ethical subject you don’t ever voice as a result of folks you realize will likely be outraged?

There are cliché phrases for this course of—”soul-searching” or “discovering your self”—however that’s precisely what must occur. Perhaps you possibly can replicate on this from no matter chair you’re sitting in proper now or from another a part of your regular life—or perhaps it is advisable to go someplace distant, by your self, and step out of your life as a way to successfully study it. Both method, you’ve bought to determine what truly issues to you and begin being happy with whoever your Genuine Voice is.

2) Work out the place the mammoth is hiding

mammoth hiding

More often than not a mammoth is answerable for an individual, the particular person’s not likely conscious of it. However you possibly can’t make progress for those who’re not crystal clear about the place the largest drawback areas are.

The obvious option to discover the mammoth is to determine the place your concern is—the place are you most prone to disgrace or embarrassment? What elements of your life do you consider and a dreadful, sinking feeling washes over you? The place does the prospect of failure appear to be a nightmare? What are you too timid to publicly strive despite the fact that you realize you’re good at it? For those who had been giving recommendation to your self, which elements of your life would clearly want a change that you simply’re avoiding appearing on proper now?

The second place a mammoth hides is within the way-too-good emotions you get from feeling accepted or on a pedestal over different folks. Are you a severe pleaser at work or in your relationship? Are you petrified of disappointing your dad and mom and do you select making them proud over aiming to gratify your self? Do you get too enthusiastic about being related to prestigious issues or care an excessive amount of about standing? Do you brag greater than it’s best to?

A 3rd space the mammoth is current is anyplace you don’t really feel comfy making a call with out “permission” or approval from others. Do you might have opinions you’re regurgitating from another person’s mouth, which you’re comfy having now that you realize that particular person has them? Once you introduce your new girlfriend or boyfriend to your mates or household for the primary time, can these folks’s response to your new particular person basically change your emotions for him/her? Is there a Puppet Grasp in your life? In that case, who, and why?

3) Determine the place the mammoth must be ousted


It’s not lifelike to kick the mammoth fully out of your head—you’re a human and people have mammoths of their head, interval. The factor all of us must do is carve out sure sacred areas of our lives that should be within the arms of the AV and freed from mammoth affect. There are apparent areas that must be made a part of the AV’s area like your selection of life accomplice, your profession path, and the best way you elevate your children. Others are private—it comes all the way down to the query, “Wherein elements of your life should you be fully true to your self?”

Step 2: Collect Braveness by Internalizing That the Mammoth Has a Low IQ

Actual Woolly Mammoths had been unimpressive sufficient to go extinct, and Social Survival Mammoths aren’t any higher. Although they hang-out us so, our mammoths are dumb, primitive creatures who haven’t any understanding of the trendy world. Deeply understanding this—and internalizing it—is a key step to taming yours. There are two main causes to not take your mammoth severely:

1) The mammoth’s fears are completely irrational.

5 issues the Mammoth is inaccurate about:

Everyone seems to be speaking about me and my life and simply assume how a lot everybody will likely be speaking about it if I do that dangerous or bizarre factor.

Right here’s how the mammoth thinks issues are:


Right here’s how issues truly are:


Nobody actually cares that a lot about what you’re doing. Individuals are extremely self-absorbed.

If I strive actually laborious, I can please everybody.

Sure, perhaps in a 40-person tribe with a unified tradition. However in right now’s world, regardless of who you might be, a bunch of individuals will such as you and a bunch of different folks received’t. Being accredited of by one sort of particular person means turning one other off. So obsessing over becoming in with anybody group is illogical, particularly if that group isn’t actually who you might be. You’ll do all that work, and in the meantime, your precise favourite individuals are off being mates with one another some place else.

Being disapproved of or appeared down upon or shit-talked about has actual penalties in my life.

Anybody who disapproves of who you’re being or what you’re doing isn’t even in the identical room with you 99.7% of the time. It’s a traditional mammoth mistake to manufacture a imaginative and prescient of future social penalties that’s method worse than what truly finally ends up taking place—which is normally nothing in any respect.

Actually judgy folks matter.

Right here’s how judgy folks perform: They’re extremely mammoth-controlled and develop into good mates with and date different judgy people who find themselves additionally extremely mammoth-controlled. One of many main actions they do collectively is speak shit about whoever’s not with them—perhaps they really feel some jealousy, and eye-rolling disapproval helps them flip the script and really feel much less jealous, or perhaps they’re not jealous and use somebody as a automobile for bathing in schadenfreude—however regardless of the underlying feeling, the judging serves to feed their hungry mammoth.

eating words 1

eating words 2

eating words 3

When folks shit-talk, they arrange a class division of which they’re all the time on the appropriate aspect. They do that to prop themselves up on a pedestal that their mammoth can chomp away on.

Being the fabric a judgy particular person makes use of to be ok with themselves is a reasonably infuriating thought—nevertheless it has no precise penalties and it’s clearly all far more concerning the judgy particular person and their mammoth drawback than it’s about you. If you end up making selections partially based mostly on not being talked badly about by a judgy particular person, assume laborious about what’s truly occurring and cease.

I’m a nasty particular person if I disappoint or offend the particular person/individuals who love me and have invested a lot in me.

No. You’re not a nasty particular person for being whoever your Genuine Voice is in your one life. That is a kind of easy issues—if they really selflessly love you, they’ll for positive come round and settle for every thing as soon as they see that you simply’re pleased. For those who’re pleased they usually nonetheless don’t come round, right here’s what’s taking place: their robust emotions about who you have to be or what it’s best to do are their mammoth speaking, and their most important motivation is worrying about the way it’ll “look” to different individuals who know them. They’re permitting their mammoth to override their love for you, and they need to be adamantly ignored.

Two different the explanation why the mammoth’s fearful obsession with social approval is mindless:

A) You reside right here:


So who provides a fuck about something?

B) You and everybody you realize are going to die. Type of quickly.


So like…yeah.

The mammoth’s fears being irrational is one cause the mammoth has a low IQ. Right here’s the second:

2) The mammoth’s efforts are counterproductive.

The irony of the entire thing is that the obsessive lumbering mammoth isn’t even good at his job. His strategies of successful approval could have been efficient in less complicated occasions, however right now, they’re clear and off-putting. The trendy world is an AV’s world, and if the mammoth needs to thrive socially, he ought to do the factor that scares him most—let the AV take over. Right here’s why:

AVs are fascinating. Mammoths are boring. Each AV is exclusive and complicated, which is inherently fascinating. Mammoths are all the identical—they copy and conform, and their motives aren’t based mostly on something genuine or actual, simply on doing what they assume they’re purported to do. That’s supremely boring.

AVs lead. Mammoths comply with. Management is pure for many AVs, as a result of they draw their ideas and opinions from an unique place, which provides them an unique angle. And in the event that they’re good and progressive sufficient, they will change issues on the earth and invent issues that disrupt the established order. For those who give somebody a paintbrush and an empty canvas, they won’t paint one thing good—however they’ll change the canvas in a technique or one other.

Mammoths, however, comply with—by definition. That’s what they had been constructed to do—mix in and comply with the chief. The very last thing a mammoth goes to do is change the established order as a result of it’s attempting so laborious to be the established order. Once you give somebody a paintbrush and canvas, however the paint is similar actual coloration because the canvas, they will paint all they need, however they received’t change something.

Individuals gravitate towards AVs, not mammoths. The one time a mammoth-crazed particular person is interesting on a primary date is once they’re on the date with one other mammoth-crazed particular person. Individuals with a robust AV see by mammoth-controlled folks and aren’t interested in them. A good friend of mine was courting an amazing on-paper man awhile again however broke issues off as a result of she couldn’t fairly fall for him. She tried to articulate why, saying he wasn’t bizarre or particular sufficient—he appeared like “simply one of many guys.” In different phrases, he was being run an excessive amount of by a mammoth.

This additionally holds amongst mates or colleagues, the place AV-run individuals are extra revered and extra magnetic—not as a result of there’s essentially something extraordinary about them, however as a result of folks respect somebody with the energy of character to have tamed their mammoth.

Step 3: Begin Being Your self

This publish was all enjoyable and video games till “begin being your self” got here into the image. So far, this has been an fascinating reflection into why people care a lot what different folks assume, why that’s dangerous, the way it’s an issue in your life, and why there’s no good cause it ought to proceed to plague you. However truly doing one thing after you end studying this text is a complete completely different factor. That takes greater than reflection—it takes some braveness.

toe in water

However braveness in opposition to what, precisely? As we’ve mentioned, there’s no precise hazard concerned in being your self—greater than something, it simply takes an Emperor Has No Garments epiphany, which is so simple as this:

Nearly nothing you’re socially terrified of is definitely scary.

Absorbing this thought will diminish the concern that you simply really feel, and with out concern, the mammoth loses some energy.

medium mammoth

With a weakened mammoth, it turns into potential to start standing up for who you might be and even making some daring adjustments—and whenever you watch these adjustments prove properly for you with few destructive penalties and no regrets, it reinforces the epiphany and an empowered AV turns into a behavior. Your mammoth has now misplaced its means to tug the strings, and it’s tamed.

small mammoth

The mammoth continues to be with you—it’ll all the time be with you—however you’ll have a neater time ignoring or overruling it when it speaks up or acts out, as a result of the AV is the alpha canine now. You can begin to relish the sensation of being considered as bizarre or inappropriate or complicated to folks, and society turns into your playground and clean canvas, not one thing to grovel earlier than and hope for acceptance from.

Making this shift isn’t straightforward for anybody, nevertheless it’s value obsessing over. Your Genuine Voice has been given one life—and it’s your job to verify it will get the chance to stay it.


You possibly can purchase the PDF of this publish for offline sharing, or get your personal Social Survival Mammoth right here:

WBW mammoth plush toy


Extra on life and happiness from Wait However Why

A unique battle occurring in one other a part of your mind – Why Procrastinators Procrastinate

The factor I realized from Elon Musk that modified the best way I take into consideration my life: The Cook dinner and the Chef: Musk’s Secret Sauce

A deeper take a look at the cope with the mammoth and the opposite animals in your mind. A publish that ties all of it collectively – A Faith for the Nonreligious

To be pleased, it’s important to know the place happiness lives – Life is a Image however You Stay in a Pixel

Mammoths will not be good at selecting life companions – The way to Choose Your Life Associate

You don’t have that many weeks, sadly. Make them rely. Your Life in Weeks


For those who like Wait However Why, join our unannoying-I-promise e mail listing and we’ll ship you new posts once they come out.

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