“A lot of the way that lobsters maneuver within dominance hierarchies is the way we maneuver within dominance hierarchies and if you’re an evolutionary thinker, you can’t just push that away.”
-Dr. Jordan Peterson
I’ve been reading this book lately called 12 Rules for Life by the famous Canadian clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, Dr. Jordan Peterson. His work and lectures have generated a string of controversy because of his criticisms of today’s era of political correctness. He’s subsequently been both revered and criticized for his viewpoints. Whether you like him or not, the ideas and points he brings up about what it means to be a man in this modern era can provide context & practical application to the internal chaos & suffering that we all experience as a result of the human condition.
If you want to take a look at his new book, check out the following link: https://www.amazon.com/12-Rules-Life-Antidote-Chaos/dp/0345816021/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1534191933&sr=8-1&keywords=12+rules+for+life
If you don’t have time to or feel like reading his new book, you can check out some of his content which provides a basis and some context to what many people consider controversial:
Before I go on another random tangent about how helpful Jordan Peterson’s content has been to tie this in with the theme of this post, a few weeks ago I was out coaching my most recent mastery class bunch and I remembered a common theme we all were talking about and working through during one of the lecture portions of the class. One of our female students along with one of the guys was asking us to provide a framework for asserting yourself in a healthy way and in a nutshell how to navigate your way through a dominance hierarchical structure. In a way, it made me think about one of the lessons and rules from Jordan Peterson’s book, 12 Rules for Life.
He compares human behavior to the behavior of lobsters. Human beings and how we categorize and assert ourselves are a lot like lobsters. Lobsters regularly engage in dominance disputes. Since lobsters aren’t emphatic and very social creatures, it really boils down to whoever is the toughest lobster is the one that wins. What’s so interesting about the lobster is when it dominates the weaker lobster, it spreads itself out by flexing so it looks bigger because it’s a winner, the biochemical marker that makes the lobster flex is serotonergic.
In a nutshell, the same chemical affected by anti-depressants in human beings is released when the dominant lobster defeats the weaker lobster, serotonin. Think about it this way, when a lobster is defeated, is makes itself smaller by taking up less space, clamming up into a ball, & being submissive just like a human being when he or she is depressed. When you give someone an anti-depressant, they stretch, expand, & mimic the behavior of a winner. They’re ready to take on the world again just like the dominant lobster, likewise you give the defeated lobster serotonin, the defeated lobster will stretch out and fight again. Our neurochemistry is the same as lobsters, this ties into the idea of the importance of hierarchies are for human beings, whether you’re aware of it or not, hierarchies exist everywhere, both overt & subtle. (If you want to take a look at Jordan Peterson’s lecture on Darwin & Lobsters, you can click the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xw1m87XsMgI)
Whether it’s within your friend group, familial structure, and even both the formal and informal hierarchical structures that exist at the workplace. Every single day millions of men and women are tested and aren’t even aware of it. If you’re tested and you fail one of these tests just like how the dominant lobster defeated the submissive lobster, it’s not the end of the world for you just like the defeated lobster. But, it could be the end of a possible good opportunity.
Look at it this way, we all know that women test guys. It’s not because women are inherently mean, get an ego trip out of testing men, or that women want to find the next excuse to reject another guy. Women have to do it, not because they want to but because they have to. Compared to men, women have a lot more to lose if they’re not selective or have these screening processes in place while searching for a mate. I’m sure many of you guys reading this have ran into what dating coaches and dating experts call a “shit test” and I’m sure many of you ladies reading this have administered one of these tests unconsciously or maybe consciously if you’ve run into similar patterns of behavior from a guy courting you.
If you want to learn more about shit tests & to have context to why women do it so you’re better prepared for your next date or next time you see a girl you’re attracted to and want to talk to, you can check out the following link:
As I was saying before, women test men because they have a lot at stake when choosing a partner. What a lot of men don’t realize is that men test other men but, for different reasons. When a girl tests you, she’s probing you for emotional weakness as one of the most attractive traits a man can have is emotional strength. Passing tests from girls increases her attraction towards you which is a good thing because it can help you take things to another level with her, i.e. romantically.
But, this concept doesn’t only apply under a romantic context. Men do this all the time to other men.
For example think about it this way:
Imagine your friend invites you to come play a pick up game of basketball at the park with a bunch of guys you’ve never met before. You show up to the park and you immediately notice eight tall, well built athletic guys playing along with your one friend who invited you to come out. You get to the court, walk over, introduce yourself, and get ready to play. In the beginning everyone seems friendly but after everyone has picked teams and you’re playing on the opposing team, all the guys including your own teammates begin to pick at you.
They’ve started to peel back the layers of your personality to see who you really are as a man. After paying careful attention to your voice tonality, to the things you’ve said to them after the introduction, and even your physical appearance because you’re a pretty skinny and average looking guy who is just slightly over 5’9, they’ve effectively sized you up.
The teams decide who gets first possession, your team gets first dibs because one of the guys on your team made a shot that determines who gets first possession. Everyone asks whose going to take the ball down the court and you volunteer to take it down & play point guard. All of a sudden one of the taller & athletic guys on your team makes a joke if you’re sure you can dribble the ball down the court and make the plays.
Although he’s making what he said to you a joke as is the case with most funny jokes, there’s a little truth to it. By saying this, your teammate is basically calling you out on your biggest emotional weakness, this is what your standard test may look like when you’re entering a new social group.
When you’re among a new group of guys (and even girls) or a mixed social group you can always think of the beginning period as an initiation period, kind of similar to how fraternities and sororities make their new members pledge but not as physically or emotionally harsh. Most the tests you’ll hear or learn about are usually about the types of tests women run on men to screen them out but you never hear about the tests guys run on other guys as a form of dominance. To reinforce this concept, think back to a time when you were younger, like when you were in high school. The testing is much more overt and pronounced, and in some cases much harsher than how a grown adult would test you.
How to Handle & Respond to Tests:
Now, let’s take a step back and go back to our pick up game of basketball. After that taller & athletic guy made the joke about you playing point guard, how you respond to the test will determine if you fail or pass the test. Let’s look at a few of these possible outcomes together.
- Option A: You say nothing
- Just a precaution, you would look pretty ridiculous and weird if you chose to go this route.
- Option B: You laugh with him
- Understand if you do this, you will pass one part of the test but fail the other.
- Option C: Getting defensive
- This is the worst thing you can do because it shows weakness. Think back to the times when you were in school, maybe you were bullied or saw someone else who was bullied or maybe you did the bullying yourself. One of the things you’ll notice for people that get bullied is that the ones who get defensive or more aggravated for the taunting provides the bully more incentive to keep pressing that sensitive pain point.
Every single time a guy runs a test on you he’s basically sub-communicating that “I’m more dominant than you are, what are you going to do about it?” Just like how a girl will test your emotional fortitude, fail too many of these tests in front of other guys, your social standing amongst the group starts to dwindle. As your standing drops, the other less dominant guys in the group will also begin to test you just like the first guy and eventually everyone in the group will start to view you as nothing more than a doormat that they can walk all over.
Going back to the lobster example earlier, humans act a lot like animals. But instead of trying to dominate you physically as what our crustacean friend would do, other men (and women) will test and try and dominate you emotionally. In other words, if the dominant male, dominant female, or the alpha of the group tries to poke at you emotionally and if you show fear and weakness the other members of the group will do the same thing over time until you’re viewed as the lowest member of the group.
Another good example to think about is the TV show, the Dog Whisperer. One of Cesar Milan’s tips is to never act afraid around the dog because dogs can sense and smell a person’s fear which will force the dog to act in an aggressive way. You can see this in action by clicking the following link:
The same concept applies to humans but in a slightly different way. Like lobsters, dogs, and other types of animals, other guys and girls can sense fear and weakness. It’s like that lesson about why you should never turn your back on a bear and start running because this will start to get the bear to start to view you as it’s prey. Now, let’s go back to our pick up basketball game example.
What do you do now?
- Option A: You say nothing
- Option B: You laugh with him
- Option C: Getting Defensive
- Option D: Showing No Weakness
- By now you know that Option D is the optimal choice but you came here to learn how to safe guard yourself and pass these tests so you can open more doors and opportunities while also gaining the respect of your peers. So how exactly do you do this?
- You match the dominant guy in the group tit-for-tat, this means that when another guy pokes at you, you poke back. But, don’t take this as a get out a jail free card to openly insult or demean the other person poking at you like how President Trump attacks all his critics and the media outlets on Twitter or in the news. It’s pretty easy to do this with people you know a little bit about and harder to do with complete strangers.
- An easy way to bypass this issue if you don’t know the person well enough to know their pain points and weaknesses is to neutralize the test by laughing about it, turning it into a compliment for yourself. Someone who does this really well that you can study and watch is the comedian, Russell Brand. Besides the obvious sexual tension he built with MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski, I want you to pay close attention to how he dominates the other two co-hosts especially the male co-host who tries to test him (Skip to 4:30-5:05) Here’s the link to the interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynUjo99Gzbk
- To simplify this concept even more & going back to the previous bullet point, the key here is to respond in a way that doesn’t make you look weak or defensive. At the core of it all the tests other guys run on you is all about respect and just like how a girl shit tests you, men are probing you for your confidence and to see if you respect yourself. If you don’t respect yourself, you can’t earn their respect. Just like how a pack of wolves will almost never go after another pack of wolves but they will routinely single out and go after the weakest link in the chain within their own group.
In a nutshell, by understanding this behavior you will automatically know how to gain respect within a group of guys, a new social group, or how to hold your ground when you’re tested. Now I understand that a lot of what I just talked about could easily be taken out of context, the most important part is to not be a bully or a dick, respect other people who give respect or have earned it, and most of all there is a way to handle this without getting bullied or dominated or doing the bullying and domination.
Please take a look at a few of the following links, these videos have helped out tremendously and made me more aware of healthier and better ways to command respect from other people:
How To Get Respect Without Being A Bully
7 Psychological Tricks To Get Respect IMMEDIATELY
How To Avoid Embarrassing Yourself In An Argument
If you also want to learn how to learn the mental framework of how to be an alpha male you can also check out the following link:
In part II of this series, I will go over how to deal with “shit tests” what to do, and how to constructively deal with it next time you’re tested by a girl you’re attracted to that you want to go out on a date with.
‘Til next time,