The Number One Way to Stop Your Mind from Doing a Number Two on Your Life

Neil StraussNeil81 Comments

Stop for a moment.

Take a look at yourself.

A long, hard look.

You are going to look for something very specific.

Something that is hard for you to see but easy for almost everyone else to see.

It is a Big Bag of Shit.

Chances are very high that you are carrying one around.

And every time you encounter a situation in which you can possibly get more shit to put in the bag, you grab it and greedily stuff it inside.

If you’re like most people, you may even ignore all the diamonds glittering nearby, because all you can see is the shit.

This shit is composed of lies. And the worst part about them is not that they are lies about ourselves, but that we actually believe them.

Recognizing the shit you’re carrying around, emptying the bag, and then refusing to take any more shit will make your life a whole lot easier and happier.

People around you will appreciate it as well. Especially those you date or marry.

So let’s get more specific:

You’ve been brainwashed.

Not intentionally per se, but not necessarily for your benefit either.

It happened in your first seventeen or so years of life.

Your parents, and other important figures in your early life, had certain beliefs, expectations, flaws, and methods of raising you.

And because you grew up with them—and much of the architecture of your brain was literally built through your interactions with them—your childhood may have seemed completely normal at the time.

But it wasn’t. Because let’s face it, no one is perfect and no one is normal. We are all uniquely flawed individuals.

“Let’s face it, no one is perfect and no one is normal. We are all uniquely flawed individuals.”

And so certain beliefs were literally wired into your brain. These beliefs are completely false. Yet unless you recognize them, and actively intervene, they get stronger each year.

And nearly everyone is walking around with them. They are responsible for fights, failures, divorces, suicides, wars, and a whole lot of insecurity and disappointment.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say that Mom or Dad—or both—rewarded you when you got good grades and punished you when you got bad grades. This was very important to them.

Seems fair enough. After all, they want you to go to a good college and be successful. It’s in your best interest to get good grades.

However, what is the collateral damage of this type of child-rearing? It’s that you will start to think that your self-worth depends entirely on your accomplishments and performance.

So the belief that it leads to will be: “I am not enough as I am.” And maybe even a corollary to that: “I need to achieve to be worthy of love.”

So in this particular instance, here’s one way this bag of shit operates. Someone may criticize something you did, and say you did it badly. And that may be true. But instead of hearing “You did that badly. You can do it better next time,” you hear “I am bad. I am a bad person.” And because the comment will feel hurtful instead of honest, and will trigger your own deep sense of shame, you will over-react far out of proportion to the comment. And that will strengthen the belief.

You may even ignore all the compliments that people give you and all the good things that happen to you, and focus only on the 1 in 100 times that something in the universe seems to reinforce this false belief.

Of course, many other early experiences could lead to this same belief of “I am not enough.” A parent abandoning you or the family when you were very young might lead you to believe that it was a personal rejection, and this very big bag of shit could lead to you squandering your life trying to win the approval of others (typically of the same sex as the abandoning parent) as an adult.

Now let’s flip this around: Let’s say your parents were very protective of you. To them, you were the greatest thing ever, no matter what you did. If you got bad grades, they marched right to that school and tried to get the teacher fired for being unfair to you.

What belief could this lead to?

“I can do no wrong.” And a possible corollary, “Whatever happens is somebody else’s fault.”

And so as an adult, you may charge through life, leaving a trail of blame in your wake. You are always the victim of someone else or something else. And so if you slack off at work and get fired, the boss was a jerk. If you go out on a date and it doesn’t work out, the other person was a “tool” or a “bitch” or an “asshole” or “not good enough” for you.

Side Note: It’s tragic to watch when an “I am not enough” person gets in a relationship with an “I can do no wrong” person. They both keep shoveling more shit into each other’s sack, with the “I can do no wrong” person blaming everything on the “I am not enough” person, who keeps believing each accusation to be true until they plummet to a self-esteem pit so dangerously low that either they become a shell of who they once were or they finally wake up, get away, and start therapy.


“There are, broadly speaking, two types of shit that people are carrying around.”

If you haven’t figured it out yet, there are, broadly speaking, two types of shit that people are carrying around.

The first is negative beliefs about themselves. These include a whole array of limiting and false unconscious thoughts besides what’s been discussed above, such as:

“If people knew the real me, they wouldn’t like me”

“I am not worthy of good things happening to me.”

“I am a bad person.”

“My opinion doesn’t matter.”

In short, they are any belief that makes you feel inferior to others.

The second category is negative or “entitled” beliefs about others. These include such subconscious thoughts as:

“No one is good enough for me.”

“I deserve special treatment and privileges.”

“I’m surrounded by idiots.”

“The world would be a better place if [insert group of people] weren’t on it.”

In short, they are any beliefs that make you feel superior to others.

It’s worth noting that not every one of these beliefs is a direct internalization of a parental message. Sometimes, we will rebel against the message and adopt the opposite belief. For example, parents may be so abusive that an adolescent thickens their skin and decides to become practically invulnerable, so nothing hurtful can get through.

So instead of the belief being that “people I love will hurt me,” it’s covered up and subsumed by the belief that “no one can hurt me.”

But no matter what these exact beliefs may be, every one of them is clearly false because, let’s face it, we are all equal and we are all enough, just as we are. Even if we make mistakes or do bad things, or we do good things and achieve massive success, it doesn’t mean that we are any worse or better as a human being than anyone else.

The real tragedy of life is that people don’t get to enjoy it because they continue to misinterpret situations and think they’ve found more evidence to support the false conclusions they formed in childhood.

So let’s talk about solutions.

First, you need to recognize your own shit. A great way to do this is to think of the last emotionally charged situation you were in, where your reaction was out of proportion to what actually happened, and try to identify the belief that led to that reaction.

Here’s a common example: Why are so many men who email me afraid to approach women? If you start talking to a stranger, in most cases, the very worst that could happen is that they won’t want to talk to you.

But if you combine this with the belief, “I am not enough,” then every time someone doesn’t want to talk to you, it’s not just someone who’s respecting their time and being honest with you—it’s yet another confirmation of a painful, deep-seated belief. It’s an old nerve being pressed. It’s someone being better than you—and you being a piece of shit who’s not even worth their time. And likely, in childhood, that’s a message you may have unconsciously gotten from mom or dad.

So if, instead of putting the shit in your bag and adding to your burden, you can stop, sniff it, see that it smells crap, and figure out whose asshole it came from—hint: it wasn’t yours—then you’re on your way to lightening your mental load.

But recognizing it is not enough. The next step is to disprove it. This can be done through positive self-talk, through noticing all the times when the belief is not true, or through facing your fears. But there’s another, much easier method:

“See as much as you can in your life like a child, or an artist, does: As if you’re experiencing it for the first time.”

If the only thing keeping you from enjoying your life is the past, then a simple solution to put into place right now is to start living in the present.

See as much as you can in your life like a child, or an artist, does: As if you’re experiencing it for the first time.

And you will find that not only will that bag of shit disappear, but now that you’re not carrying it around, stinking up the room wherever you go, people are going to enjoy being around you a lot more.

Because the most annoying thing about that big bag of shit is that it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you stink, people don’t like being near you. So let go of the past—let go of the lies you’re so invested in, let go of the tired stories you tell yourself, let go of the internalized parent who’s so busy judging you and others—and you’ll find that the world is a lot bigger and brighter and easier to navigate than it used to seem.

You may even find that all the things you’ve been working so hard for start to come to you. And the funny thing will be: You won’t really want them anymore. Because you have you. And that’s all you need.

Thoughts on this article? Join the discussion below. Know somebody who needs help emptying their Big Bag of Shit? Share this article with a friend in need.

81 Comments on “The Number One Way to Stop Your Mind from Doing a Number Two on Your Life”

  1. Hey mate,
    You are on point to an extent, I think a lot of it is learnt behaviour from positive or negative experiences, I still believe that most of the people I walk past on a day to day basis are sheep, not idiots. everyone has something they can offer the world so so shit clearing or would searching is in order.

    1. Thinking people are sheep might be an example of the “one up” category of shit. What exactly makes them sheep? Answer this, and we may be able to deconstruct that belief a little. A follow-up: What makes you NOT a sheep?

  2. Crap man, I have a little bit of both bags of shit. Two little bags I carry with me. The “people are idiots” bag and the “I don’t deserve what I have bag.”
    Great article, very thought provoking. I need to crank down on the deturdination. I was hoping I was going to read it and tell you I wasn’t carry the bag around, maybe next time.

    1. Deturdination, that is a great way of putting it. Maybe a way to solve them is to create some cognitive dissonance and think: Any guy who thinks he doesn’t deserve what he has is an idiot.

  3. Oh shit, I can relate to a couple of these stinky thoughts. I’ve been thinking about them a lot lately and instead of dealing with them I’ve been reinforcing them. Can’t seem to help it. Right now I don’t see I way out of them either. My problem is that I feel I’m surrounded by these people, people that don’t care about anything, that don’t try, that lie, steal and cheat and still sleeps like babies when nighttime comes.

    It bothers me and it stinks, but what can I do? Really, what can I do?!

    1. hey Matias, I feel like I’m in the same hole. I have been trying to find new friends and taking on better behaviors so that maybe I could rub off on them change my situation. What is the problem though, maybe we can solve both our situations?

      1. Matias and Diego, if you’re surrounded by those people, then you’re attracting them.

        What’s interesting about your problem is that, as you put it, you’re surrounded by people who don’t care about anything, etc. And of course, that in itself is a lie, because clearly they must care about “something.” So now you know what category of shit your beliefs belong to.

        But more to the point, why do you think you’re stuck? What part are you playing in this.

        I have a feeling, and there’s not much to go on here, that the problem may be the lens through which you’re seeing your environment, not your environment itself. And if it truly is the people you’re surrounded by, and you’re an adult, what is keeping you from changing your environment?

        (Just note that if you do change your environment, and find yourself encountering the same types of people again, then you’ll know that the problem is actually not them but you.)

        Anyway, talk to each other like Diego suggests. That’s a good start!

  4. Great article Neil!
    Currently I realised in the limiting belief (shit) in my head is ” I don’t deserve to charge people a lot of money, because I want to help more people by charging less.” But I’m actually confident that I’m giving massive values for my knowledge in startup and relationship.
    Any suggestion on how to overcome this limiting belief?

    1. I think the shit is simply: “I don’t deserve.” And I’m guessing it goes beyond just money issues.

      Whatever you choose to do, just help anyone. “Whoever saves one life, saves the world.”

  5. As always, very well written Neil. Believe these shit building patterns exist in all of us. Its nice that you bring it in focus so we can do something about it. But talk is cheap, and yes identifying the shit is easy, that hard part is disproving it. Requires to change the brain mechanism, to stop basing its beliefs on pure facts or incidents. Been trying it but often fail.

    1. Think of it this way. This is a line I cut out of a really early draft The Truth, so I never verified it, but it sounds right on to me: “He explains that there’s a feedback loop between the brain and behavior. The more someone behaves a certain way, the more the brain changes; and the more the brain changes, the more that behavior becomes habitual and entrenched. So you can undo this in the same way: Consistently correcting your behavior can change your brain, and eventually your brain will start reinforcing the new behavior.”

  6. My solution to not getting whatever I’ve wanted has always been 2 words: “Be better.” That philosophy has served me well and came from a place of genuine drive. It has been a weapon, albeit a double-edged sword. It, I believe, is manifestation of parental horseshit that I spun a silver lining around so that I don’t have to believe that I’m truly fucked up. But I am. And I guess now comes the hard part.

    1. Well put. I think it is a double-edged sword. On the downside,”Be better” may imply that you are not good enough or acceptable as you are. On the other hand, the improvement of self is among the noblest tasks there is. And for the record, I doubt you are “truly fucked up.” You are imperfect like everyone else.

  7. Neil, good point I believe it applies physically too, may I add:-
    1. Most people not only carry it they live in it!
    2. Many people live with one unnecessarily.
    3. One definition of civilisation is how far you separate yourself from your s**t.

  8. So it seems that these turds are products of ignorance or arrogance, or in some cases ignorance and arrogance combined. Perhaps knowledge and an increase of wisdom from situational experience is the medicine. Good read.

    1. Thanks, Khalid. Ignorance & arrogance is a nice way of putting it, though I might argue that arrogance may be a form of ignorance. And that on some level, we may always be ignorant to some degree when it comes to truly knowing ourselves.

  9. Great post Neill! Worth reminding one self about, I just realized my bag of shit keeps pushing the envelope for me as an entrepreneur, there’s always a next goal that will ultimately make me “worthy”, but never does. Makes me accomplish stuff but comes at a price.


    1. You get it. I keep quoting the new book, but another line in it is something along the lines of: “Childhood trauma may fuck you when you get older, but at least it leaves a tip on the nightstand.”

      That said, I believe you can let go of the bad effects and keep the good ones.

  10. Pingback: Why are you here? - Neil Strauss

  11. Oh well. Guess I can relate to this too, but anyway, any and every behavior can be categorized as bags of shit. So unless you determine a path or correct behavior, what you said is just a self-fulfiling motivacional speech.
    I really think some of us have the means to take something from that, but I kinda prefer a more objectival approach.

  12. Great, great article. Will you write a follow-up about practical exercises to be in the present moment?

  13. Great post Neil, thank you! Even deeper about the concepts of parental programming, injunctions and life skripts (which we use to sabotage ourselfs) goes PhD Taibi Kahler with his process communication model. This is by far the most valuable tool I came across in my life. (NASA and Clinton use it) Check it out! Enjoy!

  14. Good article, succinct and to the point.
    In doing away with shit, crap and bajs (as the Swedes call it) lets not forget that we need it. Yep, shit is the fertile ground that change can spring forth from. The most interesting people I’ve met are those with a lot of crap and personal shit in their lives, but have learnt to deal with it; and have the stories to tell.
    My two personal bags of poop are exactly one each that you have mentioned, little by little I’m dealing with them, changing them into pure bags of gold. I don’t want to throw them away, they are me, or rather a large part of me, but I don’t want their weight to pull me down but their potential in helping me grow and change as a man.

    Two things come to my mind as inspiration: Eminem’s “Cleaning out my closet” and Piers Anthony’s Tarot series (which deals literally with the main character (a monk) realizing that he is a stinking pile of shit.

  15. This is a decent article for the layman, covering well established philosophical thoughts on how emotions colour our perceptions.

  16. Thanks Neil, this is thought provoking, I seem to have both of these bags, I find myself not being satisfied with a decent job and beautiful girlfriend because i have some thought that i cant settle for anything short of the best, at the same time not putting value on the job or girl friend because feeling i’m not good enough so if i have them they must not be that good either.

    1. Murray, I believe they are both part of the same bag of shit. What you are doing is pricing yourself out of the game of life. If everything’s not good enough for you, then you never have to fully engage, risk rejection, be in reality, or do anything that will trigger the deeply shameful belief that you’re not enough. So my thought–and keep in mind it’s just conjecture based on a few sentences you’ve written–is that your sense of shame is so great that your impossibly high standards exist to protect you from feeling it.

      Be awesome to your girlfriend. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and accept her as she is. Beyond those fears is an intimacy you can achieve that is far better than being in the constant state of “wanting.” And read The Truth. I hate to keep mentioning it, but this is what the book is all about–getting over my own barriers to intimacy.

      (Warning: grandiose biblical metaphor to follow in 3….2…1…)

      A thought for you, Murray: You’re in the Garden of Eden, but if you keep searching for a better garden, you just may end up getting expelled and regretting not having realized you were already in paradise.

  17. Carrying them both, but i’m sure i’m in good company! but while type one is sneaking and present all the time, type 2 comes out only suring some conflict. By the way, great post Neil!

    1. Thanks, Giulio. And see some of the other comments here to understand how your type 2 shit is related to the type 1. My guess is, since it comes out during conflict, it’s what’s known as (argh, also a concept in the new book) “defensive grandiosity.”

  18. Hey Neil, really enjoyed the article. You’ve made some great points about where people’s shit most likely comes and how to deal with it. Thankfully I was lucky to learn most of this in my teen years. A lot of these important life lessons actually came from your books and articles. I’ve been reading your stuff through the years and it has definitely help me a lot. I’m not saying it’s The Bible or anything :D, but it points you in the right directions. Yes I’m a big fan, although never having written to you. I hope we’ll get to speak since I think of myself as a shit free person. Well, apparently I can’t really claim that for sure since, you said it yourself, I wouldn’t even be able to tell my own shit smell most of the time. But I’ve had great friends throughout my life that have been kind enough to point out when ever they felt the stench. And even though this is probably a very objective statement, I feel like my parents did a good job of leaving as less shit as possible in my bag. These days I feel very confident in my skills in ignoring The Shit and not stuffing my bag, and I mainly judge that by (again, as you say it) evaluating and focusing on the present! Got a happy relationship, life is headed the right way… and most importantly, I am happy! Yes, sure… Life could brake down for me tomorrow and I’ve definitely had my downs, but isn’t that the point? For us simple humans to experience this full spectrum of emotions that we’re even lucky enough to feel. Understand… we are blessed even in our worst of times. Putting it in Neil’s words again… Love isn’t eternal … it will go away. Be happy you had the chance to experience it.
    I understand some people’s frustration with society. I feel it as well too, on occasion. Sometimes people do seem like sheep. But that shouldn’t demotivate us, on the contrary. Give them a hand, show them some love, teach them how to be happy and appreciate themselves, spread the message, because lets face it, that is the most important thing that we don’t get thought in school…….. JUST DO IT :D… In all seriousness though. All these things I’m spewing right now, on some comment section, might just smell like a bag of poo to some peeps … but I don’t care… cozz I’m happy … If I’m just a young fool right now, I hope I never change and die an old one. After all, ignorance is bliss a? 😀 …
    Boy… that’s the longest comment I’ve ever left .. ever… anywhere. Not to mention I spent way to much time writing. There is a lot more stuff I would like to say and share, but my bladder will explode. And, this is just a comment.
    P.S. Neil, I will send you an email. Our time difference might be a bit of an inconvenience but hopefully you wouldn’t mind talking to some know-it-all kid that has somehow seemingly figured out life. Spoiler alert: He hasn’t 😀

    1. Lucas, will look out for your email. And love your attitude. Keep spreading that positivity. And glad I was able to help along the way!

      1. Just re-read my comment. Meant to say something like Subjective or NOT objective when it came to my opinion about my folks. You probably got that though 😀 Anyways, if we don’t get to speak, just wanted to say thanks a lot for the reply! Really appreciate it.

  19. I find this topic very interesting! I believe everybody has some or maybe all these bags of shit to some degree but then there are those who have follow up answers and those that don’t. So let me try and explain that better with an example. So for myself I definitely have the I’m not good enough thoughts and always have but in the past I would think I’m not good enough and that was good enough for me to want to quit and I would, but now I have the initial I’m not good enough thought, followed by “Are you sure?”, followed by “well what would you have to do to feel you deserve it?” then “how do you measure that?” followed by “is this something to take seriously enough to invest my precious time into?”. Now that being said maybe all I’m doing is producing bags of a shit and turning them into fertilizer when the above method stops you from producing bags of shit all together. Thoughts?

  20. Believes are stacked, one on top of the other, layer over layer. Though useful to disprove the top layer ones, the real change comes from removing the primary layer or the events in our past that created them. Often we don’t remember these events because they were too traumatising. There are special techniques for resurfacing these memories which will allow you to deal with them and subsequently remove the deep rooted belief. Doing this takes balls and if you are not ready for it you simply won’t be able to do it.

  21. This is eye opening. I have bags of shit in
    both the superior and inferior camps. I have the
    people are idiots’ and ‘I deserve the best’ bags,
    and get I also have the ‘I’m not good enough’
    bag too – that one’s more a suitcase than a bag.
    Early paternal abandonment and a sustained
    distant father relationship means I also seek
    validation and self worth from the attention and
    adoration of men. Most often and most fervently
    unavailable men.
    I can see this all so objectively – but what to do
    with these bags of shit and the misery or the
    lack of achievement they can lead to? How to
    drop them or challenge them? What questions to
    ask? Can we shake the shit altogether or is it so
    ingrained in our psyche and character that it’s
    part of who we are?

  22. Great information here Neil, thank you for this well written article:

    someone interested in working THROUGH this bag of shit might want to DO a WARRIOR WEEKEND called “NEW Warrior Training” offer by “The Man Kind Project” across the world….. 60,000 men across the world cant be all wrong…step into your power!!

  23. Interesting article Neil, not exactly new to me but it’s good to be reminded! Previously read as we all have our dramas that we play out. I have wondered along the way too, having come from two adults that didn’t really like each other and got divorced whether that would cause a degree of conflict within the offspring? I’m pretty sure being in the womb whilst my dad was out hunting for another woman and the exposure to stress hormones during carriage don’t make for an easy state of being either? Research says these things do but is it the research conclusion just more shit to carry or identifying the problem? Feel it’s the latter but heck can’t help but feel there’s a lot of shit life throws at you to sort before you can truly start to enjoy life with a degree of understanding of what’s going on!

  24. Thank you Neil! Great article, and exactly the sort of advice I need to be reading right now 🙂

  25. Years ago I learned this: Thoughts lead to feelings which lead to behavior. A girl dumps me and I think, “I am unlovable.” Therefore, I feel inadequate, worthless, hopeless, sad. Perhaps I withdraw and refuse to be in a relationship ever again.
    Thoughts, perceptions, and beliefs can, of course, be distorted. You can untwist your thinking sometimes by examining your thoughts and beliefs.
    Sometimes I get upset and I recall other similar upsetting incidents. That’s called a schema. A schema is sometimes the “lens” through which we view our lives. We have an emotional reaction in the present which brings up things from the past. So, Neil mentioned staying in the present.
    We can also reframe our thoughts. “She refused to go out with me. I am worthless” can be reframed as “I am worthy and I simply did not make a connection with one particular woman and that’s okay because there are millions of women in the world and I can’t expect to connect with them all.”
    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), core beliefs, schemas, untwisting your thought distortions, reframing, living in the present. That’s my two cents, gentlemen. Thank you.
    Thanks for the great article Neil.

    1. Hello T- Dog,
      Thank you for such a great two cents donation. Whole article is awesome and comments can be really helpful as well, like in your scenario.
      My trauma came from the fact I dwelled on my past so hard, that it ruined my presence completely. But as you and Neil wrote here -> Stay in presence; and I have to say I feel much better.
      Then I realized another piece: I thought about myself that I don’t deserve what I have obtained.
      But as I read in Neil`s comment -> If I really mean It, I have to be an idiot. So problem solved.
      But the last piece of my mourning soul was fact, that If my relationship has ended, I thought it was only my fault. Like: I wasn’t experienced enough, wasn’t dominant enough, and was oversensitive. And so on and so for. I try to asked her (if she is ok with telling me her view on our story..only for my own feedback), but she wasn’t able to tell me. And then I started to spiral down in the circle of negative thoughts. And after few weeks of this thinking I made a try for saving whole situation.
      ..Unsuccessfully. I completely forgot about my honor as a man. I know staying calm and balance and also take it as it is…is better solution but I couldn’t help myself. It was like a fever of feelings. I don’t want to go through this no more.
      What you wrote in your comment helped me a lot. Can you please tell me more about it? How to untwist the thought that breaking up with a girl isn’t my personal failure? That everything is just a process of learning and that sometimes we need a bad experience in order to learn?

      PS: Neil, it such a good think to know that you are on the same planet in the same time 🙂
      The preorder for your Truth is already in my shopping list. I also want to thank you for everything you wrote and share with others.
      Thank you

      1. Hey Michal,
        Be careful about all or nothing thinking. You may have done some incorrect things in your relationship but you probably can remember many things you did right.
        Ask yourself, “What would I say to a friend in this situation?” Talk to yourself with compassion as you would to a friend.
        One event or situation doesn’t represent your entire life. I’m sure you have been a success in many areas of your life including your relationships. Don’t overgeneralize.
        I know it’s hard not knowing the female’s thoughts. But, don’t “mind read” or jump to conclusions.
        Don’t personalize things too much. There are two people in a relationship. It’s not your fault entirely if things didn’t work out.
        I’m not sure if any of this helps but I know it hurts and I think you will grow from the experience and find the right woman for you.
        Take care.

  26. What about when you have parents who emphasize different things? For instance, one telling you that you can always do better, strive harder, and so on, while the other is saying that everything you do is golden? Is it possible to identify with both equally and thus be balanced?

  27. Thank you. This is an amazing article. I sent it to my father and hope he’ll listen. He’s been carrying a bag of shit from a shitty childhood for over 70 years. I hope he’ll listen. I also sent it to my wife so she can send it to her best friend who carries quite the load of crap as well.

  28. I was sitting at home rereading the Game yesterday for the first time in 8 years with my infant son. I noticed a great deal of things that I had forgotten such as personality characteristics of the characters and some life lessons Neil learned. As I read this I thought back to my club days before I got married and all the girls I was with and how I secured numerous kiss closes at the clubs. I kind of felt that I wish I would have sarged more than I did, but I look at my infant son and those thoughts quickly dissipated. I also looked back at all the jobs I applied for and didn’t get but you quickly start drifting into thousands of memories from the past and end of losing sight of the present. I carry some nasty shit with me and I find that it can seriously mind f$%# me. I have made some improvements in my behavior but I find it to be a daily struggle. I have cut friends out of my life that are toxic and focused on not letting my OCD get the best of me. Having my son has made me reassess myself as a man and as a parent. I look forward to utilizing the tools learned from the Society to assist in my continued development in becoming a better man and father.

  29. Great article neil, thank you. My problem is that I know I have this “I don’t deserve it” bag of shit but I don’t know why and how to change it. I have always been one of the best in all that I did, my parents for sure liked that but also always told me I should not put myself under too much pressure, they would love me anyways. But now I always feel like I have to be better than everybody else and feel like I don’t deserve being happy when I am not (this also causes aa and fear of just trying things you are not good at yet). I am also scared of not becoming successful when I don’t put myself under this pressure (and i really want to achieve a lot) but I am working on my presence anyways (just realized how powerful presence can be some time ago but the results I get from meditation are…not yet existing). If anybody has any idea what I could do about it just command, I am happy for everything.
    PS. Neil you are a great idol. I didn’t hear a lot about you because I have been into rsd lately but you are simply awesome, not just in game but also in the even more important areas of life. You are somebody who I think can change the world (with your society), I hope you will do even more not just for personal success but a better world in general.

  30. Excellent article , reminds me a lot of the work that goes on at landmark forum, the forum is about recognizing and letting go of “bags of shit” they call them rackets. And “strong suits” what we do to overcompensate to survive. It’s not a replacement for real therapy , which I have also been to. But is a fantastic and challenging human experience I strongly recommend. 😎

  31. This is interesting, well written, and I really enjoyed it. I’ve had a similar outlook but never figured out how to express it with words. I believe I don’t have any shit or bags of it becuase I have a life to enjoy and I don’t need to be carrying it with me. I’ve read some of your stuff and it got me thinking about ideas I never would have. I’m a fan of your work, it guides people in a good direction. I’ve changed my way of thinking a few years ago and glad I’m shit free, or so I think, becuase it’s amazing how it changes your perspective. Anyways, I’ll stop here or I feel I’ll be writing a longer post than needed. Keep up the good work.

  32. I am not good enough therefore you aren’t either… Although i do feel that societal ideologies shape most perception, this is a great tool to be conscience of the messages we receive and communicate.

  33. Big shit of bag…the feeling that I am inferior to other men good with women or with good Game.
    What I learned is that most of these big shit bags comes from a place of insecurity…How I am dealing with this, is consciously triggering the insecurity by thinking of the situation I would be feeling inferior/insecure and then think of the right affirmation to correct it…writing things down kind of helps. In addition I have learned the “What do I want?” thinking activity, where I simply write down the things I want, no matter how out my reach it may seem to be, I write it down and never look at it again….Only read it once sometimes

  34. What a great article. I suffer badly from depression and actually caught myself today saying… “Man I feel so alone around all these people, they are all better than me”. Thanks for reminding me about the error of my ways. It is amazing how quickly we can spiral down.

  35. Hey Neil, how are you?

    I was thinking deeply about what you wrote. Actually, I think that there are three kinds of people. The two you wrote about… And a third one, those who are aware that they are not better or worse than other people… But, they try to be the bests in their areas.

    Awkwardly, they often succeed, and it’s not like “I’ll prove everyone that I am the best, that I am better…”, since it would lead us towards one of the two kinds mentioned before. Those people recognize that people are all different and unique, with a mission of life, thus, why bother with them? If those people find their mission of life, thus, they will throw themselves in these areas, learning, enjoying, and working, sometimes without even thinking about money, recognition or anything. Mostly of them simply know that, well, these things are consequences of doing a good job.

    Well, why I am writting about this? I believe that I am one of these people.

    Since I was 2 (now I’m 23), I have type 1 diabetes. Since I was 16, I started to study the disease and its other types. It led me to medicine school. After some work, when I was 20, I exposed my first scientifical project in a national scientific congress. When I was 22, I was invited to work together with the International Diabetes Federation, an organization linked to World Health Organization. I write to a diabetes site (, in which I answer common questions about the disease.

    Now, I am 23, work for the Public Health and Education pannels with IDF, was invited to make a speech in UN and teach other youngs with diabetes about the disease. I am not a doctor, yet. I do not receive a penny for all this work. I am not “the best” of these areas, not even in my city – but, perhaps, I’m one of the most interested and devoted to meet people and, well, see them happy.

    Of couse, being for a short time in the pickup community was useful. I had low knowledge about talking and building relationships with people. Well, I studied the methods carefully – and, again, I was once considered one of the bests among the pickup community in Brazil. This left me with a strange sensation – hate, anger, whatever, it was disgusting to see other guys idolizing me, as if they could not achieve my goals (which were NOTHING OUTSTANDING! I have kissed only 23 girls, and had sex with only 11 of them). Thus, I left the community – but my “funeral” was something like an explosion.

    Today, I use some of the techniques that we used in the community to convince patients to adhere to their therapies – and, if you know something about diabetes, you know that it is one of the hardest diseases to control – because, after all, we are trying to “seduce” people to take care of themselves. And, of course, I teach these “clinical methods” to friends of mine in the university.

    So, I won’t be the one that boasts about “not having a bag of shit”. I just think that I have a different bag of shit, you haven’t mentioned. Yet. The kind of people that believe that everyone should achieve their best results. Ever.

    Thank you for your article. It was refreshing to open my eyes a bit 🙂

    A great fan of yours,


  36. Neil,

    Hey buddy, great article, definitely hit home with me. Your point is well taken, and I tend to be on the “I am not good enough side of the equation.” To that point, I have driven myself in life and now am an interventional cardiologist as well as having a prior doctorate of pharmacy degree with multiple other accolades. The problem is, as I venture through my mid-40’s I am wondering when or what is “enough?” Thus, your take on my self-esteem via accomplishments is right on point.

    My question to you is as a father how can I avoid instilling these bags of shit on my children? Per above, I am extremely driven and struggle daily on how hard to push my kids. Often, I feel like I am pushing them for my sake and not theirs. How can I avoid loading them down with shit later in their life? I know the answer is complex, but for me I tend to oscillate between the hard ass who pushes them to the guy who tries to understand where they are in life. Of note, as you can tell I tend more towards the type A personality trait and have an extremely difficult time standing on the sidelines while my children fail of their own accord.

  37. Love the perspective this article evokes, and am hopeful readers don’t throw out the baby with the bag of shit–meaning: the last line of, “…you have you. And that’s all you need,” can get pretty shitty if we make the mistake of 86ing too many people in our lives versus things. For example, that ‘internalized parent’ isn’t your real parent. It’s another imaginary mannequin made of shit.

    The masters of shit burying become life’s gardeners and have the peace of mind to host their garden parties, with a few old shit-towers welcome and all. Who knows, those guests might want to contribute their bags one day to the hole where that stuff belongs, but not those people.

  38. Thanks Neil, just the kind of article i needed to read. This reflects exactly that i’ve been doing all my life and to self. Opened my eyes to a new perspective. Can’t wait for your new book.

  39. Great article. Having a young son now – how do I find that sweet spot between “I’m no good unless I get an A+” and not letting him slack or do whatever he wants? The message “who you are is enough” is a great one, but there has to be a few more messages to tack on I think.

  40. Pingback: Justin Thought He Had No Sh** - Neil Strauss

  41. Damn. I think I’m carrying both types of shit-bags around. I’m never good enough, yet no one is every good enough for me either. Furthermore, when I read things like this and listen to how to make changes, in my mind, I *know* that it’s bullshit, that it will never work for me, that I might feel better for a day or two, but things will settle back into fresh turds.

    How can someone overcome that much shit?

  42. if you wana see real dumb people and there bags of shit move to Australia and see for yaself how dumb most people have evolved its more like a trailer of shit they carry round.

  43. Neil & Friends,

    Fantastic article. When I was reading it, I noticed something else about the colostomy bags of life: they can be deeply interconnected.

    I took some time to reflect about my own life when I read this article. In doing so, I realized that I definitely fall into the first, “I am not enough” camp. However, for a long time, my psyche just couldn’t accept this fact. As a result, any time I got close to realizing that I felt this way, it would trigger a compensatory mechanism and, like a pendulum, I would swing to the opposite end of the spectrum, blaming all of my faults on the world around me.

    People tend to treat others in a way that mirrors their feelings about themselves. With the very rare exception of a few deeply disturbed masochists, you rarely see someone who feels great going around putting others down…at least in my experience.

    Neil, while I thought that your article did a very good job of describing the desired end goal, I would love it if you could say more about some specific mechanisms for leaving the shit in the past and achieving presence. I acknowledge that the intention to do so is the first step, but is there something more that I can be doing beyond simply disrupting negative thought patterns as they arise?

    Thank you very much and I hope you all have an exceptional, shit-free weekend.


  44. Pingback: Enrolling: How We Manipulate Our Friends Into Helping Us Lie To Ourselves - Neil Strauss

  45. Today I was talking with a friend about this girl I really like and about the situation with her. At one point in the conversation my friend, let’s call him Bob, opened my eyes. Bob made me realize that I was looking at the circumstances like an only child. I was completely sure that the girl was acting like that because there was something wrong with HER. Thanks to Bob I understood that the wrong one was ME, because I was expecting her to respond like I wanted her to and not like the big picture demanded.

    P.S. After he opened my eyes I felt like the big bag of shit was me myself. After that I felt good about realizing that I was internalizing something I just knew the content of.

  46. I just love how your readers express themselves…..’turd’….’deturdination’….lol. Great stuff Neil. I enjoyed this article —- lots of shit to be flushed from my mind. The sooner we all realize this and activate the flushing process —- the more useful and productive our lives will become. We should all make the best possible use of our limited time here on the planet.

  47. Is it possible to bring two bags of shit, no third is given? Well, about first shit- i think that “every french soldier carries a marshal’s baton in his knapsack” – there is always way to be better and it doesn’t mean that if you’re ambitious – you’re bad product of your parents, with shit instead of brains…because you can be rationally ambitios and motivated, without ‘supposed to’ in your thoughts..And about second shit-
    i saddenly noticed that people became more stupid and agressive and it’s not my fault…every day i use subway..and – standing…being pushed with elbows thinking -‘what’s wrong with you all..’? I see their problem- they are human-machines : they wear the same clothes that’s ‘in fashoin’, search for relationships -that’s in order…using the same phones and addictable of social nets…they are looking for everything- for people and goods- from the point of social approval…Do you think – the shit is their proplem? May be…i don’t know…but i think that i’m not a machine and i needn’t all those things that they need…i don’t want to speak to them…because i know their standard judgements ahead of time…I also have to ignore people…sometimes i think that it’s a pitty that i’m not a fool.. from the birth..because i see what is world coming to..people have no shit in their heads they have emptiness and instinсts like talking animals…they’re surching for conformation…they afraid of life…they don’t read books, don’t like philosophy, BUT they like to pretend that they’re kind devotee caring of health and world (because it’s popular) – they don’t know it all, even adults..they are big children – as you say’they need to be’, but they are..

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