True Intentions: The Real Reason why People do EVERYTHING

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We spend a large amount of our time making two mistakes: 1) paying more attention to people’s CONtent than their INtent, and 2) when we do pay attention to someone’s intentions we usually only see the surface motives and not the true intentions at the depth of their subconscious. In this video I’ll share the number one intention behind EVERYONE’S behave a huge majority of the time, allowing you to understand people better and react more powerfully.

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Dan has 3 bestselling non-fiction books available in both written and audio form:

  • The Naked Truth, his latest release, shows you how radical honesty builds self-confidence and relationships
  • Nothing to Lose explores how to build confidence from the inside by correcting the programming in your brain
  • The Legendary Life is a very practical, action-focused guide on how to plan and execute a life plan that brings you your ideal lifestyle

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Full transcript (unedited)

Today I’m going to share with you a little secret to help you understand people better than reading 1000s of psychology books and going to lectures and workshops, I’m going to tell you something that will just cut through all the bullshit, hit you right there to understanding people. This video could have been titled How to Handle online bullshit. And that’s kind of an example I’ll probably use throughout the video is that reaction we have when we see something person online. Now, I don’t want to get bogged down into that, because this is also going to apply to face to face conversations, phone meetings, whatever. But here’s the number one problem I see people making in all forms of interaction really getting distracted by content, and not looking for intent. So content is what someone says or writes, okay, it’s the content, the information they put out there, the intent is the motivation behind why they’re saying this, why they’re writing this. And the real reason why the subconscious deep inner motive, why not the surface level one that they want to believe or they want you to believe? Now, so often we respond to content in a way that we wouldn’t do if we understood the intent properly. Quite often we misunderstand the intent, we have an assumption about the intent, that is incorrect. And we also misinterpret the content. So we respond in this totally unhelpful, inaccurate way, because we’re not really hearing the person. So imagine those sorts of common situations that you find quite provocative. Like somebody writes something in an online post that’s really aggravating or outrageous to you, or you’re talking to someone at a party or a meeting, and they’re just annoying you or confusing you, or they make things awkward. And these are the kinds of situations especially when we’re uncomfortable, but also actually, when we’re really comfortable. We make the mistake of getting distracted by the content. So we see somebody post some bullshit online, and we respond to the bullshit itself. And if we give any thought to their intent, it’s usually a kind of negative assumption. They’re trying to hurt me, they’re on the other team, they’re bad person, they’re stupid, whatever, right? Like somebody’s reason for writing something is that they’re stupid. But I’m gonna give you a an assumption that’ll cut through all the bullshit 99% of the time. And this is the assumption that whenever somebody does anything socially, particularly if you find it provocative, there’s only one intention behind it. You want to know what that is? Me? Me? I exist, right? Like I matter. Yeah. I’m a good little boy. Right? The number one intention, on most people’s behavior is simply validation. There are a lot of great fears that we’re born with, and then others that we commonly develop as we grow up. But there’s one in particular that seems to go unrecognized and isn’t discussed in any major way that I can see, and that is the fear of insignificance. Now, you could say, it’s been discussed in great detail in terms of existentialism and nihilism. And those philosophies, and that’s fair point. But in general, we don’t actually attribute many people’s behavior to this fear, we go much more surface level much more inaccurate, is they are they just being a dick, or they’re stupid, or they’re trying to cause problems or whatever. And we don’t think actually, that person is in crisis, about their significance. They are deeply terrified that they don’t matter. And that nothing matters, but in particular, that they don’t matter personally. And so they constantly throughout the day, throughout their lives, send up the signal flares, saying, Please, send me a sign that I fucking matter that I am important, please let me know. It can even be in the most beautifully articulate online argument for a political side of the story, or it can be in the ranting drunken, creepy hidden from the guy at the bar and everything in between. This one motive of please validate me is behind most behavior, in my opinion. And when you understand that, and when you see it for what it is, you’ll find yourself so much less provoked, and less outraged by people’s behaviors and by their statements or what they say and also, you’ll find yourself far less drawn into conflicts because you’ll realize the content is irrelevant why Are they saying doesn’t matter, it has just a flavor of the fear of insignificance, just a flavor of validation seeking. One person might do it with political statements and other person might do it with their music taste, another person might do with activism, and other might person might do with creepy dating behavior. It’s all the same thing, just different flavors and personal manifestations where each individual, this is how they prefer to show that fear. Now, a lot of them don’t even know that that’s the fear that’s driving them. They just feel this urge to act and react, like, better say something, and they don’t question themselves. Why do I gotta say something? That’s so fucking important for me to say, you know? Isn’t it amazing how people don’t question themselves when they go on to say Facebook, and they make a big political post that nobody involved in the actual politics that they’re complaining about is going to read or care about somebody doing a big post about the war on the Ukraine, there’s almost 100% chance. They’re Putin and Zelensky. And all the major players in that war are not going to read this post or be affected by it in any way, shape, or form. And the person writing it seems to think that they will write the buzz around it sounds like I’m fucking making a difference. Here. I am crushing it. Even if you get into the bog down weeds of the comment section. 200 pages deep into YouTube. People are arguing like they’re at the UN debating this out. And this is going to come to a conclusion that they’re going to be a part of, no, nobody cares. What you write doesn’t matter doesn’t make a difference. It doesn’t do shit. Nothing really does shit, these conversations, you can even see it like in real life. Two people at a bar get you know, a boat and fucking scared a NATO. That’s why it’s done. What are you going to achieve with this conversation? Nothing. Even if you convince the other person to see things your way, neither of you are involved in the war, nothing’s going to change. And yet you talk and you feel like you’re doing something, don’t you? Well, that feeling is I’m proving that I matter. And see, when we react to the content of what someone says, we actually feed their addiction, we enable it. Because as much as agreeing with them is enjoyable, what they’re really looking for, is signs that they have had an impact. And usually disagreement is the biggest sign. If you write something may remember me and somebody disagrees, you’re like, I affected their life. Thank you, I fucking matter. Now, they might not have that conscious thought. But there’s a sense of importance, urgency, they might get raging heartbeat, and get overheated and flustered and suddenly, like, you know, fuck hanging out with my kids or doing my job, I gotta get into this argument online business at hand, suddenly becomes very important to them, because they’ve got a taste, taste of validation, and they want to eat the whole lot. The self centeredness of the validation seeking can expand into other areas that are still essentially the same thing. Approval seeking as a very close brother to this motive. So validation seeking is please prove to me that I exist and that I’m significant. Approval seeking is and also telling me that I’m good. So approval seeking the kind of provocations and fishing that you’ll see from people is about trying to get agreement trying to get a positive reaction. The person who puts on jokes all the time, that’s what I used to do is do the stand up comedy thing all the time, every fucking time that I socialize, like, laugh, confirm that a I exist, no matter and be it’s good that I’m around, they’re on valuable, please give me a sign that I am worth something. So people might do this by trying to be interesting or trying to be helpful and nice trying to be funny, or just agreeing with others to try and like validate you, you validate me like they all back scratching kind of analogy, thing guy. Another brother to this intent is acquisition or sales, you might call it where this is all part of a pitch. This is a buildup of seduction of some kind. They might literally be trying to sell you something you know, when you’re weird friend from high school gets into a pyramid scheme and just messages you out of nowhere, like Hey, girl, what are you up to? And you know, it’s just the part of a process or, you know, seduction of the guy talking to you at the bar and buying you drinks and whatever. We often don’t question the motive. We might question the motivation, you know, is he trying to get laid? But we don’t go even deeper? Like is he trying to prove to himself that he matters? Is that what is it? Like, if he’s trying to get laid? Why is he trying to get laid just for physical pleasure? He could do that on his own and must be some More than that, he must need to say I conquered this vagina, why does he need to say that, you know, and again to the kind of deep dark recesses of the psyche, and another one can just simply be belonging. So one way to get validation that I met her is to say I’m part of a group that matters, you know, you can see this as the activist type people who really get on the bandwagon with a particular thing. It could be veganism could be fasting, it could be woke, could be fucking anything, really any movement that has a group, and they feel really strongly about any particular thing. So quite often, you might see somebody say something or do something to say, look, I belong to the group, that group matters, and therefore, I miss it, because I am a part of the group I am integral cog of their group. And they’ll do other validation seeking behaviors, when with the group as to say please validate that I’m important in the group as well. Now don’t get too pessimistic, I mean, the best experience in the world is to have an interaction with someone where their intentions are pure, as pure as a human can be anyway, you know, giving love curiosity, playfulness, passion, you know, somebody’s just doing it. And they’re driven from their core values. They’re not trying to prove anything, they’re not trying to get anything. They’re not trying to do anything at all. They’re just in the moment, and they’re just like, pushed by their, their principles and the values. I mean, there’s nothing better than a conversation with someone who’s coming from that place, in my opinion, anyway, in terms of social experience, but it is rare. Okay, it is very rare. You might get it with your best friend, every time you hang out, you might occasionally get it with a stranger, you might sometimes have it with your family. But in general, most of the interactions you’re going to get are not going to be pure like this, this isn’t necessarily a thing to get down in the dumps about just something to understand this is something that can be corrected. In fact, it is corrected by calling out the intent. You know, if you want to get into a real conversation with someone where shit is like deep and meaningful, and you’re coming from a values place, first, you got to call out the bullshit, right? You got to get brave and confront people on why they’re doing things. Now you can just ask them from a genuinely curious place. Like, why are you trying to convince me of this? Or why did you bring that up? Or why would you say something so provocative, and dig in with them. But that can lead to pseudo coaching, which isn’t the healthiest way to have an interaction. Even better is just to be honest, and call out what you think is happening. I think he just said there to provoke me. Sounds like you’re just doing that to get validation. I feel that you’re trying to get approval from you right now, you don’t have to do that, and so on, you can call these things out. And yes, it will create some conflict, and it will create a confrontation. But that could be the start of a real connection. If nothing else, at least is going to cancel the bullshit. This person refuses to let go of the bullshit, they’re going to have to let go of you instead, because you’re not going to tolerate it. So before responding to anyone about anything, unless you’re in a well established, definitely healthy, very purely intention relationship that you can trust. You’ve got to ignore your reaction to the content, however, provoked and triggered you might be put that aside and go why are they saying this? Why are they doing this? What is their likely intention deep deep down? And if you’re not sure, start with the assumption. This is probably about validation. What I call validation begging, probably fishing for validation. Is that what it looks like? Would that explain why I’m seeing this right now? Was person’s posting on Facebook even though it doesn’t matter why this person started an argument Thanksgiving dinner even though they don’t need to? Why is this really happening? Does this look like somebody’s trying to prove that they matter? Trying to provoke a reaction that validates their existence? Because then you can go straight to talking about that and ignore the bullshit content. assumed the worst hope for the best occasionally you’ll get it. Hope that helps you if you want more tips and more thorough guidance on how to navigate the social world get in touch give you a hand. See you next time.

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