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Monday, March 19, 2012

Confessions of a beta male XV: regrets

An alpha's brain is constructed so that as soon as one activity ends, it's on to the next distraction. Mine is constructed to be a slow motion replay machine, always analyzing what just happened, with regrets the inevitable byproduct. I have no more choice in this matter than a VCR has about being a VCR.

Alphas have that most adaptive of traits: a lousy memory. When they say, oh yeah, I honestly forgot all about that -- they're often actually being honest. I only wish I could forget.

If an alpha screws up, he shrugs and forgets about it by the next day. I still wince over stupid things I did as a teenager.

An alpha buys a nice car and enjoys it. I can't help but wonder if it was worth the money, what the purchase says about me, and how expensive it will be to maintain.

If things don't go an alpha's way, he just thinks, I'll get 'em next time. I know better: that was my last chance, there will never be a next time.

I rehash conversations, performances, everything I ever do. An alpha mostly just second guesses other people.

Alphas do makes mistakes. They go to the wrong school, pursue the wrong career path, date the wrong women, choose the wrong friends. They just don't agonize about it afterward. It's a wonder I have any teeth left after all the gnashing I've done.

You often hear that the unexamined life is not worth living. My experience has been that the overly examined one isn't either.

To be "introspective" means to look within, to inspect one's own interior. Do too much of this and you'll feel you're in a jail cell.

Alphas can employ pat little euphemisms and trite sayings which justify and excuse and explain and mollify. I am filled with envy at their ability to do so.

Alphas can laugh something off as being a learning experience. Whenever I hear that, I think, what did I learn that I haven't already been taught a hundred times before?

Alphas tend to look back and say, I wouldn't change a thing. Their lives are suffused with a rich contentment. I can't think of a single thing I wouldn't have done at least a little differently.

An alpha knows he will die eventually, but he still feels immortal. He feels confident that life will extend second chances. I feel my mortality every hour of every day.


Gilbert Ratchet said...

Have you been reading my diary?!?

Chicago said...

I'm curious if the so-called beta mindset is set in stone and thus unalterable, or if through some process of cognitive retraining the mode of thinking can be altered to something that's more desired by the individual. Can a beta become an alpha through desire and effort? Has that ever been accomplished in any case that anyone knows about? Any genetic factors? Lots of questions, few clear-cut answers. The grass often looks greener on the other side though. The so-called alpha types may have their downside also that may not be apparent on the surface.

Brian Fradet said...

John--Very interesting points of view, which I identify with completely. I don't even know if it's a right vs wrong thing, but it seems that some men are simply wired to not ever do any introspection. Maybe guys like us do too much. The trick, I believe, is finding the balance--the wisdom to know that. Thanks, Brian

John Craig said...

Chicago --
I think we're all situational alphas and betas. I know there've been situations in my life (mostly with women) where I just naturally feel alpha and fall into that role. And there have been situations (like at work) where I've been forced to be beta. I think almost all guys have been in those types of situations. We all have to be adaptive to the environment we're in.

A lot (but not all) of what I describe as alpha behavior is actually just narcissistic behavior. And I probably exaggerate my beta-ness for the sake of tho blog. But I have noticed that there are some people who just naturally aren't that introspective, whereas I think that's my nature.

I think the biggest risk to being alpha is being conscious of that status and having to prove you're alpha all the time. That would be risky.

John Craig said...

Brian --
For some reason this post got more responses like yours than most. I had a friend write via email to say that he identified with it completely too, and note Gilbert's humorous response above.

I think the vast majority of guys have been in positions where they've felt beta at various times, as I said to Chicago above. That's just life. That said, there do seem to be some who blunderbuss their way through their live without ever stopping to think much about things. So the "idealized" alpha I usually describe in these posts is in fact far from ideal, but is more an elusive abstraction that I can compare myself -- invidiously -- to.

And that's sort of the whole point of this beta male series: to let other guys know they're not alone.

John Craig said...

PS -- I've never know a guy who consciously tried to be an alpha who wasn't also a seven letter word.

Anonymous said...

story of my life! I must be a beta female!!Donna

John Craig said...

Donna --
I think we're all beta, at least unless we're incurable narcissists....which I guess is sort of the point of this series.

Anonymous said...

absolutely. ALL beta, no question.
id argue there may be no true alphas left, in the human kingdom. where thinking is concerned, the most intelligent males are the betas; in primates, where generation after generation, (alpha)male with the most testosterone PREVAILS over the others; as with HUMANS, the males have an unconscious drive, an insatiable Lust, and in hoarding ALL the pussy for himself to the exclusion of all the other males, he attains the highest reward of all - his offspring=survival.- but what about the beta males, who watch from the sidelines, THINKING, and THINKING, pining for a piece of nookie...ALL their lives?? the answer: they finally put their heads together, and think as one, for the common goal of all- voila!-the Dawn of Civilization, and the Birth of the Nuclear Family.

John Craig said...

Anon --
That's the best brief synopsis of evolution I'v ever heard. Makes me feel better about being beta.