Ambivalence | noun | am·biv·a·lence | \am-ˈbi-və-lən(t)s\

1: simultaneous and contradictory attitudes or feelings (as attraction and repulsion) toward an object, person, or action.

2a : continual fluctuation (as between one thing and its opposite)b : uncertainty as to which approach to follow.

Every single person living on this planet experiences some form of ambivalence between their inner self and their outer world. A disconnect between what they believe and what they do.

This disconnect between character and personality – between values and actions – causes myriad of emotional issues within oneself. Knowing deep down that what they are doing is wrong yet continuing to do what they’re doing – whether it be out of peer pressure, out of bad habit, or out of fear of change – causes people to question their very existence.

“Why am I doing this?” “Why can’t I do what I know is right?” “What should I do with my life?” “Why am I never happy?”

This leads to all sort of problems that are prevalent in the modern world – depression, anxiety, apathy, eating disorders, solipsism, etc. If you currently experience any of these symptoms, you should take a good look at your life and see if there is any disconnect between who you want to be and who you actually are.

The first step to overcoming your moral ambivalence is to admit that you’re not living the life you know you should be living. You know what’s true and what’s good, but your actions say otherwise.

You know you shouldn’t eat fast food, but you still get McDonald’s for lunch twice a week. You know you shouldn’t waste time, but you still spend hours a day browsing the internet or watching Netflix.

You know you should seek meaningful relationships, but you still view women as sexual objects to be exploited. You know you should live a life of virtue, but still fall victim to your bad habits.

Personally, I have been morally ambivalent in a few areas of my life. Most notably, I eschewed promiscuous behavior and belittled those whom were sexually wanton – all the while I was taking sexual photos of naked and half-naked models and posting it for all the world to see. What I believed directly contradicted what I was doing in life. I would mock people who partook in hookup culture to boost their ego, yet spent a lot of my free time around naked women just to appease my own ego.

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset Joelle – France, 2015.

The second step is to understand what caused you to perform the actions that contradicted your beliefs. Take some time to contemplate and realize what was fueling your behavior.

Why did you eat junk food when you knew it was bad for you? Because it was easy and comfortable, or because you wanted the cheap thrill of a greasy burger and fries?

Why did you waste your time on the internet or watching Netflix? Because it was what you were used to, or because you were afraid of actually putting an effort into your life and were terrified of the possibility of failure?

In my case, I wanted to exude the aura of “bad-boy photographer who spends his time around beautiful women.” Why? Maybe to get back at the girls in the past who burned me, or to show my bullies from middle school that I’m better than they are. Maybe I just wanted to see if it was possible to lead a happy life by only focusing on the outer world – physical beauty and nothing else.

2+(1+of+1) Kelly – Australia, 2014.

Even though I spent a lot of time around gorgeous women, some of which tried to make advances with me, I never pursued any of them sexually. I didn’t want to become a “sleazy” photographer that uses his camera to try to sleep with women. I also never believed in having sex outside of a committed relationship (gasp!) and found it easy to turn down models that were only interested in hooking up.

I don’t know how other men in my situation would have handled themselves, but I am glad that I only gave off the aura of a bad-boy photographer and never actually became a womanizer with a camera. Physical beauty without spiritual or inner beauty is like painting a masterpiece on a napkin – there’s no point of admiring it if it’s painted on garbage. If you can only connect with someone on a physical level, then that will be the extent of your relationship – skin-deep.

The final step is change your ways and live a life that aligns with your personal beliefs and values. It is always hard to break habits and start new ones – I never said that this would be easy. I cannot motivate you to live your life a certain way or to be honest with yourself. You only have to realize that any disconnect between your beliefs (soul) and your actions (body) will cause you to feel disconnected from reality.

Ever since I was a little kid, I have always wanted to fall in love, get married, and start a family. After a string of bad relationships full of betrayal and lies I found myself perusing “manosphere” websites, such as Return of Kings, that tried to convince me that all women are garbage and the only way to be happy is to have casual sex with strangers that I seduced using systematic, impersonal strategies. I thought that by hanging out with naked girls and making great photographs of them that I would find some sort of meaning in this life, but it was only a distraction.

I believe that many young men find themselves in a similar position that I was in – trying to find answers and rationalization for why their relationships failed. Behind every “pickup artist” is a sad little boy who got his heart broken by a girl he gave his heart to. Instead of accepting that the girl wasn’t right for him and that there was still hope for true love, he decided to spend his time and energy chasing cheap thrills with loose women.

I am extremely grateful that I never took the “red pill” and decided to treat relationships and sex as a game to pass the time and boost my fragile ego. I went without sex for nearly two years – with plenty of opportunities – because I didn’t think that any of the available women would make a good mother to my future children. I’ve had girls stop talking to me because I wouldn’t “put out” on the first or second date, invited girls from Tinder to my house just to awkwardly talk to them for an hour before they left unsatisfied and confused, and tried to politely reject girls who I did not feel like I could connect with on a personal level.

I stuck to my guns and I have been rewarded for it tenfold – I am dating a wonderful woman who I would gladly marry and start a family with. She met all of my expectations and blew them out of the water. Being in love with someone who loves you for who you really are, and not the persona that you show off to the world, is far more rewarding than any hookup or any one-night stand.

Rachel and I — Christmas 2015 Rachel and I – Christmas 2015

Deep down I always knew these truths to be self-evident and obvious, but I was living a lifestyle that directly contradicted them. I would spend my free time trolling girls on Tinder or setting up photoshoots with nude models. Now that I have put all of that behind me (good riddance) and have aligned my actions (personality) with my beliefs (character), I feel complete. I no longer feel like something is wrong with myself or this world, or that it’s everybody else’s fault and not my own.

Only you know what’s most important in your life. Only you know what it is you need to do to align your actions with your beliefs. Only you know what’s stopping you from living the life you want to live, deep down.

I cannot change your habits or tell you what you need to do – I can only offer my experiences and show how it has changed my life for the better.

I’d like you to do an experiment with me – for one week, ask yourself “why am I doing this? Does it align with my beliefs? Will this help me reach my goals? If not, what can I do instead that will align with my values and help me life the life I desire to live?”

You’ll be amazed at how many detrimental behaviors you can lose and how many good habits you can gain.

The fatal metaphor of progress, which means leaving things behind us, has utterly obscured the real idea of growth, which means leaving things inside us. — G.K. Chesterton