0:00 - Introduction and Gratitude
3:05 - Embracing the Present
6:11 - The Trick of Regret
7:52 - The Thrilling Process of Communication
9:01 - Understanding and Handling Guilt
10:02 - The Importance of Apology
21:44 - Control Over Guilt
26:49 - Asymmetrical Relationships
29:04 - The Absence of Apology
29:53 - Doubting the Legitimacy of Guilt
32:20 - Exploitation of Virtues

Long Summary

In this deep and introspective conversation, the speaker delves into the concepts of happiness, guilt, and relationships. They reflect on their own life, expressing contentment with where they are presently and emphasizing the importance of living in the moment without regrets. The speaker discusses the idea of nostalgia and how it can lead to dissatisfaction in the present by longing for the past.

Moving on to the topic of guilt, the speaker explains that guilt arises from the absence of apology and can come from both internal and external sources. They explore the dynamics of apologies in relationships, emphasizing the importance of genuine apologies and restitution. The speaker delves into the complexities of guilt inflicted by others to control, manipulate, or exploit individuals, highlighting how individuals in asymmetrical relationships may struggle with guilt and doubt.

The discussion evolves to address the asymmetrical nature of certain relationships, particularly ones where guilt is used as a means of control. The speaker challenges the idea that individuals must comply with demands to avoid being labeled selfish or mean, pointing out the hypocrisy in such dynamics. They emphasize the importance of self-reflection and the ability to recognize when guilt is being used as a manipulative tool.

Concluding the conversation, the speaker highlights the necessity of standing up against manipulative behaviors and recognizing when virtues are being exploited for self-serving purposes. They stress the importance of demanding apologies in situations where guilt has been unjustly inflicted and how recognizing manipulative tactics can lead to a sense of empowerment and self-preservation.


[0:00] Introduction and Gratitude

[0:00] Good morning, everybody. Stephen Molyneux from Free Domain. Hope you're doing very, very well.

[0:05] slash the net. If you would like to help out the show, it would be most, most, most appreciated. Now, two important questions this morning. Number one, Steph, what do you wish you had known in your 20s that you know now? What do you wish you'd known in your 20s that you know now? Now, the answer is nothing, nothing. I am so immeasurably pleased with my life and so happy at where I am. I mean, I get to wake up, live with wonderful people, live a life of meaning and purpose and depth and philosophical power and carving my thoughts into the atomic structure of the universe on a daily basis with your very kind help and participation.

[0:58] Honestly, I couldn't do better. I can't do better. I mean, I'm obviously going to keep trying to do better at philosophy over time, but I can't do better. I can't improve where I am. And so if I can't improve where I am, why would I want to change anything that led me here? Now, this doesn't go back to my childhood. I'm not talking about justifying abuse and violence, but until you said my 20s, right? So my concern is that if I say, well, I wish I'd known this in my 20s, that would be a way of saying, I wish I was someplace else or in some other circumstance or situation than I am. And I would not want to be in any other circumstance or situation.

[1:38] It's really important in life. You know, nostalgia is when you look back and wish you'd been happier. Oh, I didn't know how good I had it. I didn't know how, whatever, right? It's like this, this old cheesy thing. I read it on the show years ago about sunscreen and And one is like, you know, you look back at photos of yourself in a bathing suit.

[1:59] In your 20s and you just didn't understand how great you looked, right? So I don't want to look back and say I should have been happier. And so I really do try to suck the bone marrow of happiness out of every moment of every morsel of every day. To be satisfied, because, you know, dissatisfaction is part of progress, dissatisfaction is part of life, dissatisfaction is why we improve. So a little bit of that friction is okay. I mean, sometimes I'm dissatisfied with what I do in terms of am I concise, am I vivid enough, have I wielded language in the right ninja way. And so I work to improve, but even that dissatisfaction is part of the happiness. Because if I was never dissatisfied, I wouldn't have anything to improve and everything would be repetition. And there would be nothing to aim for and I would feel listless, right? Right. So it would be like right after you've worked out, you don't want to work out again. Right. So because you're satisfied and it's good and it's happy and it's right.

[3:05] Embracing the Present

[3:06] So, yeah, as far as my 20s go, I wouldn't go back. I'm not saying there's any meanness in your question, but it is a form of trying to provoke dissatisfaction in the present. You know, you play the hands you're dealt, man.

[3:26] Life's just going to deal you some hands, right? I mean, I was dealt, obviously, my sex, I was dealt my race, I was gifted the language in terms of speaking English, which is kind of fortunate in that it's one of the most spoken, if not the most spoken language in the world and ideal for podcasting. I was gifted a little bit of an accent, which some people find appealing. I was gifted a pleasant voice and some pretty good raw intelligence and creativity. So I was gifted all these things. I think it's important to enjoy all of that and appreciate all of that and pay back the universe for the gifts you're given by helping others live better, be happier.

[4:10] So, oh, I wish I'd known this in my 20s is a way of saying, I wish I were somewhere else now. And I don't wish I was somewhere else now. I do feel occasional twinges of envy, you know, like so-and-so is going on some big speaking tour. And so I get all of that. But also, it's better that I spent time with my family. I'm in the tail end of parenting my daughter.

[4:36] It's really important that I do this kind of work and talking about really deep philosophy with people. I couldn't do this kind of stuff in a speech, right? It's more formal. So I think this is the best use of my time and resources and abilities. I don't want anything to be different. I mean, can you say that? I don't want anything to be different. Even the occasional dissatisfaction with what I am doing and what I produce, I don't want that to be different, because that gives me something to aim for and something to improve. I mean, every morning I'm like, okay, I'm going to go and answer some questions and make this the best. I'm going to really, come on, let's get all our horses in a line let's pull some real meaty syllables out of the deep brain right that's sort of what i mean so i'm you know i'm very happily married a great relationship with my daughter i've got good friends i have the most meaningful thing that can be done with a life i get to do on my own schedule with my own topics i get to work with really good friends i get to I mean, honestly, my health is great. I can't do better. And so it's the butterfly effect, right? Or the delicate sound of thunder, that old Ray Bradbury story. It's just, if I go back and change something, I'm somewhere else.

[5:54] So I don't wish I knew something in my 20s that I know now. And honestly, I think that's kind of a trick to regret where you are now. And if you regret where you are now, work like hell to change it. Work like hell to change it.

[6:11] The Trick of Regret

[6:12] So be careful of those kinds of questions. And don't look back later on and say, gee, I didn't know how good I had it back then. You don't know how good you have it right now. I really feel like I'm in the prime of my life right now. I mean, I'm physically strong enough to do anything. I don't feel like my mental acuities have ever been sharper. The one thing that's great about the brain is that, you know, like a singer's voice wears out. You listen to Paul McCartney these days, and he sounds like a deflating helium balloon. No disrespect to old Mac, but it's kind of rough. If you've ever heard Barbra Streisand in her 70s, she still sounds fantastic, but then she's really worked to preserve her voice, whereas, of course, Paul McCartney's been a bit of a screamer, and he noticed this even in his 20s, you know, that, oh, darling, that he did. He said he could have done it better even a couple of years before, but his voice had already started to shred in his 20s. So, yeah, love where you are, man. Love where you are. It only gets better from here for me. It only gets better. Like, I ripped off this great speech last night, and it's a really delicate thing, because you've got a.

[7:19] You've got to ride the surf of the language that's coming out. Shape it a little bit consciously. You can't summon the words. And if you shape the words wrong, if you get distracted, if you go off on a tangent, if you shape the words wrong, the inspiration just stops. The words are coming out, and you do just a little bit of a tweak to get them out with the right phrasing and the right pauses so that it really lands and hits home.

[7:43] So it's a really delicate and powerful process to go through. I'm honored to go through it, and I'm absolutely thrilled that it's recorded.

[7:52] The Thrilling Process of Communication

[7:52] And I'm always aiming to climb beyond what I perceive of as the summit of language, of what can be contained and communicated in a non-technical way. I'm not going to hide behind polysyllabic nonsense, right? How can wisdom be boiled down in a way that moves like a gut punch from soul to soul and wakes it up, including mine? It's a wild process. It's a beautiful process. It's a thrilling and challenging and exciting process. I am responsible for maybe 10 or 15% of it. Just that little phrasing, maybe a little bit of a pause, but I am riding a wave. And the surfer of course adjusts to the wave and there's skill in it but he sure ain't the wave and he sure ain't the board he's just trying to have a fun ride getting from shore to shore all right so be careful of nostalgia nostalgia is a sign that you're not happy enough or appreciative enough in the present.

[9:01] Understanding and Handling Guilt

[9:02] So another question I had is, Steph, how do I handle guilt? I feel guilty. How do I handle guilt?

[9:12] So, all guilt arises from the absence of apology. When you look, you feel guilty in yourself, you see guilt in another. All guilt arises from the absence of apology. And this is a two-sided coin. So, if you've done something wrong to someone, if you've done something wrong to someone, you apologize, right? And that's the cure for the guilt. The guilt is there to say you've done something wrong and you need to apologize. When you apologize, you will feel better, right? So the wrongness is the wound and the apology is the dressing. It's the stitching. It's the healing. And, you know, you keep apologizing and you keep reminding the person that you are thinking about it so that they know it's not going into the void, right?

[10:02] The Importance of Apology

[10:03] So slapping a bandage on something that needs stitching is not good, right? Because it needs stitching. It's going to heal ragged. It's going to heal incorrectly. It's going to heal in an uncomfortable and painful way. It may need to be recut and restitched, right? So a lot of times apologies are an inelegant way of just telling someone to shut the hell up, right? Hey man, I apologize. What more do you want from me, right? It's a way of slapping a band-aid on something that needs stitches. It's a way of putting makeup on a skin condition that needs It's another form of aggression.

[11:06] Mind. In his or her mind. So be alert, be aware as far as that goes, right? So an apology is not a statement. An apology is a process that is at least half as long as the wrong. So let's say you lied to someone about something important for a month. You need at least two weeks of constant, I'm thinking about it. I still feel bad. Here's what I'm doing, right? So that it's not one and done, you know, I did an apology and that's it. I don't need to think about it again because I already apologized. And if you bring it up, you have the problem and you're not accepting apologies and you're intransigent and you're trying to bully me. And right then you just know there's no change. There's no change. Nothing's going to change. Nothing's going to get better. It's all lies and nonsense, manipulation and bullying. No improvement, no change, no bettering.

[12:00] So guilt is when you've You've done something that harms someone. You've done something that's wrong. And it could be you've harmed yourself, right? You've betrayed your own values. You've not risen to the occasion. You've avoided something necessary. You've done something you know is bad or wrong. So then you need to apologize to yourself and figure out how to do better. Without rage, hostility, contempt, right? Aggression solves nothing but aggression, right? If someone aggresses against you, then you can be aggressive back. But wounds are not solved by aggression. Aggression is for escalation in self-defense. But if you've harmed yourself, getting angry at yourself is putting yourself in a situation of aggressive self-defense, which is further splitting your personality and alienating core parts of your identity. I am the enemy. Slashes in two, sets against each other. Slashes in four, eight, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1048. So, yeah, it's not good. Spot the guy raised on computers.

[13:12] Now, so I said it's a two-sided coin. So all guilt is a marker for a necessary apology and restitution that's absent. You do something wrong to someone else and then you avoid restitution, which is...

[13:31] Really doesn't just harm, it pretty much wrecks the relationship. If you've done something significantly wrong and you avoid apologies and restitution, then you're saying, I prefer status and dominance over the other person. And one of the reasons you don't apologize to people is because you are certain or you've convinced yourself, maybe you're right, I don't know, but one of the reasons you don't apologize to people is that you are certain that the people you apologize to will abuse the vulnerability of your apology right so if you apologize to someone and then they always bring it up later oh you're right you're certain now just like that time you were certain before it turned out you had to grovel before me and apologize and and you were so wrong oh you're so certain now or you know whatever it is right or the restitution they They demand from your apology will be, you know, grinding you down for eternity.

[14:31] Or because to apologize is to put yourself in a situation of, in a state of vulnerability, in a state of lower status, right? And, you know, historically, of course, the slave has to grovel before the master. The master never has to grovel before or apologize to the slave, right? So if you feel sorry for something, but you feel a reluctance or fear to apologize because you believe that someone will abuse your apology and use it to dominate and bully you, then there's not a real relationship. There's a power play. There's a power structure. It's win-lose. Win-lose is never a relationship. Win-lose is never a relationship. Win-lose is slavery. slavery, right? You go and work for some place, they pay you $20 an hour, you're winning $20 an hour, they're winning by making more than the $20 they're paying you. Win-win. Beautiful, right?

[15:29] But if it's win-lose, it's not a relationship. It's an exploitation. It's a power play. It's a dominance and submission. It is to relationships as slavery is to capitalism, to the free market. It's win-lose. It's mutual, historical, entrapped status reinforcement, right? So if you're around someone who's higher status than you and they keep you around to feel higher status, then if you apologize to them, they will take that as a mark of their higher status, of their dominance, of their superiority, and will use your apology to grind you down, and thus you avoid apologies, because apologies don't bring gratitude and recognition and intimacy and closeness and trust. They bring bullying and dominance and subjugation and humiliation and so on, right? Now, sorry, finally getting to the second side of the coin. The second side of the coin, when I say that guilt is a manifestation of the absence of an apology, that also means that the apology is owed to you by someone else.

[16:34] So if, you know, let's take sort of the classic scenario of the manipulating or devouring mother. So the classic scenario of the manipulating or devouring mother is the mother who inflicts guilt on her son for various things and says the son owes her because she gave up everything and she sacrificed everything and she just thinks of him morning, noon, and night. And so he owes her, and if he doesn't pay her back with time, attention, money, resources, massaging her feet when she gets old, and if he doesn't basically bow down his life before the altar of her bottomless needs, then he's a bad person and he's selfish, and so she inflicts guilt on him in order to manipulate and control him. So she infects him with a sickness, a spiritual sickness called guilt, and she says that you are cured of the spiritual sickness called guilt only insofar as you serve me.

[17:46] It becomes like, you know, diabetes, right? Like diabetes, when it's advanced, you've got to take your insulin, and if you don't take your insulin, you get sick and die. You lose feet or eyes or whatever happens, right? Some Ella Fitzgerald thing.

[17:59] So you get inflicted with a curse, a sin, a spiritual sickness, a self-hatred called guilt. And then other people say, hey, man, I'm going to give you this painkiller called obedience. And with this painkiller called obedience, I'm not going to activate the spiritual sickness called guilt. The little button there, remote control, a detonator, so to speak, right? I'm not going to activate this remote control called guilt. Just keep obeying me. And in some of the more corrupt superstitious practices of the past, of course, you would be infected with a spiritual sickness called sin and you would have to keep paying for and obeying the witch doctor in order to be absolved of this perpetual, incurable but only manageable through giving money, time, resources and obedience to the witch doctor. And only then can you be temporarily or momentarily cured of the spiritual sickness called sin. So to inflict and infect you with a curse and then be daily paid for the neutering of that curse is foundational to exploitation through guilt.

[19:26] Now, if people have exploited you through guilt, you're a bad person unless you obey me. You're a selfish monster. You're ungrateful. You only think of your own pleasure and your own needs. It's all projection, of course. But if you are infected with guilt in order to be controlled, manipulated, bullied, and exploited, then the person who infected you with guilt owes you an apology, and the guilt is still a marker of the absence of apology. It is just the absence of the apology on the part of the person who's infected you with guilt. Of course, it's one of the oldest tricks of power to inflict upon you a negative and then cure it on a perpetually subjugated basis. By perpetually subjugating you and controlling you and taking your resources. So people who don't have anything positive to offer will inflict negatives upon you until you comply. People who have positive things to offer will exchange in a voluntary way, value for value. So, a car dealership has a car to offer, and you have $20,000 to offer, and so you exchange value in a voluntary fashion. However, a thief who has neither a car nor $20,000 will simply steal the car.

[20:46] He doesn't have anything to offer in exchange for the car. So release from a negative, this is what kidnappers do, right? They'll take your pet or a loved one and they will hold that until you pay them. They don't have anything of value to offer other than the cessation of a negative, which is your agony at having your pet or loved one kidnapped.

[21:07] Blackmailers do the same thing. They try to take your reputation hostage and have you pay them in perpetuity. You know, like those emails like, bad news for you, I've gotten control of your devices and I've seen what you've been doing. Like, whoop-dee-doo, you've seen me check Bitcoin five times a day. So that is pretty foundational to understanding what guilt is. So if you've done something wrong, you owe someone an apology. If someone else has inflicted guilt on you in order to control you, they owe you an apology. Now, in the first instance, you have control over the cessation of guilt.

[21:44] Control Over Guilt

[21:45] Like, if you've done something wrong, you have control over the cessation of guilt.

[21:51] Because you can apologize. You have control over the cessation of guilt because you can apologize. Now, in the second instance, let's say you have a mother who inflicts guilt upon you in order to to bully, control, manipulate, and exploit you, you have control over the guilt. You have control over the guilt, which is in the first instance where you've done something wrong, you demand an apology from yourself. In the second instance, when someone else has wronged you, you demand an apology from them.

[22:28] Now, of course, you're in control of whether you get an apology from yourself but you are not in control of whether someone else apologizes to you. So if you've done something thoughtless and inconsiderate and hurtful to a much beloved mother, then you apologize to her. If a not-so-beloved mother has guilted and bullied you for years with guilt and accusations and verbal abuse, then she owes you an apology. In the first instance, you control whether you can apologize to your mother. In the second instance, you can't control whether your bad mother apologizes to you. And where restitution has become impossible, apologies will either be absent or hollow. All right, this is really, I don't understand this. So let's say that your mother has been mean to you for 25 years. 25 years. Oh, is there restitution for that? Nope.

[23:28] No restitution for that. Even if she accepts and acknowledges all the wrongs, you need seven times the good to overcome the bad, right? You need seven times the good to overcome the bad. So 175, is that seven times 25? Eight times 25 would be 200. So yeah, you need 175 years of perfect behavior just to match the first 25 years of bad behavior, not even including the fact that first First impressions tend to count a whole lot more. The first 25 years counts a whole lot more in the relationship than the time between 150 and 175 years. So it's never functionally possible to restore. This is why when you do something wrong, you try to sort it out as quickly as humanly possible. You try to sort it out as quickly as humanly possible because otherwise you're accruing a significant debt, to put it mildly. So if you have been wronged if you have been wronged by again we'll just go with the traditional mother thing she says you're selfish and ungrateful if you don't do what she wants.

[24:34] Well it's universal which is why adulthood is important in these matters it's universal right so if you're selfish and mean for not doing what your mother wants and you want her to apologize then she's selfish and mean for not doing what you want because it's universal right right? The principle is, it is selfish and mean to not do what other people want. Okay. So that's circular, right? And given that she chose to have you, but you didn't choose her as a mother. And if you can think of times when as a child, and I'm sure you can, if your mother was mean, where she did not do what you want, she didn't even inquire what you want, right? So if the mother says, you're selfish and mean for not doing what I want, then you would say, or you could say, what is it that I want in this relationship? What is it that I want in life? What is it that I like? What are my preferences? And of course, a really selfish person just won't know. A really sort of narcissistic person that just won't know these things. So it's like, okay, so I'm bad for not doing what you want, but you don't even know what I want.

[25:34] Isn't that even more selfish to not even inquire for what I want? Well, it's your job to tell me. And it's like, well, is it? So you You have no idea what I want, even though you carried me in your womb, gave birth to me, raised me for 20 years. You have no idea what I want. None. Not even a bit. Well, that just indicates that you don't know me at all. Right? So when people fail to meet your needs, and they're mean people, they will always tell you that it's your problem, your issue, your fault for not telling them explicitly what you need.

[26:08] Which is far from ideal. But of course, people inflict negatives on you by definition because they can't motivate you with a positive.

[26:20] If my mother would have asked me to do things, I would feel sort of resentful and negative because of the prior history and current circumstances of abuse. Whereas, you know, I mean, other people in my life ask me to do things that I care about. I'm like, yep, absolutely. Totally. Happy to help. Happy to help. Because there's love and respect and mutuality and all kinds of good stuff going on. So guilt is really, really important. You look in your heart and you say, did I do wrong?

[26:49] Asymmetrical Relationships

[26:50] So it really comes down to, and this sounds very analytical and abstract, it's really very powerful when you get it, it comes down to, are you willing and happy to accept in your life asymmetrical relationships?

[27:04] Asymmetrical relationships are where the principles that dominate the relationship are opposites. So you have to do what your mom wants if she's dysfunctional and bullying. You have to do what your mom wants or you're mean and selfish. But your mom doesn't have to do what you want.

[27:25] And coincidentally, if you try to get your mom to do what you want, you are also mean and selfish, right? So it's an asymmetrical relationship. It breaks your brain because you have to ignore that basic hypocrisy. Because if you don't do what I want, you're mean and selfish. Selfish if you try to make me do what you want you're mean and selfish and dominant and controlling right so that's terrible that's terrible it's more than asymmetry just as that means sort of things are out of whack but this is like opposite you have to ignore the opposite that it's one rule for you obey or be abused but it's another rule for your mother which is you're abusive if you You try to make her obey. She has legitimate needs that you're mean and selfish for denying her. All your needs are illegitimate, and you're selfish and mean for trying to impose them upon her. If you don't do what she wants, you're dysfunctional. But you're also dysfunctional for trying to get her to do what you want.

[28:35] She doesn't get her needs met in the relationship, it's your fault for being selfish and withholding. If you don't get your needs met in the relationship, it's because your needs are greedy and irrational and abusive.

[28:51] So if she doesn't get her needs met, it's your fault. If you don't get your needs met, oh look, it's also your fault, right? So this is just terrible stuff. Terrible stuff.

[29:04] The Absence of Apology

[29:05] So yeah, with regards to guilt, look for the absence of the apology. If you've wronged others, it's because you haven't apologized. If others have wronged you, it's because they haven't apologized. And in order to cover up their lack of apology, they inflict guilt upon you. To keep you doubting yourself, guilt is doubt, right? Guilt is doubt. If you've done the right thing, you don't doubt. Guilt is doubt. And there's nothing wrong with doubt. If you confidently do the wrong thing, then guilt is your way of saying, your brain's way of saying, not so quick there, bucko, not so certain. Don't be so certain. And we think you did the wrong thing. We think you did something wrong. So guilt is a way of putting on the brakes and re-evaluating the situation and touching the GPS and re-centering. Because you might have done something wrong. Guilt is doubt. It's good. Doubt is fine. And you should also doubt whether the guilt is legitimate.

[29:53] Doubting the Legitimacy of Guilt

[29:53] Because the guilt, because it's such a powerful control mechanism, particularly for Christians, for reasons that are fairly clear, you have to be doubtful whether or not the guilt is just.

[30:09] That you find that out is you do that ninja reversal. If the principle of your relationship with a dysfunctional mother is you have to do what she wants or you're a bad person, then that's a universal principle. Can it be reversed? If she doesn't do what you want, is she a selfish person? But if she wriggles out of that, then it's not a principle. It's a control mechanism. She's got no principle. And the only way that guilt works is if you think it's a principle. Once you see it, if it's manipulative, once you see it as a manipulative control tool, your soul will be disgusted, be revolted that your virtues and your moral sensitivity have been used to bully, control, and exploit you, that somebody is so corrupt that they've taken your virtues and turned them into vices that serve them, that they've exploited your caring for that person in order to bully, control, manipulate, and exploit you, your soul will revolt.

[31:06] Your soul will revolt because it is revolting. So take your virtues and use them to bully and exploit you, to strip mine your caring for another person, to get you to serve their bottomless, endless, victim-full narcissistic needs. It's repulsive. It is revolting. It's like the people who pretend to be injured by the side of the road and then rob, beat, rape, and assault people. People they're taking the kindness and exploiting it they recognize that you have virtue and they target the virtuous whereas the careless are safe from them right if you don't care about people by the side of the road if you're that kind of selfish you're fine you're safe right so it is.

[31:53] Repulsive when you see it and then you're owed an apology and that apology will never come because once you've repeatedly exploited someone for their virtues with no intention of reciprocity, your soul is beyond saving. I'm talking years and in particular talking parents because there's no restitution possible when you have exploited virtues and turned them to self-serving vices.

[32:20] Exploitation of Virtues

[32:21] slash donate to help out the show. I usually would appreciate it and it is kind of a necessary thing. So if you could help out I know times are tough so man listen if you don't have money if you're broke if you're between jobs enjoy the content don't worry or fret about it a single bit but if you could help out I would hugely appreciate it, slash donate or you can sign up for a subscription at or slash freedomain talk to you soon bye.

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