Who is Tyler Durden?
All the ways you wish you could be, that’s me. I look like you wanna look, I fuck like you wanna fuck, I am smart, capable, and most importantly, I am free in all the ways that you are not.
– Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden, if you’ve never seen Fight Club, is the alter-ego, the fictional creation, of Edward Norton’s loser protagonist. Sleepwalking through a life he doesn’t want, with a job he doesn’t like, and an apartment full of stuff he doesn’t need, Norton’s unnamed protagonist creates Tyler Durden to change his life. You can too. Minus the schizophrenia.
Step One: Create Your Own Tyler Durden
Who do you want to be? What traits does that person have? Is he more outgoing? In better shape? Funnier? Quieter? A better listener? A guitar player? Someone who isn’t afraid of water? There are no limits here. Your Tyler Durden can be anyone you want, whether that’s a raging psychopath who starts a worldwide organization based on spreading mayhem or just a confident guy who isn’t afraid to talk to a girl at a bar.
Step Two: Think Like Tyler Durden
Change takes planning. Lists can be very helpful here. List out things you could do to acquire the traits your Tyler Durden has. If you want to conquer your fear of water, something like “1) take swimming lessons; 2) train to swim across lake/ocean/canal/river; 3) complete swim; 4) reward self with surf trip to California.” If you want to be more outgoing or get good at talking to girls, your list would probably be more extensive. Maybe something like “Week One: 1) talk to ten random strangers at mall; 2) lie down on in the middle of a shopping mall for 5 minutes; 3) attend 1 improv class; 4) sing one song at karaoke bar; 5) buy one drink for a girl at a bar. Week 2: . . . ”
Step Three: What Would Tyler Durden Do?
The best laid plans of mice and men go awry. If you freeze up at the bar when you’re about to approach that girl, ask yourself, “What would Tyler Durden do?” Imagine the guy who has all the traits, confidence in this case, that you want. Act like him. She rejects you? What would your Tyler Durden do? Probably not stammer and get red faced and walk away. Maybe he’d smile, say enjoy your evening, and move on.
No matter what your goal, acting like someone else can be extremely helpful. When you insulate your ego a bit, any rejection or obstacles you face are a little easier to handle. Schizophrenic or not, this ego shrinking can help you accomplish your goals.
It’s also easier to run behind someone else than it is to set the pace yourself. Setting some objective standard for yourself can help pull you towards your goal, even if that standard exists only in your head.
HT to Kevin Engle, who used this technique to overcome his social anxiety.