Notes to Self

Thoughts on psychology, spirituality and soft skill development for personal improvement


Dating Advice

How to get a women's phone number and email ID within 3 minutes of meeting her - by David DeAngelo (author of "Double Your Dating")

Let me start off by telling you something interesting: I've personally stopped focusing on just getting phone numbers. I've found that EMAIL addresses are far better (I still get the phone number too, of course). Let me explain - getting phone numbers alone doesn't equal success.

You see, women have many different reasons for giving out their phone numbers. Some love the attention of having a lot of men call them. Some like to turn guys down. Some are actually interested. But the universal feedback that I get from men, and in my personal experience, women act different on the phone than they do in person.

Getting an EMAIL address is not only easier, but it gets more positive responses later on. It's almost as if women appreciate it that you've taken the time to think about what you're going to say when you write an email to them, and they think of you more like someone they know. The other benefit of email is that it can be written and answered anytime.

If you call, you have to actually reach them. But an email can be answered anytime. And I've found that emails are answered FAR more often than voice mail messages.

Here's the How To:

After I've talked to a woman for about 3 or 4 minutes, I'll often say something like "Well, it was nice meeting you. I'm going to get back to my friends." They usually don't know what to do, as they're used to guys clinging to them. Most of the time, they say "It was nice meeting you too..." Then, just as I'm turning to walk away, and we kind of disconnect, I turn back and say "HEY! Do you have email?"

The "HEY!" is a bit surprising, and "Do you have email" is non-threatening. In fact, I'm technically asking her if she HAS email, not if she'll GIVE IT TO ME.

If she says "yes," I take out a pen and paper and say "Great, write it down for me" and I have her write it down. (This is great, as I just treat the 'yes' that they give me as a yes to get it from them as well. And they've almost ALL gone along with it so far) Then AS SHE'S IN THE MIDDLE OF WRITING, I say "Write your number down there too."

When you ask for email, it's very low risk for a woman, so she'll think "Fine, I'll do that." Most women will give out an email address without thinking about it, because they know that they can choose later to just not answer.

The magic of asking them to write their phone number down WHILE they're in the middle of writing down their email is all about the psychology of human behavior. She's already mentally said "OK, I'll give you my email address"... and she's in the middle of writing it down. When you say "And just write your number down there too" it's only NATURAL to just write it.

In other words, it's a MUCH smaller step than giving out the phone number all by itself. Here's a great add-on to make sure you're getting a real phone number and not a pager or voice mail:

As she's writing down her phone number I say "Is this a number that you actually answer?" If she looks at me and hesitates, or says that it's her "voice mail or pager number," then I say "Look, write your real number down. It's going to be OK, I'll only call you nine times a day..." They laugh and usually give me their real number.

Now, if she answers my first question and says "No, I don't have email" then I bust on them and say "Well, do you have electricity?" This is a GREAT opportunity to use humor.

Then I say "Well, OK then. I like email better, but I'll take your regular phone number. It's so damn hard to reach people on the phone these days."

Just realize that all you have to do is ask.

Now that you know the sequence, write it down with the words and the steps, and rehearse it in your mind over and over until you know exactly what to say for each step and each response.

Many guys have asked me "But what do I tell her as a reason why I want her number or email?" I've never had a woman ask me. If you ask, and they give it, then she knows why you asked. If she doesn't give it to you, then she also knew why you asked.

Just assume that this is the case.

If you ask every time, and you do it in a smooth, assuming, calm way, you'll get a lot of emails and phone numbers. (Note: Carry a pen on you at all times.)

© 2004 David DeAngelo Communications Inc., All Rights Reserved. "David DeAngelo" and "Double Your Dating" are trademarks used by David DeAngelo Communications Inc.

Why Do you Say Yes?

There are some specific conditions or situations in which we tend to comply with direct requests.

  • Foot in the door - Once we have granted one request, we are more likely to comply with another request. So a salesperson will make a small request first: "May I ask you a few questions?" and "May we sit down?". Finally, “May I order you one?”. This is called the "foot in the door" technique. (Note that the initial requests should be phrased to get a "yes" response.)

  • Door in the face - First, someone makes a very large request of you and you say “no” (that's the door in the face). They graciously accept your refusal and then a few days or weeks later the same person approaches you with a much more modest request. You are more likely to comply this time than if you had never been approached.

  • Low Ball - First, get a person to agree to some unusually good deal. Then change the conditions and the person might still agree to the new conditions! For example, a car salesperson might offer you a fantastic deal or a teacher might request some help. Once you agree, then the sales person 'discovers' a mistake and raises the price or the teacher tells you it’s a dirty job at 7:00 AM, but you still go through with the agreement.

And of course, do not forget the age old technique of throwing a tantrum, promises, arguments and threats! ;)

Some people may find these techniques 'manipulative'. A simple yardstick to check whether you are being manipulative is to ask yourself - "will this truly be useful to the other person?" If the answer is yes, your conscience can rest at peace. Of course, the other person still could feel he / she is being manipulated ... that's life!


Confident: (noun) Freedom from doubt; belief in yourself and your abilities.

The dictionary has only got it half right. Confidence (or self confidence) is about belief in yourself and your abilities, but not the absence of doubt.

How does "doubts" contribute to the confidence level of a person? It creates anxiety - which sets of a physiological reaction in the body. But like everything else in life, an appropriate level of balance is required. The graph below shows how performance increases (up to a point) when anxiety decreases and vice-versa.

Anxiety Performance Curve

The most important thing depicted (and to be remembered) is how performance reaches a certain point, and stays there until there is a change in your current "comfort level". If you want to increase your performance you will have to experience some physical and / or emotional discomfort - often in the form of anxiety due to self-doubts and uncertainties - will I be able to get better grades? What if I fail? What if they make fun of me once they know that I am trying to lose weight? ... and so on.

The states of confidence could thus be described as:

  1. Overconfident: In the absence of anxiety a person could become reckless due to overconfidence. This state can be identified by the cognitive thought process of everything appearing rosy. An overconfident person doesn't see the need to consider all possible outcome and is sure the outcome will be what he / she has perceived.

  2. Unconfident: An unconfident person on the other hand gets paralyzed due to anxiety. The person tends to have lots of self-doubts, becomes very critical about himself / herself and have low opinion of self (low self esteem). This causes a vicious cycle where the anxiety cripples the person into inaction, and he / she continues to berate herself thus creating more anxiety.

  3. Confident: When the anxiety is at an optimum level, you are at your best. You know that negative outcomes are possible, but rather than exaggerating or minimizing it, you give it the due attention necessary (what can I do if this happens ...).

So perhaps a better definition of confidence is the state of balanced perceptions and preparation.

Related » Learn the difference between self-esteem and self-confidence

Improve Memory

Everyone forgets. The good news is that we can learn to reduce these bouts of forgetfulness and improve our memory. But before we get to the tips, it helps to understand how the brain works.

How does the brain store information?

The mind is set up to store and retrieve information - anything from brief tidbits of sensory information to the retention of language and personal experiences. One of the most amazing discoveries about the brain is that learning actually changes the physical structure of the brain. When it comes to storing information the brain uses:

  • Short-term memory: This memory stores a limited amount of information for a few seconds or minutes. For example, you use short term memory to store the date of an appointment you just made till you immediately write it down in a diary or calendar. Learning or memorizing doesn't occur here.

  • Working memory: Working memory is a form of short-term memory. The brain uses the working memory to process information. For example, the working memory is used when you are trying to make a decision. Parts of information received from the five senses (hearing, sight, taste, touch and smell) or some information recalled from memory are also analysed here.

  • Long term memory: Considered to be of unlimited capacity, information stored here lasts for a very long time (some believe permanently). So if we want to remember something, this is where the information needs to be.

The brain secures information by implementing a series of molecular interactions but let's not get into the technicalities.

Why do we forget?

There are a number of theories on this:

  • Decay: The less we recall stored information, the more likely we are to forget it with time.
  • Interference: An example of interference (where an old memory 'interferes' with an existing one) can be trying to remember the new phone number of a friend, but recalling the old one instead.
  • Emotional Repression: Some memories might have unpleasant emotions associated with them, and we intentionally try to 'forget' (repress) them.
  • Old Age, Brain Damage: Self explanatory.

Tips to Improve Memory

  1. Remember less: New research reveals that people who forget less don't necessarily have a greater storage capacity. It suggests that the reason for their better memory might be the way they filter information - "a neural mechanism that controls what information gets into awareness". By consciously reducing the information clutter around us, and by being more aware, we could possibly increase our memory power.

  2. Review before sleep: Since most memory consolidation happens during sleep, anything you read right before bed is more likely to be encoded as long-term memory, says Candi Heimgartner, an instructor of biological sciences at the University of Idaho.

  3. Get a Good Sleep: Sleep loss affects our ability to concentrate and consequently makes us more forgetful due to our reduced awareness. Consolidation of memory also takes place when you are sleeping and an inadequate amount of sleep can affect this too.

  4. Be emotional: The more strongly you feel about something, the more you're likely to remember it.

  5. Explore: New research suggests that being exposed to new experiences can boost memory. Scientists from University College London (UCL) believe humans could be attracted to new information and have discovered that a region of the brain associated with a chemical important for the long-term memory is activated by novelty.

  6. Exercise your Neurons (related to tip 5): The brain is made of more than 100 billion neurons and a trillion synapses (which help cells keep in touch with each other). In general, brain neurons live up to 100 years or longer but if neurons are disconnected, they become sick and may die. So activate your neurons - solve a puzzle, learn something new, use your left hand instead of your right, do something different and force your unused neurons to communicate with each other.

  7. Eat Eggs: Choline is a B-complex vitamin that is found in foods like eggs and liver. Choline is a precursor to the brain neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is linked to memory, and thus a lack of choline can cause impairment of memory and concentration (low levels of acetylcholine have been linked to Alzheimer's disease and poor memory).

  8. Socialize: Research by the U-M Institute for Social Research suggests that even 10 minutes of socializing boosts a persons memory and intelligence.

  9. Limit alcohol intake: While small quantity of alcohol is healthy for your heart, in excess, alcohol is toxic to neurons (the brain cells).

  10. Eat Healthy and Exercise: Hypertension not only affects your heart but your brains too. They damage blood vessels thus limiting the supply of nutrients the brains needs to function efficiently. Exercising improves brain health and memory too, by helping it sprout new neurons and form denser interconnections among them.

  11. Watch less TV: People who watch greater amount of TV have poorer physical and cognitive health.

Tips to Remember Better

  1. 'Boring' things like appointments, addresses or passwords won't be stored properly in long term memory unless we attach some personal meaning or an emotional connection to it. For example, your password could be the first letters of a quote you love or you could remember a birthday by associating some fact with it - (for example) "his birthday is exactly one month after my first kiss with John".

  2. If you walk into a room and forget why you are there in the first place, retracing your steps mentally and / or physically can help. Visualizing what you need or want can also help you to not forget it later. For example, if you are stepping out but need to dry your laundry later, visualize yourself wearing those clothes, dripping wet in the rain. The more vivid the visualization the better you'll remember it.

  3. Lack of attention is often the reason why we can't recall where the keys or wallet are. Just paying more attention and being conscious of our actions ("I am throwing the keys on the desk") will help us remember it more easily. This also applies to other things we tend to do automatically without much thought - if you tend to forget whether you have switched of the iron or turned off the stove just be more mindful when you perform the action.

Related » Tips to Remember Names

Improving your Spelling

Correct spelling, indeed, is one of the arts that are far more esteemed by school ma'ams than by practical men, neck-deep in the heat and agony of the world. - Henry Louis Mencken

This is for computer geeks and others who use a word processor to draft any and every document.

Here's a simple way to improve spelling quickly and effectively:

  1. Visualize: Don't try to remember a word by the sound of it. Look at a word with an intent to remember.

  2. Don't Auto-Correct: Whether you are using MS Word, Gmail or Google Toolbar's spell-check, don't just select the correct spelling from a list of words. Whenever a spelling mistake is pointed out by your software, find out the right spelling from the list of words offered, memorise it and than delete the whole word and re-type the word again every time. Remember, don't just delete and / or correct just the alphabets. Delete the whole word and re-type. In MS Word, be especially sure to turn off auto-correction where common spelling errors are automatically corrected without any intervention from you.

Remembering Names

"In real life, unlike in Shakespeare, the sweetness of the rose depends upon the name it bears." - Hubert H. Humphrey

Can't remember names? Bet you get self-conscious during social interactions too ... but that's another story.

The key to remembering names is to:

  1. Believe that remembering names is really important: Unless you strongly believe it is important to remember names, all the ideas below won't work. As Dale Carnegie put it, don't make it a matter of courtesy but a way of showing respect and attention to the other person.

  2. Pay attention: People who forget names often don't pay attention while listening. Sometimes, this is because you might have decided the other person isn't 'important' enough. Or it may be that social interactions make you uncomfortable, and your mind wanders to your looks and mannerisms. When someone is introducing himself / herself pay attention. If the name is hard to pronounce don't be shy / embarrassed to ask them to repeat it, and, if necessary to spell it out to you.

  3. Repeat: Repeat the name as often as you can during the conversation. The more you can repeat the other person's name in the first few minutes, the more you'll tend to remember it. Note that the effectiveness of this will reduce if you don't concentrate while repeating the name each time.

  4. Associate: Ask the person what his / her name means. "Sahana. That's an interesting name. What does it mean?" Even if the meaning isn't interesting enough for you, this can still help as you get to repeat the person's name.

  5. Imagine writing the name: Mentally visualize yourself holding a pen and writing down the name. Move your fingers, as you would while writing, as you visualize.

  6. Actually write it down: If you get a chance, write down their name immediately. One way to do this is to ask for their email ID or phone number at the end of the meeting. Another method is to keep a journal, at the end of the day, where you write down how / when / where you met the person and what you remember about him / her.

  7. Talk about them: This is important - after meeting someone new, talk about them later with your friends and family. Tossing around the name in a conversation, discussing the person, will make the association between the name and the person stronger. And you might learn something more about them.

  8. People are forgiving: And finally, if all else fails, try to focus on something said / done by the person. The next time you meet him / her you can always say something like - "Hey, Hi. How have you been? Sorry, I seem to have forgotten your name, but I do remember the awesome tips you gave me the last time!"...

Related » Learn some Tips to Improve your Memory

Unhealthy Relationships

"Just because someone loves you doesn't mean that they are also good for you." - Unknown

As teenagers, many of us feel that 'unconditional love' is the answer to all our problems. Some never outgrow this and continue to hold on to this unhealthy fantasy that fun and companionship from a loving relationship can cure all their problems in life.

The reality - a relationship can create a secure feeling because of the strength and support that one can derive from it. And it will have its sweet moments. On the other hand, it can also act as a stressor to exacerbate one's own personal problems with respect to adjusting to the partners personality because the fact is that people change over time. And if it doesn't work it can also have a negative effect based on the friction that often develops between the two.

A person can love someone and yet not be able to get along with him / her. (Just think back to the moments when you have hated your parents or siblings). No relationship is conflict-free. The important thing is not whether you disagree, but how you disagree. If disagreements aren't communicated in an assertive manner, a relationship can become unhealthy over time. However, with patience and improved communication skills, these types of relationships can again become healthy.

Or sometimes it may be slightly more complex as not having a healthy balance in life. Our life has various aspects (work, family, friends etc.), and if we do not give equal importance to all parts, we end up expecting more from one. Thus if things aren't going well at work, one may unconsciously make more demands (like attention) from their partner to relieve the stress, and feel frustrated when he / she doesn't reciprocate with the expected intensity. The other partner might not be able to pay equal attention and reciprocate all the time because it might upset his / her balance of life. In such cases, it might help the relationship if both partners introspect more on their personal life rather then each other.

A more serious problem is stagnant psychological growth of one or both partners in the relationship. The three stages of a persons maturity - dependence, independence and inter-dependence - gives us more insight on this aspect. (Note that inter-dependence is the last stage, and not the second). Up til our teens, we are dependant and look up to our parents to raise us. Slowly we explore and become more and more capable of looking after ourselves, and strive to become independent. As we grow older, we start to realize that friends and families are important because our feelings and emotions are only enriching when shared with others; and there's only so much a single person can do.

Sometimes, unfortunately, an adult psychologically gets stuck on the first (dependence) or second (independence) stage. These adults then encounter a lot of difficulties in their relationships often becoming emotionally withdrawn and / or physically abusive as they develop personality / mood disorders.

Here are some warning signs that can alert you to whether you or your partner may get 'stuck' and develop an unhealthy relationship:

  • Seeks instant intimacy: A person who develops an immediate sense of attachment and belonging without really knowing anything about the other person and pressures the new partner for an exclusive commitment has unhealthy dependence needs.

  • Clingy: Considers intensity of need for each other as proof of love. Wants you alone for himself / herself. At the extreme, tries to isolate you from friends and families with constant demands of attention.

  • Excessively possessive: Trust issues - extreme inquisitiveness about the partners activity and whom they talked to, jealousy and controlling behaviors like keeping the money or car, demanding he / she ask permission for activities.

  • Unrealistic expectations: Expects you to be perfect in meeting his / her every needs or becomes disappointed and angry.

  • Lacks a sense of responsibility: Blames others for problems and mistakes. Makes the other person responsible for his / her feelings - instead of saying "I am angry", he / she says "You make me angry".

  • Hypersensitive: Feels insulted, hurt or angry at perceived slights or criticism when realistically there wasn't any.

  • Cruelty to animals and children: Often very impatient with normal children / animal behavior, punishes them brutally, may tease them until they cry.

  • Verbal abuse: Constantly criticizes and / or says blatantly cruel, hurtful things, demeaning and attacking your self-esteem when you fail to meet some expectation.

  • Rigid roles: Expects you to conform to his / her idea of how a wife / husband should be without a mutual consensus.

  • Threats of violence: Intimidation of threats of physical violence directed at self or the partner; often later dismissed as temper.

It helps to remember - Every relationship is different and will have its own dynamics and healthy relationships are based on equality in decision making and respect for one another.

Related Notes »

Useful Books »

Self Hatred vs Self Love

"It doesn't matter what we do until we accept ourselves. Once we accept ourselves, it doesn't matter what we do." - Charly Heavenrich

Everyone realizes that we need to change to grow. And we often start by trying to change what we dislike about ourselves. But also often, we get too obsessive about changing this thing that we don't like about ourselves in our quest towards self improvement. And because of this obsessing the dislike grows to hatred, over time, about that "damn negative habit or flaw in me".

Some people believe that this self hatred is good for them. They believe that it gives them an extra 'incentive' to change, a motivational drive so to speak. But more often then not, the stronger this hatred gets the more it impedes our personal growth.

If you believe in using self-hatred to change yourself, you probably flog yourself psychologically, every time you perceive that you have failed. That is, you believe failure should be punished first before you can continue on. What happens however is, that after you punish yourself, you lose a little motivation. You tell yourself that you will "rest and recover" from this self-flogging before continuing on to focus on the hurdle that caused your failure. But often you will procrastinate, because you start fearing failure - failure means more punishment.

Mentally, since the thoughts of punishment is fearful, you don't focus on why you failed. And then you start fooling yourself - since every time you fail, you flog yourself (believing you are doing something "constructive"), a false perception is created that you are actually doing something about changing yourself. After all, every time you fail, you are punishing yourself with increased self-loathing.

In reality, you get trapped in a vicious cycle where every time you fail (and you often will because you aren't really working on the real problem) you increase your self hatred to punish yourself. And at one point, in frustration you will just give up - thinking it's impossible to change the very 'real flaw' in you - and you just end up with the self hatred, resigned of any hope of making any change or 'improvement'.

The only way to not get trapped in this cycle of self hatred is to understand that we first need to accept ourselves. While changing the way we feel or do something for the better is important, the other equally integral goal to achieve personal growth is self-acceptance.

We need to learn to accept and love ourselves as a flawed and imperfect human. We need to accept our strengths as well as our weakness without a sense of shame or embarrassment. Success has its benefits. But it is our shortcomings that give us the opportunity to connect with others. After all, how can you genuinely care for and understand someone if you haven't gone through the same experiences and feelings of ups and downs yourself?

No human is without flaws. It is a reality of life and until one accepts that, change is difficult. A confident person, someone who is secure with himself, is one who has accepted himself for what he is now (not what he could be or desires to be).

Self-acceptance does not mean you can't change things you dislike; rather it is a process of change that realistically takes into consideration both your strengths and weakness together, and not as separate 'entities'. Without self-acceptance, someone who wants to change will obsesses on the negative, missing out on everything good and positive about themselves.

Related » Self-Esteem