It’s Movember! Here’s some stuff I’ve learnt mixed with words of wisdom from our moustached brethren.
I’m a man and I’ve written this for men. But everyone is welcome and I hope you find something of use to you or someone you know.
Everything that follows is my point of view. The reason I’m not writing this from your point of view is that I don’t know you.
Even if I do know you, I don’t really know you. If you’re a man, it’s because we don’t talk about personal stuff very often. And if you’re a woman, it’s because I’m a man, and we don’t talk about personal stuff very often.
A picture of a sunrise with a whimsically deep meme helped no man. So how about this?
Not talking about personal stuff very often is not a bad thing. We’re wired that way, by nature or nurture or both.
That’s the way it is. Don’t ever feel bad about it. And don’t feel pressured into talking about something if you don’t feel the need to.
BUT what is dangerous, and actually very sad, is when we close ourselves off completely and bury stuff down. More often than not unaware we’re doing so.
“I’m in a glass case of emotion!” — Ron Burgandy
I’m not just talking about big things like losing someone you care about or failing at something that means the world to you or having your furry companion toe punted into a river by a raging motorcyclist.
I’m talking about anything that dents your pride, makes you angry, or gets you frustrated. Even having a bad day for no apparent reason. Just because it’s not apparent, doesn’t mean there’s not a good reason.
Share a problem
We’re told it from the moment we can listen.
“A problem shared is a problem halved”
It’s the ‘boy who cried wolf’ of parental catchphrases. If it’s uttered by an adult to another it’s pretty much the textbook definition of toxic positivity.
But here’s the shocker guys, it’s true. And we’d do well to remember it.
“If I was as tough as I made out to be in movies, I wouldn’t have to worry” — Burt Reynolds
I had a shit day yesterday. Actually, I’ve had a bit of a shit week. I could have simply accepted that and continued to feel a bit shit until it passed… which could have been days until I finally put it to rest. And no doubt during that time I’d behave like a lion with a thorn in his foot. Not nice for me, or anyone else. But, I actively went against my learned behaviour and I blurted it out to a mate. I then found myself expanding on what I thought caused it. When he eventually got a word in, he said he’d felt the same. We spoke about it some more and bounced ideas around. I shared a heavy thought and it got lighter, I even smiled as I realised it wasn’t as bigger a deal as I thought it was.
The truth is every single one of us has a shit day or a shit week or a shit month.
Unfortunately, most of us tend to automate a robotic response to dealing with the shittyness of everyday life, by keeping it to ourselves.
“Everybody’s out there wrestling like a robot.” — Hulk Hogan
It’s all well and good promising that you’ll try to share the next thing that grinds your gears.
But, what if you’ve become so good at grinning and bearing it that you’re now unable to recognise when something is wrong. When something is wearing you down.
How can you share something if you don’t know it’s there?
I believe the ability to think is a blessing. If you can think about a situation, you can deal with it. The big struggle is to keep your head clear enough to think. — Richard Pryor
It boils down to being present. Being present of mind or mindful is to recognise your own thoughts and acknowledge them. And then to choose what to do with them. It sounds simple, but if you’re like me it’s really difficult.
From what I have experienced there are three states of being present…
One: Not present
Only by experiencing being present can I now see that I haven’t always been.
You’re numb. A passenger along for the ride.
But it doesn’t feel like it at the time. You feel like you’re living the way you should be and accept the way you feel. Experiences and emotions are put down as things to navigate around. It’s life. You’re in the rat-race now.
“When you chase a dream, especially one with plastic chest, you sometimes do not see what is right in front of you” — Borat
A scale of presentness ranging from Bollox, I should have been more present just then! to Did you see how present I was just then?
The point here is both extremes are being present. If you realise a week later that there was a moment you should have been more present — that is being present. You just need to get better at it.
Think of it as a muscle, it gets stronger the more you use it. And the beautiful thing is, now you’ve done it you won’t be able to stop doing it.
Since realising what being present meant and felt like, the time between something happening and having a mindful response to it has been shrinking.
Sometimes it’s instant.
Don’t sit around and wait for all the great things in your life. — Boyz II Men
100% mindful all the time. 100% in control of your thoughts, emotions, and responses. 100% captain of your own ship.
Okay, if you’re in this state you’re pretty much Yoda. You can stop reading now. Know what I write next you do.
You have to make choices
I’m afraid I have some news for you. As you start to become more present you’ll also become more aware of the thoughts and responses you have to different situations.
You’ll have a choice to make at this moment.
Take the blue pill and forget what you’ve learned. Jump back into your minute-to-hour-to-day-to-month-to-year-to-decade-to-lifetime rat race. Enjoy it for what it is. Yeh sure you’ll get pissed off now and then, maybe even get really sad about stuff from time to time, but fuck it, on the whole, you’re doing fine. Life’s actually pretty ok…
Take the red pill and see that this is going to take an investment of your time, energy, and patience. There will be days you’d wished you hadn’t opened your eyes to what you know now but sooner than you could imagine you’ll start to see the bigger picture.
You’ll still get pissed off, you’ll still get upset, maybe more so than before, but you’ll have seen through the looking glass. Everything will have meaning, it will have its place. And if it doesn’t you’ll be in a position to try to figure it out.
“I want you to promise me you’re not gonna stop this fight, no matter what. No matter what!” — Apollo Creed
You’ll start to see that whether your life is generally ok, bloody marvelous, or fucking fantastic is down to the choices you make. And how aware you are when you make them.
Things to try
Ask yourself why
If you feel something, anything, get in the habit of trying to understand why. Why did that person piss you off so much? Why do you have a headache painkillers aren’t touching? Why do you feel like you’ve forgotten to do something? Why did you well-up while watching Back to the Future with your kids?
Talk about it
If you’re getting into it, really trying to figure something out, and it doesn’t make any sense, there is no better thought-engine than chatting it through with a mate. They’ll throw new light on it, they may even hold the answer. You’ll feel better.
Make a choice
You have a choice. You can feel shit about something or decide it’s not that important in the big scheme of things. You can talk to someone about it or let it simmer in the back of your head. You can have a good day or a bad one. You can smile or not. You can focus on the bad stuff or focus on the good. No one can make these choices for you.
Make the choice to step back… take a beat… and gain a moment of perspective before you act or go off on one.
You make youre own choices.
Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot. — Charlie Chaplin
Things to do
Learn how to be present with Calm
Walk as often as you can for as long as you can. With no purpose. Just walk.
Listen to The Chimp Paradox
Defend your own head space, if you’re not in a good place to help someone else, don’t.
“Call me Delta Airlines, because I can’t handle all your extra baggage.” — Ned Flanders
“With great moustache comes great responsibility.” — Peter Griffin
“Never throw a punch at a redwood.” — Tom Selleck
Our fathers, partners, brothers, and friends are facing a health crisis, yet it’s rarely talked about. Men are dying too young. We can’t afford to stay silent.
BIG thinking leads to BIG ideas. So how do you convince people to take this exhilarating leap into the unknown with you?
Internal communication is hiding a trap in plain sight. A sting in its tail for unsuspecting communicators.
The definition of brave is to show no fear of dangerous or difficult things. We need to evolve what being brave means when it comes to mental health