Grey hiker introversion

Introversion isn’t a fatal flaw.

Grey hiker introversion
Formal occasions can be an introverted persons worst nightmare

Introversion is often misrepresented in popular culture, because it’s confused with shyness and social anxiety. We get the message that something is wrong with us and we need to fix it, it’s seen as a character fault, bordering on mental illness. This can shame introverts into pretending to be someone they’re not, that they have a problem which doesn’t really exist, a self fulfilling prophesy almost. Introverted characters in the media, are often portrayed as having abrasive personalities and a lack of social skills. These negative qualities could be true of an introvert, or an extrovert. Another important point is that introversion and extroversion are on a spectrum, a balance between either.

As introverts, we are waiting and waiting, for people to initiate a conversation, but often they don’t. The critical thing to learn is, to give ourselves permission to share, without being invited. In certain social situations men seem to be at a distinct disadvantage. We don’t do small talk very well, we tend to want to get in and under everything and resolve problems. While polite chit chat, staying awake, and listening would serve us better. But there’s also an age thing happening now, a distinct feeling that I’ve heard it all before. Above the polite chat, I can almost hear myself say. “Who fucking cares” but it’s not a party trick that will get me another invitation, which isn’t a bad thing, I just need to be a bit more selective.

Introversion can be powerful.

Don’t underestimate me because I’m quiet. I know more than I say, think more than I speak, and observe more than you know. (Michaela Chung)  When I was a lot younger those words, “Your quiet” “Is everything alright” “Are you not feeling well” meant the end of the night for me. It put me under the “spotlight,” which was the last place I wanted to be. It was something I was never going to recover from, it would have me looking for an exit door. Also the “look” didn’t help, “you think your better than everyone else, anti-social and only interested in yourself.” None of this was anyone’s fault, it may or may not have been happening, but it was how I perceived it at the time.

I don’t feel like that anymore, I’m never going to be the life and soul of the party, and that’s fine, I can live with it. I now find that I’m smiling on the inside. I’m not sure why, but maybe I’m observing more than you know now, as the above quote says.

Never assume that the person you are dealing with is weaker or less important than you are. Some people are slow to take offense, which may make you misjudge the thickness of their skin, and fail to worry about insulting them. But should you offend their honor and their pride, they will overwhelm you with a violence that seems sudden and extreme given their slowness to anger. If you want to turn people down, it is best to do so politely and respectfully, even if you feel their request is impudent or their offer ridiculous.” (Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power)

Introversion in being self contained.

I have been self contained for as long as I can remember. My parents did the best they could, with the resources and knowledge available to them. Jobs were plentiful and education wasn’t a priority. They were passing on what they hadn’t learned themselves, it all seemed perfectly normal. As I was growing up, school reports meant absolutely nothing to them. If they weren’t worried, I certainly wasn’t. It was much later that resentfulness crept in as I realized, the opportunities an education could have given me. I certainly wasn’t unique of course, I was just a symptom of the times we were living in. My father forced me into a job that I had no interest in, his philosophy was, it’s not a proper job unless you sweat, which became part of my resentment.

I loved both of them, but I got it into my head that they didn’t care, how could they, if they showed no interest in me. This Started me on the pathway I think, of my becoming more introverted, I decided, that if they were not going to show any interest in me, then I wouldn’t in them. I kept all my personal achievements to myself, I was completely self contained. This has left me with a legacy, that I now find it hard to share anything I have achieved. I’m never quite good enough, there is always something more to achieve. But I also have a feeling of strength, for within my introversion, there is real power in going about my business, quietly and carefully. Listening more than I speak and taking action, after careful consideration. I may not be remembered for the spoken word, but the few words I have written down, may be useful.

 

grey hiker introversion
There’s something refreshing in solitude for an introvert.

Knowledge is available if we reject it, is that ignorance ?

“If ignorance is bliss, there should be more happy people” (Victor Cousin)

knowledge ignorance
Knowledge can be confusing and create ignorance

Haven’t we all at some stage in our life, wanted to experience complete ignorance to what’s going on around us, and be able to live life on our own terms. A number of years ago, I was working with a man on a building site in Perth, he lived in Golden Bay, which is an outlying suburb near the beach. A fiery debate was going on in the lunch shed. We were trying to sort out the worlds problems in our half hour break. Looking for back up, I turned to this man, whom I had never spoken to before. “What do you think, this can’t be right, surely there must be another way of looking at this problem”?  “Frankly I don’t give a shit about anyone’s problems, only my own”

“It’s better than listening to you lot, going on about something that you can’t fix anyway” He had our attention now, maybe he had discovered a magic formula that we were unaware of. “Look don’t get me wrong, I know it sounds like ignorance, but it’s a conscious decision I have made. I really have no idea what you are talking about. I live on my own over the road from the ocean, I love fishing, hence the book I’m reading now. After I get home from work, I take my small boat out, usually I catch a feed of fish and I barbeque that, with herbs from my garden. I listen to some music if I feel like it, and tinker around in my shed. There always seems to be something to keep me busy, I don’t have a radio or television and I don’t read newspapers anymore”

Ignorance….”Living is easy with eyes closed” (John Lennon)

As it turned out, he had been through a bitter divorce and had lost custody of his children in the process. For him, ignorance was the answer, so knowledge outside of his world, was useless to him. He wasn’t a recluse though, as he was still operating within mainstream society every day. I had to admire him for that, but at the same time, I knew that he was in the minority, and probably, that was a good thing. Being able to say you don’t know, is better than being armed with a small amount of knowledge. Then using that knowledge in an authoritative way to create your own version of the truth, this is ignorance.

Now we have so many half truths, floating around in the chatter of the media. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to know what is truth anymore, and if there is such a thing in the first place. I think we are all aware that our knowledge base is compromised, and has to be for society to function. The academic view, which I’m inclined to agree with, is that every decision we make should be a knowledge gathering exercise. Comparing and contrasting every piece of information we find, then making a decision that hopefully, is the right one.  In the real world of course, this doesn’t work, as we would never get anything done. We would be constantly surrounded, with what if’s and possible maybe’s.

Ignorance….Between a rock and a hard place.

Knowledge can be paralyzing, the more we know, the harder it is to take decisive action. Nothing is as clear as it first appears, as we start seeing shades of grey everywhere. As individuals we may believe that knowledge is fixed, and there is only one way, to approach a problem or an opportunity. In doing this we adhere to dogmas, that are often outdated. We may take a flexible approach and believe, that different opinions are justified. Being willing to consider alternative perspectives, but still holding on to our desired position. We can also assess all views as equal. But still believe, that one position is clearly justified based on statutory, ethical or humanistic considerations.

My own use of the knowledge available, has often been selective to my own point of view. A tunnel vision mode, on a particular subject, taking only the knowledge that justifies my position. While rejecting the rest quickly or completely ignoring it, losing any remnants of common sense in the process. Wanting whatever it is, and somehow, I’m going to get it, no matter what the costs are. The jury is still out on the success or failure of that position. If I can write these things down now, I know that I have gained enough knowledge to realize, that it’s been a problem in the past.

Ignorance is many things.

“Frankly I don’t give a shit” was my work colleagues stance, when questioned. I can see now that my tunnel vision could be considered another version of that, but it’s been helpful in many ways. I did two years of night school to gain an entrance to part time university. At the beginning of the semester, the classes at night school would start with around forty five students, but by the end, only three, or less remained. I left school at fifteen years old, so I had to relearn the basic concepts again. My tunnel vision has at times though, been detrimental to myself and the people close to me.

If there is knowledge available, we shouldn’t reject it, in fact, it’s our obligation to realize our full potential. In doing this we may be able to help move the world forward, in the best way possible. Ignorance isn’t bliss after all, it causes far more problems than it solves. I have tried to Straighten him out, but there’s only so much you can do for a person who thinks Auschwitz is a brand of beer. ( David Sedaris) 

knowlege ignorance
A small amount of knowledge can also create ignorance

Why judge a book by it’s cover when it’s clearly not a good idea.

It’s easier to judge a book by it’s cover.

why judge
It’s not a good idea to judge a book by it’s cover.

It’s not right to judge someone or something merely by appearance. Just because the cover of a book is beautiful, it doesn’t mean that the content inside will be. An ordinary looking book though, may contain invaluable information, but we won’t know this, unless we read the entire book. To get to know someone properly, we have to do the same thing, often we don’t and I believe our lives are less meaningful because of it. This is partly because, we live in a world of many books and we don’t want to waste time reading crap. We put people and things into categories, as it’s a useful tool to make sense of our surroundings. This also reveals cognitive biases in the way we look at the world, this is not in tune with reality.

We make inferences all the time, as we compare and evaluate ourselves against the current social mores. I have often done this myself, even though I know at an intellectual level, I could be completely wrong. Couple this with compassion fatigue, as we become overwhelmed with social problems all around us. This leads to a mindset that creates a dangerous situation, which causes many problems in society.

It’s easy to judge people?

I’m on a rehabilitation program again, after the hernia repairs. I’m starting to walk around the local neighborhood, not too far from home in case I need rescuing. It’s the first time I have really walked around the local streets, I’m usually driving by on my way to the park, or further afield. So how do I amuse myself, that’s the question, this is Australia, so walking around the suburbs isn’t the national pastime, not with glorious beaches and beautiful parks everywhere. “Have you run out of petrol, is that why your walking, or have you broken down, do you need a lift?” “No! but thanks for asking,” your judgement was wrong this time, but I can see why you would think that.

How to judge your neighbors?

This is an older neighborhood built in the 70’s, a mixture of different styles. I’m going to make some value judgements, that house with the very formal garden, with well kept lawns and edges. Not sure of the peoples age who live there, they like gardening though, probably retired, and very fastidious. That one over there is very stark, concrete driveway and brick paving everywhere, hardly any lawn or garden. This one’s a bit tougher to guess, they don’t like gardening though, but it’s still very neat. The garage door is up, a caravan, motorbike, surfboards, a younger family live there,  and they enjoy their leisure activities. Hence no time for gardening.

Look at the state of that house over there, long grass everywhere. I don’t think that boats been anywhere for years, its almost grown into the landscape. They don’t have any time for gardening either, but for different reasons than the young family over the road. Mind you, they could be renting, people renting don’t look after their houses properly, do they?

More judgements?

Driving home in the early hours of the morning after a social event. I went past the local take away food outlet, some of them are open 24hours. Those kids playing around in the carpark, they can’t be any older than my grandson. And I know, he’s tucked up in bed over in Melbourne, as he should be, at twelve years old. So what the hell are the parents of these kids up to, letting them roam the streets at this time of the night, surely it can’t be very safe for them. Their parents don’t care about them, that’s plainly obvious, in my judgement.

I mentioned this to my youngest son who turns 41 soon. “What’s happening to the younger generation nowadays running around the streets at all hours. We never let you do that, we were responsible parents, not like the parents of the kids I saw.” “Well I know the area your talking about, do you remember when you used to drop me off at my mates house. And then ring his parents to check how we were. We were fine, we used to climb out of the bedroom window when his parents were asleep and meet up with all our other mates, down the very area your talking about”.

Good judgements.

The curious thing is, I don’t consider that I do judge a book by it’s cover, but in the day to day, I seem to be making judgements continuously. According to my understanding, fast judgements have helped us in the past. As we needed to assess risks very fast, in order to survive, so we evaluate all new things in the same manner now. I read somewhere, that we have two voices in our head, the judgmental and the empathetic. We simply allow these two “voices” to co-exist. Slowly, we will be able to experience both, our mind’s tendency to judge quickly and our mind’s ability to think more deeply

why judge
I change color all the time so don’t try to judge me.

I often think more deeply, when I give myself the time and space to make a judgement properly. I’m making a judgement now that so many people are doing it tough in this world. Therefore I’m not helping by judging situations, that I know very little about. When we judge people in the moment, we often judge them harshly, “why can’t they do things according to our standards.” The undeniable truth is, we are all a heartbeat away from illness, tragedy and any number of events, that can change our lives instantly. So it’s best to keep it in mind, not to judge a book by it’s cover. Because, there but for the grace of God, go I.                                                                                                                                     

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                        

Why we need to build resilience

What is resilience?

Build resilience
Beware of danger but don’t hide behind a mask

Resilience, is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, also relationship problems, serious health, workplace and financial issues. Being resilient doesn’t mean we never experience distress though, emotional pain and sadness are common in people who have suffered major adversity or trauma in their lives. In fact the road to resilience is likely to involve considerable distress.
Resilience, is not a trait that people either have or don’t have, it involves behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be developed in anyone.

Can we escape needing to build resilience ?

Resilience does not automatically change us, it’s how we respond that counts. It’s our response to adversity that determines whether it will help, or hurt us. Sadly, more often than not, suffering destroys people because of their bad responses. It’s not a question of “why me” it’s more a question of “why not me.” Everyone experiences some type of adversity in their lives, so trying to wrap ourselves in cotton wool, or remaining in our comfort zone, clearly doesn’t work. We would need to live a reclusive life, or be extremely lucky, not to face serious adversity at least once, if not, many times in the course of our life.

So it’s a good thing to try and build our resilience, then when we need it for what ever reason, it’s available. You might say, “what’s the point in building resilience…. nothing is going to happen, and if it ever does, I’ll get through it somehow.” My answer is “good luck with that,” it’s far better to develop a strong mental attitude, than it is to take the chance, that we may be resilient enough to “bounce back” adequately afterwards. Life is short enough, without unnecessarily being caught in a loop of mental anguish, which could possibly have been lessened, with more attention paid to resilience beforehand.

Benefits of resilience.

Resilience gives us better coping skills, helping us deal with our negative thoughts and emotions. This makes it less likely for us to continuously focus on setbacks, that we can’t change. It’s not that we suffer any less, it’s how we deal with it and learn from it. It’s as if we need to have a near death experience, to make us realize what’s important to us. Our judgement is no longer clouded with “what if’s.” How many times have you said? “If I get out of this situation, I will never complain again”.

We may complain again, but the next time something happens, it get’s that much easier to deal with. We look back to what we have been through before and realize, we got through that, so we can get through this. That’s resilience in action. Priorities change, what we stressed about once, doesn’t seem to matter anymore. I used to worry about money once and countless petty things, but now, none of those things mean anything to me. I have come through a serious car accident, three major accidents working in the heavy construction industry, I have plural plaque on my lungs from asbestos exposure. Also my wife and I lost our baby son with heart problems. I’m not suggesting I’m special though, I also realize I have been very lucky, compared to so many other people. I guess that is part of being resilient.

Finding resilience.

Obviously, we are not going to rejoice in our misfortune, but use each incident to develop “mental toughness” There is no benefit in exposing ourselves to needless situations that can hurt us but, it’s not good to pull back from anything that may build our resilience either. There is nowhere to hide in this world and if we try to, we are bound to suffer more in the present and the future.

“My scars remind me that I did indeed survive my deepest wounds. That in itself is an accomplishment. And they bring to mind something else, too. They remind me that the damage life has inflicted on me has, in many places, left me stronger and more resilient. What hurt me in the past has actually made me better equipped to face the present.” ( Steve Goodier)                                                                                                              

Build resilience
I’m not sure what resilience is but I have lived through many heartaches and from those I have learned to be strong..

 

 

The best lessons are learned in taking action.

Learning the lessons first.

lessons for action
You can’t learn to balance on your head by reading a book..

Lessons are often learned by the mistakes we make, with this comes the understanding, that we’re not perfect. We come to the realization that perfection doesn’t really exist, but only the intention, of doing the best we can. Who wants to be perfect anyway? “Me” I hear you say, but then of course, perfection leaves no room for improvement does it. With every mistake we make, we discover more and more about ourselves, who we are, our limits, and our capabilities for what we can and can’t do.

This helps us to be more compassionate and tolerant with ourselves and others. This can only come from attempting things ourselves, not theorizing about the actions we may possibly take in the future. The balance is between the lessons we learn from our own experiences, and learning from the mistakes of others, so that we don’t make the same mistakes ourselves.

There is nothing wrong with having a library full of self help books and watching U-tube documentaries. Many great authors and film makers have plenty of wisdom to pass on. While planning strategizing and learning are good, they don’t produce results, only action can do that. If we are only going to theorize and never take any action, all we are doing, is having mental masturbation with ourselves.

We can’t learn to swim by reading books about swimming, we need to jump in, get wet and make mistakes… and now we are getting somewhere. Our self-esteem and confidence will only come from actions taken. Obviously this is not to be confused with jumping in feet first, with no planning at all and just expecting things to work.

Converting lessons learned into action.

A small part of my own journey has been on this web site, it hasn’t been easy, I don’t come from an academic background and I’m no computer wiz either. It’s been terribly frustrating at times, and at one point, I had the distinct feeling my brain was frying. Time and again I crashed the whole site and had to start over, but in the end I stopped thinking, launched the site and learned by my mistakes. And there were plenty of them and still are, but I took action and that’s what’s important.  As long as we do the best we possibly can, then there is nothing more we can ask of ourselves.

I could have paid someone to do the whole process, but what lessons would I have learnt then? As long as we take appropriate action, we can’t help but grow into a better version of ourselves. There is nothing wrong with faking it till we make it in certain circumstances. If this is what helps us to start taking the action that otherwise, would not have happened. My experience has been to approach any situation with total honesty, if I don’t know, then I’m going to say I don’t know. Without taking this to the extreme, you will learn a lot more by playing dumb and listening carefully, than you ever will pretending you know. You might learn something from another persons perspective, that you can later use to develop your own.

Taking action with the lessons learned.

It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result. (Mahatma Gandhi)

Action is proof to ourselves that we’re willing to do what ever it takes. A lot of the self-defeating parts of ourselves fall away when we prove through action that we are willing to keep going. God helps those who help themselves. The harder I work the luckier I become. These statements reflect an ideal that as individuals, we are better off to take action and except responsibility for ourselves. Not only do we benefit from this, but there is a knock on effect for society as well.

Inaction is harder to see in the short term.

When we take action, the costs are usually immediate and obvious. The rejection we might face, the failure we might have to accept, all of these things are painful and we are very aware of them. We can measure these costs easily in the present, but it’s very difficult to measure the costs of inaction. They’re undeniably real though, once they have had time to compound. Our life often becomes smaller, with less joy as we start to live with and through other peoples actions, resulting in bitterness and depression as we get older. It’s never to late to take action, it just seems that way to us sometimes. In the Day-to-day, it doesn’t appear to be a problem, but year after year it becomes painfully obvious that, as we look back over our life, we know there were times, when we should have taken more action.

 

Lessons for action
Action to find success

 

 

 

Why it’s depressing to stop walking after an extended period

There is plenty of evidence that walking is good for us.

Supporting evidence overwhelmingly confirms that walking is good for us in almost every way possible. Research shows getting up and walking around for two minutes out of every hour can increase our lifespan by 33 percent, slash our risk of heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and more. One study found that walking for two miles a day, can cut our chances of hospitalization from heart disease by about half. Another study found that a daily walk for at least an hour, reduced the risk of having a stroke in men over the age of 60, and it doesn’t  matter how brisk the pace is. While a three-hour long walk each day slashes the risk by two-thirds.

Walking also triggers our body to release natural pain-killing endorphins, so the more steps we take during the day, the better our mood tends to be. It’s even known to improve sleep, support our joint health, improve circulation, and reduce the incidence of disability in those over 65. One of the most common mental benefits of walking, is stress relief. It also increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress. Regardless of our age, or fitness level, it’s never too late to start walking and enjoy the physical and mental health benefits.

Walking a long way.

Walking depression
Walking long distances

With all this overwhelming evidence, it seems natural to assume, if we hike a greater distance we must get more benefits. Most of us who embark on a long hike, do so, seeking change, with the hope that we can walk ourselves into a new body or a new state of mind. The therapeutic benefits of long distance hiking are well documented. There is historical evidence, of men in military units experiencing these therapeutic benefits on the lengthy walk home, after fighting a campaign abroad. On this journey, soldiers would slowly process and come to terms with the experiences they had lived through. Unlike today with modern transportation, where military personnel can be back home in a matter of days.

Various organizations, started by the men who suffered these experiences, have appeared. Sean Gobin hiked all 2,185 miles of the Appalachian Trail in America, after returning home from deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Sean founded “Warrior Expeditions” that supports combat veterans transitioning from their military service by participating in long distance hiking expeditions. A few return year after year, the trail  becoming the center of gravity around which their lives center.

Depression after walking a long way.

Taking an extended hike for months at a time, necessitates being able to find the time and commitment, so it’s not a decision taken lightly. It also demands that you get to know pain intimately on a daily basis, and to be able to push through it. The complexity of life also changes, because for an extended period of time, we truly live in the present. This presents problems as the hike draws to an end, a realization that what has become “normal” is about to change. It also takes the body a few days to realize that we have stopped hiking, and this grace period seems to last for a few days. It is as if, after these few days without hiking, the body’s control center says, “finally this death march is over, now I can begin doing all of the repairs I’ve been putting off for months”.

For many through hikers, after months of living in a world where you’ve had a lot of control over every detail of your life, you’re again thrust into a world of decisions and conflict. It seems as if, people who live in the “real world” and haven’t experienced what you have, just don’t get how different the world can be. On a through hike, life is simple, but back here in the real world, things are complicated. The desire to give up all the advances of society to go back to a “better world” is strong. You may be hit with a sense of “powerlessness with an absence of hope”

When you stop walking there is no community anymore.

One of my favorite parts of  through hiking is the community. A place where people from all walks of live come together, irrespective of their socioeconomic class or background. On a through hike, we share self-imposed struggles that bring us closer together. Real society, for all of its comforts, is often lacking any sense of community. At first, being home is great after your long adventure. No more foot, leg or back pain, a temperature controlled home with real comfort, with a family who wants to hear about your hike and see photos. But after a while they’re over it and you’re over it and your through hike is still all you can think about. Your homesick for a place that doesn’t have a roof, again.

 

Walking depression
A sense of community