Emotions realized on the trail

You Get What You Get and Don’t Get Upset.

You get what you get and don’t get upset.

My young granddaughter was singing these words today on the way to school. “You get what you get and don’t get upset”  “Where did you hear those words”? l asked her. Apparently it was the latest jingle her friends were singing. I discovered later that it came from a book  ‘Pinkaliousious’ by Victoria and Elizabeth Kann. A story about a girl who eats too many pink cupcakes and turns pink. Obviously, referring  to her greediness and I would assume, the feeling of sickness she would have experienced after. It occured to me, that this was the opposite to my parents favourite warning. “If you don’t eat everything on your plate, you can go to bed hungry” although, it wouldn’t have been pink cupcakes that I was being bribed to eat.

It might have been something to do with the school sports carnival she was going to later. Maybe all the young kids who thought they weren’t going to win anything, had adopted the words as some type of mantra. That’s hardly likely of course, as losing is almost a taboo word now. I was visiting a friend of mine who has two daughters, I was admiring all the trophies they had won at school in his display cabinet. I remarked “bloody hell mate, your girls must have been super stars” “It would seem that way” he remarked. “ The truth is, they get a trophy for just turning up nowadays”

You get what you get.

I’m not suggesting that we should go back to the so called, ‘good old days’. But I’m not sure, that allowing kids not to lose, is a good idea either. Talking to my granddaughter confirmed, that young kids still want to win, but they can also accept losing. After all, it’s the adults who decide that their kids need to be protected from disappointment. “Spare the rod and spoil the child” a proverb taken from the bible, seems harsh by today’s standards. If taken literally, it could be used as justification for punishing children unnecessarily. They were “tougher” in those days of course, so consequently, there were fewer sensitive “new age” guys around.

I don’t believe the physical punishment that often happened, was ever justified. But knowing, that it could happen, enforced a mental toughness that seems to be missing now. I can remember my mother, telling me to “wait till your father gets home, he can deal with you” which was common, among many mothers in those days. Now that really was something to look forward to, especially if it happened in the morning and you had to wait all day for the inevitable punishment. “You get what you get” It was a good idea to get upset as well, as any act of defiance didn’t go down very well.

You get what you get at school.

Punishment at school was given quite liberally. There wasn’t much political correctness happening. I often imagined meeting those teachers in a dark alleyway, but those feelings are long gone now. How could l forget the teacher, who stood on a chair and jumped down with the cane in his hand to get more traction. Or a size nine plimsoll, on our wet backside, after getting out of the shower, at the end of a gym session. Being naked, certainly added to the vulnerability we all felt. Were these teachers sadistic?  I’m not sure, probably it was seen  as normal practice, in the toughening up process. It remained unspoken, as going home and saying anything only ensured more punishment. “You must have deserved it, so here’s some more to go with it”

Thankfully my grandchildren have been “spared the rod” but it goes without saying, that this isn’t the case in many countries around the world. I can’t remember either of my parents ever  turning up to one of my sports days. In fact, it wasn’t encouraged, so I’m not sure, if it was a good or a bad idea. Although l believe it was easier to accept losing, when parents expectations and hopes weren’t on display. It’s great that parents do get more involved with their children now. But they can’t all win, if your child has a great voice in the shower, it doesn’t mean that their a certainty to win a talent show. Encourage, but don’t bring your own expectations into play. Then it will be a lot easier for them “to get what they get and not get upset”

                                                                                                                                                               

You get what you get and dont get upset
You get what you get if you eat to many of these.

 

A Personal Encounter.

Personal encounters.

On the upper floor of a city building, l am gazing quietly out of the window at the daily activities happening below me. The vastness of the view feels wonderful, as if I’m seeing everything for the first time. Tears begin to form, as the truth of being able to live within this personal moment start to overwhelm me. Over the last few days, my emotions have been very close to the surface. Any thought, or encounter, with anything that I value personally, has brought me to tears. I am surrounded by people who are looking after my welfare, they are doing everything they can to make me comfortable. It’s not that I’m ungrateful for the care and patience they show me, but my usual patience seems to have disappeared, as I try to deal with these raw emotions.

I have never felt this alone or vulnerable before, this is my personal encounter that no one can share. A TV programme the other day, sent five moderately famous people onto the streets of Melbourne, to live as homeless people for ten days. They went with nothing, which meant, they had to quickly become street wise.  They all seemed genuinely sympathetic to the plight of the homeless people they interacted with. Plenty of tears were shed by all of them, but after ten days, they would of course, return to their normal existence. I’m not saying that it wasn’t carried out with the best of intentions. But they couldn’t have possibly experienced the true feelings, of someone’s personal life, that has possibly exsisted for years.

Beginning my personal encounter.

I’m sure you remember the time, when someone tried to tell you how they felt, while going through a personal crisis. Like me, you probably nodded your head and said the usual words, “I know how you feel” without really having a clue how they felt. I have an older friend, who has had heart problems for a number of years. Up until a few days ago I said those very words often, “I know how you feel” now, I really do have a proper understanding of how he feels. This wasn’t supposed to happen to me. I’m pretty fit, look after myself and don’t smoke, I have the occasional drink and have what I would consider, to be a healthy diet.

I have said a number of times though, that as fit as I feel, something can hit me from left field, that can sit me on my arse. Well it did exactly that, the pain in my chest was without question, the worst pain I have ever felt. Very shallow breathing was the best I could manage, but luckily, good enough to get me to the hospital. Straight into the emergency ward, I was hooked up to various machines and given pain killers. As the pain started to subside, I felt like an imposter. All these machines and I only have a bad case of indigestion, what a relief. Then the words came, “your blood tests confirm, your having a heart attack.”

Personal encounter with the unknown

There is very little, if any awareness of what’s going on within our body. It’s a complex system, that has millions of processes happening at any given moment. The lungs absorb the oxygen, the blood leaves the lungs and is carried to our heart. The heart then pumps it throughout our body, to provide the cells in our tissues and organs. As the cells use the oxygen, carbon dioxide is produced and absorbed into the blood. The kidneys and liver are doing their job as well and if your like me, you probably don’t even know where they are located, let alone what they do. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. These processes are happening constantly, but we are unaware of it.

Once, during the early stages of meditation, I was following one particular practice, amongst many others, of counting my breath in and out. After a short while, I became acutely aware of my breathing. As if I came off auto pilot for a short while and had to take the controls in my own hands. It almost took me to a crash landing, as in became out and out became in. “Don’t worry about your heart, it will last you as long as you live” (W. C. Fields) Obviously the person that put this quote up on one of the notice boards in the hospital corridor, had a sense of humour. There is no doubt, helping people to have a glimmer of humour within a very stressful situation, is very beneficial.

Personal heart encounter.

Well it looks like a fennel root to me, something l would buy at the local supermarket. I suppose romance, flower arrangements, balloons and the people I have seen holding their fingers up in the shape of a so called heart, require it to be more user friendly. Follow your heart, lead with your heart, have a heart, to name a few, adds to the central role it plays. My heart is certainly playing a central role, looking at it on the large screen, to the side of the operating table. Seeing the wire pass up through my groin towards my heart and being able to watch it, feels surreal. The plastic bin that’s filling up with bloody cloths and the blood hanging next to my shoulder ready for a blood transfusion, make everything very emotional.

What were those complications again? A blood clot could break off and cause a stroke. I could need bypass surgery and if things turn bad, ‘death.’ The bloody clock on the wall said the procedure took 55 minutes, but to me, it felt like hours.

An encounter with reality again.

When I returned to the ward, my fellow inmate put everything into perspective. “How you going mate, how many did you have then?” “one I answered” “bloody hell, I’ve had twelve stents over the last few years. Sometimes I need a pull through to clean the tubes out. I still have a beer and a smoke though, can’t stop living can yer” This reminded me of the neighbours dog ‘Skamp’ many years ago in England, he used to spend his whole life chasing cars, running in and out trying to grab their tyres. He ended up old and grey and couldn’t run anymore. Our other neighbours dog managed to get out once and got knocked over by a car, there must be an irony there somewhere. When l get out of here, I’m going to have a few beers, smoke a joint and relax.

Personal encounters
It looks like a fennel root to me.

Malcolm leaves a legacy.

Malcolm leaves a legacy.

Malcolm leaves a legacy
Climbing Higher in the trees than we had ever climbed before.

When I first met Malcolm, I was about fourteen years old and he would of been about sixteen, the precise details escape me now, as this took place over fifty years ago. The impression he left on me though, is as powerful now as it was back then. I remember that he was not very well co-ordinated and when we played soccer, he was just as likely to kick us, as he was to kick the ball. I can’t remember how he came to be in our neighbourhood gang, as he lived on the other side of town. His father rode a vintage motor bike, which turned out to be significant.

Malcolm was different to anyone I had ever met at the time, I was drawn to him, because he stood apart from us, he had an air of quiet confidence which I didn’t have. When the gang passed around the quart bottle of cider he refused to drink. He just smiled, as if he knew something that we didn’t and quite possibly he did. Everyone laughed, including me, but I may as well have been laughing at myself, because I realised, I didn’t want to drink either. Malcolm was economical with words, he spoke quietly and thoughtfully as if he wanted to make every word count. He was the  outsider and I felt that way too, I wasn’t particularly brave, but I had a compulsion to push everything to the limit. The best way to get me to do something, was to tell me not to do it.

Malcolm’s influence.

The differences we both felt as individuals, drew us together, he had two contrasting sides to his character and I identified with them both. Like me, he was willing to go to extremes, but unlike me, he either didn’t see any danger or if he did, he was comfortable with it. This was juxtaposed with gentleness, a love of nature and infinite patience. We would spend hours looking for a particular wild flower he had read about, but it wasn’t to pick them, or dig them out, as I was inclined to do.

I remember looking for a Lapwings nest with him, they were notoriously hard to find, they hardly built a nest site, often just in a small hollow in the earth. We spent hours and hours looking in a field that we had seen them flying over. Eventually, more by luck than judgment we found a nest with eggs, which neither of us had ever seen before. Great, at last a Lapwings egg for my collection. I can’t remember now exactly how he explained it to me, but it was something like, “Let’s just take the memory away with us, we don’t need anything else”  I don’t know how he convinced me to do as he asked, but l did. I would have preferred to put an egg in my collection and boast to who ever I could, about my find.

Malcolm gets a Motorbike

Malcolm turned up one day on a motorbike, this was typical of him. I would have announced to everyone, that I was getting a motor bike. I would have given them a countdown to the very moment it actually happened. It wasn’t a very powerful machine, but it allowed us to go farther afield than our pushbikes. It didn’t change our friendship, I thought it might, as I would have wanted to join a motor bike gang. In fact, on the bike, I became part of him, because he taught me to be his shadow. I was always to be directly behind him and anticipate everything he did as the bike pulled around the corners.

The things we enjoyed doing together were the same, but the intensity changed. The rooks nested high up in the trees and their nests could often be seen from miles around. Any thought of taking an egg was gone, we were just there to look. The strangeness of our surroundings and the distance from home confirmed that we were going to climb the trees, so we did. I was thinking, if I fall, I won’t be going home on the bike and if he falls, what the hell am l going to do. As it turned out, we were both thinking the same thing.

High up in the canopy of the tree, the branches moved erratically with our weight and the strength of the wind didn’t help. We weren’t on the same branch though, as there were dozens of nests all around us. We both laughed uncontrollably when we got back on the ground. A promise was made, that we would climb again soon, but we both knew we never would.

Malcolm’s parents house.

I only went to Malcolm’s home once and I don’t think he ever came to mine. There wasn’t a reason to be inside in those days, as there was very little technology to keep us there. Nature was preserved everywhere in his house, dried flowers from the fields and hedgerows mounted in picture frames. Examples of taxidermy were everywhere, which both he and his father had done. A large Barn owl, looked down from one of the display cases. “All the animals have died of natural causes” he explained. “What do you think?” he asked, I said, “everything is fantastic, but somehow, I don’t think my parents will like the idea of having them in our house.” This seemed to please him, as we both laughed.

I learned later, that he had never taken anyone to his parents house before. I asked him if he wanted to see my house, but luckily he didn’t. I’m sure he would have been disappointed, it would have been boring, after living in the menagerie that surrounded him. By now school was in the past for me as well and like Malcolm, I was working, but we still went into the countryside together as much as we could. We still enjoyed nature, but there was a realisation, that it wasn’t enough now. Our new found responsibility of growing up, was starting to tarnish the simple pleasures that it provided.

Malcolm’s big red motorbike.

We started to hang around the local coffee shops and pubs for the first time, pretending to have a good time, laughing at jokes that weren’t funny and buying drinks that neither of us wanted. Plans were starting to formulate in my head about traveling overseas as soon as l could. Malcolm had other ideas, he asked me to meet him on the weekend, at the usual place.

This time he turned up on the biggest red motorbike, l had ever seen. I can still see it now, a Norton 750 Atlas, a British bike that I’m sure would have met with his fathers approval. The British part, but possibly, not the size and power. The kick start pedal needed the pressure of full body weight downwards to have any chance of starting it. He threw me a crash helmet, “let’s go.” I was going to mention that we had never worn crash helmets before, but this time, it felt appropriate that we did. The very first corner we went around, he leaned the bike over farther than he ever had before, the kick start pedal hit the road with a shower of sparks. We came to an upright position before we should have and were lucky to stay on, that’s the only part l remember distinctly.

Malcolm’s plans for the future

“I know you plan to travel overseas eventually, but I could never leave this place, everything l need is here. l can’t imagine living anywhere else” That’s how l would have liked to have felt, but I  resented, what I imagined, was an ordinary future ahead of me. My plan was to be an adventurer, but the thought scared me even more than Malcom’s bike. I told him how uncomfortable I felt for him, but l didn’t mention how I felt. Already, I had made up my mind that I wouldn’t get on the bike again. But this wasn’t something I wanted to say to him, as I knew it would hurt his feelings.

I never had to tell him, because on the following weekend, he crashed the bike and was killed. I cried my heart out for the first time ever, over the loss of a close friend. He was mature beyond his young years, a deep thinker, who was in my opinion, a genuinely good person. I think of him often, I am grateful to have known him and grateful that I have had the opportunity to grow old and experience many of the things that he was unable to experience. As I grow older, I notice his influence in my actions and my thoughts. How could It have taken me this long to think the way he did back then? I think he felt as calm then, as I am now, that’s why I realize, he was such a special person.

Malcolm leaves a legacy
I can still remember every detail of the bike as if it were yesterday

 

 

 

 

Social fear and ways to overcome it.

Feel the fear.

social fear
Enjoy dinner for one and feel the fear surrounding a simple act

Fear in social situations can contribute to physical reactions, we may shake, blush, speak less clearly or sweat, fearing this will be obvious to others, compounding the problem. Or we may have less visible symptoms such as a racing pulse, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness. Other reactions include a fear of looking foolish, or boring, and putting pressure on ourselves to be liked by everyone. These stresses can also increase our sensitivity to perceived criticism, inhibiting our ability to cope. Most people who have social anxiety problems know that this is irrational and doesn’t make sense. Knowing something though, is not the same thing as feeling it in the moment and using this feeling constructively. For these people, thoughts and feelings of anxiety persist and usually show no signs of going away.

Fear also causes us to notice and remember negative events, which reinforces the sense that the world is a scary place. We can work to change that by deliberately noticing the positive things in our life. The joy we feel when we see someone we love, the pleasure of a sunny day, the beauty in nature, the fun of an outing, the humor in a situation. We have to slowly place ourselves in the situations we fear. The first thing to do, is to remove avoidance from the equation and let yourself feel the fear. This way you will learn to survive without safety measures and avoidance tactics. When we suffer from social anxiety, it’s crucial to take gradual steps towards healing. Putting ourselves into the situations we fear, can be counter productive, unless we introduce careful thought and planning.                                 

Fear in social situations. 

A good starting point for us, is to make a list of our most feared social situations, from the lowest, upwards, based on our anxiety levels. Then we start with the least feared situation and expose ourselves to it, until we have successfully faced the fear. It’s a mistake to move on to the next level too quickly, we have to practice and feel confident before we can proceed. Social interactions of course, are between people so truly hearing and listening to another person, has got to be the biggest act of kindness there is. Not only will they love the fact that we find them so intriguing and interesting, but as we  focus on them, we will be distracted away from ourselves and our own anxious thoughts and feelings.

Keep in mind that social fear is in our head. If we could look past the fear, we would find there is nothing on the other side. In fact there is very little in the western world that we do need to fear in our everyday lives. The “fight or flight” tribal fears are gone now, we are not going to be bitten on the arse by a saber tooth tiger anymore, but our brain is still geared up to protect us in the same way. Of course this is still very useful in certain situations. In social settings though, where most of our fears are now centered, it is of little help and more of a hindrance. If I go into the city and do a stand up comedy routine on the street. I will be completely useless, but there is nothing to fear physically.

Practice feeling fear.

We go to our nearest coffee outlet, preferably when it’s busy, and order a coffee and a muffin. When they ask us for the money, we are going to say, “I would like a 10% discount please”. This of course is going against normal social protocol, as we don’t live for the most part in a bartering economy. The first reaction we are going to get, is amazement and disbelieve that we  have asked this question at all. Who asks for a discount on an amount of  $7.95, we are not going to offer any explanation, just ask for the discount. Watch the reactions you get, feel the fear but don’t explain yourself. Our request will most likely move up the chain of command, and that’s fine we just wait patiently.

Eventually we will most likely be told it’s company policy, we don’t give discounts or a variation of this. Then we just smile sit down and enjoy our coffee and muffin. The more we do this the less we will care about the glances we receive and the imagined gossip that we think is happening. Now the venue is a popular restaurant in the evening, where plenty of people are socializing. We’re not asking for a discount this time, the only stipulation is we book a table for one. We just turn up sit down and enjoy a bottle of wine and relax. We’re there for one hour, so there is no point in rushing the meal, we can’t reach for our phone either, or a book, as we left them in the car. As we look around us, we make eye contact with people and smile, that’s all we have to do.

Fear nearly under control.

These two social situations, are ones I have used but there are many more of course. My social fears now seem to be under control. On the sliding scale of anxiety that I mentioned previously, the social skill of talking impromptu in front of an audience, is still something I’m not comfortable with, and possibly never will be. In a social situation though, it’s the closest I’m ever going to get to that sabre tooth tiger.

social fear
Order a coffee and a muffin and ask for a 10% discount and notice how this makes you feel

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..

 

 

Seeking our authentic self

When you don’t like yourself for who you are, what’s the point of being liked for who you’re not.

Seeking our authentic self, is a quest for truth, as we begin to acquire the art of freer thinking, it makes it easier to drop the social mask we wear, and begin to reveal who we truly are. In society, hypocrisy is everywhere, we constantly present a false image, just to feel accepted. This causes emotional turbulence, as we never quite manage to accept ourselves as we really are, but with effort and discipline we can eventually stop desiring acceptance. Then we can begin to express ourselves without having to ask permission from others. We can learn to take control of our life, as the more disengaged from social acceptance we become, the more freedom we find. Making it easier to turn our backs to the crowd, as our way of thinking slowly stops being influenced by it. We begin to operate out of consciousness and not from suppression.

“Authenticity is not something we have or don’t have. It is a practice, a conscious choice of how we want to live. Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” (Brene Brown)

Discovering our authentic self.

seeking authentic self
Seeking our authentic self

Often, it’s not our authentic self we are looking at in the present moment, it’s a version of our past self. As we become an adult in society, we’re pretty much self sufficient, it’s easier to accept the default position. It requires no additional education, no additional development of skills, or any attempt to push through our comfort zone. We except the default status-quo position, which most people are only too happy to embrace, we are constantly changing, though not aware of these changes. Every minute, hour, day and year we’re shifting, growing, thriving, declining and getting older.

Furthermore, thousands upon thousands of actions, are functioning inside our body at any given moment, and we are completely unaware of them. At a deep level, we begin to realize there’s no such thing as constant “SELF” at all. No man ever steps into the same river twice for it is not the same river and he is not the same man (Heraclitus) It’s similar to hiking in the mountains, we can’t resist looking back to appreciate the view, and to marvel at just how far we have traveled. If we could return to the same place again, it may look the same, but time has changed, places have changed, along with the people. We encounter new things, read books, take courses and travel to new places, everything is always in a state of flux.

Our authentic self is a goal that’s not often realized.

Trying to be our authentic self, is a process, we have to push ourselves to grow every day. If we were our “authentic self” right now, we would be completely confident, assertive, disciplined and internally grounded in our values. With zero fears and no negative thoughts of any kind, as healthy as we can possibly be, open and completely comfortable with our sexuality. It doesn’t mean being overweight without a medical reason, doing drugs or any other chemical dependence. Hence the body we are meant to have, if we live to our optimum state of being.  As we progress, we realize there are many behaviours that we need to change, becoming more open minded, and willing to consider any idea or point of view. Always taking the high road rather than the low road in whatever we’re doing. This also applies to every relationship and interaction around us.

In every way we try to become the master of our life. Within society, we often have the impression that we’re free, in reality we’re a puppet, that is being manipulated by external forces. Trying to be authentic at a shallow level means, trying to “be ourselves” that “self” hopefully, is to be the best, we can possibly be. Part of my definition of authenticity, is trying to squeeze the most out of life. I have, and will make many mistakes in an effort to turn dreams into reality. Ultimately I may fail, but I will know, that I tried to the best of my ability. You may ask as I once did, “what’s the point to any of this” why don’t I just get drunk, except things as they are, enjoy myself and forget the whole concept of self-actualization.

Is being authentic a luxury that’s just too hard to follow.

Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was proposed in a paper, a theory of Human motivation in 1943. It’s depicted as a pyramid from base level needs, to top level needs. It has 5 levels, which are, Physiological needs, Safety, love/belonging, esteem and at the top of the pyramid self-actualization. There is actually one level above this, “self-transcendence” but that’s beyond my scope at the moment. I paraphrase Maslow here, but these are my believes also. Self actualization is actually not a luxury, but a requirement of our psyche. once we get the basics in our life down, we’re not going to just sit there. What’s going to happen, is our mind is going to slowly start to rot and our soul is going to rot from the inside out because we know that we’re destined for something much greater.

(Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder) Almost everything all external expectations all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure. These things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. There is no reason not to follow your heart. While talking about death, this quote also defines what we should be seeking in life, when we are trying to be our authentic self.

 

Trying to be authentic
The right place to be sometimes

 

 

Getting grit when you need it.

Grit….what is it?

Getting grit
When everything seems lost

Bravery, pluck, mettle, backbone, spirit, strength of character, strength of will, moral fiber, steel, nerve, gameness, valor, fortitude, toughness, hardiness, resolve, determination, resolution, stamina, doggedness, tenacity. The list goes on, grit also means perseverance, endurance and passion, for a long term goal. In other words, gritty people believe, everything will be alright in the end and if it’s not alright, it’s not the end. People with grit, deal with the trials of life and problems, as challenges and potential defeat, as a call to action. In some instances, grit can be seen in another way, as it also takes grit to withdraw or give up. When situations are blatantly not working or detrimental to our health.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena. Whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood. Who strived valiantly, who errs, who comes again and again. Because there is no effort without error and shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deeds. Who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause. Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. ( Teddy Roosevelt)

Getting grit.

So how do we get grit? Firstly we have to believe in the goal we are working towards. Our values and passions have to be aligned, with what, we’re trying to achieve. If these things are in place, grit comes naturally, it’s grit that gets us up in the morning, determined to go for that run. Even if it is freezing cold and we would much rather be in bed. Make sure that grit doesn’t trip you up though, if we run that extra mile and bugger our knee up, that’s not grit, that’s stupidity.  The one thing that can not be taken from a man (or woman) is the power to determine his attitude in any given situation. (Victor Frankl)  We all possess the power of choice, and the perspective from which we view things in our life.

We can look through lenses of pessimism or optimism, hopefulness or despair, gratitude or grievance, possibility or resignation, goals or obstacles, it’s really, our choice. Many of us do our best, to try to minimize and even eliminate risks in our live. The cultivation of grit, sometimes, requires the willingness to engage in practices that may be outside our comfort zone. Conscious and responsible risk taking, is an essential aspect of this process. Living on the edge is an acquired taste, and if done skillfully, can mean the difference between success and failure.

More grit.

Grit, is consistency in doing better today, than yesterday. If something is frustrating, our natural tendency is, to give up. But we have to do things over and over again for them to feel natural, and grit is what keeps pushing us forward. Grit, can be learned, it’s a matter of facing fears, following through, keeping the vision in sight and never giving up. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint. (Doctor Angela Duckworth in her Ted talk)     

(Invictus by W. E. Henley) Out of the night that covers me. Black as the Pit from pole to pole. I thank whatever gods may be. For my unconquerable soul. In the fell clutch of circumstance. I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance.My head is bloody, but unbowed. Beyond this place of wrath and tears looms but the horror of the shade, And yet the menace of the years Finds, and shall find me, unafraid. It matters not how strait the gate. How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Getting grit when you need it
Another Version of grit

 

Fear rehearsing benefits

Fear Rehearsing.

Rehearsing the fear of death would be the “worst case-scenario,” but we can’t inoculate ourselves from death and any planned rehearsing would require risks. Contemplating our own death to stay motivated helps. Having a sense of how short our lives are and being conscious of how little time we have left. There is no reason to believe we will be given a second chance, at least not on this earth. So it’s important to put all the petty things in life that we worry about into perspective. I’m not advocating we walk around thinking about our own demise all the time. But use fear rehearsing benefits as a motivational tool to reflect on the things that often scare us the most.

Fear rehearsing, can be regularly micro-dosing ourselves with the “worst-case scenario” as an inoculation. It’s planned exposure to the “bad” realizing the bad isn’t so bad, we can make it less so with repeated exposure. One of the life skills that is good to practice, is learning how little we actually need to live on. Not just in a survival mode, but in a contented mode. This gives us the confidence to take a risk, because you ask the question, “what’s the worst that can happen.” Well the worst that can happen is, that we end up with a backpack, sleeping bag, and eat porridge every day. Not cold porridge either as we have our “jet boil” to heat it up.

Fear rehearsing practices.

Remember it’s not just about survival, it’s about getting by with less. Allowing this to help us conquer the fear of our comfortable life being disrupted and having to live a simpler life by necessity. “Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare. With coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself the while. Is this the condition that I feared? Seneca. What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do. It’s a fear of unknown outcomes and uncomfortable conversations we may have with ourselves. Some periodic fear rehearsing we might do to simulate and inoculate ourselves from losing all our money.

This could be a period of 3 to 14 days or longer.  1 Sleeping in our sleeping bag (yes you can use your lightweight sleeping mat) this can be on the floor anywhere, but not in your bedroom. Also sleeping outside in your tent if your backyards big enough ( a hiking tent is only small )  2 Wearing one pair of jeans and cheap tee-shirts, for the duration.  3 Eating only very basic food, porridge as I mentioned before, rice and beans.  4 All cooking on the portable camp stove.  5 Drinking only water and cheap instant coffee or tea ( remember clean drinking water is a luxury)  6 Fasting for a day and only drinking water.  7 This is the toughest part, no internet, only at libraries.

Fear rehearsing  benefits.

Oddly, we are likely to feel happier after we experiment with these concepts. It takes a monthly or quarterly reminder of how independent our well being can be, when we distance ourselves from the outcome of money. There is freedom to be gained from practicing a frugal lifestyle, even for a short while. It sharpens our senses as we realize how much less we can live on, also more grateful for the things we do have. It’s working backwards from our greatest fear, realizing the chances of that happening are most of the time, unrealistic. When we grasp the idea that even if our worst fear did materialize we would be still be alright. Then it’s easier to rank and push through our lesser fears.

Life can be tough and struggling with money is a large part of that, it’s all about perspective and the situation we each find ourselves in. It’s pretty easy to live on what is just enough, but that’s not what life is about. It’s equally important to measure the atrocious cost of inaction, if you don’t pursue the things that excite you now. How will you feel  5 or 10 years from now if your living with disappointment and regret in not doing the things, fear held you back from. Your inaction could be the greatest risk of all.

Fear rehearsing benifits
Fear rehearsing It’s only a baby spider