Becoming responsible for my thoughts and actions, and the tools I use daily.

Taking on responsibility, this is something that I have been getting better at. I have taken on the things that I can control, I have started doing the things that I want to do. I have stopped blaming things on people, when it is really on me, my actions and emotions that would otherwise rule my life. Being positive even around negative people is incredibly difficult, yet I try to be as positive as I can. People will always try to bring you into their state, one of misery and suffering, instead of trying to come up to your level. Either they see it as you aren’t being realistic, they don’t want to change out of their ways, even if they know it will be of some benefit or they see it as too tough. I thought that this way of thinking was mostly limited to the older generations, but I see this at every age. By not listening to outside influences that promote thoughts and behaviors that I don’t want a part of, has made it easier. I now don’t watch the news/tv or listen to the radio or read the newspaper, as it gives me information that I see as wasting my brain’s storage. Don’t get me wrong I still think that knowing the gist of a little news is good, but by limiting the amount of information received you can turn your attention towards things that you want to do. Like projects, hobbies and seeking information that you want to know. So, instead I listen to podcasts, watch YouTube videos on topics that interest me, and I read books that I know I will be able to take something from. Of course, there is the rabbit hole of YouTube, and I have gotten better at combating it by becoming more disciplined in my time management.

Through controlling what I have around me, the information I receive and take in, I have started to emulate a feedback loop of sorts. By reconfirming things that I listen to, read and watch, I then start doing. By doing the thing, I then get back positive results, further affirming my thoughts and therefore actions. What I do is something that anyone can do. Anyone can listen to the podcasts I listen to, anyone can read the books I read, anyone can watch the videos I watch. However, not everyone will think like me, not everyone will get the results like me. I’m not saying that everyone should think my thoughts and do what I do, I’m stating that they will not get the results they desire because they do not put in the work, they do not turn thoughts into actions. This is the critical component, this is the catalyst for what everyone wants in their lives.

Fear is usually the obstacle that catches many (covered in my book review: Feel the fear). Sometimes I think it is more, sometimes I look back on the person I used to be. One that blamed procrastination on genetics, I used to leave my homework until the night before it was due. One that would say I couldn’t do something because I wasn’t good at it. I never thought I could write, and my results proved it to me. Until I stopped blaming my circumstances on things other than myself, I would never be able to do the things I wanted to do. So, along with confronting my fears, I had to take full responsibility for my thoughts, actions, emotions, the information I was taking in from the people I wanted to.

I know I have previously written about positivity being bullshit, which is true, however, if you are continently taking in the right amount and applying yourself to maximize your output, then positivity is good. However, like everything it must be regulated, staying up and watching video after video with no action on your end will not do you any good. The feedback loop I talked about before can do an amazing job here, you get a thought, you act on that thought, you get results, the results affirm your thought. I use this process for writing, on projects, in jiu-jitsu, pretty much in most aspects of my life. Of course, I don’t let others dictate if my results are good or bad, because of the values I have set up, most of my results are good. If one person reads and likes my blog post then that’s a win for me. Now you say, well you will always win then, but if it creates a good feedback loop in my head, then why not? If I take it step by step and keep moving forward then I will slowly be able to change more and more people. This is my one of the bigger goals that I have for this blog, I want to change the way people feel about themselves, and I hope to inspire those around me, to inspire those around them. I see it that as inspiring in itself, people changing their attitudes and putting thoughts into actions inspires me. So, whenever someone tells me that I have given them a kick up the arse, it reminds me that what I write has power and drives me further.

So, what is it that you can take from this post? Well for starters, face your fears. I use an exercise, which I forget where I found it. It is the task of asking yourself why you won’t do something, or why you find something difficult. (It can really be used for anything.) However, it is not about asking yourself why just once, it’s about asking why until you get to the root cause of whatever seems to be bothering you. For instance: Problem might be, starting a project that I have been wanting to start for a while.

Why have I not started this project?

Because I am scared/unsure about how to start it.

Why are you scared?

Because it is something new that I have never faced before, and I don’t know anyone that would be able to help me.

Why do you need to get help from someone? Have you looked for some guidance?

            I know of people but I am scared to ask them.

This leads me to not only the root of the cause but allows me to determine what I should do. It almost makes it so obvious that it removes the fear that I had in the first place. Of course, the exercise will not work if you do not answer the question of why with some clarity and thought. You do not what to give broad and open-ended answers, like “because I don’t feel like it.” Usually, there is more than just not feeling like it, as that too can be asked why you don’t feel like it.

Another exercise I do, especially with goals, is I set ones that are attainable. For instance, read for 20 minutes a day, instead of setting it so that I aim to read for an hour. Usually, you will read for more than 20 minutes. Then the next week aim to read for a little longer per day. There is no rush to try and get up to your end goal of 2 hours a day, step by step. This can be used for everything, study, writing, spending time with loved ones, meditating. It is all about making the mindset switch of hitting goals, if you set out these unrealistic goals right away, not reaching them will deter you from ever setting them again. So, conditioning yourself into reaching goals, and even overachieving will help in changing your inner workings where achieving goals becomes a 70% hit rate. Instead of never hitting them.

Journaling is probably one of the best exercises I do, it is the one I first started with, it was part of my new year’s resolution. Benjamin Franklin said, “either write something worth reading or do things worth writing.” So, keeping this in mind I try and do things throughout my day worth writing about, obviously not in the history books just yet, but things that I am proud to write about. Once again I never scrutinize myself if I have not completed a task, however, I use the magic of positive reinforcement when I complete tasks and goals.

Another is fear setting, in which I go into more detail in a post that can be found here. Fear setting is much like goal setting, however, you set out your fears, enabling you to deconstruct any obstacles and negative thoughts that might be inhibiting you. For instance, I was not feeling like I would give my all if I continued at university this year, I was fearful of what would happen if I differed this year. Fearful of what Friends and family would think of me, fearful of not knowing what I would do for the year and many other fears that I won’t get in to. However, I can say that fear setting brought me out of stasis, giving me a better understanding of how insignificant my fears really were and gave me a clear direction that was aligned with the goals I had set for myself.

Now I don’t expect anyone one to use any of these tools, they are just the ones that I have found to work, they may work for you and I hope that you give them a try. If you need anything cleared up with any of the tools I have provided please email me or shoot me a message. Also, don’t read this and tell yourself that you don’t have time, because a lot of them can be used and completed in less than 30 minutes, and if you don’t have time then you are poor at managing it. Hopefully, you can take something from this post and maybe give one of the tools I have set out a try. Ultimately it is up to you to take on the responsibility of your life and be accountable for how it plays out and what path you take.

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See you on the mats.

Book Review: Feel the fear and do it anyway, by Susan Jeffers

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Feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

It seems I have been reading great books as of late. This is no exception, with easy to understand concepts that anyone could integrate into their lives ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’ is another one for the list. With a feel-good attitude and many relevant stories and student testimonials at the end of each chapter, it is a phenomenal classic. Susan Jeffers states something in the introduction that I knew but did not think about till I read the words on the page. “Fear seems to be an epidemic in our society.” Everyone is so fearful of doing anything these days, me included, others and myself would say I can’t do that because of X, Y or Z. Of course, we would use excuses as reasons to hide behind. I won’t start Jiu-jitsu because I am not sure if I will like it, or I won’t defer my studies because I might upset my father. When really those excuses are just fears that can be overcome, like any obstacle in life fear can be turned into fuel. Jeffers gives readers tools and insights into fear and will improve the ability to fight and triumph over fear. Transitioning readers from a place of pain, suffering, and paralysis to one of power, love, and excitement.

Jeffers opens by asking ‘what are you afraid of.. and why?’ She relays the events of a new class of people wanting to learn from her in her now well-established course, Feel the fear and do it anyway, Asking each person the same question. ‘What are you afraid of.. and why?’ They answer each in situations different from the last but sound all too familiar. I want to leave my husband of 15 years, I want to leave my job and pursue my passion, I want to take the leap to the next step in growing my business. All are stories that can be related to, and every person is looking for the same thing that You and I picked up this book. We want to overcome something and grow. Jeffers breaks fear down into 3 levels, from ones that are the surface story ones like fear of change, death, illness, and others that happen to us. And ones like fear of making decisions, ending or beginning a relationship, public speaking, and others that require action from us. These are level one fears. Level 2 fears are fears that are feelings from the person, not exterior situations like those in level 1. Level 2 fears are fears of, rejection, helplessness, failure. These are more general, fears that affect multiple areas of your life. Level 3 would seem that it will be something massive in terms of fear, but Jeffers simply puts it as the fear of not being able to handle it. That you can’t handle what is going on around you, that you can’t handle the world as you are viewing it. As she puts it:

“The truth is:

If you knew you could handle anything that came your way, what would you possibly have to fear?

                The answer is: NOTHING!”

Knowing that you can handle anything that comes your way is a big deal, it isn’t about tricking yourself into thinking anything. It’s about knowing that life is a journey that will have ups and downs and that it is up to us to develop trust in our own ability to handle each situation. Take on the responsibility of handling it and not backing down from fear.

Jeffers gives readers her five truths of fear as described below:

  1. The fear will never go away as long as I continue to grow.
  2. The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it.
  3. The only way to feel better about myself is to go out… and do it.
  4. Not only am I going to experience fear whenever I’m on unfamiliar territory, but so is everyone else.
  5. Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness. (My favorite)

With each truth, she gives her reasoning, which I found solidified what I already knew from other books and material I have digested. No matter how much you grow and progress, there will always be obstacles, be it from outside forces or those imposed by oneself. However, to get over those obstacles, action with a clear purpose of overcoming adversity will allow you to progress to the next challenge life has laid out in front of you. Usually, when I am having a shit day I try to complete an easy task on my to-do list. Might be water the garden or walk the dog, but the process of completing something allows me to get the ball rolling. Of course, knowing that someone has been, is and will be in the position that you find yourself in, fearing action, is comforting. Of course, knowing that those before you have pushed forward gives you confidence that you will too. In most cases someone has written or talked about your position, you might feel lost, you might be afraid of changing careers or dumping that pyscho boyfriend. Someone probably has done it. My favorite truth is that the fear of inaction is far greater than action. Using fear to help push you is one of the greatest things I have learnt recently. I would always fear doing something, talking to that girl, asking for help, whatever it might’ve been. However, instead of having fear block my move, I turn it into a positive and take action.

Jeffers goes on to point out that currently in society the word ‘power’ has negative connotations, often being used in terms of control over others and the miss use of it. But she talks about power in the sense of oneself, the power of how you view the world, the actions you take, the power of growth, to create joy, satisfaction, and love in one’s life. When one lacks power, they feel helpless to the world, they are more likely to suffer and to fear change and growth. Not having power in one’s life results in manipulating others around them and playing the victim in most circumstances. Since they have no power of their own they try to take it from everyone else. You can often see this when someone starts succeeding in life, others try to cut them down, showing their jealousy and lack of power over their emotions. Power is the ability to overcome adversity and obstacles that life sets up for you, knowing that the task at hand is hard but pushing through and completing it anyway. So, instead of using words and phrases like: I can’t, it’s not my fault, life’s a struggle, and if only. Which are phrases of the victim mentality, use phrases of the powerful mentality like I won’t, I’m totally responsible, life’s an adventure, and next time. Changing the attitude and values are difficult, but it becomes easier when using words of power and becoming responsible for what you say and do.

A trap that I would often fall into would be thoughts of self-doubt and negativity, I would beat myself up over things I did or said. I would fear outcomes of action so I would then just not do them, I wouldn’t ask that girl out, or I wouldn’t stand up to people who were having a go at me or my mates. I would feel helpless whenever these thoughts crept into my head, Jeffers touched on the effects of negative and positive thought and how powerful they really are. However, you cannot stop thinking positively even when you have reached or goal or achievement, likening it to exercise. You wouldn’t stop going to the gym after you have gotten your body in shape. She gives readers some exercises and tips for turning negative to positive. And, keeping it positive. All reinforcing positive attitudes. From listening to audio tapes and reading books, writing positive quotes and recording and listening to affirmations. She leaves out a very important detail, however. None of these things will work if you don’t put them into action, and even then, if you put them into action, you have to really draw from them and become positive. If you keep a negative mindset, you could read as many books on positivity as possible, and you would still be negative. The change MUST come from within. No outside force will make the transformation for you.

Once this shift in mindset has begun, often other people in your life find dealing with the change difficult and do things, most of the time unconsciously, to discourage the change. I have found this in a lot of my own relationships. I say I want to do something, and already people start telling me “Aww, nah man you don’t want to do that.” Or “I’ve heard that it already been done.” Or “I tried that, and it didn’t work for me.” So, I have found myself not telling anyone anything and just doing it. Obviously, this is not everyone, and sometimes they can be all for one idea but then reject another the next week.  Jeffers talks about making some changes, however, these changes aren’t difficult to make. Over time your “moan-and-groan” friends will either see the example you are setting and join you in growing, or they will find other “moaners-and-groaners” to complain about their lot in life. In each circumstance, Jeffers explains that you the reader should not feel guilty for not keeping toxic relationships, obviously the former is more preferred. However, you can only be an example for them, it is up for them to decide if they wish to take life on and leave negativity behind. Jeffers includes anecdotes from students that have participated in her courses that have had their partners resist their growth. She gives an insight into why their partners are dragging them down, often they need help too in growing and changing their mindset. Often the partners are able to see what they are doing wrong and start to change themselves, others do not. If you stop your growth and choose to stay in the relationship for the reason of not upsetting your partner, you more often than not become resentful of them for not allowing you to grow. A break usually occurs after this point.

Jeffers closes the book with the reminder that there is plenty of time, time for you to grow, time to change your mindset, time to do the things you want to. Being impatient creates feelings of fear, stress, and frustration. This rings true especially in today’s world of instant gratification when everyone wants to feel good now, to have the latest phone, the best this, that and the other thing. Just take a deep breath, and trust in your own abilities and trust that whatever life throws at you, you can handle it. Either we think about experiences as a victim and not learn from it or we take responsibility and learn from it. Jeffers has produced a book full of little tips that can be applied all throughout life, the title says it all. Feel the fear and do it anyway.

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See you on the mats.

Book Review: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

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I have just finished The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, written by Mark Manson. It is one of those books that challenges one’s views and has changed my life for the better. Manson is a writer that gives life and relationship advice on his blog which has hundreds of thousands of monthly viewers, found at https://markmanson.net/. In a world that says that you should always be happy, you should aspire to be this and have that. Where success is only measured by money and how much shit you have, a house that the bank owns and a car that you can’t afford. Manson gives the reader an operating system to work off and use throughout life. By learning where to give and not give fucks.

 

First Manson starts with changing your view of yourself, not putting so much pressure on yourself but also being okay with where you are currently. Starting by being comfortable with yourself as being a failure, in the sense that in societies terms of a failure. Someone who isn’t always positive. The current culture that is so obsessed on being happier, healthier, smarter, faster, richer, sexier, etc. Part of being comfortable with yourself is that you should avoid searching for success defined by other’s values, society says your success is measured by your happiness or determined by how much money you make/have.

So instead of searching for happiness or success, one should solve problems that come up in life. If you don’t like the job you are in move on to another firm or change careers altogether. If you are in a toxic relationship that is weighing you down or causing you stress, leave them. However, being able to understand that once you solve a problem then other problems will arise. Changing jobs, for instance, you have to write up and distribute your resume, then having to let your current employer know that you will be looking at leaving, then once you get into the other job getting to know how they operate and making new work relationships. To get out of the toxic relationship, you have to make the hard decision to leave, then you have to deal with adjusting without them which won’t be easy but you will ultimately benefit in the long run. “Problems never stop; they merely get exchanged and/or upgraded.”

 

When you start searching for happiness and you often get into, what Manson describes as, the feed-back-loop from hell where you are sad, then wonder why you’re not happy, then you are even sadder because you aren’t happy and so on. One way to combat this loop is by not giving a fuck and applying the backwards law as stated by Alan Watts, a famous philosopher. Which, is the idea that the more you chase something or want something to happen the less likely you will achieve that thing as it reinforces that you lack that thing. The law is:

“The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.”

Therefore, you have to not give a fuck about being successful, same goes for being happy, don’t care about not being sad. Once you do that then you might start to give a fuck about more important things.

Blaming others for your suffering and pain is a quick high, you feel good for doing it because it isn’t you, even though most of the time it will be your fault.

“People deny and blame others for their problems for the simple reason that it’s easy and feels good.”

The root problem will still persist, however, only when you realise that life is suffering then you can deal with the problem. So, one has to learn how to effectively deal with pain and suffering, by sorting out and solving the problem that life or a situation is throwing at you. Manson integrates the story of the young prince who became Buddha, who had many realizations one being that life is suffering, where “The rich suffer because of their riches. The poor suffer because of their poverty.”

Manson moves from the spiritual and philosophical reasoning of Buddha to a more biological one, where suffering is ‘nature’s preferred agent for inspiring change.’ When we are hungry we eat, when we are tired we sleep. Obviously to higher degrees of dissatisfaction. “it’s the mildly dissatisfied and insecure creature that’s going to do the most work and innovate and survive.” Pain is the body’s most effective way to initiate action. An example would be when you have known about an assignment or a project for a while but only really start and complete it when it has been left at the last minute. Obviously, a bad example but you get the point. Pain and suffering are good and should be used as fuel to drive your actions.

Understanding that life is suffering, not every day can be a sunny one, however, it is up to the individual to not run from their problems but solve them. Blaming others for your circumstances is only a quick high, and only serves to make the problem persist. The only way you will change your situation is by facing the problem head-on.

 

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck is a hardcore book. One I enjoyed reading, learned a lot and has changed a lot of my views and way I conduct myself in life. Manson does a great job of giving readers a healthy reality check letting them know that they are not special and that you must tackle your problems head-on. Failure is just the process of getting better and that everyone suffers but it’s up to you. It is not a book about not giving any fucks, but one where you choose where you distribute the fucks you give and to only things that matter to you. “a simple way of reorienting out expectations for life and choosing what is important and what is not.” Manson has produced a great read. One I needed. And one I recommend for everyone to read.

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See you on the mats.