What Makes You an Expert?

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I get tired of being positive.  I don’t want to learn the lessons life is trying to offer me.  All I want is for life to let me live on my terms.  Rarely does it work that way though.

At times I can’t seem to handle whats going on around me.  I’m presented with seemingly large obstacles to see how I will react.  I’m cognizant of what’s happening and even tell myself, “these are tests, handle them in an appropriate manner.”  Yet when I face the challenge, I act the complete opposite of what I’ve prepared myself for and I fail miserably.

I’m angry I have to face the follies of my past.  Others have made similar choices and are able to continue on with what they are doing.  But, for me, it’s never that way.  God always seems to want to take away the things I want to do.  I want to be able to do steroids, take painkillers occasionally and maybe do a line of coke here and there.  I’m bitter I can’t be normal and do things in moderation.

I write a lot about self improvement; dealing with fear and adversity while staying positive.  Hardships have plagued my life for years, so I feel I have a lot of experience overcoming adversity.  Then I have times like this where I can’t follow my own advice and I wonder if I have the right to offer it anyone else.  Am I full of shit?  Where do I get off writing about this stuff?  How can I create a message to help others when I struggle to do it myself?

I read a lot of what so called experts write and I wonder, what makes someone an expert.  How does someone decide they have practiced enough and created a level of success worthy of calling themselves an authority.  Is it the 10,000 hour rule?  Or does it have more to do with what someone can persuade others to believe with their words? (more…)

Who Wants To Follow Their Own Advice?

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Sometimes I love playing the victim.  I don’t realize it at the time, but that’s exactly what I am doing.  I look at my circumstances or how someone has “wronged me” and I feel sorry for myself.

I vent to my friends in order to validate my own feelings.  I gossip and spin my stories to manipulate the situation.  I want people on my side when things go wrong so they can pick me up, tell me everything will be ok and that I deserve better.  It’s all about ME and MY feelings.

I don’t want to take accountability for my part.  I entered, or re-entered at times, relationships with the understanding of who these people are.  Being naive enough to hope they will change or act the way I see fit.

That’s called being a volunteer victim.  I see countless people playing this role every day.  I despise it, it’s one of my pet peeves.  I call my friends out on it every time I spot the behavior.  Then I turn around and act this way myself.  I’m a hypocrite.

I have lofty expectations others can’t fulfill.  That’s the first problem.  Placing my expectations on anyone else is setting them up for failure.  Any pain and suffering I experience because of the relationship is my fault.

I invest time and emotions into people with poor track records.  Knowing deep down I will ultimately be disappointed and let down.  That was my choice to make.  I knew better and still decided to proceed forward anyway.  I can’t blame others for doing what they always do

It’s the story of The Scorpion and the Frog.  The scorpion asks the frog if he can ride on his back across the river because he cannot swim.  The frog asks, “How do I know that if I try to help you, you won’t try to kill me?”  The scorpion assures the frog he wouldn’t do that because it would leave to his demise as well.  Half way across the river the scorpion stings the frog.  Before the frog dies he says, “You fool, why would you do that now we will both die.”  The scorpions only response was, “I could not help myself. It is my nature.” (more…)

Coming To Me For Advice?

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Who do you go to when you need advice?  It seems like so many of my friends come to me when they have an issue they need help with.  Hell, I give out amazing advice if I do say so myself.  I’m an idea man.  It’s just what I do.  Sometimes I’m even shocked by my incredible advice when I hear it coming out of my mouth.

This is especially true when it comes to personal and relationship advice.  I used to look at this as a form of flattery.  I’m a pretty resourceful and intelligent guy.  Also, I’m caring, compassionate and easy to talk to.  Why wouldn’t people want my advice?

Those factors all play a part of why my friends come to me for advice.  But the truth of the matter is that they don’t come to me for advice because I’m such a great guy with an uncanny intellect.  Its because I have fucked up so much in my life and they know it.

It’s easier to share your problems with someone you know has, or had, much worse issues in their life.  Particularly when the majority of that person’s hardships have been self-imposed.

People talk to me all the time about their relationships and ask for advice.  It’s crazy when I think about it.  These same individuals know damn well that my intimate relationships to this point in my life have been total trainwrecks.  I have never had a truly healthy and stable relationship with a woman I was dating.  But yet such a large majority of my friends come to me for dating advice.

I can certainly tell them where I went wrong with my relationships and what I could have done differently.  Sometimes that can be helpful to them by putting things in perspective.   It may add insight into what they could do differently to be happy or make their partner happy.  But at times I feel like coming to me for relationship advice is like asking Mother Theresa how to give a blowjob.  I can give you my best guess, but I’m probably not the most qualified person you could talk to.

Quite often, I don’t think that most people even want my advice.  They just want to be able to vent to someone who has experienced worse.  I’m guilty of this as well.  When I talk to someone I am able to relate with it makes me feel less alone.  Less like an outcast or a freak.

Knowing that someone can empathize with what I am going through is comforting.  I certainly wouldn’t want to talk to someone who has always gotten everything right in their life.  Their story wouldn’t ring true to me.  It would make me feel worse and more so like they could never understand what I am feeling.

Failure is part of the human condition.  It’s something that usually needs to occur so that we can change and grow.  Life is all about experiences.  Making mistakes is a big part of that story.  Its funny that when people see that you have failed so often they still are more likely to come to you for advice.

Now, most people can’t follow good advice.  These are the Askholes.  They continually ask, but they never implement the advice they are given.  They fail because the continue to do what they have always done.  Like the saying goes “If nothing changes, nothing changes.”  But that’s a different post for another day.

Dealing with Crippling Anxiety and Fear This Morning

I went to bed last night feeling well and free looking for to the day ahead, but my mind and my dreams had other plans.  I woke up in a mental prison.   I was covered in sweat feeling like the flu hit me.  It wasn’t the flu that had me paralyzed to the point I couldn’t get out of bed.  It was my mind. My fear and anxiety crippled me.  I was pretty sure the day was over before it began.  The Struggles with my life I have been facing had apparently snowballed overnight.  They all flooded me at once.  It was too much.  Thoughts were racing through my head about my business, my life, my ex.  Thoughts of how the stress is eating up my muscle causing me to lose weight and get ill.  The stress is causing my already thin head of hair to fall out quicker.  Over and over again the same thing replayed in my head.  I’m lost and I’m not making progress!

After about 90 minutes of laying in my bed, tossing back and forth, I decided I had to get up and drink my morning shake.   As soon as I swallowed the last gulp I stormed back into the safety of my bed.  I cuddled with my dog for a little bit.  Finally I couldn’t take it anymore and I got up and sat on the couch.  My hands and body were trembling.  It was as if I had done too much speed.  My brain was causing the rest of my body to get totally out of whack.  I knew I had to take action an do something to get out of my head.

The first step was to try the mindful awareness app that had been sitting unused on my phone for months. My therapist had recommended it as a way to  to help center myself.  The app made a slight difference, calming my breathing and allowing me feel the spots where the anxiety was resonating from.  It wasn’t enough to get me off the couch.

Next I went to YouTube and looked up motivational videos.  I watch a few until something clicked.  This video spoke to me for some reason.  I played it repeatedly until I worked up enough energy to take a shower and head to the gym.  I literally listened to this video for the better part of two hours.  The strength I found in the words I heard got me out my house and through my workout.

The most impactful part of the video for me was when they discussed “yet.”  The speaker talked about how people put in the effort and they keep pushing and pushing, but they aren’t getting to where they see others or where they want to be.  They are giving it there all and putting everything they have into their life but it just hasn’t happened “yet.”  That three letter word, yet, gave me hope.  It fueled a fire inside of me to do my best with what I had today.

On many days like this I would look at how late it had gotten before I got out of bed and given up on the day.  Before the day had even started I would have looked at it at a failure.  I would tell myself tomorrow would be better.  Then I realized all was ok.  There was still plenty of time in the day to make it great.  I can still accomplish and build today.  there is no reason to trade today in and take a mulligan. I Forgave myself for feeling defeated.  In my head I made the choice to make the best day I was capable of.

This morning allowed me to revisit several principles the world and others have taught me over the years:

  1. Even though I hurt like hell it didn’t kill me
  2. My life is much better and more fulfilling than I give it credit for
  3. I do not have the answers to my life right now and that’s ok
  4. The human mind is so powerful that it can be my best asset or my worst enemy
  5. I can’t always control my feelings but I can control how I let them affect me
  6. The only way to get out of my head and feel better is to take action

Even though I didn’t know what to do or how to make myself feel better, I still took action.  That was the only cure for my situation. Action allowed me to change my outlook.  If one thing doesn’t work I have to change my approach and try something else.  I needed action to get out of my head and refocus my thoughts.  To give me the strength and energy to get through the day.

The universe, God or whoever; taught me a valuable lesson today.  Like most experiences in life I need to look at the pain I went through with gratitude for the knowledge I have gained.  Now I have a plan for tomorrow or any other day in case I wake up feeling the same way.  I have created a contingency plan.  I know the steps I can take if I feel this way again.  I have the app ready to go and I have new motivational videos lined up to to watch.  If those things aren’t enough I have articles ready to read, podcasts to listen to and people who I can talk to.

It was a reminder that every day I need to create, build and live the best life I can.  Some days little victories like getting out of bed are a huge success.  I have to take these little successes and allow them to accumulate to bigger successes.  Before I know it life has a way of shifting itself from fathom to abundance.  When I look at very successful people I know, they key seems to be humbleness and humility.  To do the right things on both parts of the spectrum and to show appreciation and gratitude for the life you live.

 

A Letter to Travis – Things I Wish I Was Taught About Becoming a Man

My ex girlfriend and I split up a couple months ago  She has a 4 year old son who I bonded very closely with.  He’s a special little guy whose laugh could make the most miserable person smile.  Leaving him was very difficult.  Before I left, I decided I wanted to write him a letter on things he should know as he became a man.  As I was growing up I never had a positive male role model to bestow much wisdom on me about becoming a good man.  Candidly, I haven’t been the best man, partially due to that fact.  I worried he may face some of the same challenges.  I wrote this and gave it to his mother in hopes it that when he got old enough he would read it and it may help him.

Recently I have been struggling with life.  A LOT!  I came across this and read it to myself.  I realize these principles have a lot of value to me at my age and in my situation.  This certainly isn’t an all encompassing list, but it has helped me with some perspective on my life.

Things you should know as you become a man

  1. Always love and respect your mother. You may not agree with some of the things she does and some of her rules, but she has your best interest at heart and she loves you more than the life itself.
  2. You are perfect just as you are. Respect, care for and love yourself always.
  3. Have confidence in yourself and trust in your abilities. Learn the difference between confidence and cockiness (which is false confidence). Everyone looks up to and respects confidence.
  4. There are very few short cuts in life. To create something great it takes time, dedication and hard work. I have tried almost all of the short cuts in many aspects of life.  I can tell you first hand they all come with a very high price. They tend to take you to a place you don’t want to go or they end up costing you more than you realize in one way or another.
  5. Hold yourself to a higher standard. Always strive to do your best. You will be amazed what you can achieve when you work hard.
  6. Be kind to everyone you meet. You never know who that person may be or what they are going through. Being kind is a sign of strength, not weakness. It’s important to know that the people you meet on the way up in life you may meet again on the way down.
  7. If you have questions about anything always ask.
  8. Learn to ask for help. This is one of the hardest things to do for some reason but if you truly are struggling and need help, ask for it. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of intelligence, humbleness and strength. Remember the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
  9. Always make time to play, exercise and have fun. Treat you mind, body and soul as a temple. You need to eat right, stay active and take care of your emotional health too.
  10. Try working out and lifting weights. It is very good for your body as well as your self-esteem and confidence. Just don’t let it run your life and don’t let it be your only focus in life. Do it as a hobby that will pay off benefits for years to come
  11. Play sports or get involved with activities. You will be surprised how much you will learn and how much you may enjoy the team atmosphere and camaraderie. These types of things will teach you skills like hard work and disciple that will get you far in life.
  12. Do things you love and enjoy today. Don’t wait to do them later because later may never come.
  13. Read as much as you can. This is something I wish I would have done. Some of the most successful people I know are the ones that read the most and apply what they have learned from what they read.
  14. Learn to work hard and smart. Nothing in this world is free and intelligence and work ethic are valued at a premium in this world
  15. Don’t ever be afraid to take chances. Put yourself out there and try new things.  You will regret the things you didn’t try much more so than the things you did that didn’t quite work out the way you hoped.
  16. Never get into fights if you can avoid it. Defend yourself and stick up for yourself, never let anyone bully you, but only fight if you absolutely have to and there is an immediate threat.
  17. Learn to listen. I mean really listen! Don’t just sit there waiting for people to stop so you can reply. Sometimes people just need to talk to get things off their chest and being there for someone may mean the world to them.
  18. Treat women with respect. Don’t ever make them objects. Learn to be a gentleman. It’s something not many do. Open car doors for them; walk on the street side of the sidewalk when holding hands, when you take them out always pay for their dinner and make sure they get home safely.
  19. Always respect and be kind to animals. You can tell a lot about a man’s soul by how he treats a defenseless animal.
  20. Get a tailored suit. Everyone looks amazing in a great suit.
  21. If for some reason you ever get in a situation and the police are involved always wait until you have a lawyer present to speak to police under any circumstances!  Simply politely tell then “you have been advised not to say anything without a lawyer present”. I truly hope you never are in a situation where you need that tidbit of advice.
  22. Learn the difference between selfishness and selflessness. There have been many times in my life where I thought I was being selfless and I was actually being very selfish.
  23. Always take care of yourself and never let people take advantage of you. However, at the same time learn to be generous and giving with your time, intelligence and your love
  24. There are many people out there in the world that want to take advantage of you; there are also many that want to help. Learning to distinguish between the two is very difficult at times and it may take you a life time to figure out.
  25. Learn to forgive yourself and others. Let go of all the anger and hatred you may have for others or yourself, it is pure poison and will only bring you down.
  26. Never sink to someone else’s level.
  27. Peace of mind is worth a lot.
  28. When you apologize make sure you mean it! If you are going to say sorry, make sure the person you are apologizing to knows you’re sorry by not doing what hurt them again.
  29. Always remember your manners. Say please, thank you, excuse me, sorry, and god bless you. Hold doors for women and elderly people. It’s something that’s lost nowadays and I can tell you it’s always appreciated and it’s a little thing that can earn you respect and get you far in life.
  30. Forgive yourself and leave the past in the past.
  31. Learn to let go of things that aren’t for you gracefully. Holding onto things that aren’t meant for you just means you are spending less time with what IS TRULY meant for you
  32. Be very careful with drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. They can pollute your mind body and soul so quickly that you won’t even realized what happened until it’s too late. Please Trust me I know this one all too well.
  33. Don’t fear failure. Failure is ok as long as you are accountable for it and you learn from your mistake and do it better next time.
  34. Truly value the people who love you, like friends and family. They won’t be around or in your life forever so respect them and cherish every moment you have with them.
  35. Life is scary and that’s ok, just taking things as they come, one day at a time and don’t fear the future or dwell on the past. Live for today because it is all that is promised to you.