Hey dudes, my weekly blog is coming directly from my ‘Man Up’ project. I spent 3 days trying to get these words to paper. I hope you are able to get a chance to have a read. Please send all feedback, thoughts, disagreements, if it clicked or hit a note with you.. etc. This project is hard work, the goal is to dive deeper into male mental health issues, beyond just saying ‘lads need to speak up’. I am trying to look further into why so many men are taking their own lives, or living in constant hidden pain so we can make a serious dent in the statistics. Turn the tide. And I think going deep is the way. Thanks for reading…
It’s Not All About You
As much as this may come as a shock to you, you haven’t been put on this planet purely for self service. I mean, you can if you want to. But if it is happiness you are after, this isn’t the way. You don’t exist for the sole purpose of having all your privileged male endeavors served. Believe it or not, this place we all live in is a shared space, it’s not all about you. Yes you may find yourself regularly consumed with gambling on sport, trying to get your end wet, drinking, arguing with people on Facebook, getting shredded, getting baked and/or trying to make as much money as you can. It’s how you find joy! Well… you think that’s how you find it. But as much as you may think it, these aren’t the things that are helping you to feel better about yourself or your life. In fact, our desperately strong desire for these things and our hope that they will make us finally happy, a desperation that so often leads to poor life choices in our mission to acquire these desires, that is the problem.
Living an entitled existence doesn’t bring you all the joy you were hoping it would. You may feel, however, that if you don’t acquire the things you desire, you will miss out and as a result you won’t be as happy as you could be. You must have them. More money, more pussy, more admirers, more comments section victories, more beers, one more bet away from a life fixing win. “Once I get just a little more, I’ll be happy.” Truth is, you are likely to find yourself feeling less happy, less content and less fulfilled chasing these hollow endeavours. Yes gambling is fun (when you win), yes getting drunk can be too. The true benefit of drinking being the actual time spent with friends, the connection, not so much the drinking. Sex is phenomenal, Facebook arguements serve the ego well and of course having a handy amount of cash can help here and there too. But none of them bring true lasting joy.
When trying to acquire more, get ahead, chase down these desires, we often hunt them for the wrong reasons. We chase money for status and ‘stuff’ we think will make us happier, rather than use it to give more and serve those important to us. We chase women for our own personal pleasure and the ego stroking feeling of conquerment, rather than the shared love and connection that intimacy brings. We argue online because it is an easy way to build ourselves up and feel superiority over others, rather than stay humble and shut our mouths or share constructive solutions for the betterment of the whole over the self. We do things with ourselves in mind first and foremost, and this is the problem.
When our desires are based on serving selfish pleasures, the more we want them the more impatient we are likely to become in order to acquire them, lowering ourselves to lying, stealing and manipulation. We lie about how much we gambled last week when the wife’s card declines. We under pay our employees and deny them the benefits they deserve, but comfortably overfill our own pockets. We don’t tell the Mrs how much we actually spent at the pub, but are quick to tell her what she can and cannot spend our money on. We happily take every single time during sex, but rarely bother to give. Or if we feel we aren’t getting enough, we go off and get it somewhere else. We justify our behaviour by telling ourselves it is the only way to get what we want, what we deserve, to feel successful, to feel worthy, to keep up, to be happy. We aren’t the problem, the world is, the tax system is, that wanker on Facebook is, your partner who has lost her spark is. You don’t have to change anything, they do.
Sorry mate, I hate to tell you, but you are the problem. Your inability to take responsibility, your entitled behaviour, your selfishness. You cannot change anybody, you cannot control anybody. You can only look to yourself and see what you can do differently, how you can serve better, how you can help turn a win:lose into a win:win. It’s on you.
Who knows where this entitlement came from? Our overly doting helicopter mothers that still pack our smoko and lunches for us even at the age of 22? Our dads, that grew up during a time where only men worked and their women served them, giving you the belief that because you bring in most of the money, you’re in charge of the household, so you get preference, power and control? The male dominated media world, sporting world, political world and working world? We have grown up believing that we are the centre of the universe and that therefore gives us the right to bend the rules a little in order to serve our needs first.
In his book ‘Stillness is the Key’, Ryan Holiday discusses entitlement and people’s self centeredness. He cites the 12 Step to Recovery program to overcome addiction. Some of you may be familiar with this program. He explains that the second step is often the most challenging step for all recovering addicts to overcome. The second step asks that in order for one to recover they must be able to ‘come to believe that a power greater than themselves can restore them to sanity’, to be able to ‘acknowledge the existence of a higher power’. Now, I am not a very religious person, I do find religion fascinating, but I am not overly or devotedly religious. So if I am not religious then how the hell am I to overcome such a ridiculous step you ask!? Clearly I am fucked. But in “Stillness”, Holiday discusses that surrendering yourself to a higher power does not have to be directly tied to a religious faith, it is not about that at all. It is about accepting powers beyond your control, about surrender, about letting go.
“While addiction is undoubtedly a biological disease, it is also in a more practical sense, a process of becoming obsessed with one’s own self in the primacy of one’s urges and thoughts. Therefore admitting that there is something bigger than you out there is an important breakthrough. It means that an addict finally understands that they are not god, they are not in control, and really never have been. By the way, none of us are.”
Maybe because our modern world is now full of facts and science and proof, it has dampened our ability to have faith in a higher power, to serve something beyond ourselves? More than ever, our world is increasingly individualistic, everyone becoming more and more out there for themselves. It is called a ‘rat race’ for a reason, people competing with each other for power and money, all looking to get as much of the cheese as possible and expending all energy to do so, more energy spent than the actual worth of the cheese. We often think, ‘there is only so much available, I had better do all I can in order to get some for myself. Everyone else is doing it and no one appears to be getting punished for it either. It is the only way.’
But we do see the pain and punishment a self first, self involved, narcissistic and grandiose lifestyle can bring. We see it in the soaring suicide statistics and the soaring depression rates. We see it in rock stars, movie stars and CEO’s with not-so-secret personal lives. But it’s not just those in the media spotlight, we see it much closer to home too, in friends, in loved ones, or at home, in ourselves.
You may not think you are an addict. You may not be an addict at all. But the effects of selfishness on both addicts and non-addicts is no different. There are only so many lies, so many tricks and so much manipulation we can commit in order to serve our selfish needs that our conscience is able to handle. Eventually the guilt and the shame will pile up and become too much to bear. When a person is caught out in the middle of a selfish and shameful act, people will often say “how can you live with yourself?” Well… often people can’t. Often people choose not to.
We all possess some degree of empathy for one another, some people more than others. But we all have it. The shame that builds up as a result of our selfish behaviour and manipulative ways, that’s empathy. That’s empathy trying to communicate with us. Trying to tell us to change our behaviour. It’s not shame, it’s a message. A message to be honest, to be transparent, to put others first from time to time, to give and share before we receive, to take responsibility, to be more patient. If we do these things our shame will fade and true lasting joy will rise.
We will be able to live with ourselves.
“We have so little control of the world around us, so many inexplicable events created this world that it works out almost exactly the same way as if there was a god. The point of this belief is in some ways to override the mind. To quieten it down by putting it in true perspective. The common language for accepting a higher power about letting him or her or it into your heart. That’s it. This is about rejecting the tyranny of our intellect, of our immediate observational experience and accepting something bigger, something beyond ourselves. Perhaps you’re not ready to do that, to let anything into your heart, that’s okay, there’s no rush. Just know that this step is open to you, it’s waiting and it will help restore you to sanity when you are ready.”
– Ryan Holiday