Letters For My Sons

Month: March 2017

Becoming The Man You Want To Be – The Basics

You have an image of the Man you would like to be.  We all do.

Some of us dream of a bullet belt strapped across our chest.  Some of imagine a navy blue power suit.  Some of us fantasise of a twelve inch doodle.  And will likely fantasise our whole lives.

I SAID SHOW ME TOUGH, NOT DESPONDENT YOUTHFUL YEARNING GODDAMIT

I SAID SHOW ME TOUGH, NOT DESPONDENT YOUTHFUL YEARNING GODDAMIT

 

For most of us, there are only a few aspects of manliness that particularly stand out.

Strength.  Courage. Resolve.  Reticence.  Doing what we say we are going to do.

For each of us the virtues are different in weighting.  Some are more important to us as individuals than others.

Here’s the issue:

To attain any of these, you are going to have to make changes that put you at odds with the majority of the world.

You are going to have to switch off, and become weird to certain others.  Thankfully, these others, you will find, are a waste of fucking time, and have likely been leaching your energy like the parasites they are.  Or, they are simply stupid people.  There are many, many stupid people.  Stupid people are incredibly easy to spot.  They are the ones watching TV.

 

Rule 1.  Turn off your television.

If you are watching TV, you are indulging in stupidity.  You have important things to do in your life.  Incredibly important things.  You cannot waste the time you have watching reality TV and the news.  Watching free-to-air television is akin to opening your mouth and having someone pour shit down your throat.  The most amusing thing?  Most TV watchers will agree with me.  And then go right back to the box.

(Note: this doesn’t include Netflix or Youtube.  Blokes gotta tune out sometimes. But it’ll be your choice, not some faceless TV executive’s.)

 

Rule 2.  Do not watch, listen or read any news whatsoever.

The news will destroy any sense of equilibrium you have.  Once you have developed a sense of calm, once you have removed yourself from Permanent Emergency Mode, you will notice how the news upsets.  Its sole purpose is not to inform, but to influence cultural mindset.   YOU are the king of your mind, and YOU will, from hereon in, decide on your own mindset.

 

Rule 3.  Cut down or cut out alcohol for extended periods.

Alcohol is a poison.  We all know this.  But it’s so delicious. And fun.  But, it kills you, slowly, and it’s addictive.  Being able to wean off addictions is more important than the type of addiction itself.  So give yourself time away from the booze and see what happens. It is much, MUCH easier to remain motivated and retain resolve when off alcohol.  Falling off the train because of a bender is the easiest excuse in the world, and one that will eventually anger you.

 

Rule 4.  Indulge in Daily Work.

Now you have some mental space that’s free from adrenalised misery and reality TV, you can do some work.  I subscribe to Robert Anton Wilson’s view of hard work as Hard Play.  The word “work” can demotivate, so call it play.  This is not your job.  This is the work you do to make yourself better.  It’s working out, exercising, writing, journalling, art, music, walking, building relationships, creating in some way now that you have the time to do it.  A great place to start is the Thing That You Always Wanted To Do But Never Had Time For.

 

There are many details that make all these easier, and we’ll cover them along the way.  For now, start with just one Rule, and see what happens.

Change slowly.  You have your whole life.

A Decade of Betterment

sparta

Over ten years ago I read a book that changed me forever.  One moment I was just floating around, the next I realised that there was a life that was passing me by, and I had to get on the train.

I believed at the time that if I just thought long and hard about changing, then it would happen.

I was so wrong.

It took work, and that work has gone for over a decade now.  And it’s been the best adventure of my life.

 

I Want to Change Now!

Self Change don’t come easily.  Or quickly.

Vast self change, the type that takes you from zero to hero, from grocery store clerk to CEO, is not a rapid process.  It takes years.

If you’re a young man in your early to mid twenties (or any man for that matter who wants to make serious self change) settle in for the long haul.  You have a lifetime of learning, discomfort and incredible rewards ahead of you.

 

Why does it take so long?

You psyche is like a deep valley.  It’s been carved by river that’s run through it over the course of your life.  That river has been fed by creeks and streams, that have in turn been fed by storms and snowmelt.

Your lifestyle habits, your thought habits, your emotional habits, your social habits, all your habitual behaviours have been worn into the bed of this valley, into the very musculature of your body and the synaptic connections of your brain.

Some people have broad deltas that allow the river to change course easily and relatively quickly.  These are the quick adapters and chameleons.

Most people have steep valleys that take time to change.

A few have sharp, narrow slot canyons that will resist change at any cost.  I would put most older (over 50) people who have never tried to change into this category.  A lifetime of habit has worn their behaviour into an edifice that they themselves see no point in changing.

But for those of us in the middle category, with valleys worn by years of consistent behaviour, we have work to do.

 

Punctuated Equilibrium

It doesn’t all happen at a snails pace.  One of the first things the Self Change Noob will notice is that once he starts, things happen.  A couple of months in, he will experience small behavioural changes that seem enormous to him.  Then, nothing will happen for several months.  This will seem incredibly boring.  But it is necessary.  This is the consolidation period.

The consolidation period is where the changes that have occurred carve deeply into the valley.  They start to change the river’s course.  The initial change in course is noticeable, often painfully so.  But then as it gets worn in, the pain disappears and the behaviour becomes normalised.

I think of this stage graphed as a plateau in the middle of a gradually rising curve.

equilibrium

Then suddenly the graph will spike upwards again, due to the work that the noob is putting in, and the process repeats.

A Decade On

It’s been over a decade for me on this path.  I didn’t consciously choose it.  However I knew that I wanted my life to be different.  I wanted less pain and more happiness.  I wanted choices.  I wanted satisfaction.  I wanted to do what I said I was going to do, and achieve things that were important to me.

In hindsight, it’s fucking awesome to look at how far I’ve come.  At the time however, many of the changes that occurred were painful and confusing.  It is getting easier and more pleasurable as time goes on, having gone through the process many, many times.

There are people out there who have been awesome from the get go.  Great parenting, great genes and good luck can help.

The rest of us have an uphill battle ahead of us.  And it’s the greatest battle of our lives.

 

I hope you’ve started, and if you haven’t, get on the train.  It’s the best trip you’ll ever take.

******

Tell me about your adventure in self change in the comments below.  I’d love to hear what your doing on your journey.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén