This post was going to be called 10 Things a Man Should Do Alone. But seriously, if you’re not already working out, educating yourself, writing to get your thoughts in order, and working on some skill or hobby, then get out and start before your vagina goes all Ouroboros on yoself.
You know, Ouroboros
Instead I’m going to discuss being alone, and share with you the things I’m not sure many men do. To me, however, these are the things that propelled me quickly (relatively speaking) from being a socially-retarded loser to fully-functioning self-actualising human.
Be Alone. But Don’t Be A Fucking Psychopath
Being alone is the fucking coolest thing on earth, and is highly under-rated by the majority of the population. Assuming you are not alone because of socialisation problems like some psychopathic school kid, it is where you recharge, take stock, and get to know where you’re succeeding and failing.
Alone time is especially important to me, cos I have kids. And holy shitballs, do they suck the time away. It’s tough enough getting laid with my wife, let alone getting time by myself. If you’ve got kids, you need to take the time to take time out.
There’s a bunch of things a man should do alone. Any of these can be done with others, but being alone removes the Need To Socialise. Socialising means communicating, competing, and seeking attention. It’s tough to understand how much of this you do without being alone for extended periods of time.
There are a bunch of socialisation patterns you use with everyone you know, and without being alone you will never know of your choices: using those patterns, changing to other patterns, or burning them with the other useless paraphernalia of your life.
Being alone is also the only time you’ll hear yourself. A lot of this has to do with socialisation patterns. It takes a significant amount of time (thirty minutes to an hour) of conscious awareness of being alone before socialisation breaks down and the inner you starts to be heard.
Silence In A World Of Noise, Aka Smartphones Make You Miserable In A Happy Way
Today’s world is one of noise. Almost everyone I meet wants to fill it with more. People love the sound of their own voices, regardless of whether they add value, or create filth.
But it’s not just the audible noise that I want to discuss. Every bit of data that you see, hear, taste, touch and smell takes attention. Think of attention as a fuel tank. There is only so much you have per day, per week, per year.
With our cache of attention we can absorb noise, or we can absorb signal. The noise is rubbish, redundancy, rehashes. The signal is novelty, newness, interest. Noise is obviously trash, and we want as little as possible. It’s like using fuel to run your car on a rolling pad. It takes you nowhere. Signal on the other hand can often take us from A to B. It can educate and inspire. But not always.
The problem with signal, and it is a huge problem in today’s world, is that it is addictive. In previous eras the information problem was a huge ratio of noise to signal. Now that we have all of humanity’s data available to us, the problem is reversed. We now see an immense section of society addicted to novelty.
Almost everyone I know under the age of 40 cannot leave their phones alone. Every minute of spare time, literally as soon as there is nothing to do, the phones come out. I have not been immune to this. It became an awful habit.
And the worst part?
I often didn’t need to check anything. Phones and the internet are great for getting directions, finding tradesmen, making appointments, and googling important and timely data. But 90% of the time I needed none of those things. All I wanted was a distraction.
In actuality, what I needed was a hit.
You’ve probably heard about dopamine before, and its effects on the brain. It’s often touted as a “reward chemical” or part of the brain’s “reward center,” but more recent research has shown that, like novelty, it’s actually more closely related to our motivation to seek rewards rather than being a reward itself. Animal studies around the brain’s reaction to novelty have suggested increased dopamine levels in the context of novelty. So the brain reacts to novelty by releasing dopamine which makes us want to go exploring in search of a reward.
The problem is that because dopamine encourages us to seek rewards, it may be encouraging us to look for more, and more, and more stuff on the internet. We get sucked into long cycles of internet surfing because our brain is reward-seeking due to the dopamine hits from novel information. Every time we see something new, it only primes us for more surfing.
So, rather than being a useful pastime, phone and internet use has become an addiction. It is robbing you of your life, your time, and your health. My eyes have not been the same since my first smartphone. The fine motor muscles are extremely tight, and I find it much more difficult to actually “see” my surroundings. I look, but I my eyes don’t engage.
How Do We Escape This Pernicious Habit? And What Does Pernicious Mean?
We need silence. Utter digital silence. Our brains have been changed by the internet. We need to restrict this change.
We still have a beautiful world around us! But how many of us notice it? Do we notice anything less than the change of seasons anymore?
As men it is our charge to remember how the world is. One day the internet may disappear. We must be able to remember how to live without it. Women can keep their Facebook and the rest. They are far more distracted than we are.
When you are alone, put away your phone. It is a simple task, and you WILL struggle with it. It is a habit you have to break. Use your phone only when others are around, if you must use it at all. Alone time is much too valuable to waste on phone surfing.
When you are alone it is important to keep this digital silence. It is distracting you from hearing the awesome within you. Being alone is the only time you can hear this voice trying to erupt from the depths.
Self Reflection and Self Therapy
This is the most important task you will ever perform in your life. Sometimes you will do it every day, at other times you will go months without it. But always you will come back.
Why do you stop when you are within arm’s reach of your goals? Why do you sabotage your relationships? Why can you not keep a job? Why is missionary your favourite (and only) position?
Have you asked yourself the deep questions of your life? These questions are the ones that will enable change in you life. You may never get a clear answer, and you will not change with any speed. But self-therapy is the way forward, and every man who is not perfect should practice it.
It’s the only way I have found to guarantee forward progress. If you are stuck in a rut in life, and frustrating yourself with your inability to change, then there are likely psychological, emotional and physical barriers preventing you from getting on with life.
Therapy ain’t for pussies either. You don’t have to tell anyone you are doing it. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. Everyone has psychological blocks, even hard-asses. It’s just that hard-asses have the personal control to run through those brick walls when they need to. The rest of us can take the slower, safer but not necessarily easier route.
Self Therapy 101
1. Buy a journal. Write in it. Draw in it. Paint it with custard, I don’t give a fuck. It’s yours and it’s private. No one else is to see inside it. In it should go any observations about yourself you find interesting.
Don’t edit yourself. Remember, no one else will see this ever. Be as honest as you can.
Over time you’ll start to get it. You will begin to understand yourself. You will edit less. It’s not so much a book for re-reading. It’s more about getting ideas out of your head and into a tangible format where you can begin to make sense of the nonsense. Your brain will take what you’ve spewed onto the paper, and begin to work on it without you even knowing about it. It’s pretty much magic.
2. Purchase Christopher Hyatt’s Undoing Yourself with Energised Meditation and Other Devices. Do the exercises.
The most useful book you will ever buy
3. That’s it. Take your time. Take your whole life. Nothing will make you perfect, so don’t rush change. Take at least 12 months then look back and see if you are happier.
What’s the Goal Anywayz?
The goal is to get out of your own way so you can live life. Most people live life on train tracks. The tracks take them to the same places, emotionally, in their relationships and in their life situations.
We want to have choice. We want the ability to experience not just frustration and misery, but happiness and satisfaction. That is a choice. We want to find friends that help and inspire us, rather than drain our energy. That too is a choice. We want to find meaningful work and hobbies that lend ambition and direction to our lives. You can make that choice.
But you must be alone to start on that path.