Time is a very convenient excuse that many people use for not doing things that they really ought to be. This is never truer than the case of health and fitness. Be honest, how many times have you said something along the lines of “I want to be (insert fitness goal) but I don’t have time for (insert process)”? You don’t need someone like me to tell you how important it is to eat right and exercise, that’s common sense and if you are honest your instincts tell you this.
Men in the UK are killing themselves every day because they are depressed. This depression often goes undetected, in many cases they don’t even realise it themselves until it’s too late. Men don’t express emotions like women do, this has been shown in research on adolescents. It’s not learned behaviour, it’s hard-wired into us. A caveman wouldn’t show any signs of worry or anxiety over where the next sabre tooth tiger steak was coming from so as not to alarm the family unit. But, the fact remains that suicide is the number one killer of men under 50 in the UK.
A big part of that is because men don’t appreciate themselves, they place themselves under pressure to fulfil the gender role that society has designed for them, to be the bread winner, the alpha commander, the one in control. If you get it right, life is good, but if you don’t life can spiral out of control. Then you’re no good to anyone, even your family.
But, before you can care for your family you have to care for yourself. So, stop buying breakfast and lunch at Gregg’s each day, stop drowning your pain in booze and recreational drugs instead of going to the gym and stop chasing young girls to make you feel more like the man your lifestyle has long since ruined. Start investing in your health, fitness and happiness and then the young girls will start pursuing you (wink face).
Simple right? So why aren’t you doing it?
You don’t care
You don’t care about your health or fitness, it all seems too much like hard work. All that effort preparing healthy balanced meals, and not just eating them but actually wasting valuable energy on contemplating what to eat and how to prepare it. Exercise? Yeah, that’s important but it requires both time and effort and you just don’t have the time because Game of Thrones is on in a bit, besides exercise is for fit people.
If this is the kind of excuse you make the subtext here is this; “I don’t see the value in putting any effort at all into developing myself.” Why would you think this? Because you don’t care about yourself. I’m serious! If you think that Game of Thrones or arguing about identity politics with strangers online, or having a wank are more important in that moment than doing something that is essential to your long-term wellbeing, you believe that those things are more important than your own wellbeing.
I recall an ex-girlfriend saying to me once “If I was more important to you, you’d make time for me.” She was right, I didn’t have room in my life for the responsibility of another person’s happiness because I wasn’t, at that time, happy with myself.
Your attachment to happiness is misguided
Everyone deserves to be happy but what is happiness? This is a question, the answer to which eludes most of us. We think that happiness is something to be attained, usually from the acquisition of external things. Have you ever said the following statement?
“I’ll be happy when…”
I bet you have, we all have. I used to say it all the time. “I’ll be happy when TM Fitness is pulling in £10k per month… I’ll be happy when I have a new mountain bike… I’ll be happy when I can go snowboarding all winter and surfing all summer… I’ll be happy when Daisy Ridley comes over to polish my lightsabre…” You get the picture.
But, have you ever noticed how the sense of happiness you feel when you achieve that goal only lasts for a fleeting moment? Like, you decide that the one thing missing from your life is a shiny new Audi A7, so you work your arse off until you can afford it. But, once you have it you still feel like something is missing and then you decide on the next thing you need to pursue in order to feel happy.
It’s like you are dangling a massive carrot on the end of a stick and chasing around after it, convincing yourself that once you have the carrot you can finally stop running and feel content. But, you can’t reach the carrot and so you continue to chase it until one day you drop dead. That’s it, your whole life has been about a senseless pursuit of a carrot that you never really needed in the first place.
You see, happiness isn’t about the things you have. It’s about a sense of acceptance and feeling at peace with yourself. In most cases, people are running from themselves and all these things they chase are there to compensate for the one thing they really need. Self-acceptance.
In the absence of a true sense of self, you end up obsessing over false flag fantasies… I mean conspiracies… you become obsessed with telling everyone how wrong they are and you start to believe that a violent career criminal like Tommy Robinson is a role model. Things make you angry really easily but every irrational outburst of anger, hatred or violence is, in fact, an expression of how that person, thing or situation makes you feel about you. A happy man, a man with love and gratitude in his heart, who has a strong sense of worthiness and direction doesn’t constantly express negative feelings and certainly doesn’t project that on to other people. Even when he is justified in feeling angry about a thing, he doesn’t hang on to it like a hot coal burning a hole in his pocket. He lets the anger go and then does something constructive to deal with the situation, or simply walks away, leaving the coal to cool on its own.
But how do you break that cycle?
Learn to accept yourself for who you are, to be at peace with your place in the world and all that other stuff loses urgency. Look, it’s fine to have nice things, it’s good to set goals and to constantly strive to grow and adapt but not if you are doing it in spite of yourself.
You are enough, you always have been enough, and you don’t need anything or anyone to complete you. You’re enough right now and anything else is just window dressing.
Denial isn’t a river in Egypt
I know what you’re thinking. I DO care, I AM happy, I DO like myself! If that were true then being nice to yourself would be easy and, by that I mean, doing the things necessary to be the best version of yourself. Yep, eating a healthy balanced diet, exercising to be fit and strong, developing your mind as well as your body. Not chasing distractions because you can’t bear being alone in your own company.
Now this is a spectrum. Everyone has different personality traits. Some people are very extrovert and love being on the go, being the centre of attention and highly driven to achieving new goals, that’s what makes them feel alive. While others, and I’m one of these people, are more introverted. Introverts tend to be quieter -more thoughtful and reflective and are happy blending into the crowd.
Neither is right, neither is wrong and most people fall somewhere on a scale from highly extrovert to highly introvert. I’m somewhere in between but definitely lean more towards introvert. So, learn to recognise where you are and live your life more in accordance with that. An extrovert feeds off the energy of other people and may become sad or depressed when left alone. An introvert is the opposite, we become drained in large social situations and it feels like extroverts are energy vampires sucking up all our life-force, so we need to step away from that and be alone to recharge.
The point here is to live your life on your terms and not based on the expectations of others. Know your strengths and use them, know your weaknesses and work with them. This is where self-development comes in. An introvert will never be as outgoing and charismatic as an extrovert but you can learn to be more outgoing and charismatic than you currently are, many actors and musicians are in fact introverts but they play the part of an extrovert for short periods of time. It’s the ones who don’t know how to manage this that end up like Pete Doherty.
A tall skinny man with little natural muscle bulk will probably never be as strong as a shorter, stockier man with more muscle. But that doesn’t mean that he can’t strive to be stronger than he currently is does it?
But, before you can plan to change anything you must first be happy with who you are now. This way you can be certain that you are doing what you are doing for the right reasons and not to compensate for a lack of self-esteem.
Where to start
So, you’ve thought about it, you’ve realised that there is room for developing the relationship with yourself, that your lifestyle could be healthier, that your body could be stronger, that your mind could be quieter and calmer. You don’t want to become a statistic. How do you start?
You start one step at a time, one small change at a time, one process a day. Have a social media cull and get rid of the accounts that make you feel angry, sad or inadequate. By all means enjoy your favourite sports but if your whole identity and your mood hinges solely on the success of your team then maybe you need to take a step back. I mean, if you took all the time and money that having a season ticket requires into developing yourself imagine what you could achieve with your life.
Be grateful for everything you have, rather than bemoaning all the stuff you don’t have.
Set aside time to spend time with your significant other, your children, your mates. But if any of those relationships are dragging you down it’s likely that they have to go (not your children, you need those, and they need you). So, that mate of yours who always seems pissed off about something, who blames everyone else for the way his life has turned out (because he refuses to take responsibility for his own decisions) and always wants to get on the gear, even though it’s Sunday afternoon and you just want to watch the match, yeah, he’s got to go.
Masculinity isn’t toxic, individual people can be though. Toxic people appear in all walks of life and they are mostly that way because they hate themselves and deflect that on to those around them, regardless of gender. A good man, who is proud of his natural masculinity doesn’t bully, belittle or harm others, he lifts them up. A good man, with a high sense of self-esteem is inspiring and has a positive effect on those around him.
But all that starts by seeing your own worth, accepting your true self and striving to be the best version of you that you can be.
Put effort into improving yourself, mentally, emotionally, physically. Get fit, eat well, be nice to yourself, be nice to other people, be honest. These are all basic humanities, you don’t necessarily need a bible or a Koran to tell you how to be a better person you just need awareness. I like to succinctly sum this up like so;
DON’T BE A DICK!
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