All posts by Jason Hughes

Motivator, reader, writer, gym addict, victim advocate, husband, father, and human.

Are you in the driver or passenger seat of your RAS?

What you think about the most, will consume you. It will activate your Reticular Activating System (RAS).

The reticular activating system is a short, pencil-sized piece of the brain located just above where the spinal cord is attached to the brain. It acts as the gatekeeper of information between most sensory systems and the conscious mind.

Examples:

  1. You purchase new shoes for the gym. You honestly believe they are unique but over the next couple of days, you start noticing other people have the same shoes. Did they buy them because you did? No, obviously not. They’ve always had them but now these shoes are in your awareness. Therefore, you notice them. It turns out, these must be great shoes because other people are buying them, too.
  2. You start believing that people always get hurt in the gym, regardless of their skill set. Therefore, you take notice every time someone gets dinged up or seriously injured. It is all you can focus on. Do people get injured in the gym? Of course, that’s part of Murphy’s Law. However, because injuries are in your awareness, you notice them more than usual. Because of this mindset, you hold back in the gym because you don’t want to be the next person to get hurt. This is also your confirmation bias working against you.

These examples demonstrate how you need to be careful about what you’re thinking. If it upsets you, disappoints you, or goes against your values–why are you wasting your time with it? What is the:

  • Purpose
  • Goal
  • Objective
  • Benefit
  • Value

If it doesn’t support any of these things, eliminate it from your life.

“Where focus goes, energy flows.” -Tony Robbins

My dislike for video games does not consume me.

I don’t care for video games. But I won’t make the mistake of constantly thinking (or talking) about why I don’t like them. It serves no purpose and takes valuable time away from things that I value. I would rather reallocate my time to focus on things that help me win at life.

I love people that are focused on maximizing their potential. They don’t spend their day focusing on what they don’t like. Instead, they focus on what they do like and how they can multiply it. Because my filter is calibrated on this mindset, I notice people that are like this. If I didn’t like these kind of people, I would never notice them even if they were all around me.

Driver seat: You focus on positivity, it is in your awareness, and you set yourself up to win.

Passenger seat: You focus on things you don’t like, you hunt them down because they’re in your awareness, and you fuel disappointment.

The Challenges of being a Male Advocate

I have been a sexual assault victim advocate for 9 years and a proud supporter of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Helping people cultivate change is very important to me. However, being a male advocate in this field is very challenging. Therefore, I wanted to write this blog to help current and future male advocates. Please feel free to share this information.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month training – 2013

Congratulations on your decision to become a volunteer advocate. Advocacy is an instrument for change. As a volunteer, you will help facilitate the ambivalent and recovery phases of victims (survivors) of sexual assault.

Your commitment is a representation of the (Your Agency Name) and supporting agencies. Meaning, you are the face of multiple agencies that share one common goal: serve survivors of sexual assault without allowing any of your biases to interfere.

Whenever I am facilitating training, I always ask this question: “What is the number one thing you notice about me?” [Which is the best answer]

  1. You are committed to helping people.
  2. You’re a male advocate.
  3. You are just going through the motions and do not really care about this topic. (check-the-block mentality)
  4. You facilitate this training way too much.

If you answered 2, you are correct. Although answer 1 is valid, it is not a major factor. Wanting to help people and actually doing it are not always the same thing. I usually get a few laughs and an occasional shoulder shrug. “Why does that even matter?” With the way society is today—thanks to television shows, movies, magazines, music videos, advertisements, and social media—it matters a lot.

Being a male advocate in a female-dominated field can be incredibly challenging and exhausting if you are not prepared. Preparation is the key. Here are some examples of the stereotypes you might be up against:

  • “Wait—why are you here? You’re a male…”
  • “You’re an advocate? Why?”
  • “I’m sorry but—she is not going to want to see you because you’re a guy.”
  • “I appreciate you doing what you do. However, we normally recommend that a woman responds to these types of events. I’m sure you understand, right?”
  • “Are you trained for this?”
  • “Wait—you volunteered to be an advocate? But, you’re a guy!”

These are just a small sample of the obstacles you can face as an advocate. They might sound like the worst-case scenarios because they are. The reason why you need to consider the worst-case scenarios is because you need to prepare yourself to hear things that you’re not expecting. Keep in mind, these are comments that you might hear before you even see the survivor. When you’re talking to the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) or hospital staff, you are in a safe environment. Meaning, your body language and emotional reactions to these comments should not impact the survivor. However, once you receive permission to enter the survivor’s room—there is no room for you to demonstrate how uncomfortable you are with these types of comments.

Not everything is about you. Leave your ego (h-ego) out in the waiting room.

The fact is, if you are not willing or prepared to take criticism——due to the fact you are a male—then this is not for you. That might sound very harsh but it is true. Allowing your pride and ego to get in your way does not serve survivors. If anything, it insults them. It is not always about you.

How do you get better at handling these types of situations? I highly recommend you incorporate Push Back scenarios into your training. This will help condition you to handle real-time resiliency.

What will using Push Back scenarios and exercises do for you as a male advocate?

  • It will condition you to handle circumstances that you are not expecting.
  • You will become a better advocate.
  • You will become a better facilitator and leader.
  • It will help you understand how other people feel about this topic, to include how they feel about male advocates.

Resources:

Ohio Men’s Action Network (OHMAN): https://ohman-ohio.org/

A Call to Men: http://www.acalltomen.org/

The Next Generation of Manhood (A Call to Men): https://youtu.be/GG9fefzuFWs

Are You Proactive or Reactive?

How you start your day will determine if you’re going to be proactive or reactive. It is the difference between winning or losing.

Reactive: You wait until things happen and when they don’t, you allow your confirmation bias to manifest them. External circumstances are your master.

External circumstances control your emotions and day.

If you check social media, emails, or focus on what’s stressing you–prior to doing anything else–you will condition your mind to be reactive. This mindset will run your day.

Proactive: You don’t wait for things to happen, you make them happen. Everything you do is focused on helping you win.

You plan your day around your priorities, not external circumstances.

If you train your mind to have an attitude for gratitude, you will own the day instead of the day owning you. Being grateful and cognizant of the things that matter will not leave any room for your mind to drift.

Social media and emails can be important, depending on what you do for a living. However, just like stress in general, they don’t run your day–you do.

Being reactive does not serve your future.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Am I proactive?
  2. Am I reactive?
  3. Does my behavior impact my day?
  4. Does my behavior serve my goals and vision?
  5. What is my plan of action? [If necessary]

Additional tips to help you win: Take Control of Your Morning

Recognize What You Love | An Attitude For Gratitude

The world would be a better place if we focused on things that we love, instead of what hate or dislike. That is why I highly recommend you develop an attitude for gratitude. Here are just a few things to consider:

  • I love people regardless of their gender.
  • I love people regardless of their age.
  • I love people regardless of the color of their skin.
  • I love people regardless of their sexual orientation.
  • I love people regardless of their political affiliation.
  • I love people regardless of their abilities and disabilities.
  • I love people regardless of their looks.
  • I love people that have a different opinion as me.
  • I love people for their uniqueness.
  • I love people for their originality.
  • I love people that challenge me and other people.
  • I love people that are obsessed with success.
  • I love people that are comfortable in their own skin.
  • I love people that value doing what’s right.
  • I love people that understand and practice selfless service.
  • I love people that choose not to conform to society.
  • I love people that support equality.
  • I love people that take ownership of the failures and success.
  • I love people that don’t settle for their comfort zones.
  • I love people that crave self-development and self-improvement.
  • I love people that understand when love is not always the answer.
  • I love people that recognize when something is not for them.
  • I love people that welcome the next chapter in their life.
  • I love people that are not afraid to take a stand.
  • I love people that challenge themselves.
  • I love people that can control their confirmation bias.
  • I love people that can identify their thinking traps.
  • I love people that own their happiness.
  • I love people that can fight off the comparison trap.
  • I love people.
Love, happiness, and positivity create winning streaks.

This list could go on and on because once you recognize what you love or what you’re grateful for, you will begin to notice more and more things. Love, happiness, and positivity create winning streaks. Set yourself up to win.

The Best Version of You (Update) | My 3rd Book

I have officially signed with Xlibris Publishing (The same Publisher I used for my 1st book, Crematory.) My new book is called:

The Best Version of You

Although the book is in the (publishing) production phase, it still could be 1-3 months before it is available. This process usually takes some time, due to the attention to detail aspect.

Note: The official cover will be released at a later date.

The Best Version of You is a Self-Help book designed to introduce new skills and concepts for anyone to use when they’re: facing adversity, feeling lost, out of focus, wanting to make changes in their life, or simply wanting to update themselves. We update our phones, our computers, and software but honestly—when is the last time we updated ourselves?

Own your happiness.

Books, currently available:

Are You in Control of Your Emotions?

Due to social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, we are more connected across the world, than ever before. This comes with a price, though. Why? Because it only takes about 30 seconds for people to allow their emotions to post a status or comment. Notice the keyword?

Do you control your emotions or do they control you?

When people allow their emotions to post on social media, it is usually in the form of negativity. Their attention is focused on what they don’t like about the world and their circumstances.

“There are no good people, in this world!”

“I’m sick and tired of having bad days!”

“My boss is a terrible person. I deserve something better…”

Don’t allow this to be a representation of your life.

Some people are so negative, when they walk into a dark room, they develop. Being negative, does not serve you. In fact, being negative cultivates an environment that leads to a downward spiral. (Secondary and tertiary effects: You take out your frustration on a loved one or coworker.)

Bottom line: If you don’t learn to control your emotions, they will use you to achieve their agenda.

  • Your emotions: “I don’t like this guy, therefore — I am going to intentionally push his buttons.”
  • Constructive approach: “I recognize that I don’t like this individual, so instead of making this situation worse, I should probably just not interact with him. Or, I could have a face-to-face conversation with him to see if this is all just a misunderstanding.” As silly as it sounds, sometimes our emotions create situations that are not even real. You might be the problem, not them.

Top 8 Things to Never Stop Doing with Your Wife

Here are my Top 8 things to never stop doing with your wife:

1. Never stop dating your wife: complacency will damage your marriage. This normally occurs when you stop dating your wife. A healthy relationship requires you to keep things exciting and adventurous. Take her to a movie, the park, or a candlelight dinner — often. She’s worth it.

2. Never stop noticing how great she looks, today: “You look amazing, beautiful,” is something your wife deserves to hear. She works hard on her physical fitness goals and is always grateful when you acknowledge it.

3. Never stop appreciating how much she contributes to your happiness: your wife is a multi-tasker, yet — she always finds time to contribute to your happiness. Happiness starts with you (a choice) and when you have a great supporting cast (your wife), not even the darkest days can undermine it.

4. Never stop opening doors for her: contrary to popular belief, chivalry is not dead. Doing nice things for your wife is a choice. Opening her door might be old-fashioned but demonstrating your desire to make her a priority, should never get old.

5. Never stop asking her for advice: no, she is not your mother. However, she is an intelligent woman that knows you very well. There will be days when you just don’t know what to do or need a second opinion. She’s always got your back and can help set you up to win.

6. Never stop listening to her when she just needs to vent: some days, she had a bad day at the office. Other days, she didn’t agree with her friend, family member, or coworker. Regardless of what you’ve got going on in your life, now is not the time to bring it up. When she talks, implement your active listening skills. You’re not minimizing your life or circumstances. You’re simply conveying: I’m here to listen about your day, in an effort to help you feel better. I’m one of your best friends.

7. Never stop laughing with her: regardless if you’re watching a movie, telling a joke, sharing a story, or witnessing something funny — never stop laughing with her. Laughter is a way to demonstrate that you enjoy her company. Laughter is unique because it transitions into happiness. When you’re laughing together, you feel good about the moment and desire more.

8. Never stop recognizing her value to the world: let’s just be honest, your wife is an incredible person. She’s talented personally and professionally, a great mother to your children, and always seems to go the extra mile with everything. Here’s the unique thing about her — she’s naive about these things. Why? They’re habitual because she’s committed to excellence. Her attention to details help you, your children, and everyone within her circle of influence — win.

She is amazing. She is your wife.

People Don’t Notice as Much as You Think They Do | Negative Self Image

Be honest: how many times have you thought to yourself, I look like a fool right now and people are laughing at me? If you’re anything like most of the people on this planet, this has probably happened to you at least 5-6 times. As much as we don’t like to admit, we are way too hard on ourselves (Negative Self Image) and we put words in other people’s mouths. (Mind Reading)

“They’re laughing at my shirt.”

“My coworkers think I’m an idiot.”

“The panel probably noticed when I accidentally used the wrong word during my interview.”

“Nobody trips over their own feet while working.”

These are just some of the examples of things people say to themselves. For some reason, people have a tendency to gravitate toward negative aspects of themselves. At least, what they believe to be negative.

Focus on what matters.

The truth is, 80% of the things you’re stressing or worrying about, other people don’t even notice. Why? Because they’re too busy stressing and worrying about themselves. People are not perfect. They’ve never been perfect and they never will be. Yet, our comparison trap leads us to believe they’re perfect and we’re insufficient. In fact, everything about us is subpar.

[Read more about the comparison trap in my upcoming book: The Best Version of You.]

“Someone’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality.” — Les Brown

Here are 3 things to help calibrate your thinking:

  1. Stop stressing. People honestly don’t notice when you say something wrong or trip over your own feet. If they do, that’s ok — they’ll eventually do the same thing.
  2. Stop overthinking and mind reading. Unless you have evidence to support your concern, stop overthinking and mind reading. For example: “John, I heard what you said and you sounded ridiculous.” Did they actually say that or do you think they said it? Information changes the situation. Ask yourself: What information do I have and what am I missing? Assumptions do not = reality.
  3. Focus on what matters. What people think of you should have no impact on your goals, daily activities, beliefs, and life in general. Worrying about other people is a waste of your valuable time. It serves no purpose and will simply elevate your stress. (You will catastrophize.) Focusing on what will create winning streaks is how you will take your life to the next level. Small things are the secret. Do the little things every single day.
What evidence do you have?

No matter how hard it gets, you have to keep moving forward. People are not thinking about you as much as you think — they’re honestly not. The more time you spend on trying to please them, the less time you’ll have to work on yourself.

Self Discipline vs Self Destruction

Self Discipline: Focus on yourself and ignore external noise.

Self Destruction: Focus on other people and listen/accept external and internal noise.

LGBT Pride Month

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month (or LGBTQ+) is currently celebrated each year in the month of June in honor of the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan.

[This blog was updated: June 12, 2019]

To read about the full story: https://www.loc.gov/lgbt-pride-month/about/

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month

Every year the LGBT community is faced with difficult questions and comments, such as:

  • “Why don’t we have a heterosexual Pride Month?”
  • “Why is this even a thing?”
  • “Why do I always have to see this stuff?”
  • “This is ruining social media and television.”
  • “Why do they have to remind me of this, every year?”
  • “These people are annoying…”

“Why don’t we have a heterosexual Pride Month?”

Although everyone has the right to ask questions and express their opinion — it is still important to think before you ask or comment.

Keyword: Inclusion

Information changes the situation. As discussed in the About – LGBT link, everything has a meaning. Plus, regardless of what people think or believe, everyone deserves something to celebrate and be happy about.

As a sexual assault victim advocate, a man, a father, a husband, a human, an ally, and someone that values basic human rights: supporting LGBT rights are extremely important to me. This community holds a very special place in my heart. For that reason, I am a proud member of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) logo

For more information about this great organization, visit: https://www.hrc.org/

Free Mom Hugs – Ohio Event

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) community uses the rainbow flag

(commonly known as the gay flag or pride flag), which has different colors to represent the diversity of the community. Here are a few examples:

At the end of the day, LGBT Pride Month is about the celebration of people loving other people. Even if you don’t believe in this, due to religious or personal beliefs, it doesn’t matter because everything can’t always be about you. There are 7 billion unique people on this planet and it would be a tragedy if we were all the same.

Seeing people happy or in love, regardless if they’re heterosexual or LGBT, should bring a smile to your face. That is what life is all about. No, it is not teaching children something bad. Judging, labeling, or even committing a hate crime because you disagree with someone’s sexual orientation is what’s teaching children bad things. Personally, I would prefer having my children grow up in an environment where everyone is happy in their own unique way, then have them grow up in an environment filled with hate or worse — the fear of them self-identifying as LGBT. To me, this world has no place for that. After all, it is 2019, not 1419.

Additional helpful links:

GLAAD: https://www.glaad.org/sites/default/files/GLAAD-Social-Share.jpg

Lambda Legal: https://www.lambdalegal.org/

The Advocate: https://www.advocate.com/

Social Media is Not Free

Social media has come a long way over the last 10+ years and it is an excellent way for us to connect with new people and reconnect with old friends. Especially because platform’s like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat are free, right?

What if I told you they’re not free, would you disagree?

The fact is: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and even YouTube are technically free. However, if something is taking your time, it is actually costing you something. Usually, it is costing you valuable time that can be allocated toward more important things.

The Pew Research Center recently conducted an interesting survey about Social Media Use in 2018. I recommend you take some time to read about their findings: http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/

Pew Research Center

If the average person visits these sites each day, it makes you wonder: what are they not doing while navigating these sites? Obviously, we can’t make any assumptions about anyone because the “Information changes the situation” principle always applies. But we do know that what people do with their time always has a cost to it. Everyone has 2 choices when it comes to time and money:

  1. Be a producer
  2. Be a consumer

Unless people are operating an online business, chances are — they are a consumer while scrolling through the lives of other people on their timeline. It is perfectly normal and acceptable to be both. However, figuring out how to balance this can take some time. Meaning, you should probably spend more time on things that produce income for you, not Facebook and other people.

What can you do moving forward? Figure out how much time you want to spend on social media, when you want to spend that time, and what you want to spend the time on. For example: instead of watching YouTube videos about dancing cats, try finding self-help YouTube channels that can educate you on taking your life to the next level.

I also recommend turning off ALL of your smartphone notifications. Those notifications literally rob your attention every time they alarm, flash, or vibrate. Is a Facebook comment really worth you stopping what you’re doing? Try to train yourself to check your smartphone when you’re ready, not when Facebook or Twitter says you’re ready.