When your mind thinks about the past, it will always associate those memories with the emotion(s) associated with the event. So what happens is, you condition yourself to think about memories that do not serve you because they are negative. Negative thoughts (memories) create a negative environment.
Your mind will focus on what’s familiar to it.
Therefore, you are essentially reliving the same negative event over and over.
You think about a difficult event in a previous relationship >> you get upset because the situation made you angry and sad >> you spend the next couple of hours relieving those same emotions, even though it already happened >> the cycle continues
Some people do this for days, weeks, months, years, and even their entire lifetime.
A visual representation of what happens when you allow your mind to take control of you.
You must learn to break the cycle and master yourself. Learnto control what you’re thinking about, aka “observe” what you’re thinking about. If these memories do not serve you, let them go. You can’t change the past but if you’re not careful, you can take your emotional response with you. Is that how you want to move forward? My guess is: no, it does not serve you or anyone within the circle of your influence.
Focus on thoughts (memories) that will set you up to win. If you want to win the day, master yourself. You are worth it.
Have you ever stopped and wondered, “Why do some people go through their entire life, working aimlessly like robots?” Is this their personal choice or are they conditioned to be this way? Well, you could make a pretty good argument that both of these reasons are a contributing factor. Obviously, no one wants to be considered a robot. However, people do not realize that our society is slowly training you to be one, at a very early age.
When you were a child, you were conditioned to wait for a sound or a voice to tell you when to move, start, and finish.
“Don’t touch that.”
“Wait until I tell you to start.”
“Don’t express your opinion, even if you believe you’re right.”
When you were in school, the sound of a bell controlled your actions. The first bell was designed to tell you when to start. As soon as you heard the bell, you were conditioned to get serious and focus on your work. [“Pay attention.”]
The bells after that, indicated it was time to transition to the next class. Once you arrived there, once again–you were required to get serious and focus on the next subject. Your school day would end at the sound of the final bell. [“You can leave, now.”] This was always an indication you could finally relax. That is, until you arrived home or at practice (sport, etc.) We have been using the bell system since the 19th century. For more detailed information about it, visit: http://americanhistory.si.edu/blog/-school-bells
Make no mistake, I’m not saying anything negative about the education system. I am simply pointing out the fact that from a very early age, our lives are structured. We are told when to do things, how to do them, how long we can do them, and when to stop doing them.
Your Adult Life
The same concepts apply in the workplace. You rely on a time clock to dertimine when you get serious and when you’re allowed to relax. Even if you dont use a time clock, things called “deadlines” or “suspenses” have the same impact on you.
Although you can’t necessarily change or influence the way your employer or organization operates, you can change the way you operate. At some point, you must understand that change starts with you. Going through life like a robot does not serve you or anyone in your circle of influence.
My recommendation: make a schedule or write down your daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly goals. By taking the initiative to write these things down, you will place yourself back in the driver seat of your life. You establish what your day will look like so you can have the day you want, instead of settling for what the day gives you. When you operate like a robot, you’re in the passenger seat or sometimes in the back seat. Meaning, you’re not in change of where you’re going in your life.
Making a schedule is not where it stops, though. You must learn to rediscover your voice. Remember, you were conditioned at a very early age not to speak your mind.
“Don’t say that. Just keep quiet.”
Instead of sitting back in the meeting listening to the wrong information being discussed, you have the courage and professionalism to say, “Mike, the packet actually consists of five documents and not three.” The robot mentality would have kept you quiet and allowed the major mistake to occur. “I’m not speaking up.”
This iscalled thinking outside of the box. The box is your comfort zone, aka where you were conditioned to stay so you can function like a robot. Thinking outside of the box is how you grow in both your personal and professional life. Therefore, it is incredibly important for you to take control of your life sooner than later. The older you get, the more habits you build. When you’re functioning like a robot, your habits are based on robot principles.
Thinking outside of the box will make you unique.
Something to consider: once you step out of your comfort zone, several things will change. Some people will misunderstand you, roll their eyes at you (negative body language), some may even avoid you, and overall dislike you. Why? Because you no longer function as a robot. Therefore, you’re a threat or an outsider because you’re not part of the norm.
When this happens, you must stay the course. The obstacle is the path. You’re are not a robot. You are a unique person that has value.
I would like to start off by wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. This holiday is truly unique because it creates a great opportunity for us to reconnect with our family and friends. Even though we associate Thanksgiving with food, this is also a social holiday.
I recently took a break from writing blogs, due to my busy schedule. However, it was a blessing in disguise because it offered an opportunity for me to reflect on what matters. As I’ve said in previous blogs and my latest book The Best Version of You, we are very disconnected due to technology. Sure, technology is supposed to keep us connected, yet–that’s not really happening. We would rather hide behind our phones or computers, instead of making eye contact with the person we’re talking to. Sure, FaceTime and Skype are unique but they are not the same as a face-to-face conversation.
Now that we can text and e-mail, people would rather text, instead have a real conversation. Consider this, if your son had some great news to tell you, which method would you prefer:
Text version: “Hey dad, I have a great news. I got accepted to the Ohio State University.” Your son has to wait for your response because he can’t see you. Therefore, he doesn’t see how excited, proud, and happy you are, for him.
Face-to-face conversation: “Hey dad, I have a great news. I got accepted to the Ohio State University.” You embrace him and tell him how excited, proud, and happy you are, for him. Instead of him reading your response (text message) and guessing how you felt, he can see it. This helps create authenticity. Not only did you convey you’re proud of him, you demonstrated it. We really can’t do that when we send a text or an e-mail. We might think a creative emoji conveys the same message but trust me, to your son, it doesn’t. Have a real conversation.
I am hoping you selected option 2: Face-to-face conversation. It doesn’t matter how busy you are, your loved ones deserve your full attention. By only communicating via texts and e-mail, it might convey the wrong message: You are not a priority to me. This might seem extreme but to a child or loved one that desires your attention, it might be a huge deal. Take a step back and ask yourself, “How would I want to receive this information?”
Here are some benefits of a face-to-face conversation:
It creates authenticity.
It displays your true emotions and reactions. [body language]
It conveys a more powerful message.
It builds relationships.
It helps prevent an argument or disconnect, due to eliminating the risk of typing a convoluted text. [What did you mean?]
It creates additional conversations.
It builds connection.
It builds winning streaks.
It tells people, what you have to say, matters to me.
I challenge you to implement this into your Thanksgiving dinner, regardless if you’re celebrating at your house, a family members house, or a friends house. The world can use more face-to-face conversations and you have the opportunity to help cultivate it.
How many times have you heard someone say, “Man, that team got lucky?” I’m willing to bet, you hear it at least once a weekend. For some reason, people associate things they were not expecting with good or bad luck.
What people don’t realize–luck, just like fear, is not a real. It does not have any physical properties. Luck is usually attached to 2 things:
When people say, “She got that promotion because she’s lucky,” is it actually true? Is there evidence supporting how the stars were aligned and her employer was forced to give her the promotion? Of course not. Could it be, she got the promotion because she deserved it by putting herself in a position to win? It’s not luck, it’s preparation meeting opportunity.
When people fall short of a goal, their mind wants answers because it is their biggest critic. Therefore, to compensate, they’ll say almost anything to make themselves feel like they didn’t win because of external circumstances. “You got lucky.” This excuse and demonstration of bitterness doesn’t require any ownership.
Whenever I discuss this with other people, they always bring up the lottery. “You have to be extremely lucky to win the lottery.”
Well, that’s necessarily true. To win the lottery, you have to play the numbers. Meaning, you have to participate. So when you participate, and pick the right numbers, you get rewarded for doing what is required. That is not luck.
Successful people are not lucky; they just work harder than the average person.
When a Quarter Back (QB) throws a Hail Mary on the final play of the game and the Wide Receiver (WR) comes down with the ball in the endzone, does it get listed in the luck stats? Obviously not. The QB gets a passing TD stat and the WR gets a TD reception stat. Why? Because it is not luck when you perform what is required. They did their job. [One guy throws the ball, the other guy catches it.]
At the end of the day, blaming things on (bad or good) luck does not serve you. It undermines people and circumstances. If someone gets a promotion instead of you, next time–put yourself in position to perform better. Blaming your shortfalls on luck is not competing.
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.
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]
You are committed to helping people.
You’re a male advocate.
You are just going through the motions and do not really care about this topic. (check-the-block mentality)
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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? Assumptionsdo not = reality.
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.
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.
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…”
Although everyone has the right to ask questions and express their opinion — it is still important to think before you ask or comment. 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, 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).
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. I would rather 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 2018, not 1418.
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.
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 alwaysapplies. 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:
Be a producer
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.
Regardless if people disagree with your lifestyle, your hobbies, your likes, your dislikes, your character, and even if your personality — don’t you dare apologize for your originality. It doesn’t matter if you’re: a man, a woman, weird, popular, religious, an atheist, white, black, straight, LGBTQ, a hard worker, a lazy individual, short, or tall — you are unique.
Not a single human on this planet has the exact same thumbprint as you. They might be close but they’ll never be exactly like you.
That means you’re incredibly special. Yes, there will be days where you might question yourself and your purpose. You might have to make necessary changes and updates, depending on where you’re at in your life. However, those are usually just external things.
Stop letting the world stick a finger in your face and determine your value. You are a brilliant creation. This is your story and you need to be the only one that continues to write it.