I am very excited about finally having this book in my hands. Hard work is always worth it, regardless of how long it takes.
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 and out of focus, wanting to make changes in their lives, or simply wanting to update themselves.
We update our phones, our computers, and our software, but honestly, when was the last time we updated ourselves?
The book is available on Amazon.com and Amazon Kindle:
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.
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?
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.
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.
Have you ever wondered what causes your stress? What about your emotions? Where do they come from? Your mind is a battlefield and the following things are the enemy:
Lack of empathy
Your ego: Your ego (h-ego or sh-ego) is the voice that tells you, “You’re the best at what you do and you don’t require correction or change.” The problem is, your ego only serves you. Other people, organizations, and businesses are not the priority. Your ego will slowly destroy communication.
Regardless of what you believe or what your peers (the ones like you) keep telling you, no one enjoys arrogant people. Confidence is acceptable. You should be confident about certain things. When you make other people uncomfortable, based on your opinion of yourself, you will eventually find yourself alone on the island that you created.
Lack of empathy: Let’s face it, we are a busy society that I like to call, Instant Gratification Society. We want results and want them yesterday. Because of this, we no longer know how to talk to people. We completely disregard emotions and go immediately after what we want.
Example: “John, why are you so distracted, lately? Your projects are all over the place and the leadership is starting to take notice. If you don’t fix whatever is wrong with you, I won’t hesitate to get rid of you.” Is that being empathetic? Will this get you or other people back on track or make things worse?
Let’s fix this – “John, why are you so distracted, lately? Your projects are all over the place and the leadership is starting to take notice. Is everything okay with you? I’m concerned.”
“No, I lost my father two weeks ago.”
“I’m sorry to hear about your loss. Would you like to go to my office and talk about it?” That’s what empathy looks like. This is also how leaders should treat their employees. This builds rapport and will help the organization, down the road. People are people, not a project. Reconsider how you talk to people.
Complacency: “Why should I work on our relationship? We’ve been together for over ten years.” This statement tells one story: I don’t need to worry about us and I’ll allocate my focus on external things.
Complacency is tunnel vision and only exists because you are comfortable. When you’re comfortable, you stop growing as a person and your relationships pay the price, too. What makes you comfortable can jeopardize your future.
Therefore, “We’ve always done things, this way,” will eventually fuel disappointment. You must adapt to your environment, embrace change, and never stop growing. If you’re not careful, you could die via fratricide.
Toxic relationships: Theseare relationships where two people do not share the same values and because of that, there is a lot of tension and negative energy. The problem is, we’re not always aware that we’re even involved in a toxic relationship. We think, No way, none of my friends are capable of that. Unfortunately, it is possible.
Toxic relationships will increase your anxiety, undermine trust, and could cause you to question your own judgement. Why do I choose to associate with these type of people? Am I like them? Toxic people are not interested in you. Just like your ego, they’re only focused on themselves and their agenda. They do not generate success and growth.
Bottom Line: If you want to survive daily operations, you must eliminate these things from your life. They do not serve you and if they’re not mitigated at their earliest stages, they could cause:
I want to begin by thanking you for contributing to all of my experiences that have led me to this point in my life. Most importantly, I forgive you. Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have said that. In fact, I would have cursed you. Why? Because I didn’t understand, nor did I grasp this magical thing called: gratitude.
Did I have a tough childhood? Absolutely. At the time, it was miserable. Everything is always perceived as bad, when you’re going through that storm. But, everything is just temporary.
“In life, you’re either headed to a storm, going through a storm, or you’re coming out of one. We all have problems.”
– Eric Thomas
Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s was very difficult because there were a lot of racial issues (LA riots, O.J. Simpson trial, etc.), hatred toward the LGBTQ community (Ellen DeGeneres), sexual harassment issues (Clarence Thomas), murder on the streets of Las Vegas (2-Pac), the Branch Davidians tragedy in Waco, Texas (David Koresh), the Oklahoma City tragedy (Timothy McVeigh, which is tied to David Koresh), and other miscellaneous incidents. All of these things shaped me into the person that I am today.
Those negative experiences were the training that I needed. You read that right; I used the word training. That’s how our younger experiences should be categorized. These events and circumstances are what I needed in order to grow.
When I failed at something, that put me one step closer to succeeding. Every time a girl laughed at me and told me “No,” that prepared me for what I needed to do on my quest to meet my beautiful wife. Every time the bigger boy/man tried (or did) to bully me, that trained my mind how to utilize offensive and defensive postures, aka situational awareness. I needed that training.
When you’re younger, you don’t realize that events and experiences are giving you an advantage. Now, at age 39, I don’t worry about those things because I recognize:
Failure doesn’t define me.
If it takes 8 attempts, so be it.
Patience and consistent action are required with everything that I do.
If I can survive those things, I can survive whatever life throws at me.
I’m not afraid of embarrassing myself.
I can use my voice to help people that are too afraid to speak for themselves.
I’m comfortable in my own skin.
I don’t fall for the man card trap.
Those exeperiences contributed to me becoming:
A Service Member of 20+ years
A Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) and Victim Advocate
Someone that is against racial violence, domestic violence, sexual violence, and violence toward the LGBTQ community.
Someone that fights for equality.
In conclusion: No, I don’t regret anything from my childhood. I am thankful that I experienced those things. Adversity – you didn’t win; I’m still standing. You made me a better person and I can’t thank you enough. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
I challenge you to try this exercise. This is an excellent way for you to forgive yourself, exercise gratitude, and to finally realize that your story is powerful and important. Every single person is a piece of the puzzle. From the janitor clear up the CEO. I can’t wait to hear about your journey.