Body image pressure and how to fight it.

Body image is a sensitive topic for many.

It’s no wonder that the Internet is full of articles on body acceptance, smack in the middle of that “lose 10 lbs in one week!”-jungle. There is so much pressure on being lean, looking fit, sexy, and whatever the flavor of the year is. And it’s not surprising, at least to me, because we all have the inner need to be accepted. It’s one of many human traits, that will always be with you, and all you can do is learn to manage it (by preferrably accepting “you” by yourself).

Gender equality in body acceptance.

Body image issues are not exclusive to women. Men experience body image pressure as well. Famous TV-series like Vampire Diaries, True Blood and movies like Magic Mike, and……fuck, man, have you ever seen NOT-shredded, muscular male actors on screen lately? You probably did, but they are a minority. Hugh Jackman has to shred as hell before each Wolverine movie. Wentworth Miller, Prison Break actor, wrote a post on Facebook after a picture of him being in a “less-than-expected”-shape got out of control on the internet. The Internet was right on top of it with all kinds of puns:

12072568_1713822728830662_156327031729391964_n“FUCK YOU, Wentworth, for being a human being and putting on weight cos life is hard”, right? /sarcasm.

I’m not going to bother to bring up tons of examples where human beings are in a less-than-fit-shape and are being bashed for it.

Body image pressure or distorted view of human beings?

See, this is where shit gets on my tits too much. Two things do, actually. One of them is that our value as a person and a human being is being based on our bodies and what we do with it. I find myself guilty of this every now and then, and I’m not happy about it. This is something I, consistently, am trying to change. The point is, we all do this to some degree, some more than others. Nobody’s perfect (even though we can try to be). It’s the far-end of the spectrum I’m having a problem with, like the Wentworth-example. All kinds of jokes got passed around because he was no longer fit, with his sixpack and hot tattoos. “No longer sexy and fit? Fuck you. You’re dead to me.” and this shit has to stop.

This is where I admire a personal trainer in Norway, Camilla Lorentzen. She started a movement on social media with a hash tag #fitnok (“fit enough”, translated from norwegian). It’s a noble cause and a great idea to make the majority of population aware that they are good enough as they are. You want to be fit and feel great? Do that. You like a different lifestyle, perhaps less hard-core than lifting weights 7-days a week and munchig chick breast and broccoli? That’s great! It’s your own choice, as long as you feel great.

We all come in all forms of shapes, forms, shades and sizes. Our feeling good about ourselves should ideally not be rooted in our physical entity. Because, it’s just that: physical entity of something larger and more complex. We’re not the cars we drive, we’re drivers. But all we often see is the cars we drive. We don’t see the drivers. And that’s where the difference between body image pressure and the view of people is. Body image pressure vaporates as soon as we start seeing others as more than their bodies. The body is just a meat bag. Inside of it there is an entity: a personality. I’m talking metaphorically of course. I’m not sure if science has really detected the physical manifestation of a personality (perhaps as a collection of neurons, or even neuron clusters, you know, brain. I don’t know. I haven’t given it much thought). That’s where the focus should be: our personalities and it’s attributes. We should promote personalities, not the bodies. The body is negligible, it should not even be a part of the equation.

The problem with #fitnok (fit enough).

The idea is great, but it lacks definition. And that’s where it all went sideways. You can’t really control social media, nor can you control people. In the “fitnok”-wave, there was a “side wave”, if I may call it that, that posted pictures of themselves being overweight and tagging them with #fitnok. I think we all can agree that being overweight is not healthy and it’s a proven scientifically (increased risk of stroke, diabetes and joint-related problems, etc). You can’t be overweight and go #fitnok. Yeah, that’s right, shots fired. I went there. You really do not have to have low body fat percentage or raging muscles to be fit, or fit enough, you’re very much right. But you can’t be overweight and call yourself fit and promote that. It might be your volunteerly taken choice, it might be an underlying health issue, shit happens. We’re not perfect. We’re all human, that’s cool. The context here is “fit nok”: fit enough, with focus on “fit”. I’m sorry, you’re not fit if you’re overweight.

Fit: “In good health, especially because of regular physical exercise“.

Source.

It’s that simple. However, the main argument here is: does being fit or fit enough do anything with your value as a human being? The focus is on the body still. The irony here is that #fitnok-movement is trying to eliminate feelings of inadequecy because of the way the body looks, by focusing on the way the body looks. See what I’m getting at here? It’s fighting fire with fire, you can’t do that, unless you wish to spread the fire even more. What triggered this whole post is that Camilla’s Instagram feed got increasingly more and more focused on the body, which invites the question “Is fitnok really doing it’s intended job?”.

fitnok2fitnok1I think the generall public has seen her stomach pictures plenty of times, and got the message by now. It’s been in the norwegian media plenty of times as well. If you haven’t seen or read it yet, here are a few (in norwegian):

http://www.side2.no/helse/dette-er-samboeren-min-er-hun-ikke-flott/6809777.html

https://www.vektklubb.no/artikkel/naar-kroppspresset-gaar-altfor-langt-23601009

https://www.vektklubb.no/artikkel/trening/derfor-kan-fitspiration-ha-motsatt-effekt-23547804

The first major issue I have with the #fitnok-consept is, as I’ve mentioned earlier, the focus on body, not the “self” (“The car, not the driver”, remember?). The second issue is the motive behind the endless belly-pictures. I wonder: “How many belly-pictures does it have to take to deliver the message?”. Why the recent increase in belly-picture-frequency or more skin in general? Have you ever seen Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy “before and after”-pictures to front a healthy choice? Body image before and after? Let that marinade for a few moments.

Final word.

I really wish that we started looking at the driver, metaphorically speaking.

Edwin-the-fast-and-the-furious-movies-21092309-450-260 its_not_how_you_stand_by_your_car_its_how_you_race_your_car_fast_and_the_furious_vinyl_sticker_decal_grafixpressions_grfxpYou can race the most beautiful, iconic, aesthetically pleasing car in the world, but if you’re a shit driver, it woun’t get you first across the finish line. I think it’s REALLY time to focus on the sence of “self”. Focus on values and our role in this world: how good we are as a co-human being, a friend, a sibling, a parent, someone’s significant other. Focus more on what we DO and HOW we do it, rather than sweating too much (pun not intended) about how we look. Promote personal qualities rather than looks. All day, any day. Do you have to LOOK fit? No. Do you need to BE fit? Yeah, simply because of the general health situation and that? That is in your own interest. Your health should be in your own interest, because you should be taking care of yourself. It is really irrelevant how you look, as long as you’re healthy. Health is important, not the way your body looks. Stay healthy, stay content, Internet.

Perspective flip.

One of my biggest realizations this year was that the reality I live in, the way I feel about things, the way I see them, was largely affected by the way I think. I always knew this really, except I’ve never felt it. I am a smart person, however I am confined by my humanity. Knowing something and practicing it are two different things. Knowing is only the beginning of a transformative change, practicing it day after day is where the change itself is. I can TELL you how to be happy, but you have to take the steps yourself to experience the change. All I can do is give you insight and experiences I’ve gained myself.

Take 10 minutes and watch this powerful TED-talk which shows what I’m talking about in more detail:

(“Sweet Mary, Mother of fuck, she’s cute” – Digression)

This is a perfect example of a perspective flip: something shitty happens, your first instinct is to break the fuck down and die, but then you get your shit together and start seeing possibilities instead of limits. The cue “If your life were a book, how would you want the story to go?” is a perfect one: it snaps you out of your wallowing, gives you responsibility for your own life, actions and emotions, it puts you in the driver’s seat of YOU. Blindfold comes of, and you’re sitting in a Cessna with your hands on the sticks and you see the pilot jump out of the plane yelling “SURPRISE, MOTHERFUCKER. ITS YOUR PLANE NOW”. That’s pretty much how it feels to suddenly realize you and you alone have control over your life and everything it involves.

simpsons

After the initial shock wore off, it was as if someone dropped an A-bomb of Life on me. I believe that if I was spiritual I’d say it was the “Great Awakening” or something along the lines of it. But I’m not, so I’m sticking with the A-bomb. I saw possibilities instead of limitations, the perspective got flipped.

Awareness is a wonderful thing. I cruised through most of my life by just riding the wave. Big portion of it was me gaming CS, Diablo 3 and WoW, so that was like 8 years of my life down the drain. I had few basic needs: food, sleep, sex and gaming. That was it. I didn’t assume direct control of my life until January, 2016. That’s when unhappiness stopped. Why? Because I could finally be me 100% and I assumed full control of my everyday life. What I wanted to do, how I wanted to feel, etc.

Obviously, there are some things I can’t control. I can’t control the way other people behave and are acting towards me. I can, however, control the way I see it. I became Unwithfuckable.

unfucjwih

It is so easy to wind up in other people’s “wants”. “Be this, do that, wear this, behave like that, like this, have an opinion on that” etc. You don’t have to react, you don’t have to like what others like, you don’t have to do what others do, you don’t have to dress yourself as others do. Being a people-pleaser is an insult to, and perfect waste of, who you are. It is not a selfish thing to attend to your own needs FIRST, to have them as a first priority, and your first priority should be your own well-being and happiness.

So ask yourself this, Buzzfeed-style:

  1. What makes me happy? What brings me joy? What makes me relaxed, calm, at peace with myself? (hint: you have ALWAYS self-compassion with you, no matter how shitty situation is). What makes me REALLY fired up and enthusiastic? Do more of this.
  2. What makes me unhappy? Drained? Down? Annoyed? Stressed out? Do less of this.
  3. What will 60 year old me want a 30 year old me to do? Do that.
  4. What will 60 year old me NOT want a 30 year old me do? Don’t do that.
  5. What do I want to do today? REALLY want? What do *I* want to do today, for me? (Tip: “for me” can be doing something for others. Volunteer-work, any selfless action can have a great effect on your happiness).
  6. If something shitty has happened or is about to happen: Will this matter in 10 years? 5 years? A year?  Does it really matter NOW? If the answer is “no”, let it go, change focus on all the previous points in this list. If the answer is “yes”, give yourself self-compassion, attend to your needs, then rationally think of a way to remedy the situation. Think possibilities, not obstacles.
  7. What am I grateful for today? What can I be grateful for every day?
  8. If I knew my life would end in 10 years: what would I want to accomplish and experience before that time? (This one is not really healthy. However, the purpose of this is to bring awareness to short-term future and focus on things that really matter to you and are rewarding. I’ve read somewhere that old, retired people have quite some regrets in terms of what they should’ve and should’ve not done. This way of thinking helps to prevent that from happening as much as it normally would.)
  9. Reality check! Everything around you is always the same (even though it’s changing. Yeah, deep, I know). The life around you will always be the same: same people, same buildings, same businesses, coffee shops, cars, etc. It is a dynamic environment, but it’s always there. The way you feel about it, and everything it contains, is depending on the filter you see it through. If you see it through a negative, non-constructive filter, everything will be shit, and you will focus on all the things that are wrong with it. If you look through your freshly created “do whatever makes you happy”-pink-tinted-filter, you will start seeing possibilities, and all the good the world and people have to offer. Things do not have a meaning, WE assign meaning to THINGS, and they mean exactly what we want them to mean. So….what do you want things to mean? Something good or something bad? Easy choice, challenging execution. Again: knowing is one thing, practicing takes practice (“well, duh”).
  10. Are you your best friend? Do you take care of yourself? Do you have your best interests?

I’m not saying that if you’re in a deep depression that if you do all these things your life will be peachy and shits’n’giggly. I went through a process and it’s natural to me now, but if someone presented me this article, I’m not so sure I would be able to follow. However, I’m offering these simple insights as kind of a reminder, baby steps in the right direction if you may. Patience and self-compassion is key. It takes time to change deep-rooted personality traits, and we’re human, we try and we fail. Time, patience, persistence and self-compassion are the tools that might help you along the way.

Self-compassion and how it can change your life. If you want to.

I have waited for the perfect day to write this article. I had an idea of a feeling I’d have, some form of mood, that when I’d have it, it would be the right mood to write this article in, and today, right now, is it.

Most people in my circle of friends know that I’ve had my run-ins with depression, anxiety and general unhappiness for the past 10 years. It’s been on and off, and I never noticed when it actually started until I, one day, suddenly realized that the way I feel, act and respond to the world around me is abnormal. When I hit lows, I really hit lows, and it seemed like I stayed there longer than others. The worst part of it, in the end, I really liked it. I wasn’t really aware of this pattern until now, but back then I just felt “off” without me being able to pin-point what exactly that was off. It was just off. Weird. Not right. I didn’t feel right. The times I was happy, it felt more like I faked being happy. I felt like it was expected of me to laugh at that particular moment, or to think positively of something we’ve discussed or experienced together with my friends. Having a genuine, belly laugh was a rare occurrence.

I had my Goth-emo-period later than others, I was 18-21 years old. I just identified with darkness more than I did with light. Darkness felt like home, even though it felt like absolute shit, it was MY “shit”. I listened to bands like Staind, Seether (still do love Seether though), Linkin Park, Prodigy, Apoptygma Berzerk, Marilyn Manson, Massive Attack, NIN, Disturbed, Span, SoaD, even Limp Bizkit at some point (gotta have some of the “KEEPROLLINROLLINROLLINROLL” & “And if my day keeps goin’ this way I just might break your fuckin’ face tonight!!”-action), etc etc, absolutely LOVED movies like Pulp Fiction, Matrix, Snatch, Fight Club (<3), Crank, Army of Darkness, Apocalypse Now. Me and my friend had these bro-nights where we just drank Jack and smoked a pack of cigs, lit by our zippo’s, while we just drowned in the setting of Apocalypse Now. Mmmmm, gotta love the smell of zippo fuel and the sound of opening click. I loved my black nail polish and I was chain smoking the living shit out of my lungs. Man, was I cool (hint: I wasn’t). It’s been generally really weird 10 years, when I look back at it now being 31.

 

But I digress in nostalgia. I clearly still do love my spot in darkness, since it’s been my home for over ten years, but that’s not where I live today, and how I got “here” was actually by pure accident. I’ve been through a year of therapy: high dose SSNRI-usage coupled with weekly talk sessions with my therapist. Weirdest year so far, and I don’t really remember much of it. Another digression: SSNRI’s really fucked up my memory and focus on a permanent basis, and I still don’t quite know how to recover from that. I’m quite forgetfull. However, after that year, I decided to quit both therapy and SSNRIs as they felt more like they were in my way, instead of being helpful, so “fuck that” and that’s how I discovered brain-zaps when you quit SSNRIs cold turkey. Good times. Regardless, years that followed were much better than before. I was more aware of my mechanics and how my internal thought and feeling’s processes worked. That was also the point in my life when I got really interested in psychology, and hence self-development. I started reading books, self-help books, life-style books, all that jazz. Everything that could manipulate negative and destructive internal processes into better ones, I was obsessed with it. Fast forward a few years and we’re talking about The Year of 2015(tm). Yes. That was a good year. A productive year. Perfect for individual growth. If you read “sarcasm” and “anger” into what I just wrote, you were quite right. It started really great, then it was good, then I met one wrong person, and it all went to shit from there. I’ve been recovering from that for the major part of 2015. I’ve done some really destructive shit throughout the year, including binge drinking single malts and stuffing my face with my local store’s chocolate and crisps storage, and lifting weights I probably shouldn’t lift. However, I’ve done something that saved me before, and it was reading self-help books. My therapy experience enabled me to identify areas of my internal processes that required attention, so I could pin-point topics that needed adressing. So that’s what I did, I went straight on Google and Amazon and bought some books for my Kindle. Out of sheer luck, I stumbled upon this one book: “Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself” by Kristin Neff. I stumbled upon some quote on some Instagram account in my feed, so I did some further research because it resonated that well with me. It hit me “right in the feels”, so apparently, it hit a sore spot. I don’t remember the quote, however, the book hit me like a sledgehammer even more from the page one. The following is just an excerpt from www.self-compassion.org

 

Having compassion for oneself is really no different than having compassion for others. Think about what the experience of compassion feels like. First, to have compassion for others you must notice that they are suffering. If you ignore that homeless person on the street, you can’t feel compassion for how difficult his or her experience is. Second, compassion involves feeling moved by others’ suffering so that your heart responds to their pain (the word compassion literally means to “suffer with”). When this occurs, you feel warmth, caring, and the desire to help the suffering person in some way. Having compassion also means that you offer understanding and kindness to others when they fail or make mistakes, rather than judging them harshly. Finally, when you feel compassion for another (rather than mere pity), it means that you realize that suffering, failure, and imperfection is part of the shared human experience. “There but for fortune go I.” Source here.

No matter how depressed I was, I was always compassionate (to my best abilities) towards others. It suddenly hit me while I was reading that book that I was never self-compassionate. In fact, I was the opposite of compassionate, I was resentfull of myself. My self-talk was negative. “Nah, not gonna even try applying for that job because I’m not good enough” (I was), “She probably doesn’t see me that way” whenever I liked a girl, or even worse  (this is my favorite): “I’m not hot, handsome, fit, funny, interesting, successful enough to ever be noticed and this family-life-business is for others, not me”. Whatever the situation was, I rarely felt that I fit in, or was good enough for given situation. One of the biggest “mind=blown”-moments was my choice of women throughout the years, and my general experience with women. I’ve had bad experiences with girls/women (result: scewed sence of self-worth, anticipation of rejection), so my choice of women mirrored that, and I always picked girls that would subconsiously confirm, and therefore reinforce the notion that I’m “just not good enough”. Result? 10+ years of female suckfest, and there’s no pun intended here. Next one worse than the previous one, and I’m not saying that they were bad people, but the relationship was so wrong for me (and sometimes for both of us), that, one day, I met “The Mother of All Self-Destruction” and the whole thing broke me so bad, so thoroughly, that I ended up rebuilding myself from the ground up. The worst and difficult part of it to accept was: I allowed it to happen from day one (again: subconsiously seeking confirmation that I’m not good enough).

 

See, normally I would be resentful, hateful, in emotional pain and just drown in that shit for months on end. After reading this book, everything changed. What changed? I started loving myself. Fuck, man, I’d never thought I’d write something this cheesy, but it’s straight up what happened. If I was my best friend (and I am. Now.), I’d feel my pain, understand it, tell myself that it’s really shit, but not everything is so shit, and I’ll be fine, it will blow over, and I’ll be fine again. You know, I’d offer myself compassion like I automatically do towards people I’m close to. “Woa. Dude.” That’s when The Self-Compassion Bomb(tm) hit me and literally changed everything in my life in matter of days. The change spread like wildfire. And by everything, I really do mean everything. Two weeks after I got hit by that realization, I was happy. It wasn’t because of anyone or anything. I was happy because I was me, I loved my identity and personality qualities. The first thing I noticed was constant happiness and serenity. Second thing I noticed was self-esteem. There is so much literature on self-esteem and how to gain it, like a whole business market for it, and you should do this, and that, and eat eggs raw and just walk off that broken leg, fuck bitches every night, because then you’d be alpha as fuck and all of your self-esteem issues would be fixed. Wrong. That’s fake self-esteem. A cover up. A mask that easily digestible. A learned response you perform in given situations, when your natural internal response is nowhere close. Self-esteem is a no-cost, absolutely-fucking-free by-product of self-compassion and it is as autonomous as breathing. And when I suddenly realized that, one realization amongst hundreds that I had the weeks that followed, I became even more happy. Self-compassion was like a re-programmed virus, spreading from cell to cell, untill it fully saturated every cell in your body. That’s how I felt the effect of self-compassion. All the aspects of my life that I saw in a negative way, or had struggles with, anything that was a source of unhappiness, struggle or discomfort, everything got saturated with it and became slowly transformed into happiness or serenity: a sensation of feeling content.

(Mostly) all of my bad memories were disarmed and could no longer hit me like a truck anymore, because “It’s ok. It’s over, it’s in the past, it happened, you learned, and right now? You’re fine. Look around you. You are safe, you have a job, a roof over your head, food on the table, you still lift and enjoy the fuck out of it (no matter how injured you might be). You’re fine. You’re ok”. Should I have a painfull memory flash-back, that’s my inner dialog, which is usually followed by a warm inner feeling and a smile. Spilled your coffee on fresh pair of pants? Yeah, that sucks. But it will dry, and you can just wash it off. Burned that dinner? Really fucking shitty, and now you’re hangry and have to do it all over, but it’s ok, you will either buy take-away or make new dinner, and you could just chill for 20 minutes while it cooks, it’s not an end of the world, and it will be worth it in the end. See? Positive attitude. Opportunities instead of limiting beliefs.

Self-compassion is not pity.

Feeling sorry for yourself and doing nothing about it is a highly unproductive thing to do. However, accepting, understanding, listening to yourself is a much better thing to do. An easy cue for this in any shitty situation is this: “What would my best friend say?” This requires a solid best friend though, I see the weakness in this approach, but even if you don’t have one, think of a person that has your best interest at all times, listens to you, understands you on a deep level, imagine that person and think what would he or she do or say in this situation. The result is likely to be compassion. It doesn’t mean that you’re unstoppable and unbeatable, or that you stop feeling shitty emotions or not wind up in tough situations ever. However, self-compassion gives you all the room you need to accept your humanity, for better or worse. We all fuck up occasionally to a varrying degree. By accepting that we do this, is accepting that others do it too, and by doing so you see other’s behavior in an entirely different, more understanding view (no matter how difficult your emotions might be in the situation). The ultimate level of self-compassion is if you can forgive the person that hurt you, and even understand their perspective. This doesn’t mean everyone gets a free pass at acting like a douche, you don’t have to accept it or condone it, but you can understand it. And by understanding it, you can accept and move on. Full circle. You can forgive a person, but not the action. If you see the difference, you’re likely to be compassionate already. Shitty things do happen. We need to accept that too. Ups and downs are a natural part of life.

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I had to screenshot this post from Instagram, because it straight-up summed up what “The New Me” does. I still struggle with “don’t hate” and “work hard” parts, but hey, “I’m only human” and I’m working on it. It’s a priority (see: “Get your priorities straight”).

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The next step.

This was the next step in the wake of The Self-Compassion Bomb(tm). I literally CAN’T be stressed out by what others do, what I should be doing, or not doing, or even think of HOW I am or not doing it, and what others might think about it. I don’t give a fuck, really. What matters to me is my own road, my own progress, whether or not it’s in line with my own values (it should be), and whether or not I get anything out of it. You can’t force me to compete in your own game, if that makes any sence. Considering the fact that I was trying hard to compete in other’s game before, this kind of makes the contrast of “before” and “after” pretty clear.

Not going to lie, I started a diet in january 2016, this year, to feel more physically attractive. I weight 94kg and felt like shit. That was before the transformative change happened somewhere at the end of february. I can’t even remember (lol, memory problems, yo) when it was exactly anymore. To this day, 10th april, I’m still on a diet, but for entirely different reasons and it feels so damn good. I have lost 10kg since then and I’m almost finished with the diet, since my goal is 83kg w/ water retention to match my new weight class in powerlifting. In comparison, where I only planned 10 weeks ahead, I now have a training plan layed out in my mind for the whole 2016 and I even have vague ideas of what I wish to do in 2017. Talk about believing in myself, setting high goals, dream big, and having “none of that shit” 😀

Another transformative change was my long-term dream of having my own family. Having made the choices of women that I did, it’s no wonder that I am where I am right now: 31 and single. Not passing any blame here, I was “young and stupid”, and as much as my previous relationships were so wrong for me, I’m pretty damn sure I wasn’t a perfect ray of sunshine to be in a relationship with either. Cudos to my exes here. Respect for holding on so long. Another digression, but the point is: if you have a dream of having a family, being 31 and single is not exactly a good position to be in. Given the time needed to even start considering of setting the idea of small Spawns of Satan-production in process, I really do not have much time. This idea freaked me the fuck out and was one of the biggest sources of grief back then. Given the examples of my internal self-talk earlier, you can probably imagine the Purgatory-bullshit I was drowning in. And my (not-so-)recent(-anymore) dating experience really fucked that dream up and made me lose all faith in humanity for a good damn while until I finally recovered somewhat from that. See, I’m grateful now, for all the bad & ugly I experienced, felt and heard about, because these memories, experiences,things I heard about are a perfect example of what I do NOT wish to be involved in ever. I do not wish to hear about it, I do not wish to be a part of it, I do not wish to be near it. I have my own game, my own rules, my own goals, and my own things to focus on. I’m literally busy living my own damn life.

Change.

My whole value system has been revamped and I value more….mature things. See, whereis there is a life of parties, random sex and ruthless gossip, there is a counter-part to it: a life of walks in the nature, dinner and/or movie parties, deep conversations, there is training-together-with-friends-sessions, there are quiet nights under woolen blankets, a cup of tea and your favorite TV-show. Neither of these ends of the spectrum are wrong in and of themselves. There was simply a time where I tried to “fit in” the prior, and now live happily ever after in the later, and I’m loving the shit out of it. This is “home”. Where I can geek out with my Forza or Halo on Xbox, watch my favorite movies like Fast & Furious-series, watch some cheesy guilty pleasure teenage-drama-TV-Show like Vampire Diaries, with no shame or fucks given. I can spend 3-4-5 hours at the gym five-six days a week with no shame of me “spending too much time at the gym and being a gym rat”. I no longer care about external labeling, because all that matters to me is my own acceptance, my own happiness and my own pleasure. I have ONE life and I wish to do all the things I enjoy doing, in environments I enjoy being in and being a part of. I wish to participate in activites that really fire me up and make me enthusiastic. And most importantly, I did not forget the ways I’ve been previously. I’m not proud of everything, I have memories of me wronging people that I shouldn’t have wronged. But I am human. I fuck up. I have my own set of previous experiences that made me respond the way I did. It’s not perfect, it’s not an excuse. I’ve been forgiven by some, ignored by others. And I’m absolutely fine. Instead of hating myself and ruminating on it for years, I forgive myself, and accept the “not-so-good-side” of my own humanity, learn my lesson, and move on with my life, striving to be a better person that I was yesterday. The power of self-compassion, ladies and gentlemen.

If you, for whatever reason, are more often unhappy than not, have negative self-talk, limiting beliefs or really fucking shitty self-image, or can’t seem to enjoy your own life for no apparent reason, I highly recommend this book: “Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself” by Kristin Neff. I’m advertising for it as if I was paid to do it, but trust me, I wasn’t. These 10$ transformed my life into a life of happiness, content, acceptance and love, as cheesy as it may sound. Kristin Neff’s self-compassion and Brené Brown’s Power of Vulnerability changed my life dramatically for the better. No amount of therapy or drugs could ever have given me what that these two have given me. From crippling depression and countless suicidal thoughts to a happy, loving and rewarding life real quick. I’ve made peace with death so many times, I really thought the next time would be “it”. Each time I made peace with death, I thought that a part of me died and was never ever going to grow back. Now? I have never been better, never been this good, and looking back at at the situations that triggered that kind of thoughts, it is so absurd and surreal. I will never ever let anyone or anything affect me so much, that I decide to bail from this world. Ever. Because, I AM that good. I’m 2good2bail. This world needs more “me” and I am damn sure going to deliver.

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Single’s hunt for romance.

Romance.

Ever since we’ve barely learned how to walk, we’ve been sending looks to other people we’ve found attractive. I’m not going to dive into sexuality at this stage, as I have honestly no clue on the facts behind LGBT-mechanics, so I’m not going to lie to you. However, I’m going to dive into my experiences. Ever since *I* was five or something, my mom tells me I’ve been sending looks to girls at every opportunity. Even when I learned to walk and realized you could actually lift skirts to have a peek under there, realizing even more: we differ at what we have under the belt line (WTF??? WHAT IS THIS?). Ever since that point of time, I always tried to get attention of the opposite sex. I consider that normal.

However, then somewhere between freshman and senior years, something got fucked up and it all became a whole metric fuck-ton of Complicated(tm). You could no longer send a cute look and your game got on point right there and then. There are suddenly these cliques and coolness and “don’t try too hard, but try SOME, but not too hard again”-scales. That’s when girls stuff socks in their bras, overdo their make-up, and boys start doing push-ups because the school jocks are getting all the attention leaving none to you. Then both sides of these Sex Wars start doing some really weird shit to get the attention they want (from their crush or friends). That’s when shit like “validation” and “status” becomes so fucking important. God forbid if you like collecting stamps or think horses are the next big deal. But I digress.

Point is, at that point we start to become self-conscious. Self-conscious of how we look, sound, behave and how our parents look, sound and behave. Cue the slippery slope. We start doing dumb shit to overcompensate, be noticed and accepted. We start the excessive drinking, partying, saying big, juicy “FUCK YOU” to our parents, or say “yes” to things we might not be ok with in general. These are obviously generalizations to make a point. Not everybody does this, but most of us suffer from this concept to a varying degree.

MOST of us get this stage over with during early 20’s, then we find ourselves (or ditch our The One in order to do so, which revolves around even more of the dumb shit done). I realize that all of this is a natural part of growing up, finding ourselves and writing our values in stone, before we (hopefully) are done with the bullshit at the age of 30+, and start focusing on something else than proving how awesome we are to others on a daily basis. Preferably earlier.

This is where my non-standard-issue-brain wishes things were different. That human nature changed to be less self-destructing, instead of following the same steps over again while growing up. I keep threatening on writing this Big, Great Article of Self-Compassion and Self-love, but I can’t seem to find the right mood to write something consistent with the message I want to send, so I’ll wait. I digress. Again.

Point here is, I wish our parents taught us self-compassion and self-love at the earliest possible age. I wish mine did. I wish people’s-I-Know did. I wish that our parents or our society taught us and valued self-compassion more. You know, so that we, at the age of 14 or whatever could realize that our tits are just fine as they are, and we don’t need muscles to be attractive. I wish that we knew that we didn’t have to jump in bed with strangers at parties or be in relationships with manipulative people in order to get validation. I wish we knew that we could validate, accept and love ourselves the way we are. With our small tits and skinny-fat bodies, morning breath and braces, shitty grades and working-class-hero parents. “Hold the fuck up, man. Are you saying you wish you could bestow decades of experience upon kids not being able to comprehend any of it until they experienced it all themselves?” You’re god damn right, I do. Boy’s gotta dream, right? This is my dream. That parents did their best to be with their kids, show them the love and affection they deserve and crave, the stability, comfort and predictability in their lives, so that we didn’t have to face generations of bullies, people not able to trust, to feel whole-heartedly, to live their lives fully without the need to overcompensate, overcompromise, seek validation, have daddy/mommy-issues and all the other jazz that comes with the years.

Seen this?

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This is funny as fuck to me, because I nearly became the asshole. And I saw the cycle that preceded my time too. I also was, straight-up, one bad decision from becoming the asshole because at the point I was so hurt, I wanted to watch the whole world burn around me. Rage so blind, it shattered everything I ever was. Like some mental bone that snaps, and all you feel is numbness created by your own body’s defense mechanisms to protect itself from damage. The moment you break a bone and the adrenaline rush spreads through your veins to numb the pain, to prevent going into shock, so you just walk around with that broken leg of yours for a good while until the effect wears off and you go: “Holy fuck, what is this pain? Did I break something?” and then you see the bone sticking out through your pants, seeing the whole picture, and get hit with the full effect of pain caused by trauma.

I’ve been there. I’ve been there for a good while, for almost a year. What saved me from becoming the said asshole, were two things, that I think, at some point, were interconnected, but not obvious:

  1. I’m a nice guy, always been. My mom has been there for me as much as she could, and she encoded her values into my brain early on. I knew right from wrong, and this strong sense for justice, kindness and fairness were with me since I became aware of them at the age of 6 or so. I’m not saying I have always been Knight in Shining Armor. I’m human. I fucked up. And recently, I realized that other people are human too, and they too, fuck up. Occasionally. “Nobody’s perfect”, you’ve heard that one before. But in general, my intentions are always good.
  2. Self-compassion, which to me, was a “never learned before”-art. I never knew what that was. I was brought up with the ideal of being autonomous. I could make food, patch up my own clothes, fix simple things around the house at the age of 12. So, naturally, whenever I fucked something up, my internal dialog have always been: “Get your shit together, we can’t afford new groceries. Do this right”. It’s not until I was broken down to sub-atomic-levels, read a ton of different schools of self-help books, I stumbled upon one book that fixed everything. And by “everything”, I really do mean everything. It was a master key that unlocked all doors for me: Self-compassion, which led to self-love, which in turn led me to a rock-solid self-confidence. The book is called “Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself”, by Kristin Neff. Long story short: by being self-compassionate towards myself, I became much more compassionate towards other people (people I previously didn’t really want to be compassionate towards). It all kind of Zens you out, because you realize we’re all human.

And, here’s the kicker:

If every human being born and raised was taught self-compassion, we would stop the ever lasting hunt for approval, validation and acceptance (like nudes or badly covered tones of sexuality for likes on Instagram). We would just approve, validate and accept ourselves without the need to be cool, to sky-jump or travel the world to discover ourselves. We all would be cool with ourselves just as we are, doing our own thing.

This translates directly into dating sphere as well. We wouldn’t need to put the best foot forward, to put on a mask that we’re sure will be accepted instead of being our truest self. Hell, we wouldn’t even need to be desperate, because having only ourselves is enough, we wouldn’t need a boyfriend or girlfriend to confirm our own attractiveness or set our value. The whole dating advice scene would be rendered useless, because there is really only one valid advice you would ever need and it’s free: be you. Be you, do your thing, no matter how weird, ugly or unpopular you might think you are. I remember the time when I was neck deep into “RSD” (I think I just got brain-AIDS by even linking it in my blog, but whatever, I have a point to make). There is a whole crew dedicated to telling how shit and insecure you are, and how THEIR revolutionary advice (for only <insert a fuckton of money sum here>) will solve all your loneliness/”chode”-problems. As if life is all about how many lays you had, and that’s the sole and ONLY purpose you should have in life: get laid and “HERE’S HOW”. News flash: your high lay count will not solve a single fucking problem you have that is causing you to obsess on lays, attention and validation, which you so whole-heartedly try to avoid. A rude judgement and assumption on my part, but I’m willing to go out on a limb here.

Life is so much more than attention, validation and acceptance of others. It is SO much more.

Here’s a news flash, free of charge:

You are fine as you are. You are enough. You are beautiful, sexy, strong, wealthy, successful , stylish enough as you are. Right here, right now. If you think you are, then you are. There is always someone who will like what you have to offer, and those who don’t are probably the wrong people for you. Take care of yourself, your health, your own happiness (“Do whatever that makes you happy”, you’ve heard that one before), your own success (by your own margins and judgement). I really wish that people were more fine with being themselves. Personally? There are few things more attractive than a person being 100% themselves without any regard of what others might think of them. Even people that are not my style, but are 100% themselves get my 100% undivided respect and admiration. It’s the faking I wish was gone. Fuck any dating advice you ever heard, and be you. Attract the person that will want everything you are and what you have to offer, just as you are. Quit playin’ because: why would you? You are you, this is it. No mask, no pretending, no games. This is you, and you are enough. Accept that. Stop running and smell the god damn roses.

Girlswhopowerlift, #peach, #datassdoe.

STORY TIME!

Ever since I decided to abandon my asocial life of World of Warcraft and Counter Strike gaming, I was focused on working out. Lifting weights, running, going for walks for hours. It all started with me watching a Zyzz-video, presumably a guy who played a warrior in WoW, and PvPed for hours. The dude underwent an amazing transformation going for a scrawny-neck-looking nerd, to a #shreddedsickcuntbruh real quick. So I sat there, a fat depressed fuck playing WoW and not even being particularly good at it, and thought: “…….Fuck this. Seriously. I’m done. This is it. It’s over.” And it was really, really hard to abandon an environment I was a part of for 8 years, 4-5 hours daily, 4-5 nights a week. I had many friends there, one metric fuckton of memories, but it was like breaking up with someone you really love because it’s not working and has no future: It has to be done.

So, I figured: “Let’s get shredded and fuck bitches.” I swear, I believe it was one of my actual thoughts at the time. I’m not ashamed, that where I was “at” at the time, I evolved, I’m not the same person and haven’t been for years. I left my gaming life behind, went cold turkey and did following:

  • Quit smoking. I was smoking 20+ rolling tobacco cigarettes a day. I was chain smoking.
  • Quit soda pop, candy, kebabs.
  • Started working out 3 days a week and hired a PT.
  • Straight to “Tuna, eggs and salad”-routine
  • Got shredded skinnyfat. Fuck.
  • One year of fucking around doing bruhcurls, I hired another coach, because my first one did not meet my demands anymore.
  • Two years since going cold turkey later, I’m doing squats, benchpresses and deadlifts. M-M-M-M-M-M-MONSTAH. Still not shredded, because lacking muscle mass. Got only skinny at 79kg body weight (down from 98kg). #MFW 🙁

Weight loss, popping veinz, and general sense of accomplishment got me high. I got full of myself. Being a body-fixated clown was my life, and I attracted like minded people to my life. That’s where it all went to shit, I started comfort eating and binge drinking whisky like no tomorrow. Sad cunt, bruh.

ANYWAY. Fast forward another year, and I simply can’t stand the whole “body focus”-thing. I’ve been there, but after a good while I realized it’s all built upon layers of insecurity, cognitive dissonance, and amazing levels of validation addiction. In my honest opinion, “you are not the clothes you wear, you are not your job, you are not the contents of your wallet”, and you are most definitely not your results. It is SO easy to get lost in this jungle of validation rush, likes, #peach<3<3<3-comments and start basing your happiness on these factors: comments and likes you get on the shit you post. No shame, it’s human. It’s easy and it’s addictive. If you scroll (really far) down my Instagram-feed, you’ll see some shit. As I’ve said, “I’ve been there”. Got the t-shirt.

Now, today I’m more accepting of people showing off their “results”. Fine. Fuck it. You starved your ass for it, go right ahead. It feels good to have low’ish body fat percentage. It does. It’s absolutely not surprising why there is this whole, gigantic, multi-billion dollar business out there to satisfy your “Lose 10lbs in four days”-needs. It is no surprise why some of the younger generation is sleeping their way to glory of validation and sense of acceptance: There is no easier way to gain validation and “0o0oh, somebody likes me”-feeling than to show some skin.

And it’s cool: It is what it is, always been, always will be like that. What I’m having problem with is the whole “saying one thing, and showing off something entirely different”-business. And today’s rant post is with one Instagram-account in mind: @girlswhopowerlift, with associated hashtag #girlswhopowerlift. Side note: This is actually funny, as I was looking up a link for the account, I found out that I am blocked from seeing the page. Fair enough. My critique obviously placed me in a “hater”-box. I don’t mind.

The beef. My beef is when you obviously post tacky pictures, disguising it as a “look at this strong woman”-card. “I should be allowed to show off the hard work I’ve put in”. Abso-fucking-lutely. I agree. Not everyone is working out to be strong, and not everyone works out to be shredded. We all have different stories and goals. There is no right or wrong in this. I get “mad, bro” when you are telling a different story, accompanied by a picture that is absolutely taken out of context. I get disappointed when you are not able to call things for what they are and stand by it. “I post this picture because I feel sexy, and I love my butt”. 100% legit. Not entirely what I appreciate the most, but I respect your priorities. “Lifting weights make girls bulky. WRONG!” and you follow it up with a tacky pose in your minimalistic underwear, at “that kind of” angle, and I’m having a hard time (pun not intended) taking you seriously. You’re just after attention, regardless whether you are aware of the fact yourself or not.

Name “Girls who powerlift” implies that the focus is on powerlifting. Powerlifting is about strength. Powerlifting is about lifting weights, and people get judged by the weights they lift. Simple logic. Focus on the booty and body in general is at bikini fitness. They get judged by their aesthetics. There is a clear difference here, and to be crystal clear: either way is fine and there is nothing wrong with it. We all have different priorities in life, we want different things out of training, and our intent is crystal clear. When intent and message you send do not match up, we have a difference.

Examples of the difference I’m talking about:

Now, that’s one strong girl. A girl who powerlifts. Her results are her strength, ergo weights lifted.

@streaky_yates_ repping for #Peachgang🍑the strong way 💪 3×3 275lb with ease. 😍💪 #gwplgear

A video posted by GirlsWho PowerLift (@girlswhopowerlift) on

Again: strong. Powerlifting.

But then we have a sudden focus on physique. Here’s an example of non-tacky, legit shot of a physique should you want to show it off:

@nataliegess checking in for #powerliftingthickthighthursday ❤ 🍗 🍗 💕 #BeachEnvy 😁

A photo posted by GirlsWho PowerLift (@girlswhopowerlift) on

The context here is sun, ocean, beach, and them powerlifting muscles. One happy, strong woman. Cool.

But then we have these:

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A perfect example of mismatch between content and message sent. By all means, say that you feel sexy, or proud of your ass. I wouldn’t follow you, but I’d respect that. Content and message sent matches. You stand by your message, and I respect that. Just, please, don’t disguise it as “The time and effort and mental strength to get results”-post.

And some questionable angles:

Not entirely sure how this angle would be helpful. Perhaps there was no other way to set-up a camera. Who knows. Maybe. But then again: what would be the point of filming if the angle is bad? Whatever.

Powerlifting makes girls ohh so manly 😂😂 #backitupmonday with @julietteocfit ❤ #Peachgang🍑member 😍

A photo posted by GirlsWho PowerLift (@girlswhopowerlift) on

#peachgang. “I rest my case, Your Honor.” There is a big difference between tacky and sexy.

See, there is nothing wrong with showing off your body. There is nothing wrong with showing skin, regardless of your body type or gender. There’s nothing wrong with feeling (or wanting to feel) sexy. I respect the hours and effort put in to reach a goal, may it be aesthetics or plates on a bar. My main and only point is: setting, context and moderation is key. Do these things belong in a powerlifting environment? In my highly subjective and personal opinion: No. Showing off your nudes and associate powerlifting with them is out of place. Most people see through a nude post with a text “Look, how strong I am” and take it for what it is. You’re not fooling anyone. If you felt strong, you’d post your PR, or a workout in general.

See? This is how powerlifting results look like. This is what “strong looks like”. There’s no need for skin or dodgy angles.

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If you wish to post more skin, I’d suggest renaming your channel to “girlswholift”. It would match the content with the message sent more. Just keep powerlifting out of it. Peace.

PS: as always, by the end of the day, you can do whatever the fuck you wanna do. These are my thoughts on the subject. This is a rant. Please respect the mental strength, time and effort it took to keep myself civil.

Long time, no blog.

I’m not entirely sure how or even where to start so I’ll just start.

My general idea with this blog was to write about things that mattered to me, my reflections around it, and what I’ve learned during the whole thinking process. You know, like most self-help books, since I’ve been reading some throughout 2015. A lot. Some were good and life changing, some were downright horrible and waste of my god damn money and it was time of my life I will never be getting back (seriously, W T F).

I was meant to write things as I discovered them, new ideas, experiences, feelings, solutions to all life’s problems, things that could perhaps help others, you know, offer new points of view to consider. But I’m only human, and as a human being I have history, childhood, growing up, past experiences and as such, a choice I made (although highly human and naive) a year ago ended up ruining me.

It’s hard to help others when I can’t even help myself, so for the most part 2015 was about me trying to keep my head over water, questioning my decisions in life, and rebuilding everything. I’m not sure if you’ve ever experienced this type of thing: The point in life where you personally grow, and everything just changes for the better. Your perceptions, your goals, your relationships, views, social circles, etc. You just wake up one day, different. Kind of just shed your personality skin and evolve into someone better. It’s still you, but better.

In 2015 I’ve learned many valuable lessons, some of them are:

  • Loving whole-heartedly is a beautiful experience, but it can also fucking leave you in ruins. It’s simply the way life is. Regardless what happened to you however, you WILL be able to love again even though the light in the end of the tunnel have gone out.
  • Trust is earned and is one of the most treasured personality traits to me. I will never let you near me if I cant trust you, and I learned it the hard way.
  • What is considered as “sensitive” to one person, might not necessarily be considered as sensitive to others. If there is something you wish to keep secret, simply keep it to yourself. As trust is earned, like best friends usually do, you can consider sharing things with them. Otherwise, shit can’t spread if you don’t pass it along.
  • Feelings are real, and your mind makes them real. Be mindful of your inner dialog (there will be an article on this soon).
  • People are gonna people. They do “whatever the fuck they wanna do“, regardless of what you think about it. Consideration is a scarce currency these days, do not expect it from anyone.
  • Shit can make you bitter and sad. Having great friends is a blessing and can help you get back on track of the positive and great things in life. Seriously no money can buy a close, tight-nit circle of friends.
  • Self-compassion was a master key that unlocked mostly all the doors I thought were closed to me. My personality changed dramatically, and so did the quality of life. Permanently. I will write a few extensive posts about this in the near future.
  • Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries and even more boundaries. Know them. Know your limits. Don’t be afraid to enforce them, or make them known. There are a great deal of things I am simply not interested in hearing, and I am ruthless with this boundary. I have no shame in enforcing this.
  • Like bad weather, bad experiences and their damage will eventually pass, and be replaced with sunny, warm weather. It’s not going to be bad forever, no matter what your feelings tell you.
  • No matter what feelings you feel, feel them whole-heartedly, without a shred of doubt. Live fully, regardless of the nature of feelings. Resisting feelings will make them stronger. However, be mindful of the bad ones and the effect they can have on your decision making. Accept them for what they are, just feelings, not a reality, give yourself a pat on the back for a shitty time you might be having at the time, and shift focus on the future ahead.
  • You’re a human being, flawed and perfect at the same time. This also means you are suffering of cognitive bias, dissonance and ambivalence. Worth noting: your views are highly affected by your inner dialog and level of introspection. “People can only meet you as deeply as they’ve met themselves.” and my experiences (in myself and in others) confirm this, but by no means are a scientific fact.

Up next in a future article: “Self-compassion and how it can potentially solve all of your problems”.

Relevant quotes:

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Depression and why it’s not the end of the world.

Good morning!

I woke up today damn early, 5:45 and I was up at 6, feeling well rested. Funny how going to bed at 22:00 suddenly fixes your sleep quality and generally does not fuck you over day after. Anyway. The mood is good. Great actually. Made some coffee, read some articles, and I stopped at this one. Norwegian media article sent in by a 20 years old girl who writes about her depression, every day challenges and the stigma that comes with it. I had a “few” cups of coffee, so it got me going.

Depression is something that hits close to home. In fact, it hits me in dead center of “Me™”. I had a challenging childhood and adolescence. Most likely not worse than the average (what is average anyway?), but it was tough. Without making a sob story out of this, point has to be made. “I’ve felt some shit”. In fact, it wasn’t until my late twenties that I realized that I was depressed on and off for 10 years. At some point I crashed and burned, no surprise. But that’s not the point. The point is that after putting a label on it, realizing what it is, it piqued my interest.

I’ve always loved science. Ever since 8th grade in Ukraine when geometry, chemistry and physics were introduced, I said “good bye” to my social life. I LOVE this science shit, and not once have I lost interest for “all things science”. In the past few years, my own head became a laboratory for me. A kind of playground. Some people have garages where they work on cars and bikes, some people have studios where they draw paintings or make stuff, my head is that place for me where I analyze the processes, observe, adjust and try out new things in order to improve myself. It’s exciting as fuck to me when I try out a new “ugly hack” (“here and now” solutions like comfort shopping) or a more long lasting change (attitude adjustment) and I observe improvement. Ever since I started lifting I became obsessed with gains. All kinds. Any improvement is better than none. This isn’t a fitness post, so I’ll stick to mental gains.

Throughout this process of self-improvement I came to several realizations. One of them is that this is an ongoing process. “Enjoy journey, not the destination” bla bla bullshit and all that. The second is that there isn’t any definite answer to what a good life is, or how you’re supposed to live it. The answer is “however the fuck you want”. The last one hit me like a truck one day. I was all like “Ok, so….if I’m to live a life however the fuck I want….what’s it like then?”. I literally drowned in possibilities. I spent most of my youth adapting to situations that I didn’t have to be a part of, adjusting myself to an environment that was not my own, just to “fit in”. I cannot describe the freedom of “Fuck it”. The moment you take charge. Fuck Jesus, man, he ain’t takin’ this wheel.

One of the many challenges with depression is that you rarely know when it hits you until you suddenly realize “wait a fucking minute. I’m feeling blue as fuck. What happened? I wasn’t like that a week ago”. You notice that you emotionally check out, become unavailable, everything is shit, the light at the end of the tunnel goes out, your mind alienates people around you by changing your perception of them, you give everything up, kneel, bow your head and patiently wait to die. Until it hits you: “The fuck is this shit?” followed by a pause and a “ahhh, right. Depression” and the fog starts to lift. What happens next is crucial. It’s what separates those who stay depressed and sink deeper and those who strap in, check their mental rifle, reload and charge against an army of demons that seem to gnaw on you and come out victorious. The answer is mental fitness.

That’s right. I said it. Mental fitness. Everyone is on about physical fitness, cod and broccoli, vitamins, minerals, sets and reps, cheat meals, cardio and rest n shit. I don’t see anyone talk about mental fitness. And that’s where we as a society fuck up. Royally.

In my eyes, mental fitness is as crucial as physical. “The body cannot live without the mind” said Morpheus in The Matrix. We fix our physical machinery, but forget the mind that is running the bloody thing. See, I learned how to live with depression. I kind of settled with the idea that sometimes my mind will try to run me over. I think everyone subconsciously knows that. That snide remark from someone, that unanswered text, not being invited somewhere, overheard rumors or some shit. It all hits us equally hard. The difference is how we deal with it. Some give fucks, some don’t. Mark Manson wrote something like “the older you get the less fucks you got to give, so save your fucks for things that really matter” and I agree. Think about all the fucks you gave in high school. Makes me cringe. When you know the nature of your mind and your reaction patterns to external stimuli, you will find out how to stay positive eventually. I’m not dismissing depression at all. It’s a real thing and kills more people than we’d like to admit. I mean, come on, it killed Robin Williams. We still don’t have drugs that “cure” it either, we just have “emotional painkillers”. We got dampeners, but not a working fix. Partially because we still don’t know 100% how our brain as an organ works, but also because we all have our different demons. Different demons require different approaches. That’s why I sometimes seemingly say some dumb shit trying to comfort or motivate people. It takes time to get to know others (and it also depends on how much of their demons people share, and how well they do that). Shit that works for me isn’t guaranteed to work on others. It’s a constantly changing map. In spite of depression being a real disease, I believe struggling identities in many cases can be…uhm….fortified. You might not be able to fix it, but you sure as hell can do SOMEthing (talking to a therapist is obviously one of them).

However, general you-can-do-this-at-home-pointers for me personally are:

Do things that make you happy. Always. You have a set number of hours a day, which some go to work and the rest is freely available to you. Make the most of it. What do you enjoy doing? Do it. Preferably stay away from drugs and alcohol, but you know. I don’t judge. However, this leads me to another point.

Take care of yourself. You are, most likely, a grown up human being. The responsibility for your physical and mental health is yours. Besides, no one can love you like Kanye loves Kanye except yourself. You are all you have. Respect and love yourself. Do stuff that is good for you, and I don’t mean comfort eating. Book a week-end out, go to spa, get a massage, I don’t know. Get some RNR. Everyone needs it.

Invest in yourself. This is somewhat a part of the point above, but deserves it’s own section because of it’s importance factor. Self investment is the best kind of investment. Be physically active (run, swim, bike, lift weights, climb shit, I don’t know) and keep your mind engaged. Don’t check out. Read books that interest you, have great discussions with your friends (and if you don’t have friends, you can always go Reddit and find a sub-reddit about something that interests you. However, I encourage you to dare to open yourself up and meet new people). Learn something new. Try something new. Get a new hobby. Get several new hobbies. I don’t care, just do something.
Take charge. By taking charge I mean take charge of how you live your life and how you spend your precious time. Sitting home, binge watching Netflix or raiding 7 days a week in WoW isn’t going to do anything productive in the long run (and I mean by the time you ding 60 IRL, you filthy casual).

Manage your stress levels. This one is a huge and includes many sub-topics. Identify things that rub you the wrong way and reduce your time of exposure to them, or cut them out completely. Life is really to short to feel shit about something or someone (even though it’s perfectly OK and normal to feel so, it’s just not really productive in a positive way). Clean your life up. Personally this includes to stop watching TV. I’m not saying burn your TV, delete your Facebook account and degauss your hard-drive (even though I drunkingly deactivated my Facebook account at some point). But for me, there isn’t much of entertainment on there. It’s mostly reality shows (that hardly are reality, because they are manufactured to sell and generate viewer numbers) that make me lose faith in humanity, and commercials. I can get my TV-show fix elsewhere (like Netflix). I also occasionally clean up my social media (like Snapchat and Instagram). This one was a big one for me. I liked a few pages on Instagram cos they posted funny cats or memes, but quite often it’s more about selling apparel or posting nudes than memes, so I unfollowed them. Good riddance.

Manage your environment. Social environment affects you more than you would like to admit. Create a social atmosphere that is aligned with your values, that also enriches you as an individual and boosts your good sides, while respecting the differences of others. We’re all different, we value different things. Some values clash, but you’re OK with that. Some values clash, and are in a direct conflict with yours. That’s hardly positive or enriching, so respect those values, but remove yourself from that environment. Why be in a harshly conflicted environment when you can be in an environment that is aligned to your values and bring you a positive lifestyle? Life is too short, remember? Plus something about fucks to give and all that.

Have goals. YOUR goals, not someone else’s goals. Step the fuck back from what everyone else wants you to do and think long and hard about what YOU as an individual want to do. And then do it. If it’s something huge, split the goal into smaller sub-goals. Keep splitting them until they are achievable. Then do them. Continuity and determination is key. Because, you guessed it, life is too short, no time to waste. Let’s do this shit. Cos this is the shit YOU, as a person, actually want to be doing regardless of what others think about it. It’s your life anyway, why the fuck give fucks about what people think about it? It’s you who is living it, not them. They got their own.

Will you care about it when you’re 60 years old? This one is gold for me. It’s so easy to get caught up in some irrational, depressed thought pattern and get consumed by fears, insecurities, shame and whatnot. Fuck that. Will I care about asking this girl out when I’m 60? “But what if she rejects me”, “yes, she might. But will you care when you are 60 years old about that one rejection 30 years ago?”……”no”. I’m not gonna pretend that I’m all pro n shit, cos I’m not. I’m still working on this one. A combination of “will I care when I’m 60” and “Ahhhhh, FUCK IT” is a good one however. Keep it in mind. And take baby steps out of the comfort zone. This is more of a reminder to myself than you.

This is more or less it. I don’t really do some advanced mediation techniques, breathe into my balls, or believe in some deity. Nah, man, I’m just a middle aged guy doing his thing and enjoying it. I’m not perfect, I fuck up at all of the above points occasionally, but I’m fine with that. Self-acceptance is one hell of a drug. And it’s good for you.

And remember, whenever you are here

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Just keep walking. It will pass. It always does. Take responsibility for your own happiness. You can’t be constantly happy, and it’s OK. Just be aware of your emotional state, know yourself and adjust accordingly.

Value systems.

I was at Norway’s Nationals, powerlifting competition this weekend. Watched some seriously strong women lift some serious weights. It was all fun and games until a few hours in I got hit by a random anxiety attack. You know, the kind that just drops down on you from orbit and you just go “what the fuck? I’m sitting here, chilling, having fun, all in good company. What is this bullshit?”. I gave up resisting, so I just went “Fuck it. It is what it is” and rolled with it. It persisted for a total of 2-3 hours, and after that I was just exhausted. You know, like “I just went on a 10km sprint after eating only an apple for breakfast”-type thing. Only logical thing to do is to light up a scented candle, power down all lights, make some good food, fire up Dire Hard 2 on the media center, and have a bucket of icecream for dessert, while trying to shift down a few gears.

Today, I’m sick. Been sick for three-four days now, but I really wanted to lift. A friend of mine talked me into going to the gym. “Fuck it. I’m doing this” I thought. Packed the gym bag and ran out to catch the train, after finishing up a round of Diablo 3. It’s a great workout actually. I decided to do back squats, just going “Fuck it” (it must be a National “Fuck it” Day in my head today), “I’m gonna hold the bar on the most outer grip length. Fuck these shoulders. Fuck the setup. Fuck yo cold. I’m doing this. It’s been three weeks since last time. I’m hungry.” And it worked just fine, 100% pain free. Loaded up 85% of my max and went 5×5. After I was done, on the way home, I had an epiphany. I’m always thinking about something, you see. I’m curious about life, why things are as they are, why I am as I am, the nature of….well…everything. It intrigues me. I’m 100% legit curious. Today’s epiphany is: Value systems.

See, in the world I’m living, not sure about you, but in the world *I’m* living in, I see these value systems. I didn’t realize what they were until today, but I saw them all along, not being able to pinpoint what they really were. Better late than never, I guess. This whole anxiety fit got me thinking. Anxiety is usually a sign of stress, and yesterday’s was….rightly so. I’m stressed by other’s value systems being either enforced on me or bleeding through into mine. Being fit. Having a brilliant career. Having a large social circle. Having a good car. Being strong compared to my weight. How attractive I am. How many women I laid throughout the years. How freaky the sex was. How many countries I’ve visited or the number of “once in a life time memories”. The likes on Tinder. How charismatic I am. Etc etc. It’s all around me, and naturally, as every other human being I want to fit in. I want to “match” the level. I want to be worth no less. Except there’s the problem: the value system. I’m trying to match other’s values. Values that I really don’t value just as much. And then it dawned on me: “I, in fact, don’t give a fuck”.

I cannot describe the weight that was lifted from my shoulders. THAT, my friends, was a “once in a lifetime” kind of memory. It just dawned on me, “I don’t give a fuck. It doesn’t matter. I don’t value this shit. It’s not important to me. What others think is important has NO relevance to my own internal set of values.” I just realized that all the shit I felt the weight of lately doesn’t mean shit to me. It bleeds through into my own system and I start valuing all these things because others do. But hey! Those values ain’t mine and I don’t have to do anything with them. I don’t have to match shit. What I need to match, in reality, is the level of my own values. Shit I care about. Close friends. Pizza nights. Workout sessions with my bro’s and my ladies (ya’ll some strong, dedicated motherfuckers. You know who you are). Food on my table. Being able to go out on a random night out, drink beer and eat fat-ass, delicious, foodgasmic burgers. To come home, drop my pants, rip a fart, fire up my PC and play some Diablo. Read a book. Read SEVERAL books. Watch a god damn movie or a TV-show. Go on a walk through the woods with a friend. Or even fuckin’ alone. I don’t give a fuck. The freedom. The nature. That’s the shit I value. I value experiences that give me something. Challenge me. Enrich me. Invigorate me. I value friends that I can confide in. I value friends I can talk shit with. And guess what: what other’s think about my set of values doesn’t mean jack. I’m the only person living by them and valuing them. Everything else is secondary.

It’s so easy to slide into this shit. Try to fit in. Chase dreams that aren’t yours, buying shit you don’t need to impress people we have no connection to.Try to keep up with someone or something. It’s a part of human psyche, but you really have to be aware of that. Trust yourself. And your values.

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/Ojive

Family holidays and loneliness.

Norway’s National Day. Man. A few days prior and “the day after©” I read some articles written by different people in the media. That kind of triggered an internal discussion.

See, all these big celebrations that are mostly conducted with close family and friends have a potential to be quite sucky for some people. You know, the ones without a family (or access to one), without close friends (or access to them), The Networkless and should you have financial issues, you’re creating a recipy for an existencial disaster.

The first article I read was written by an anonymous student that didn’t have anyone to celebrate the day with and noone has even asked if he/she had any plans. A kinda shitty situation when you think about it, when no one seemingly cares enough to ask. The road to loneliness is short from there on, and life starts to suck big time.

It’s gonna suck so bad, that you might even wanna take your own life if the Norway’s National Day’s lonely situation makes your otherwise full cup to run over. Apparently, 30 percent of calls to a crisis center were about suicide.

So, “Gentlemen, you’re not gonna sit here and pretend there’s not a big-ass elephant in the room”.

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This is a serious issue that raises concern; at least in my head it does, because I start seeing a pattern here. I haven’t seen loneliness type articles last year as I do this year in 2015. Or, well, there was a few prior to Christmas. Ok, I’m not so sure entirely. What I AM sure of is that I like this trend of exposing most natural human reactions, feelings and thoughts. Exposing it all just so that others in the similar or same situation will know that they are not alone in their pits. “Embracing humanity”, with it’s faults and shadows. For instance, my boundaries for what I’m willing to discuss are….few. Within reason, of course. I can talk about human’s darkest thoughts like it was a Sunday morning breakfast.

So, let’s talk about some harsh facts, that are hard to digest. First of all, human beings are social beings. We’re co-dependent on each other for validation, a good ol’ pat on the back, entertainment, love, intimacy, etc. You can’t deny this shit, it’s in our nature. The problem arises when you base ALL of your personal life on the external sources. When you heavily invest all your needs on something outside yourself, you’re setting yourself up for some really harsh time for no good reason. So, how do you deal with this? It’s simple, yet challenging.

First off, you have to be comfortable in your own company. “But what if I’m not?”. Then it is most definitely time to find out why and deal with the issue at hand. That process requires brutal honesty from you. You have to be able to admit harsh truths about yourself, forgive yourself for whatever you’re blaming yourself for, and start loving yourself. That process alone can take long time, but hang in there, you’ll get there eventually.

When you’re all comfy with who you are, love and respect yourself, and wish yourself all the best of things, then you can start investing in activities that you can do on your own. Should loneliness hit you hard even in these activities, quick meditation and/or mindfulness techniques will patch things up. For instance, I work out (#allAboutThatGymLyfe), I go on several hours long walks in the woods, I play games (gamer PC master race), I watch my fav shows (Supernatural, Better Call Saul, Terra Nova, Walking Dead, Suits, etc), watch some old school movies I love but haven’t watched for years (Terminator, Alien, Matrix, etc), I read books on topics that genuinely interest me and stimulate my mind. I also like occasionally go out to movies, crash some cafè with a book, or dine at my fav restaurant. Lately, I got hit by the idea of spa. You know, just walk in, get pampered for hours, relax, unwind (perhaps even combine it with meditation/mindfulness) and just generally catch a breather, you know?

That’s a whole lot of activites I can do by myself that does not involve anyone else but me and all of them “regenerate” me somehow. I recharge my batteries by myself. I’m not gonna lie: major holidays that involve family like Christmas, Norwegian 17th May, etc DO bring me down, but I make a conscious effort to stay “up” by simply disconnecting from whatever is the norm at these holidays, and just “do my thing” instead. “My thing” always saves me from bouts of loneliness or just general “feeling shit”-vibe.

It is also a conscious effort to NOT to dwell on these emotions. This is a hard one, but it’s doable and requires a lot of practice.

So to sum things up: sort your inner life out first. You can’t build a house on muddy grounds. Concrete that shit. Take time. Be patient. Then start finding things that bring you joy and happiness, you know, positive vibes. No, alcohol isn’t one of them (and believe me, I know. Takes time and practice to realize too). The more you invest in your own personal life, the less will external events affect you. Think of your life as your own flat: bring out the colors, the cozy sofa and pillows, you’ll need a play corner, comfy bed, freshest of the fresh coffee, etc etc. Furniture your life, basically. Takes time and patience, but makes your life so much better and you will never be alone again 🙂

Taking the wheel of your social life.

Every now and then I have one epiphany after another. You know, growing, evolving, it usually is because of some sort of realization that leads to a need for change. An epiphany about my social life came to me a while back and kind of….recently got reinforced. I will try to structure this as good as I can.

Structure.

Every person needs a set of rules to live by, even if it’s a rule of having no rules. It’s still a rule. It’s a conscious decision of how you want to “play”. Rules might change, but at any given moment there is a set of rules that kind of steers your decision making process. Nothing is set in stone obviously because social interaction is quite complex. This set of rules is usually related to your inner values and your “obedience” to these rules is likely to be determined by how much you value them.

Values.

I value trust above all else. Trust is one of the ground pillars upon which everything else in my life is built. Nothing may move forward unless some level of trust is established. Therefore my decisions in any social interaction will be “steered” by it. Someone might value recognition more, hence the decisionmaking process will be steered by the desire to receive attention. All of this comes in different shapes, forms and sizes, and I’m not being judgemental about it. Simply aware.

Happiness.

In a perfect world, we would all live without our values being invaded, everyone would be friends, and it’s all good, happiness all around. We are not living in a perfect world however. Our values are invaded every now and then. Our values and beliefs are also challenged. And it’s a good thing (more on that later).

Friction.

Friction against those values will create an emotional response. Think of it as waves of water against the stone. You kind of feel the sensation of the water, but nothing immediate happens. Stone is still visually stone. Give it a few years and you will notice changes. I would imagine that the exact same thing happens with happiness. The level of happiness will be affected if our values are repeatedly “sand blown”. This creates friction and the seed of negative emotions is planted and it will grow with more friction.

Blueprint for the life you want.

It’s so easy to get caught up in life and everything that happens. If you don’t take a conscious decision about how you want to live, life will live YOU. What that means is that you will slowly do shit you don’t want, say things you don’t mean, accept shit that you shouldn’t be accepting, because you know….values, integrity and all that kind of jazz. To quote Fight Club: “The things you own end up owning you”. “Now, hold the fuck up, do you mean that you own your social circle?”. No, I don’t. What I mean is: if you don’t hold your ground, your values and “code” (if you may call it that), you will be stepped on and walked over. Repeatedly. This isn’t a free pass to be a dick though. But it’s a free pass to consciously take a decision based on your inner values, regardless of how uncomfortable it might be. This might cause friction with some people, because obviously if they like to get their will no matter what, getting a firm “No” will freak them out….and you might be called a douche, but whatever. Some will hate you, some will respect you, and it’s the people who will respect you that you want to invest your time in. What will eventually happen is that you will be surrounded by people with more or less the same values and same beliefs. You will attract like minded, strong individuals, wanting the same thing. That’s how you get best friends and meaningful relationships.

What I’m talking about is taking the wheel. I’m not talking about finding your own clones. We are all different, we all have different beliefs and we all challenge each others beliefs. And it’s a good thing. It’s good because it provides “a second opinion” (even though you might not need it), it provides creation and stimulation of a chain of thought processes that might either remove your old beliefs or strengthen and enrich your existing ones, providing nuances you haven’t noticed before. Personally, I love a good, constructive, deep discussion about any subject, especially when I disagree. These discussions either strengthen your foot hold (because you were right) or remove old, “faulty” belief and replace it with a new, nuanced and enhanced belief, that just makes you a better person. It’s a win-win, you can’t lose here.

So, I took the wheel. I avoid all the things, people, situations that are against my hard coded values that defines me as a person. It lifted a huge weight off my shoulders and life is much easier now. I have never been so sure of what I stand for as I am now. I know what crowd I want to hang with, what crowd i want to avoid, and what crowd I accept as simply different and OK. Surprisingly, it improved my overall happiness with my life. It feels kind of cleaned up. I also know that I don’t have to deal with the bullshit I don’t NEED to deal with. Values I don’t have to value or accept, the same way other people might not need/want to accept mine. And it’s good. It creates clear boundaries, clear communication, clear intent. Kind of makes me realize how cluttered life usually is if you don’t take control of your everyday life, you know, if you just “roll with it”. It feels great to stand up for myself and my values. There will ALWAYS be someone that will not like you. And it’s ok. There will ALWAYS someone who will disagree with you, and that’s OK too.

What I’m really trying to say is: live your life like you want. Cluttered Snapchat? Clean it up or uninstall it. Instagram or Facebook wall full of shit? Unfollow or uninstall. Acquaintances getting on your tits and it’s not salvageable? Turn around and walk the other way. Shitty, destructive job? Find a new one. Bored? Find something that changes that. Whatever that holds you back or is slowing you down, change it. It’s your life and you aren’t getting any younger. You don’t have to tolerate anything if you don’t want to or if “bad outweighs good”. Why would you want to live a “cluttered” and unnecessarily taxing life?