Blogpost, self-reliance

The Triple F Anxiety Strikeout

It pains me a little to use a baseball reference to explain a concept but some things just fit. Not everything can be about soccer! Can it? Regardless of the reference, my intention is always to help people. So if it takes a baseball analogy to get the idea across, then so be it!

Anxiety seems to be all around us at the moment. From the pandemic to more personal issues, people are beset on all sides by things that could cause anxiety. While the ingredients are lurking about, I’m going to venture the idea that staving off the feeling is like fighting off a strikeout. It may not always be pretty but keeping yourself in the batter’s box is crucial to possibly hitting a home run or even getting the walk to obtain that bit of progress.

The three F’s of anxiety are “feeling future failure.” While none is particularly debilitating on their own or even in a pair, the three together are the recipe for anxiety. Regardless of the individual word or even the duets, they do not need to be feared in any way. “Feeling failure” is a necessary component to moving forward. It may hurt but that pain is instructive. “Feeling the future” is not a problem on its own either. Actually one of the most important keys to any visualization practice is that you emote on the idea inside your head. “Future failure” is out there for all of us. We are not going to succeed at everything that we do. This is just a fact of life. So that concept should not be fear inducing.

So the idea is to drop one “strike” from the count! The most potent one to drop is the feeling because that is the action that leads to the anxiety. While this is far easier said than done, remember that you are the one that creates your feelings. That future failure is only a projection that you have inside of your head. It’s not any more real than the winning lottery ticket or any other moment in your future existence. Choosing to feel that failure before it shows up makes as much sense as celebrating that lottery win before buying the ticket. You’re the only link between the thought and the event. Don’t buy the ticket to that future failure and definitely don’t buy into the emotion before necessary. Maybe that thing will happen but you don’t need to live through it multiple times!

All of this is said with the utmost caring and desire for positive outcomes for people. Lots of people are struggling at the moment, I’m well aware. Bottling up and denial are not the best strategies for coping with things. Each of us is playing our own internal game. Perhaps you’re facing a set of circumstances that seem to be “Hall of Fame” pitcher. They have your number and it seems like you can’t do anything but swing blindly. You can step out for a second and gather yourself for another at bat. Plenty of people in the crowd cheering for you. Keep that in mind as you step up.

Swing away!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

IKEA Is No Longer the Idea

There was a point in my life where I owned a decent amount of furniture from IKEA. It just made so much sense at the time. Every piece was cheap, easy to put together and impermanent. I didn’t love my IKEA furniture. It was functional and I’m glad that it was there for that time of my life. At this point, all of those items have been left behind or discarded. They fulfilled their purpose and now I’ve moved on.

So many parts of our lives have begun looking like IKEA furniture. Either we have opted for them because of their simplicity or their disposability. While these are qualities that may be attractive in some areas, the IKEA mindset seems to have crept into places where it probably shouldn’t be. Areas like education, fitness, relationships and mental health often fall prey to this (lack of) thought process. Short term solutions are implemented while long term consequences are ignored or at best given lip-service. Divorce is the norm of marriages. Education is not about learning but about grades. Fitness is not about being healthy and feeling good, it’s arbitrary metrics like steps. Mental health is not about having control of a strong mind, it’s about existing in a safe space and removing obstacles.

These are oversimplifications of course. However they bring into focus the fact that we might be valuing the wrong things. IKEA is great for an answer to a certain type of furniture problem. Just like these answers to life’s problems work in specific circumstances. Unfortunately herd mentality and general malaise have brought us to the point where they are almost ubiquitous.

So if you’re in the market for solutions, the convenient answer may not be the one that will yield the best results. Shop around a bit! Consider the problem that you’re trying to solve and your unique circumstances. It will surely take more time and effort than the simple solution but it may yield better results.

Shop around!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

No One Cares About Your Problems (and neither should you)

This may come off a bit harsh but honestly, no one cares about your problems. Whether you’re overweight, your pet just died, your spouse left you, your candidate lost, or a thousand other issues, nobody cares and they shouldn’t! The truth of the matter is that your friends, family, co-workers, etc. don’t care about your problems, they care about you. So regardless of how many bad situations have aligned themselves against you, no one cares. Once this realization is solid inside of your head, the other shoe must drop. You shouldn’t care about your problems either. “But my debt….my dog….my boss….the election….the pandemic….”

My statement isn’t that you don’t have any problems. It’s only that you shouldn’t care about them. People tend to become invested in the negative situations that surround their lives. They invest tons of emotion into a situation that they wish would go away. It’s like giving keys to the person who keeps breaking into your house. Regardless of the situation, your attention and emotion are only feeding the problem itself or your perception of it. So is the answer to just ignore them? Not exactly! You shouldn’t care about your problems but…

You should care about the solutions because they need your time and attention. Much like a newborn baby, solutions don’t just take care of themselves. Someone has to keep them alive and allow them to grow until they are self-sufficient. Friends and family can definitely nurture a solution for you but let’s be honest, they are less likely to do it if they see that you’re in love with your problem.

People tend to get more of what they focus on, whether in perception or reality. The key is to focus on the things that you want and give only the attention that is necessary to the things that you don’t. The big bucks aren’t earned by people who are best at describing the problem. They’re earned by the people who find the solution.

Love your solutions today!

Pete

Blogpost, SoccerLifeBalance

Hand Stitched Soccer Balls

There was a point in the past where the mark of a “good” soccer ball was that it was “hand stitched.” Unfortunately most of that stitching was probably done by children in another part of the world but we’re going to put the geo-political implications aside for the moment. Quality was associated with human labor. Someone putting in an effort to create. Doing it with intention that lead to a better result. While technology has improved enough that a machine can make a better soccer ball than a kid in a sweat shop. Some tasks are better done by hand and maybe even by children.

While I have no desire to make a better soccer ball, I do have an explicit interest in helping to make better people. It is nowhere near as simple as manufacturing because the material is inconsistent. The methods are various and not always effective or efficient. However there is one that I am more sure of than ever as we cope with this pandemic. Better people are made by hand. This does not mean that they are stitched together by a low wage worker in another country. It simply means that contact is key. Our ability to become a better version of ourselves depends heavily on the influence of people. While the position of influencer seems to have been reduced to someone who has a lot of followers, it truly is the people that we allow to nudge us in one direction or another. Those little pieces of other people that we pick up can be stitched together into something beautifully functional. Much like the panels of a soccer ball, we have a patchwork design that fits together in a way that no machine could predict. So we need to be “hand-stitched” and at some point we need to do it to ourselves.

There is a societal push toward perfection. Clearer pictures on TV, faster Wifi, smarter automobiles… These improvements seem to positively impact lives. However that same expectation around human existence is more dangerous than anything else. We are born through difficulty and struggle. Usually that is what makes us better as well. We need to be hand-stitched because from time to time, life tears us apart. It’s a skill that needs to be developed, picking up the pieces. Even though we want to protect our kids from anything harmful, they need to learn how to sew. Otherwise they’ll be dependent upon other things or people to make them feel put together.

Get back to work!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Jello Jenga

I didn’t realize before I started writing this that it was a drinking game. For me it’s actually just a concept that I’ve been thinking about recently. Under normal circumstances, the game of Jenga (even the drinking kind) is played with some form of wood blocks arranged in a tower type construction. A player must remove a block and put it on top of the stack without causing the entire thing to collapse. It takes some concentrations and manual dexterity.

As I have been thinking about people and their problems recently, I imagine that many people would love for life to work something like Jenga. Identify the problem, remove it and put it someplace/discard it. The mental image works to a certain extent but our lives, problems, fears, and anxieties are not firm and solid things. They are much more fluid and unstable like jello. So imagine the tower of jello rectangles, wobbling and shaking, as you try to remove one of the blocks. Although it may be possible to get it out, it’s not going to be a neat and tidy operation. It will probably take several attempts. Half of the block may remain stuck in the space and require a different angle of approach. In addition to the extraction, there is the eventual sagging into the open space. It may have been one block that was removed but it affected all of the blocks around it in some way. The ripple effect may be felt throughout the entire structure.

My point here is not to create a very messy new game for people to try. Quite the opposite, it’s a game that you’re already playing. My entire point is to give a framework for dealing with some of the issues that people have. Quitting smoking, overcoming anxiety, dealing with depression and so many other extractions are going to be messy but they are possible. Humans were never intended to work like the machines that surround our world at the moment. We are fluid, ever-changing and imperfect structures that require a high level of care.

So as you go out into your life today. Survey your situation and see if any wobbly and sticky situations need to be removed. Using this idea as a framework, start to dislodge them. Just remember, that it’s not always going to be simple or pretty but you can figure it out even if it requires a spoon.

Have a great day people!

Pete