I’m a firm believer in systems, systems which we create, systems which others create and we use, and systems we do not use.
I realised recently that I have been creating systems and patterns through the life I have experienced. Part of me failing in many areas of my life were the result of bad habits created through constant reinforcement and lack of accountability.
For example, excessive video gaming became an addiction where I’d avoid facing important emotions. Being unable to delineate between an addiction (emotional attachment to an action or thing) and recreational activity is the difference between succeeding and failing in others areas of my life. Remember how I said I knew nothing? I bloody meant it.
What was my last addiction? Funny enough it wasn’t social media or games. It was being addicted to self-help content. Yes. Self-help gave me a dopamine hit.
Here are some things I learned:
If you’re angry you’re probably angry at yourself.
Directing the anger towards others increases the anger.
Addiction is lack of purpose. The fix doesn’t fix you. You fix yourself through better actions and self-love.
Knowledge (of self and the world) is the difference between getting better or not.
Fearing my emotions is the #1 reason I’ve become addicted to things.
Being aware of the kick you get, and how long it lasts makes going cold turkey far more bearable.
Succeeding in holding off the bad urges breeds more success later on.
Building systems to work away from the addiction permanently works better than just giving it up.
Knowing what you’re repressing helps too.
Acknowledging you have a problem is the first step.
That’s what I said when a certain someone in my life decided to break a piece of technology which I used a fair amount of.
The repair and replacement was going to be expensive. I also could not make use of some of my escapes which were available with this piece of tech working properly. So, FUCK!
A day was spent raging and screaming, imaging tortures which would probably not fit the crime which was totally unintentional. After a few hours cooling down I found an inexpensive solution which would lead to a longer-term replacement, requiring some saving but ultimately an upgrade to what I had.
The said individual would be responsible for significant amounts of cleaning and housework for some time to come, it has to be said. And no access to any technology for two weeks. Much more fair than shouting at, I think.
(Thank you Ellane for giving me a sober opinion on this, though, your words meant much to me.)
The lesson here? Figure out a solution. Don’t stay angry. Speak to someone who has had to deal with this before.
Before I write, I’m going to prescribe some homework. Watch this video. Seriously, please do. (Thank you, Caroline, for sharing this. It means much to me.)
My mind was blown. There was no other way I can describe this talk. Idriss Aberkan’s talk has convinced about the power of love.
I love my kids. They drive me nuts. Those are total contradictions. I love my work. It stresses me out. Another one. I feel as if we’re in a cycle or pain and pleasure, but also straddle a line between the two. Pursue too much pleasure, and you become empty inside, and ironically feeling more pain and lack of accomplishment. Wallow in pain, and you forget the lightness of pleasure. These two contrasts appear to me what must be light and dark, yin and yang.
When I love something, I pursue it, adore it, want to learn more about it. I wish for it to grow, to become something more. I attain pleasure from connecting with it. Whether it is knowledge, sex, excitement, connection with others, relationships or even achievement, one must go through some kind of pain, or discomfort to break through into pleasure.
It is a great source of shame for me to admit that I forgot how to read for a while. The act of poring through information felt like trudging through mud and the motivation to absorb new ideas become harder and harder until it was one I had given up. It saddens me to admit this, but it’s true. Now I feel like a moth drawn to the light of knowledge.
The confusion of not knowing something, being perplexed was perhaps too much for me to handle. Yet, it was in this uncomfortable space where I found happiness again. Perhaps it was the pleasure of self-assurance, in the assumption of knowing everything I needed to know, which produced what I assumed to be happiness. Yet, now it feels like a delusion from which I had to break from. We know nothing. When we’re right, we’re wrong, and when we’re wrong, we’re wrong.
It is in a place of beautifying that which we do not understand, making it functional, selling it and gifting it to others, where our greatest happiness is found. We need only, I think, to follow what we feel is right.
It’s been a few days since I wrote, and what a roller coaster it’s been.
I’ve been mentored by a Wim Hof practitioner over the past few weeks. It’s been a profound journey, one which I’m grateful for going through. The last few days have left me dealing with an avalanche of emotions ranging from worry for those whom I love, to feelings of not being loved as a child. Having parents who never regularly said the words “I love you,” to you, can mess you up. Take it from me.
A question bugging me was who were my enemies? I don’t particularly like the word “enemy” because of the negative connotation it carries. It’s something you must destroy, and can be a thing, or person, or process even. This is why I don’t like using it, but the idea pervaded itself into my mind more often than I’d like. Naturally, I had to write about it because I’m an idiot and I need to write about things to understand, or rationalise them.
Imagine you’re in the dark. You’re attacked by enemies you cannot see but whose presence you feel. You’ know they’re there. You know they can break you, and so, every time you’re attacked you strike back, keeping them at bay. As you resist, the fight becomes harder. You commit more energy toward them. You fight harder. Try different tactics. Eventually you’re exhausted and cannot fight. Your energy is spent and you must find other sources to overcome the enemy, and so resist further. You become despondancy and your motivation fades. There is no willpower left.
And so, you stop reacting. You realise that as you move, so too does your enemy. So you mirror them in every step they take, you become them. Now you stop and wait.
Instead of acting, watch them. This time you take the lead and stay still. They don’t move and you don’t hear any sound, feel anything. Now your curiosity is piqued. So you start to become more still. Instead of acting on your emotions, you realise your energy was sapped slowly but surely by reactionary behaviour. Slowly the darkness fades and you begin to see that your enemy looks much like you, but different. This is your alter-ego, your dark side. Eventually it becomes impatient and starts to strike – but you’re not hurting, and the blows go through you because you’re allowing yourself to feel them instead of avoiding. Eventually your alter-ego dissolves into you, becoming you, not the other way around.
I learned that my emotions work in a very, very similar fashion. I need to feel them, perhaps use them as a guide, but above all else – watch them and acknowledge them. I found that I was a mental construct, and any adaptability I failed at, was on me. I was the maker of my own choices, I chose to see myself in the way I wanted to. I chose not to learn when I needed to. I chose not to better myself when I could have. I, therefore does not exist. All those reactions, feelings, perceptions. I created them. I am my choices.Yes, the world acted upon me, but I acted too.
That’s why I could not write for the past few days. Who was my enemy? The thing which I created in my mind, which I called me.
I’ll guess that, during the COVID-19 isolation period, wherever you are, you’ll have encountered some kind of hostility, and with Ramadan starting (in South Africa, at least) officially now from the Maghrib prayer, some of us are going to be emotionally challenged. Well, shit, as if we have enough to take on, how much more can we really take? I mean, our jobs are at risk, people are abusing us at supermarkets, nobody’s making eye contact or smiling at us any more (at least that we’ve tried to reach out to) and most importantly, there’s no Pizza Hut we can order for a long, long time. Well, curses.
I had my own encounter of hostility, when I had to point out just freaking lucky we all are to be able to eat, practice our respective faiths, still communicate and enjoy dank memes. Seriously, without our memes we wouldn’t survive. Or would we? Well, who cares. DON’T YOU DARE TAKE MY MEMES. I WILL KILL YOU.
That little outburst makes the perfect segue into what I want to discuss next: dealing with the nasties. I’m not talking about an empty sweet and chocolate cupboard. I’m talking about hostility. The kind which involve words you were punished for using as a kid, but your parents happily used. Double standards aside, let’s see what we can do.
Wish them well
“Hold on. Are you suggesting I be nice to that #$#@$##@$#$#@$# who just showed me a middle finger at the shopping center parking lot?”
Well, yes. I hate to admit it, but I too have succumbed to the temptation of raging against people. It is something I deeply regret. The main reason is that I could’ve been more graceful, assertive and dare I say it, loving. To those whom I was a raging asshole in the past, I apologise, truly. You know who you are. See, I realised some of us are having a truly horrid time at home, and not everyone has the luxury of decent alone time, which, if I lacked, would push me into being a hungry grizzly, claws out all the time. They might have to deal with grumpy and demanding kids, clingy dogs or worst of all, the same meal every day for an entire week at a time. The antidote here is to wish them well, and find some way to make their life easier. You may not have the favour returned, but hell, why not take some time to make someone’s day better?
Let them vent
Sometimes we need a release of anger, and have someone with empathy and a calm state of mind to calm us down. As long as you have “I just need to vent, it’s not personal. I just need to say this.” as a precursor to anything you’re going to say, the person listening is likely to listen. Then do them a favour and hear what they have to say. Sometimes the poison of pent up emotions must leave their system in order for them to heal. We need to release our energy, and if we cannot, we become toxic. No matter how stupid or unnecessary a person’s words, by letting them speak first, you get the chance to speak and show assertiveness toward something, which makes both parties happy.
Say thank you
Is that a can of beans in your pocket, or are you just happy not to make another special meal? Hmmm. As someone who will happily eat the same meal over five days I am fortunate enough to be happy with this lack of choice. Some of us are not. If the person you’re shacked up with is making baked beans for the third day in a row, say thank you. It might make their day for you acknowledge their efforts.
Break the monotony
Embrace the weirdo within. Isolation allows us to expose our crazy in a way we have not before. Nothing compares to the feeling of liberation you get from truly expressing yourself. Hell, I”m doing it here. I get Likes for it too, I really don’t know why. I’m grateful regardless. Thank you, everyone, for actually reading my brain farts. Let’s get back to breaking monotony, then.
Here are some ideas which may make things interesting:
1.Make paper mache chickens. They rock. Just clean up after yourself you filthy animal.
2. Make a colour in mask from Friday the 13th.
3. Play hide and seek in a closet you’ve never fully explored (And realise how much crap you’ve accumulated). Look out for skeletons and let them out.
4. Play Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence. Realise how awesome this band really is ,and, enjoy the silence for real at the end of the track as your mind explodes from awesomeness. (Don’t judge me. I think ’80s music rocks.)
5. Teach your cat or dog tricks. (or children, should you lack both)
6. Remember how awesome Steve Irwin was. Don’t let it sting that he died. 😦
I hope this helped and that this piece has helped brighten up your day. If you think this blog post is lit, please feel free to leave a Like and comment, and as always, thank you for reading.
Hi, I’m Bear, and I’ve got a problem. I have emotions. They’re sometimes overwhelming. Yes, I know I’m not alone, but these emotions are mine alone, and not even I can control them.
And so, I decided to embark on a journey of self-discovery and write on this topic, which is, truthfully, close to my heart (in many, many ways). I don’t know many men who are willing to admit this: I am emotional. I feel them sometimes very intensely, and it’s both good and bad. The problem is not the intensity, because this is who I am. The issue the negativity which somehow finds its way into this living carcass loaned to me.
I imagine feeling negative isn’t much different from standing with my back toward a cliff. It doesn’t matter how far or close I am to the edge, there’s a subtle awareness that there’s a sheer drop behind me and that I may die, or worse, lose myself. I consider the operative for this to be worry. The sense of impending doom, or disaster. Many people could be feeling like this during their isolation. They worry that they may die from the COVID-19 virus, or that someone they love may become infected. They may even feel the walls around them closing in, that they may remain in their home for so long to forget the outside world, and what it meant to them. Cliff’s faces are as beautiful as they are terrifying, always remember that.
These types of stresses manifest physically in various areas of your body: the shoulders, middle and lower back, knees, ankles, pain in the chest, inability to breathe to full capacity. Last year alone I discovered why my knees ached so much and why my lower back remained so tense, even with mobility work: pent-up emotions.
Our emotions impact us far more than we anticipate. Everyone has had a rough day at work or a tough day at home where things have not gone according to plan. It usually begins with a rough start to your morning (our mourning, as I call it), and no matter what you do, nothing works. You may have a deadline to meet. Your partner may be in a foul mood, or depressed. You may be stressed out over a particular bill.
Not before long, you’re feeling a familiar ache or pain. Maybe it’s a migraine. Sometimes it’s a strong sense of lethargy, or perhaps even purposelessness. The chances are you need time for rest and reflection. It’s usually what I need. Here’s what I usually do to alleviate these kinds of feelings:
Switch off your electronics and turn off the lights. I think there’s much to be said about the part being disconnected from the world plays. Turning off the lights to simply feel what you’re going through is often enough to let you realise your fears are quite trivial compared to what you’re perceiving them as. Do you really need to watch the news for the entire day? Is it helping your mental state?
Mindfulness or meditation is a powerful tool that helps you remove the stimulus from the external environment. They strip away the excess information you’re exposed to and show you what you really feel like. You may just need sleep. I consider worrying, fear and anxiety to be a mask for what’s really happening underneath. Feeling “off-center” is a big indicator you need to resolve something within or accept that you have little to no control over a particular set of events. I’ve spoken many times about the benefits of breath-work and meditation. It just works.
Listen to music which lifts your spirit. I’m a fan of Ulrich Schnauss, maybe try his music out? Watch a story of someone whose experiences you shared. I watched a great movie called Ironmind last night, an account of Brian Rose, host of London Real, who got challenged into doing a Half Iron Man with ninety days of preparation while eating a plant-based diet. Long story short, he did it. Watching the victories of others is possibly one of the best things you can do for yourself. They remind you that you were a victor in some part of your life. We need a reminder sometimes, no matter how tough we think we are.
Speak to a trusted friend, voice your fears, frustrations, and feelings. We’re meant to release our energy and an empathetic soul makes the difference between a terrible day and one that could have gone a bit better. You may just get the right dose of truth for you to feel better about yourself, or better yet, gain a valuable lesson.
Go outside and look at the stars and sky, listen to the noises of the night.
List all the things you’re grateful for today: Food, loved ones, the ability to learn or perhaps even a simple thing like a warm cup of tea.
Listen to and appreciate an opinion you don’t agree with. Changing your own view on anything is beneficial, even if you may not agree with everything you hear and read. Maybe check out a Jordan Peterson lecture and see what you may actually agree with?
Actually, pay attention to the negatives you’re experiencing. Is there a lesson in that sinking feeling in your gut?
Do a quick work out. Endorphins have a great way of fooling the mind into being happy again.
Last, but not least, appreciate your fears. They may be telling you to do something you’re holding off doing.
Here are some great things you can try watch and try out and remember, Every Mountain you conquer will become a pebble in your journey.
One day was all it took. Two sets of little feet and hands, spraying crumbs wanton, in the way terrorists spread fear. Crumbs and food bits in the mattress buttons, hidden in corners, under the bed base and even in the drawers. Then the lego blocks came: insidious little gremlins lurking in the darkness, waiting for unsuspecting adult feet, disguising themselves as colourful playthings. As if blocks and crumbs were not enough, the dust came, gradually populating and permeating itself, pervasive in its approach, all-knowing and all-encompassing. Finally, the hair descended, shed by bodies moving back and forth, ready to overcome an unprepared floor with each obscure follicle. They were formidable, many and would cause all manner of suffering if left unchecked.
Yes, it was time to clean house. The filthy, satisfying and fulfilling work began in earnest. Major broom busted himself out, ready to shift and consolidate the looseness with its dust-stained edges ready for battle. Sweep after painful sweep, the infantry of the D.I.R.T. army fell to my tools of war. My hands readily picked up the slack, watching as brown slowly turned white. I filled Private Bucket with warm water, sprayed the tiles with Breathease tile cleaner, temporarily evicted the mat to exile as the work began in full force, working my way with Sergeant Squeegee Mop from the en-suite bathroom, toward the bed area, and then finally the kitchen. The team was taking strain, but with the right leadership, they would win, I knew it. It was a matter of effort.
The work was done. All that remained was for the air to circulate, allowing sweet evaporation of water to complete the process of banishment of smut from my beloved floors. Finally, I took the cloth and wiped down the toilet and Demolition Expert Domestos spewed forth with her ammoniac fire to burn the hidden bacteria from the toilet. Cries of pain from my worn down platoon echoed around my home. I knew they’d make it and had earned their rest.
I turned, sensing danger from the window sills, knowing The Dust Platoon lay in wake. Armed with cleaning fluid and a microfibre cloth, I took to removing them, mote by mote. Finally, the windows and shower were wiped down, and then the last remaining dishes stained from the remnants of the fried eggs from today. Finally, the Lego blocks were picked up and neatly stored where they could cause no more pain. Yes, folks. Today was a good one. Another day, another battle. My army survived the onslaught of the enemy. With my furniture back in place, there was order once more. It is true, that to be peaceful one must be violent. I saluted my enemy for the challenge they posed, for were it not for them, I’d not learn to fight another day. It was a battle to remember.
Perhaps it was the idea of bringing order to chaos enacted by the miniature apes whom I fathered. Perhaps it was that I could finally re-arrange and claim back space. All I know was that the work for today was done, and that when the threat of the D.I.R.T. army would surface again, I would be ready, tools in hand and eye trained on any points of entry into my domain.
“When you don’t create things, you become defined by your tastes rather than ability. Your tastes only narrow and exclude people. So create.” – Why The Lucky Stiff
A friend sent me this a while ago and it’s been on my mind more often than anything else anyone has sent to me lately. I wasn’t sure why, since ability and taste both change with time. Then I realised only one may only get better with time. Sure, I’d like to have a wider set of things I’d want to enjoy later on in life, but would I want to do the same things I can do now?
Imagine a time around ten years ago. What was the quality of the work you did? Was there an artistry to what you did back then? Was your art as refined? Were your creations as intriguing, detailed, filled with emotion? For me, no.
There was no diversity in the music I selected and it all sounded so cobbled together. My writing lacked conviction, humour and emotions. None of my track selections were done in key, when I could pick up a harmony, it was based on other people’s work, not mine. There was no definitive individual signature.
I couldn’t say the same about my creative works now. They’re far more well thought out, much more diverse and eclectic. There is greater thought and love put into all of it, even if the results don’t come out quite the way I want. Each time there is a lesson derived. There are details I put into my arrangements and pieces which I pick out with far more care than I have ever before. Photos I now take have some composition taken into account, with colour and contrast considered. Creation is by far, the most interesting, and beautiful process I’ve put myself through. I’d hope that what I do tomorrow is more beautiful, filled with love and appreciated more than yesterdays – and most importantly benefits the world in a way my past work may never be able to touch.
I hope to die one day saying what the great Charles Dickens said:
“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”
Everyone was settling down for bed and little Yusairah was getting changed, “Daddy, can you check if the Toy Monster is here?” I looked at her seriously and wondered whether he was going to trouble another 4-year old tonight, or not. Tameem, to the right of me, made a gruff voice “Yes and I want your hair dryer!” The misplaced little electronic item rested on the white tiles, plugged into a euro outlet, ready to remove any water problems from a certain 4-year old’s water mishaps in the bathroom.
Yusairah panicked. I knew something had to be done. Springing into action, I looked at her gravely.
Her eyes darted around, looking for the killer of Toy Monsters (whose specialty is stealing toys not put away before bed time). She quickly found him and gave it to me, and I held it with all four of Husky’s legs in one hand facing away from me, ready to shoot, should his target come into sight. I snuck to the door, shifting my weight from one leg to the other, avoiding making any noise, listening for any wayward footsteps which may give away his location. I shout, “Toy Monster, are you outside? I have a gun and I’ll shoot you with it.”
A gruff voice squealed, “Is it Husky?!”
I paused, letting the tension build, letting this beast, this thief of loved toys and bane of 4-year olds stay in suspense of what lay in store for him.
“Yes,” I finally confirm in a low voice, after several moments, “he’s here and you better hope he’s in a good mood.” Yusairah’s little face lit up into a smile and she did a little dance as the Toy Monster gave up and said to her, in perhaps a slightly cowardly voice, “I’ll be here tomorrow for your hair dryer, if you don’t put it away! There are other babas who made a mess. I’ll be back. It’s my hair dryer!”
I nod at Yusairah as she happily carried on dressing, putting her worn clothes into her bag. We heard nothing more from the Toy Monster thereafter.
It would suffice to say that it was put away rather neatly in Yusairah’s drawer (filled with an empty Nutella Jar, bubbles, along with some odds and ends) and in record time.
The rest of my place looked pretty tidy too after my little display of dominance against this ever-looming threat. Husky also vigilantly continued guarding Yusairah on the bed in the way a stuffed animal could only do for the rest of the night.