When is the last time you have done something that really made you feel like you were meant to be doing it?
It has been nearly a month since my last blog post thanks to a blend of tax season, caring for a sick child, and life generally getting in the way. It could be all too easy to let this project lapse again. When I have been able to steal a few minutes to myself here and there, I have plenty of other projects that I have been far more interested in.
There has been a little gremlin whispering in my ear for the last month, asking me why I bother with The Wild Man Project anymore. After all, it argues, The Manosphere has become such a toxic sludge that nobody with any sense wants to get it on them. MRAs seem to be losing the plot and falling into Marxist insanity. The Iron John culture is dead. My business has been stuck in neutral for nearly two years – it certainly doesn’t seem like anyone is much interested in paying for my services. Maybe, it suggests, awakened masculinity is a lost cause…
These little voices you experience in your mental dialogue – your gremlins – are there for a reason. They are defense mechanisms, they are there to keep you from getting yourself into socially non-viable situations, to keep you from wasting energy on lost causes, and to keep you from letting good feelings trick you into engaging in stupid behaviour. They can be valuable guides – or they can be your worst enemy.
These voices are not always right – in fact they are often wrong. They evolved to be a part of our consciousness in a very different time in the history and shape of human culture. Certainly, it takes a lot more than a little social awkwardness to turn a person into a pariah. Happiness is a lot more sustainable, and people are far more secure today than they ever were in the past. Causes are, thanks to the global nature of communication and business, can survive a lot more before they are lost.
Listening to your gremlins is often as destructive today as ignoring them was a thousand years ago. They can trick you into giving up on things that are very important to you. They can cause you to scuttle relationships that were making you happy. They can cause you to sabotage yourself at work. They can fool you into worrying yourself into unhappiness when there is nothing worth worrying about.
The key to knowing when to listen, and when to disengage with the voices in your head is to keep perspective on the bigger picture in your life:
- What makes you happy?
- What is and isn’t negotiable in your life?
- What are you good at?
- What are your values?
- What in your life is serving your long term goals?
- What would bring you into – or pull you out of integrity with your personal code or values?
In times of great activity in your life, when work is good or businesses are thriving – when you are happy and have the money that you need it is easy to keep perspective. You can easily tell when you need to sit down and engage with your gremlins, and when they invite self-sabotage.
In times when life is not moving as freely, it is harder to tell the difference. Depression, sickness, money troubles, family struggles, marital conflicts, work or business slumps can make it a lot harder to keep your perspective. The longer things are moving slowly, the more disciplined you have to be to keep moving towards your goals.
- Keeping a journal can really help you with keeping you perspective.
- So can spending time with friends who share your values and your interests.
- Having good listeners in your life, whether they are your best friends, a pastor, a coach, or a therapist can make a huge difference.
- Clubs and societies dedicated to your hobbies and interests can make a massive difference.
- Practicing daily gratitude can make a huge difference in your perspective.
- Regular exercise and meditation can keep you from getting too muzzy-headed and depressed to make good choices.
Above all else, however, you need to engage in congruent activities. That is to say, that you need to be doing things that reflect your goals and your values regularly. These are the activities that remind you who you are and who you want to be.
They can be as simple as doing your job well, taking an hour or two of volunteering, attending a religious service, playing a sport, or creating art. When you are doing them, they tend to bring your whole life into focus, and it is easy to tell the helpful voices from the self-destructive ones.
If you are not doing them, then it is critical that you start making time to do so, if only for a few hours out of the week to keep yourself from falling into a dangerous slump.
I have been very fortunate over the last couple of weeks. Because of the demands on my time as of late, I haven’t been able to do the things that have mattered to me as often as I have needed. The voice that tells me that this blog is not worth the effort has been harder and harder to put into the greater context of my life. Then one of my very first clients came back into my life after years without hearing from her. While she just wanted to pick my brain about a business idea, I took the time to get her to talk to me about what was going on in her life, especially about her current roadblocks.
For the first time in a long time, I was talking with someone who was in a very hard place emotionally, and in need of some brutal honesty, with fresh new problems, and who was discovering all over again, the power of another human being’s undivided attention.
It was a reminder to me about who I was – and when I am at my best and truest to my character. It helped lift some clouds in my head; I was really me for the first time in awhile.
And that reminded me exactly why I keep writing here. And why I continue to nourish The Wild Man Project. I still have a lot more to write, and there are still people out there who need someone willing to listen.
And I needed to share the lesson she had for me here,most of all.