Fuck You Alice: How I Found a More Authentic Voice

I wish I could say I remember it perfectly, but it’s all rather fuzzy. I found myself trapped in fucked-up Alice in Wonderland-esque world. I found myself walking through mirrors, leaping into tea cups, and passing giant mushrooms, going through endless transitions. No matter where I went I just found myself in more abstract weirdness, continually trapped and increasingly frustrated.

Other people were trapped in the world too. Some were greedily seeking treasures, others just wanting to be good people. We were all stuck and unable to find a way out.

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How to Breaking Out of Your Social Rut by Letting Go

After my big break up, I quickly realized that I needed to get out and meet some new people. While I did have a number of good friends who supported me and spent a lot of time with me in my time of crisis, most of them were constantly busy and had built lives of their own. This meant if I wanted to hang out and be social, I needed to branch out.

After a few months, I was absolutely befuddled by how fast my circle expanded. My schedule was suddenly full of socializing every day of the week, and the best part was they were all plans I looked forward to. None of it felt forced or draining, and every person on my itinerary was somebody I truly enjoyed spending time with.

All that being said, I realize that there were a few key things that really helped me meet so many good people. So here are a few tricks:

Create a weekly check-in

I wish I could remember the original article that suggested this to me, but it was gold. The idea was simple, once week go through your list of friends on Facebook and/or your phone. Pick a few you care about, and send a simple message saying “Hi”.

Initially many of your friends might be perplexed with you messaging them out of the blue,  and think you want something. The easy solution to this is to just explain you’re trying to be more social by messaging people you care about and ask them what they’ve been up to. Most people will be flattered by this which works in your favor.

Upon messaging your friends, you might discover them to be oddly boring and uncommunicative. You might only get two or three messages from them saying things like “they’re good” and “nothing much” is happening. Know this is absolutely fine, the goal of this is not necessarily to have a conversation. In fact, I want you to throw the idea of having a conversation out of the window.

Instead of aiming for a conversation, I actually want you to aim for two things. The first is exposure. The more consistently message your friends, the more you will be in the front of their mind. This means they are more likely to both send and accept invitations to hangout and have fun. The second is to break your social rut. The more you consistently message people, the more you’ll feel like you’re being socially proactive, this can do wonders for your mindset.

For me, personally, using this idea was very powerful.  Messaging people once a week seemed easy, and it forced me out of my hermit mindset without any real struggle. I was a lot more likely to go out, just because I already felt like I was being social.

Get around people

Notice that I did not say “talk to people” or “join a class/club”. A lot of the time when you’ve been in a social rut, joining something new or talking to strangers can seem rather big and unpleasant. So rather than aiming for something you might talk yourself out of, go for something simple.

By “get around people”, I literally mean just that. Go someplace that has people and visit it regularly. This can be a grocery store, a bookstore, a park, a bar, it really doesn’t matter.

For myself, I found a local coffee shop. Funniest part is not only do I not like coffee, but I’m stingy and hate spending money. Anytime I went, I bought a $2 hot cocoa which is probably the cheapest thing on their menu. I would go there maybe 3 times a week and hang out for however long I felt like. Sometimes it was 15 minutes, other times, when things seemed more fun, it was a few hours. After a week or two I already knew two of the baristas and several regulars.

The important part to remember with this goal, is that, starting out, you’re not going in to talk to people. If you want, you can ignore everybody around and just sit and read or play with your phone. Again, the goal here is less about actively socializing as it is about getting exposure. The more time you spend around people, the more likely you’ll eventually get to know somebody or discover somebody you like.

Make Random Commentary

Once you have gotten comfortable getting out on a regular basis, your next goal will be to create opportunities for conversation. Once again, notice I did not say “create conversation”; I said “create opportunities”. Conversation is easiest when it’s not something forced. Sometimes it will happen, other times it won’t. The less you try to make conversation happen and instead simply let it happen on its own, the easier things will be for you.

So, let’s talk about making opportunities. In my experience, the easiest way to do this is to just regularly comment on things. You can comment on yourself, such as “Wow, I’m really hungry right now. I hate when you never know what you want to eat.”; or you can comment on surroundings like “That’s a weird building” or “I wasn’t expecting it to be so cold today”; or you can comment on the people around you “You seem bored” or “I’ve never seen somebody wearing that shirt before”. What you say doesn’t matter a whole lot as long as you sound friendly saying it.

The objective of this is pretty simple. Every time you make a comment aloud, you allow others the chance to spark conversation with you. Most of the time you’ll only get a friendly smile or a one sentence response, and in a few cases you may just get ignored. This is totally fine, because over time it will add up. People will start to see you as friendly and approachable, and more opportunities will naturally appear for you to meet and befriend others.

The reason this is so powerful is it’s easy. If you comment on the weather and nobody responds, who cares? You don’t really have to put yourself out there to do it, and it reduces the anxiety of forcing a conversation to happen. Doing this has allowed me to feel a lot more outgoing. Many of my friends will be befuddled how I can wind up chatting up a bored stranger and entertaining them with a bunch of riddles for a half-hour, but all I’m honestly doing is just allowing conversation to unfold naturally.

Identify Opportunities for Your Commentary

There are tons of opportunities to spark conversation. My general rule is look for times when you’re not doing anything and happen to be around people. As long I’m not totally socially burnout or in full-on introvert mode, I always try to make an effort to comment on something. You’d be amazed how many people you’ll start chatting up as they wait for their coffee or you happen to be stuck in line.

Starting out, you’ll probably be very nervous about making commentary. To deal with this, focus on finding opportunities that feel more natural and effortless to do. For example if you just came out a heavy rainstorm, you already probably feel inclined to make a remark about the weather, in contrast actively commenting on somebody’s clothes might feel more forced. Focus on just finding the easy opportunities, and in time you’ll feel more comfortable making funnier and bolder remarks.

Quit Fretting and Just Do It

To put it simply, there are a lot of simple little habits you can do to start upping your social life. Many times we get so focused on the end goal that we don’t allow things to unfold naturally. If you go into every interaction with a mindset of “If I don’t have a good conversation, I’m a failure”, you’re probably not going to succeed and you’ll be miserable. As much as you can, just have fun with it. Focus on baby steps within your comfort zone and let unfold naturally. You’ve got this.

 

 

 

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Intro to Basket Weaving 101

Good evening class, today we will be discussing the pairing technique in which we use two weaves and weave them together. For this lesson you will need a knife, side cutters, round-nose pliers, and a bodkin. Be sure to use osiers in a color you find aesthetically pleasing. This time I will using be two osiers in a gleaming white and dark tan to provide some contrast.

Ok yes, I’m just messing with you. If you’re intrigued by basket weaving feel free to look it up on your own time, but what I really want to talk to you about are metaphorical baskets.

If you’re at all familiar with classic sayings you’ve probably heard the phrase “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. We usually hear this being used when talking about things like career paths, that you shouldn’t put all your hopes in dreams into getting into the idea you’ll become a professional basket weaver without some sort of backup plan. Recently, however, I’ve learned that there is something way more universal to this saying and it may be one of the essential keys to a happier life.

For whatever reason, human beings are very prone to putting everything in one basket. You meet that one person, land that one job, or discover that one passion and you pour everything into it. That one thing becomes your life, and while on paper having something you’re so passionate about seems awesome, it causes a problem.

When we pour all ourselves into that one thing, we make that one thing the sole source of our happiness. Our lives become made or destroyed by that one thing, and when we do this, we give up all our power. This is why people become emotional rollercoasters when they fall head over heels for somebody.

The challenging solution to this is you have to take the thing that has been giving you the most happiness and temporarily put it down. Instead of the doing the one thing that makes you extremely happy, you have to invest time into creating multiple sources of happiness. This means hanging with friends, enjoying hobbies, caring for your health, discovering new passions, practicing your spirituality (if you have one), going on adventures, etc.

Instead of that one basket, you want as many baskets of happiness as possible.  Each one will fulfill you and help give you a complete life, and the most powerful part of all, you are no longer at the whim of one thing deciding your happiness. If something goes south with your love interest or your career, you still have so much fulfilling you. So, live life to its fullest, don’t limit yourself.

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Understanding Nice Guy Syndrome

As I mentioned in my last article, I’ve been on a recent quest to approach and flirt with women. My end goal is to develop a healthy male sexuality in which I can be a sexual person without shame while also expressing deep respect and kindness to those around me.

Studying male sexuality, I’m realizing we actually experience a lot of shame, and the fact we are so unaware of this allows for a lot of toxic behaviors to form. A great example of this is the stereotype of the “nice guy”.

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I am a creep, hear me roar!

Being newly single, I’ve been reading a lot more about approaching women and flirting. Through my reading, I noticed an odd trend. In every article, thread, and Youtube video you will see the same word come up over and over, and that is the word “creepy”.

Everywhere you go, you’ll see men seeking the answer to the one holy question “How do I talk to women without being creepy?” It was only thanks to chatting with a good friend that I realized the answer, “You can’t.”

For better or worse, I’ve realized that “creepy” is the male equivalent of “slut”. If a woman does something sexual you don’t like, she’s a slut, and if a man does something, he’s a creep. This has caused men, in the exact same way as women, to become obsessed with the word that shames them.

If you talk to any man about their fears around flirting, the word “creepy” inevitably comes up. Many men spend hours talking about the paradox of needing to be sexually assertive and confident, yet being terrified of overstepping an invisible boundary. You are shoved into a mindset of being an obsessive mess over female comfort zones, constantly trying to guess what is acceptable and what is not, and you might think you could just ask, but that in itself is often seen as obsessive and creepy.

Realizing all this has made me want to change my approach to sexuality. I now want to take an approach where I am kind yet unapologetic. I will always respect the word “no”, but if I feel attracted to somebody, I will express that attraction without shame. I won’t feel ashamed for my desires to flirt, touch, and kiss. If I am respectful, kind, and mindful of consent, I should not be shamed for sharing my attraction.

In addition to this, much in the way I will not tolerate a woman being called a slut, I’m not going to tolerate guys being called creepy anymore.  In my opinion, the only time either of these words should be used is when a person violates consent or reacts hostilely to the word “no”. Nobody should be shamed for their sexuality. It’s part of who you are, and every one has one.

 

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What I learned in my two months of hell

The days following my separation I was a useless lump. I had lost the love of my life and in exchange was given way too much time to reflect on it. To say I was devastated would have been like calling the ocean wet or that a peanut butter and jelly pizza an odd breakfast choice.

I felt defeated, but looking back I feel I learned a lot in that time. I learned how emotionally strong of a person I am, and more so, I learned how to handle hard situations. Now, I wish to pass that wisdom to you. Here are three things you should do when life gets nasty.

Lean into the discomfort and do what you have to do

When life gets rough, there is always something needs to be done, but you’re too afraid to make the leap. It might be seeking help, having a difficult discussion with a loved one, or maybe even cutting somebody out of your life. Regardless of what this action might be, it’s something out of your comfort zone, but it needs to happen.

In my case, leaning into the discomfort meant stepping up and talking to my friends more, it meant seeing a therapist, and it meant recognizing I couldn’t keep ignoring my feelings. All these were scary things for me, but each one made my challenges significantly easier.

When I stepped up, I created a small private Facebook group containing any friend I thought might be able to support me. I shared everything that happened to me and told people to reach out to me and talk to me when they could. Those friends then proceeded to pull me out of my emotional muck and get me on my feet. I’ve never felt so indebted to a group of people before. Their help was huge.

Find your inner fire

Bad circumstances can take a lot away from you in your life. Everything from your job to your loved ones can be taken away from you, and trust me it’s devastating. That being said, the one thing you can’t lose is who you are.

Regardless of how emotionally beaten up you are and how low you think of yourself, we all have an inner fire. Think about all the tragedies you have survived in your life, the obstacles you’ve overcome, and remember what makes you strong. You might have to dig deep, but we all have strength. We’ve all struggled and we’ve all triumphed before, and in those moments you learn what makes you powerful. Find that power and hold onto it, because it will take you far.

After my breakup, the biggest thought that helped me was the knowledge that I was a capable person. I had loved and lost before, and I survived years of feeling completely alone before. The feelings I was experiencing were not new, and I knew I was more than capable of standing on my own two feet. I was going to move forward from this even if it meant emotionally dragging myself like a bloody corpse through a desert. Life was going to move on. Knowing this gave me strength, I knew I could rebuild.

Respect and love your feelings

Whether you like it or not, bad situations are going to bring out bad feelings. You’re going to be sad, you’re going to be angry, and you’re going to be unreasonable. As much as you might feel guilt or want to go into denial with your feelings, be honest with them.

Going through my breakup I wrestled through a whole spectrum of emotions. Most of them were manageable, but wrestling with my anger and hatred was hard. For the first time in years, I experienced a period of time where I actually wanted something bad to happen to another human being, I wanted them to feel pain. The guilt I felt over that was immense.

I did not want to acknowledge how hurt I was or how badly I wanted that feeling reciprocated, but I knew I couldn’t move forward until I accepted it. I did not act on my hatred, but I allowed myself to feel it.  I allowed myself to vent to trusted friends, to release those feelings. I was hurt and I was entitled to be pissed. To expect anything else of myself would have been unfair.

Acknowledging and eventually releasing those feelings did wonders for me. I feel empowered now. I can recognize my emotional needs and fulfill them, rather than bury them deep inside. This too was a big contributor to me moving forward.

In conclusion

Life can and will sometimes beat you down, but there is a lot to be gained in those moments. Don’t be afraid to embrace your pain, to find your strength, and to take those steps to a new and better life. In time you will grow and you will heal. Just give it time.

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It Gets Better

I put my back to the wall and slumped to the ground. I stared at my wedding ring. I had worn it only a week, and all I could hear were her words, “We need to take a break” echo in my mind.

She tried to console me as best as she could, but all I could do was sit there and let the tears fall from my eyes. I remember saying “I have nothing”. My entire world had ended in what felt like a blink of an eye, and there was nothing I could do about it.

This was the climax of a two-month shitstorm I had been weathering through. I was wrestling with intense wedding planning, my mom’s temporary hospitalization, and my relationship turning into the hottest mess you’ve ever seen. My life had gone to hell, and this break-up a week after my wedding might as well been the little blood-red bow meant to wrap it all together. Little did I know, my world ending was exactly what I needed. Continue reading

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I’m back!

It’s been many months since I last wrote here and for that I apologize. As sad as it is for me to admit, I had given up on my coaching business and in turn my writing.  You can thank a good friend of mine for the revival of this blog. She reminded me how much I loved and missed writing as well as how valuable were the messages I had to share. Even if only one person regularly read my blog, it would be worth it, because sometimes one person is enough.

What to expect moving forward

While I am hopping back on the horse, life coaching has shifted from my primary career to a personal side project. I’m no longer writing to have a super-successful life coaching business. Instead, I’m writing for me, and to a lesser extent my audience. This means less pretty images, less videos, less fancy newsletter layouts, and more pure writing.

All that being said, I feel like my writing on here will be richer than ever. The past few months have been a massive collection of challenges, travesties, and triumphs. I’ve learned and grown in ways I never thought I would, and I have so much to share now. I look forward to sharing my path with you again.

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Dr. Lauren asks me all about Mac and Cheese on Wellness 411

Dr. Lauren was kind enough to invite me on her show again to talk about my book. Listen in and hear a little more about what my book has in store for you.

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Dave Isay: Everyone around you has a story the world needs to hear

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