The Mask I Wear

I’ve got my new office setup. While Alexis was in LA for a dance workshop I redid the apartment. And filmed a commercial. And ran three photoshoots. And made Christmas lists. And ate like shit. And didn’t do any of the things that make me a happy person. I got hungry and then just didn’t eat. Until I was nauseous. Then I didn’t have to eat.

If I were to keep track of all the things I need to do in a day to feel like myself then I would never start a day. You get 10 seconds in the morning where things are pure and there is potential and the mind is soft and then the memory kicks in – lays out the schedule for the day, replays the conversations from yesterday – and you remember you’re back trapped in the world you never intended to create. Every morning a fresh punch to your muted soul.

There’s the eating right – no grains because it makes my head feel like a thunder storm. But I need rice to fill me up. And I think the whole health industry might be a scam and if I thought nails were healthy I could eat them and feel great. So there’s a conflict right there. Enough conflict has compounded in me to where the small things are the most infuriating. Everything is poking me just enough to never let me ease into comfort. I’ve stopped looking for the wins. I’m looking for what’s wrong. Because it’s fucking everywhere. The world is filled with missteps and waste and blind people walking around getting fucked in every direction by everyone they know and still smiling and trying to make the best of it. I guess I’m waiting to see the worst of it. I’m hoping to be around during the time when we all stop being so fake.

We can go in any direction and be anything we want but we keep picking the straight line of those in front of us. To think for ourselves would be too scary. Somehow less scary than lying on our deathbeds filled to tears with regret. We say we’re waiting. For the right moment. Because we’ve learned over time to justify everything with clever reasons. We’re waiting for another time because this time just isn’t quite right. Meanwhile, those regrets are piling up. Inventory is getting hard to manage. We start to show the cracks.

Then there’s exercise. Creativity. Socializing. Meditation. Keeping a clean living environment. Completing my workload. The rest of my list. Each one with its own sublist.

I have a real fear of expressing my truest self. The comforts I have come to know could all be taken away. There’s also a soft whisper telling me it’s okay. That things will definitely change, but I’ll finally be me.

I’m angry at the world because I think it is the reason I can’t be myself. But I’m the reason. My deepest conflict is that I’m just as scared as everyone I see and judge so harshly. Because in my own version I’m walking a straight line and following the people in front of me. In my own way I’m scared to death to be me.

I think we’re all insane – at least a little – walking around having sick, twisted, and unhealthy thoughts all day and then we see someone and we have to snap out of it and play into our Stepford roll and ask about the weather and TV and smile through it even though we want to rip our fucking hearts out and stomp them to death to reflect how meaningless the conversation is. But if we all talked about what we really thought about then it would make everyone quiet. Because we aren’t equipped to deal with that stuff.

When we were younger there were moments. Family dinners. Gatherings. We were just at waist height for most of the crowd always looking up seeing who we wanted to be like. I remember the silence when I knew I needed to see courage. Someone to step up in the moment and show me what a true person looked like.

It’s possible all of the laws and all the stories in the bible were created because we are afraid of who we really are. That while we know we do a lot of good and feel a lot of love, there is an incredible amount of hate and rage and darkness in there too. Hate and rage and darkness that has put thoughts in our heads that are so uncomfortable we wouldn’t say them out loud. Only posed as jokes, just to gauge the reaction. Hey guys, do you ever think about….. haha, no, me either, I mean, that would be weird.

Alexis and I pretend to snap each other’s necks sometimes. I’ll walk up behind her and do a Rambo move and make the sound of a crack and then she’ll pretend to drop to the floor. She tells me that sometimes she wants to punch me really hard. And sometimes I tell her it’s okay and she hits me in the arm or shoulder a few times. And I can see her teeth clenched, I can see the tension in her body. She wants to destroy me. And not because she doesn’t love me, but because there are feelings people feel that make you want to destroy in the absence of articulate words. And it’s okay. At least in our house. But you’re not taught it’s okay. You’re taught to be happy and calm and look around the whole fucking world is miserable. And yet we go back to those things because at least they are established. Doesn’t matter we know they will fail and are completely failing. Doesn’t matter the people we love and swear to raise to be safe are floundering in this real world in all its tiny little jabs.

Just stick to the program because watching our entire life slowly turn insane is more comfortable than trying something new and possibly failing.

I can’t go 5 minutes without checking my phone. I need the screen. I don’t know why, I just have to look. First it’s Instagram, then the Chase app, then FB, then my Bitcoin app, then gmail – at this point I’m starting to get desperate because I’m coming to the end of my arsenal and have felt no satisfaction – so I might open Instagram again in hopes that 30 new people have come out of the woods and started following me and one of them might happen to be a famous producer that is looking for a guy that produces above-average digital media.

And then there are all the things I actually want – learning how to play piano. Speaking Spanish. A deeper meditation practice. Health and fitness. A deep connection to my wife. To be a dancer. A writer. To live in NYC and ride the subway and walk quickly because I know where I’m going. I want to be a better dog parent. But his fucking bark. Last night he wouldn’t stop and I smacked him on the butt with a kitchen towel. Sometimes I do better. Sometimes I work with him and practice our training and get treats and distract and reward but it’s so much work and I know he’s just going to bark at the next dog he hears walking by so I lose my patience and I become angry. And once I give into anger I can no longer see anything else. I can’t dig a hole deep enough to bury this redness.

A simple thing like exercise. Essential for someone like me. A clean hit of endorphins that only requires 45 minutes of my day. But I’ll start saying some shit like I haven’t eaten enough and my blood sugar will be too low to perform well. Or I don’t like the gym because it’s too small and I can never build out a proper circuit.

The piano sits there and doesn’t get touched every day. Doesn’t matter that I had to have it. Now that I do it’s just another burdensome obligation.

All the things I need to do to become who I want to be. I know them all.

And they are the things I avoid the most.

This, of course, is when I’m on the downswing of a manic-depressive brain I have reluctantly accepted. There are many days, even weeks, when I’m doing all these things well and life seems to be fair and possibly even hopeful. I see an ab or two and I can finally play sharps and flats in tempo.

But then an interesting thing happens, once I see the results of my efforts, I stop giving a fuck. I am no longer interested. I know what is going to happen so I stop wanting to participate. It’s so boring now. And I need raw life experiences. Once a week I don’t brush my teeth before bed. Because I’m tired of people telling me to brush my fucking teeth. I want them to be dirty and anyone that cocks their head sideways can kiss my ass. I explain it as an immune system building activity. Preparing my body slowly for the apocalypse one less brush stroke at a time.

We have to eat three times a day. And we spend so long preparing it. And then it’s gone and we have to do it again. Many people have accepted this as inevitable. I get upset about it at least once a day. There are people who enjoy cooking, love the smells and the tastes. Want to let the garlic and onions cook 5 minutes before the rest to build the flavor. Just fucking feed me please.

My body seeks an alternative to whatever environment I am in. I am kind in New York, angry in San Diego, talkative around introverts, and cold in the face of love and affection. I just can’t be where the moment is.

They don’t really teach you the things you need to know when you’re young. How to love, how to be vulnerable, admitting when you’re wrong, recognizing your own ego, having difficult conversations – they leave most of that out. Because it’s a dark hole and no one exactly knows what’s inside. Instead we tuck it neatly away and focus on algebra, something that has a definitive process and answer while the subtleties of life and relationships start to pick us apart and over time we are left with the messes we never intended to create but unfortunately didn’t know any better. Look around you and see all of the broken relationships, the resentment, the lack of joy. We’re broken.

I don’t have the tools I want to have. I am trying to teach myself. Trying to change behavior. But I’m going against a lifetime of wiring and conditioning and the battle isn’t easy. I wonder sometimes how people can stay the same. How someone I went to school with can be the same person now, 15 years later. It’s just more comfortable.

We know comfort slowly destroys us. But we insist on having it. Our best memories aren’t of all the days we made the fucking bed.

Some days I wonder what happens if I don’t pull all this together. If there is no great life revelation at the end of this constant personal push of paradigms.

We’ve built an economy of hope and faith. A white sheet to cover the fear and darkness. A few people propping up an entire world on the idea that their lives are cleaner, loves are deeper, and bills are paid on time. Then you meet them and see in their eyes that they are broken too.

Who is going to pull away the mask?

Why We Get Overwhelmed And How To Get Over It

Being overwhelmed is a result of inaction.

It stings a little because we know it’s true. We also know that means there’s no one else responsible but ourselves. It’s a bit like being backed up against a ledge. There are 2 choices: Work or Blame.

I wrote an assessment called the “Working Styles Assessment” and it’s designed to help you determine what type of worker you are. Are you an Independent, Coffee Shop, or Driver? Each style has different tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses.

The assessment looks into ideal working environments, how long you should work in one sitting, where you should work, who you should work with, and what actually motivates you.

Download Working Styles Assessment and learn the way you were designed to work.

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It also identifies 5 factors that create “Worker’s Block.” Things that prevent us from getting our work done. Things that we all deal with on a regular basis such as being overwhelmed, scattered, unmotivated, or even depressed . The assessment provides 3 workable solutions for each of the 5 blockers. And they all work.

One thing we know to be true – it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re an entrepreneur or busy human responsible for 600 projects happening simultaneously.

But the WORST thing you can do is build up a big story in your head about how much you have to do… because you won’t do ANYTHING.

Enter mental paralysis.

Fear of not knowing where to focus attention.

That’s a crippling circumstance. But it’s also a COMPLETE JOKE. Because it’s not real. It’s a thing we made up in our head to keep us occupied with not working!

Pick 1 thing. Then do it. And then it’s done. Pick another thing. Then do it. Repeat 7 times over the course of 2 hours and realize you’ve knocked out your entire to-do list for the day and nothing was nearly as hard as it seemed in your head.

We are never overwhelmed when we are in action. Because that’s our home. When we’re working we feel alive, fulfilled, focused, meaningful, valuable, important, I’m just going off the thesaurus here, but we feel all of these great and NATURAL things.

Fear in the brain is a huge problem. But it’s also silly because all we have to do is get up and do something. Our body loves to work. And, on average, we only have to be working for 8 minutes before the chemicals in our brain shift and we’re operating off of what I call entrepreneurial cocaine. It’s good stuff. Just remember to drink a lot of water.

Repetition.

That’s how we build new habits. Practicing. Treating self-employment and self-motivation like barbell squats. Every week we get a little stronger.

Here’s the key thing – to take action we have to know what our objectives are.

Taking time to clearly identify the workflows that we are going to have in front of us over the next few hours, days, months, and years – that’s what will set us up to get work done.

I wrote a whole article on morning and evening rituals to ensure productive days, even for the most self-destructive of us all. All you really need is The Rolling 9 and some time to sit before you get in bed.

READ ARTICLEThings To Do When You Wake Up And Before You Go To Bed So You Don’t Freak Out About Life Every Day.

I have yet to discover a better solution for tackling overwhelm, anxiety, and depression than just plain action. It’s not what everyone wants to hear but it’s what everyone needs to hear.

I wish you the best of luck in conquering your mental blockages that are stopping you from being everything you need to be to feel happy and successful.

 

Maybe I Don’t Want To Be Happy

Originially published on rebellesociety.com 3.26.14

I might be a large, heaping disaster.

When I get hit by the first world blues, I struggle to find words for how I feel. I’m afraid I’m fucked. I’m obsessed with novelty and don’t have the tools to appreciate entire life cycles. The world then turns into torture. I’ll always be looking and never finding. It scares me.

Most people have the problem of not taking enough time to figure themselves out. They work for other people, take care of other people, and think about other people.

I sometimes go for 8-10 hour stretches of time where I don’t even realize other people around me are real. I think about myself more often than I think about others. I know the color of every shit, how I feel after each type of food or drink, the exact time I need to fall sleep in order to wake up and feel optimal, the six different types of exercise I need to distribute equally across a week to avoid getting bored with fitness, and what essential oils are good for my mental instabilities.

All I fucking do is think about myself. I think about how people perceive me. I think about my legacy. I think I am the most important person in the goddamn world.

I want to care more about other people; hang out with them and get to know what they are up to, but at the end of the day, I am more interested in my own life. Which is in part why I’m a writer, I think. At night, I sit and read my own journals from years prior and I become so fascinated with the stories and the characters that I live inside the words and marvel at all the progress and struggle.

I have been diagnosed, on several occasions, with chronic depression, severe anxiety, bipolar disorder, and OCD. I wasn’t looking for these diagnoses, in fact, I don’t really believe in them. It’s usually during a physical or a check up for a sore throat when some doctor will start asking me questions. Next thing I know I’ve got “don’t kill yourself” pamphlets in my lap and I’m getting the speech on how I need to be medicated because it’s too hard a path to walk alone.

I’m on this quest for happiness and freedom of expression. I always say that I want to feel alive, I want to be courageous, and I want to experience new things. Some happiness would be nice too.

But the other day I was riding my scooter on a beautiful sunny day with the wind in my face and beautiful fucking birds flying next to me and all I could think about was how sad I felt.  “Dude, what’s your fucking problem?” I asked myself. “If you can’t feel this than you can’t feel anything, ” I continued.

So it dawned on me that I might not actually want to be happy. Because I know how to be happy.

I know about brain chemistry, I know that if I exercise my body will produce serotonin and endorphins stronger than any anti-depressant, I know that if I eat clean foods I will have more clarity in my thinking, I know that if I meditate for 10 minutes morning and night I feel calm most of the day, and I know that if I write first thing in the morning before I touch electronics I feel free like a child playing in his backyard.

But I still don’t fucking do these things consistently. I go through phases. I’m Superman for a few weeks hitting everything hard and feeling like a goddamn Jedi, and then I disappear back into the gutter. The motivation is replaced by an impenetrable hole in my chest that makes it hard to even lift my arms. I stop wanting to exercise because I think it’s a stupid fucking waste of time. I avoid yoga and meditation because I don’t want to face myself because I secretly despise myself. And I stop trying new things because I know they will just become old things eventually.

I start judging people for everything, even the way they breathe. I judge them for shit I am doing at the exact second of judging them. Stupid ass walking down the street wearing a backpack listening to headphones, probably thinks he’s too good for everyone.

My therapist deals with people that have severe trauma; rape victims, schizophrenic people, people abused as children, people that have really fucking suffered. And then she listens to me talk about myself and all the things I know about myself, and what I’m doing, and how I’m feeling, and all the shit I’m struggling with that doesn’t even physically exist in the world, but only in my head — my incredibly untrustworthy and depressed head.

And at the end of one of these days I just want to punch myself in the face and go to sleep and wake up free of crippling thoughts.

I know I’m privileged, I know I live an incredibly life, I know there is beauty all around me that I can take in, but what if I just don’t fucking want to? Because clearly if I wanted to, I would. Instead, it seems, I’m much more comfortable diagnosing myself with cancer and MS on a daily basis and making excuses why riding my scooter 2 miles is too far because they should obviously just open a Whole Foods right outside my front door.

In the end, I’m not sure if I’m lost or on one of the greatest journeys of all time.

I’m trying to write through all the pain and uncertainty. Occasionally, I’m able to recycle my demons into art. And that creation can be a safe hold for some else’s suffering. That is when I feel the greatest connection to the people around me.

Sometimes, my words are the only things I can trust, because they are the thread that connects me to reality.

And still, maybe I don’t want to be happy. Maybe I just want to be true.

For now, I’m going to try to pay more attention to other people. I’m going to start creating newness in all of my reoccurring experiences. If you’re my friend, please don’t let me talk anymore, just let me listen.