“We come to see the true nature of things by seeing through the illusory nature of things.” – Adyashanti The End Of Your World
Think back to the hardest boss that you’ve ever fought in a video game. What happened? You got your ass whooped son. Not just once, but probably 53 times, if we’re being honest. And then you cursed out the world; screamed like a small child; had tears streaming down your face as you fought to keep your composer (don’t act like you didn’t). Chances are, you weren’t the level you needed to be to square up to El Jefe. We’ve all been there, champ.
How do we deal with this? We train. We max out our health. We collect all the extra items we can find. We go back to older levels, fighting mere peasants until our eyes bleed. Then finally, after hours of grunt work, we get to a level that gives us just enough confidence to believe that this will be the last time El Jefe bends us over his knee. And then what happens? We run through him wondering how he ever gave us trouble in the first place.
Why is he starting up this week with a god damn video game analogy, you’re probably wondering? Or more like, “why am I reading another one of this fools blogs.” (Valid point.) I’m doing this because, well, this blog is going to suck. There’s no way around this one. But if I had to pinpoint where someone experiences the most growth in their life, it’s going to come from doing the dirty work; the theme of this week.
So, having this analogy as a point of reference every time you’re called to look at yourself is going to be your saving grace.
Allow me to explain…
Without training, or collecting items, or gaining max health, we would never make it past the boss. I mean maybe if you were lucky and were a natural freak when it came to video games. But for us mortals, we were most likely stuck on that boss until we finally leveled up. You couldn’t continue in the game until that happened. The same thing goes for life. Think of your life as a video game and think of the thing that you know you need to deal with––but keep ignoring it––as the hardest boss that you’ve ever fought. There is no moving forward in life until you beat that boss. Until then, you’re going to be stuck on that level. Forever and ever and ever and ever.
This week is going to challenge a lot of aspects of who you think you are. I’ll be asking you to be brutally honest with yourself as you look at different areas of your life. By no means is this an easy or enjoyable task, and by the end of this, I’m sure a lot of you are going to be wishing me a sincere “fuck you, Justin.” But try to look at it with this perspective; what wasn’t really you will flake off like a terrible tan that wasn’t meant to be. But what is you will remain as a solid foundation for the type of tan that you get from Aruba that was intended to make mother fuckers jealous. Yeahhh, we all know we want some of that Aruba tan, don’t play yourself.
“Why do dragons hoard gold? Because the things you most need is always to be found where you least want to look.” – Jordan Peterson
“The thing about meditation is: You become more and more you.” – David Lynch
This is a quote taken from a post on my Instagram from about three years ago that was most likely only put up because I wanted to seem ultra-spiritual. Ultimately letting everyone know that I meditate as I snagged a few likes to stroke my ego. Yikes.
But there’s some bloody wisdom to this quote, aside from stroking egos and playing the holier than thou card. And let’s go ahead and swap out meditation for “the process.” As you undertake this process the truth behind this quote will start to ring loud and clear. A truth that even while it was happening, I was unable to see.
The more I became aware of myself, the more I started to realize, that most of what had gotten me to where I was in my life, was all based on bullshit. It wasn’t total bullshit, but a lot of my actions didn’t come from a place of true authenticity. I kind of just fell into them, as does everyone. Then as we begin to pull our head out of our asses, we realize, “oh, I don’t even want this job,” or “why am I even putting up with this douchebag?” This is a natural part of life for most of us. No spiritual process required. But there are levels to introspection, and sometimes we have to be willing to examine an aspect of our life if it’s accompanied by feelings of discontent.
Little by little, I slowly began to deconstruct who I was––the optional “side quest” of life that gets us those fancy special upgrades. I did this by challenging everything that I thought I knew about myself and this is what I’m going to be asking of you. This is where that honesty is going to go a long way. This is the “internal work” that you can’t get me to shut up about.
This internal work is joined by a new sense of ownership that you now have to take over yourself. Every action, gross behavior, things you said or how you treated people in your past, will all have to be reconciled with. Your life might turn into chaos as you try to figure out who you truly are underneath the mask, but this is what we want. If you find yourself here, know that this part of the process isn’t permanent. Necessary? Absolutely. But permanent? Not even close.
I’m going to leave off with what I think are the five areas that are going to challenge you the most. At least, this is what I noticed with myself, but I don’t think it’s uncommon across the board. I’ll talk about some of my hang-ups that I’ve encountered in hopes that you realize you’re not alone. We’re quick to point out our differences among one another, but are slow to realize that we have more in common than people want to believe.
“To be able, at any moment, to sacrifice what you are, for what you will become.” – Eric Thomas
Fuck You Justin
Couldn’t think of a title for this section but figured this is about how you’ll be feeling by the end.
Roles – That holier than thou card that I was just talking about? Yeah, that’s a role I get caught in from time to time. Messiah complex? Another role I get caught in from time to time; The nice guy, the traveler, the ultra-spiritual dude; yeah, these are all roles that I’ve played at one point or another. Fucking, embarrassing, m8’s.
But, this is just part of life. We all play roles. Yes, even those of you who are reading this is playing a role whether you’re aware of it or not. Are you the smart guy? The entrepreneur? The fitness guru? The elitist? The macho man? The humanitarian? The politician? The hard worker? Or do you identify with your job to the point that it’s taken over your identity? The writer? The artist? The musician? The scientist? The massage therapist? The doctor? The actor? Nobody gets a pass on this one, folks.
“Fuck off Justin.” I know.
I wouldn’t be able to write this blog if I wasn’t aware of the different roles that I’ve been caught in. With each realization came a feeling of shame that ultimately made me want to hide under a rock for the next twenty years and guess what? You might be mortified the same way I was. Embrace the suck now. Not taking yourself so seriously is the antidote here.
Once I was able to see what I was doing with some clarity, I was better able to navigate the role positively. Holier than thou, messiah complex card; whatever, it’s fucking embarrassing to even talk about this. But on some level, that’s me. Underneath, there is a genuine pull to want to help people. Does that mean I have to let that pull consume me and have it become my identity? No. This only would be an issue if I was never aware of this in the first place because then what that starts to look like is a delusional sense of superiority. And yes, I was in this exact spot before I realized.
On the flip-side, I don’t think these roles are a bad thing. As I said, these roles are just part of who we are on a small level. They can actually be to our benefit if we’re able to become aware of them and properly integrate them into our lives.
If we don’t, or we’re not conscious of them, then this is where the shadow side of a role begins to show its face. The tough guy who is oblivious to life is most likely a cocky fuckwad. But the tough guy who’s aware of this doesn’t deny that aspect of himself. That’s just part of who he is, but he doesn’t let it get the best of him. This then begins to take shape in the form of quiet confidence.
How do you spot a fitness guru who doesn’t know she’s playing the role of a fitness guru? Well for starters, she is most likely tip-toeing on a fragile line about to burnout. She also probably knows “what’s best for you” as she robs you of your money giving you a cookie cutter program that she regurgitates on all of her other clients. And if you head over to her Instagram page, I’ll bet there’s no real training advice. I’ll bet it’s a narcissistic collection of mirror selfies with half-ass inspirational quotes and 4 out of 5 videos are of her working out her ass, I mean, am I wrong?
But a fitness guru who is a true fitness guru has knowledge coming out of her pores. It’s clear as day that this is what she’s here to do. There’s no second guessing. And she’s most likely going out of her way to construct a program specifically designed for what your intended goals are.
In short; know what role you’re playing. Be honest with yourself. Look at an area in your life where you think you might be playing a role. It will probably have to do with your job, a hobby, an interest, or an aspect of your personality. It’s going to be super embarrassing to admit it to yourself, but fuck it who cares. If we can’t own our roles with some humility, then our roles are going to own us. End of story. Step up to the plate.
Relationships – This one almost goes without question. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself looking at some potentially significant changes in your relationships. It could be for the better or for worse. Let’s start with the good. Build you up just to break you down, ya know? I think I’ve said this exact line in one of my older blogs who knows. I’m rolling with it again, fuck off.
Now, how can this be a good thing? Maybe, just maybe, you realize that the reason behind why your relationship with a particular family member, or partner, or friend, has been feeling like a constant war is because, it’s actually you… (Gasp.) “No, not me! I could never do any wrong. It’s all them!” No, my friend, it just might be you this time.
This was the case between me and my mom a couple of years back. Every day consisted of some small fight about me not playing my part around the house. Me being the little shit that I was (still a shit, just a bigger shit now), I would get defensive every time she called me out on my bullshit. (How dare she.) That was me knowing that deep down, she was right. This was the ego being threatened, and when our fragile egos are attacked, we put up as much resistance as possible to not be in the wrong. Even if we know, without a shadow of a doubt that we’re so in the wrong! God, humans are funny. But once I took ownership over myself and was able to objectively look at the fact that maybe I was in the wrong, everything changed between us, for the better.
Know that when I ask you to be honest with yourself, it doesn’t always mean it has to be some grand realization or that we always have to dig up old trauma. It can be as simple as admitting that yeah, maybe I have been a lazy piece of shit or maybe I have been lying to the people closest to me when I know I should just be honest. Will things always be your fault? No. But be able to be straight up with yourself so that if they are your fault, you can own up to it.
Onto the bad part.
Well, it’s not bad depending on your perspective.
Through this process, you may start to realize that the people you’ve been hanging around with, or maybe even your partner, has been bringing you down. Oh, shit… (Drops mic, walks off stage left, grabs a cup off coffee and then rides off into the sunset on his Banshee). Or perhaps you realize they’re not the right fit for you. There’s nothing wrong if that’s the case.
It can be challenging if you’re trying to move forward in life or better yourself, and you realize that your best friend or partner is toxic for you. What do you do in this situation? I don’t fucking know man. I can’t tell you to drop them, even though it’s probably the right move if they’re not willing to work on their faults. All I can say is, that once this becomes a concrete understanding, letting that relationship go its course might not be as hard as you think. Step up to the god damn plate.
Job – Well, in this scenario, you realize that you hate your fucking job. It’s been sucking the life out of you. “I’m going to quit” you declare! “I’ll show them!” But then reality smacks you in the face, and you realize that this is the very same job that you went through six years of school for and put in another four years of actual work on top of that. Fucking fuck.
If you find yourself in a situation like this, DON’T PANIC, remain calm! Take six deep breaths and let’s break this bitch down.
Don’t think because you have time invested in something that is making you miserable, that you have to stay. Fuck that noise. This is a terrible mindset that people get trapped in. If it’s making you unhappy, then leave. If it’s not what you truly want to be doing with your life, then leave.
“Yeah, now I’ll fucking quit,” you say in some creepy voice with your eyes squinted as you rub your hands together in a dark room that has a spotlight only on you. (What the fuck are you doing you creep and where even are you?) I mean, don’t just up and quit. Let’s be smart here. Start to take the necessary steps as you work on what comes next.
But also, forget what I just said. Do fucking up and quit if it’s been draining you and the company has been treating you like shit. Sometimes when our backs are against a wall––having no income because you just pulled a baller ass move and up and quit––is when we do our best work. We make shit happen in these types of moments.
I went through three years of school for massage therapy and put in another five years of work, only to realize in my second year of working, that I couldn’t do this full-time longterm. That was a tough pill to swallow my second year working there. Through this honesty, I began to understand that there’s a type of love that you need to have to be able to do this full-time, for the rest of your life that I just don’t have. Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not. This is life. Better to have realized it my second year so I could start working on Plan B, then to realize eight years in when I’m burnt out as I scramble trying to figure out my Plan B.
If you find yourself here, step up to the fucking plate.
Behavior – This one sucks man. I won’t sugarcoat this, and I’ll try to keep it simple.
There’s a domino effect that takes place once we’re able to start admitting where we’ve been in the wrong or are able to honestly take accountability for our actions. It’s like our ego stops trying so hard to prove that we’re always right. It actually can be kind of a beautiful thing.
As for behavior, you’re going to be ashamed of some less than stellar qualities of yourself. I noticed this as I was going through my process and so you don’t feel alone, let’s look at an embarrassing highlight reel of the areas of my game that I needed to clean up; complaining about EVERYTHING, passive-aggressive tendencies, manipulative behavior, negative Nancy, cold shoulder or shutting down during any form of conflict or just in spite; laziness, feelings of superiority, attention seeking, just to name a few. Don’t judge me fuckers…
The first go around at trying to accept that these were behaviors that I was participating in was not happening. Ignorance is bliss.
But the second time around, I realized, “oh shit, I can’t believe that I’ve been acting like this for so long without even knowing that I was playing games.” It took me a while to bounce back from this, but I eventually did and am beyond grateful for doing it.
I’m not perfect, and this didn’t fix everything. I still get caught in some of these old patterns, but I can’t even begin to imagine the piece of shit that I’d be today had I never done this. Step up to the god damn mother fucking plate.
Thinking – So rather than give you some insight into a problem I faced in the past, let me give you some insight into a realization that I’m currently facing right now. A realization that I got to by challenging the way I think.
One day, while I was working on one of my blogs and started to write “life is fucking hard” for the 27th time, I paused for a second and asked myself, “but is it really?” I mean yeah, we all know it’s hard, but does that mean we have to dwell in it? And by we, I mean me. Yeah, life was hard for me at one point. But I did the things that I needed to do to pull myself out of that hole. There’s no need to keep feeling into the past.
This is an excellent example of how your thoughts turn into your reality.
As I’ve been waking up to the fact that I’ve been sulking here, I’ve started to notice other areas of my life that are in accordance with this thought. Like someone who I was once close with calling me out telling me that all my music was “mellow.” I was fucking pissed man. I love my music. I think my taste in music is the bee knees. But you know what? After my ego flare up calmed down and I was able to look at their comment honestly, they were kind of right. It’s definitely not depressing music, but it does keep you in a lower vibration as it lacks its highs and lows.
Maybe I have been feeding into my bullshit for a while now. A realization that I’d never been able to come to if you guessed it, STEPPED UP TO FUCKING PLATE TO LOOK AT, AND DEAL WITH MY SHIT! And no, I don’t feel like I’m being full of myself because I am constantly taking the time out to look at my shit. Step up to the plate asshole.
Hate me yet? Listen, I wouldn’t be able to write this blog, or any of these blogs for that matter if I wasn’t doing the work. I’ve been here. I know what it’s like and yes, how hard it can be. But in time it passes. It becomes nothing more than a rough chapter in our lives.
All I ask is that, if you honestly find yourself facing any of the turmoil that I’ve mentioned, you keep self-acceptance close by your side. Going down this path does not come without the cost of a piece of you dying off. This will mean nothing and can potentially leave you in a worse spot if you’re not able to forgive yourself for anything that may have happened in the past. We all fuck up, and we all have areas that can be worked on. As long as we’re doing the things that we need to do, we’re gravy. So, I’m asking you, step up to the fucking plate m8’s. See you next week to close this bitch out. Peace!
“But no, that’s not the point. Self-awareness is wasted if it does not result in self-acceptance. The research bears this out, too: self-awareness doesn’t make everyone happier, it makes some people more miserable. Because if great self-awareness is coupled with self-judgment, then you’re merely becoming more aware of all the ways you deserve to be judged.4“ – Mark Manson
Edited by: Patricia Hendriks