How to turn your anxiety into a super power

For years now I have been doing posts on anxiety where I seek out articles and cite them for the purpose of giving people information. Inevitably many of these articles come boil down to a very simple proposition: change the way you think. I mean anyone with anxiety will tell you If they could do that they would. We get these over simplifications in many areas of life and its tiring. I found an article here that somewhat does this, but gets to the critical aspect of the identification process.

From the article: “Suzuki talks about “the superpower of productivity,” which you can tap into simply by listening carefully to the actual content of your worries. “A very, very common manifestation of anxiety is that ‘what if’ list that comes in your head: What if I get sick with Covid, what if I don’t get an A, what if I can’t remember what the professor said on this part of the test? The superpower that comes with that anxiety-induced what-if list is shifting that into a to-do list,” she explains to Newman. “ 

Chronic Anxiety is like having an itch that you can never scratch.

So the critical point here is identifying the source of the anxiety. Worried about an exam? Study more. I know simple right? The point here is identifying sources of anxiety and attempting to address them directly. This action begins the process of the infamous “change how you think” narrative and why this article is so valuable. You are likely never going to escape anxiety completely but if there are reoccurring issues that create anxiety, identifying them and working toward addressing them directly is going to bare a lot of fruit for your mental state.

Many of us, myself included have a multifaceted issue. Meaning it’s never just one thing, it’s an accumulation of many small issues that converge and lead to intrusive thoughts and debilitating mood swings. Take one issue at a time, if its work, well what part of work specifically? Try and drill down here, get into the weed and really figure out what is driving your anxiety. When you do this you create the conditions by which you can recover faster as you can in many cases address the issue directly and resolve it.

One down, hundreds more to go but its progress….

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Justice

Job Advice: The U.S. Supreme court overturned the OSHA mandate. Now what?

This blog doesn’t give medical advice as a normal practice. In terms of covid, the vaccine, etc., my best advice to my readers is to visit your primary care doctor and ask their recommendation. I am vaccinated so is everyone in my family, by choice, not by mandate.

So for my foreign readers a quick background. In the U.S. congress (state and federal) passes bills that once signed by the executive (state or federal) become law. The executive branch, in this case the president of the united states can issue what is called an “executive order”. Every modern President does this, it’s not exclusive to democrats or republicans. This practice falls under our constitution, article 2 which essentially empowers the executive branch to enforce laws.

So here we are in 2022. The last high profile order was the OSHA mandate that required employers of over 100 people to require that their employees be vaccinated or submit to regular testing. This was challenged in court and the supreme court upheld the challenge. Meaning the order is now non enforceable. There are a lot of nuances here I am not going to cover but that is the gist of it.

I don’t get it

So now what? As a U.S. worker what do you do if your employer still mandates a vaccine? Really there isn’t much you can do. You can get it, or you can be terminated. Most employment in the U.S. is “at will” employment, meaning either party can terminate the relationship at any time. However, there is one caveat that has to be noted in the current economic climate. The U.S. job market is red hot, essentially there are not enough workers to cover all the jobs available.

Sure the high paying high profile jobs may not be in abundance but in this scenario job openings filter upward. Meaning a supervisor is going to have to fill in for workers if they don’t have enough, managers of those supervisors have to fill in for the supervisors if the supervisors are filling in for the workers, I think you get the point. So as a worker in the U.S. you are in a leverage position at this point in time. Any employer who places a mandate on you runs the risk of losing you as an employee.

So what do you do? Below are 5 things you should do now as a worker in the U.S. to maximize your labor return in the current job market.

  1. Get vaccinated: Being vaccinated makes you a more desirable candidate for a job right now. Companies don’t want to navigate this mine field. This is an asset, and you should be vocal about the fact you have this asset.
  2. Update your resume: Do it now.
  3. See what’s out there: Even if the vaccine mandate issue isn’t a big deal to you, there are a lot of opportunities out there. Now is the time to explore the job market it is a sellers’ market, and you are selling your labor. You might make up to 20% more just by flipping jobs.
  4. Sit down with your current company: Now is a great time to bring up your future with your company. What you want to do where you hope to be. Again remember they need you, this is your chance to make progress toward a professional goal. This labor dynamic will not last forever.
  5. Diversify your skill set: There are so many side hustles now, so many opportunities to pick up work on the side. Companies are desperate for help, diversifying your skill set and learning new industries makes your personal brand more valuable in the future.

Some may say this is taking advantage of the current situation with a pandemic. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it isn’t, I would be lying to you. I look at this as an opportunity. Let me put it this way. In life there are often people who are given a situation and will complain about it hoping someone will change it for them to make it more favorable. There are others who look at the same situation and figure out how they can best survive and excel.

Be the later in the context of your career. Believe me, if the situation was different and there were more people looking for a job then open positions these companies would squeeze you for as much as they could. The window on this reality is closing, Covid is almost played out. Carpe diem.

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Are you a Gen X? (10 test questions below)

So this blog is “A Gen X Point of View” and at 52 I am right smack in the middle of that generation. Below are 10 questions that will verify you are a Gen Xer (or not) the answers will be provided at the bottom. DON’T CHEAT see how many you get right; you need at least 7 out of 10. Good Luck

  1. How many Red Balloons?
  2. How many Thompson Twins are there?
  3. What year did Princess Diana and Prince Charles get married?
  4. Who was the narrator for the Michael Jackson video “Thriller”?
  5. Who said “Where’s the Beef”?
  6. What kind of car does Marty drive to go back to the future?
  7. Who was Vice President in 1989?
  8. In 1981 who became the first female supreme court justice?
  9. What does “VHS” stand for?
  10. What happened in Ukraine in 1986?
DONT CHEAT !

Answers

  1. 99
  2. 3
  3. 1981
  4. Vincent Price
  5. Clara Peller
  6. De Lorean
  7. Dan Quayle
  8. Sandra Day O’Connor
  9. Video Home System
  10. The Chernobyl incident

How did you do?

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When Anxiety turns into a Panic Attack

If you have anxiety you might be exposed to, or have had a panic attack. This is the physical manifestation of your anxiety. Often it doesn’t play out as the person think’s it will, meaning the “panic” doesn’t nearly equate to the situation more often than not. However, that doesn’t minimize or negate what is actually happening to you. Panic often delves into physical conditions that impact you negatively. Examples:

  • Shortness of breath or hyperventilation
  • Heart palpitations or racing heart
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Choking feeling
  • Feeling unreal or detached from your surroundings
  • Sweating
  • Nausea or upset stomach
  • Feeling dizzy, light-headed, or faint
  • Numbness or tingling sensations
  • Hot or cold flashes
  • Fear of dying, losing control, or going crazy

The real problem is these attacks can happen at any time. Literally ANYTHING can be a trigger and this is, for a lot of people where anxiety ends up. They live in fear not of, I don’t know, let’s say spiders, but the PANIC that seeing the spider will invoke. I’ve never had a serious panic attack, I have heard in my life when the subject comes up in my social circle there is an immediate dismissal. “It’s not that bad” or “They made a mountain out of a mole hill”.

Where there is smoke, there is fire.

What that narrative does is it creates the conditions by which someone who might have panic attacks has even more anxiety about it. Our culture celebrates strength and fortitude in essentially all ethnic backgrounds for each gender. Having anxiety that leads to a panic attack doesn’t make you weak, it’s not something you should be ashamed of and if you have people in your life telling you it’s not a big deal you should consider strongly limiting your time with them.

In extreme cases a panic attack can lead to death, either by suicide, heart attack or loss of control of your faculties. BREATHE!

I am not patronizing you, it sometimes is that simple. Even if you are in the middle of a grocery store and you think people are staring at you and you are in full panic, take slow deep breaths. 10 slow deep breaths is a minute of your life, you can do this and any social anxiety you may derive from that 1 minute where you think people are staring at you will dissipate quickly as your panic starts to decrease with every breath.

You aren’t alone, you are not abnormal. You have anxiety and you need to be honest with yourself about it. When in doubt, take a deep breath.

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How to be a better man – The real secret (are you a beta, alpha or????? )

What label have you accepted? I bet you’re loathe to say you are a beta aren’t you? Maybe you are walking around telling everyone you are an Alpha male, which obviously that’s what Alpha males do….. Maybe you are an Omega? A Gamma? A label allows you to be classified simply, marketed too, sorted out and identified. These labels/titles are social constructs created by others to better identify your behaviors so you can be categorized.

You can try and identify these labels and emulate them. Who knows, maybe in your mind you will achieve the ideal for one of these labels. Maybe you will truly become an ALPHA MALE!!!! Make sure you tell everyone. Maybe, just maybe you can be yourself. You know some days you might be completely alpha some days you might be beta and everywhere in between.

It’s kind of like politics, are you 100% one way? Do you maybe believe that a woman has a right to determine what happens with her body but on the other hand don’t think government should be involved in financing social programs? Life isn’t black and white and neither is being a man. So what does all this mean? You see there has been a schism in the social order that governed society for thousands of years. Traditional male and female roles have converged and diverged and as a result you have to find where your place is on your own terms.

That place is where you want it. See we are at a place in the social construct of complete freedom for men. It’s fantastic that women have become liberated, they can be politicians, anything. Let them go fight wars now. Take out the trash? They can do that. Change the oil in the car? Go for It. The freedom of women and their liberation is the best thing to happen to men in a long, long time. You never have to accept inequality again. You see it works both ways, well it should but there are many out there who want their cake and eat it too.

A thick skin makes you stronger then 99% of “Alpha Males”

Don’t allow that anymore. You decide who you are. You want a label great, don’t want one that’s cool too. Always demand equality and if you don’t get it you need to remove those people from your life ASAP. It’s okay to like whatever you like. Paint your nails, wear dresses, put on makeup…. Or grow a beard, swill beer, swear. Everything is wide open now. Pick whatever label you want and within it create the name YOU want it to be.

If members of the opposite sex don’t like it and want you to change, move on from them. Because here is the real secret and it’s the one that has scared the shit out of men and women alike. You don’t need a woman to be happy, a woman doesn’t need a man to be happy. The catch is most men from a young age are conditioned not to expect emotional support or to be needed. Girls are protected far more, there are 1-800 numbers for any issue a woman might have, seen one for men lately? Women in western culture are placed in a different light from a young age, and with that comes unfair expectations on them I concede that. For a man? Expectations have never been lower. Not the bread winner? That’s acceptable. Dad bod and not athletic? That’s acceptable. On and on…

This is your chance, you can now be whatever you want however you want to frame it. Western society has created an equality narrative, and with it comes good and bad outcomes. Most of the negative outcomes here are for females, they now have even higher expectations placed on them than ever before where their male counterparts have been reduced. The phrase “careful what you wish for” comes to mind but equality of opportunity doesn’t always translate to equality of outcomes.

Social expectations and thousands of years of an accepted social construct don’t evaporate overnight. Women will still be judged on their appearance (by other women often), their ability to run a house, be a mother and now their ability to earn an income and excel professionally. They have all the pressure. Men are not held in high regard at all. This is great for you if you are a man, you now have more freedom than ever before. Relieved of the burdens of expectations you can build the life and strength you want and genuinely attract those who like you for who you are, not who they expect you to be or some arbitrary title.

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Finance tip – The Credit Score Secret

So the first finance piece on the blog for 2022 but the same disclaimer…. I am finance professional with 30 years of experience. That said the views expressed on this blog regarding personal finance are my opinion and any financial decisions you make you should do so after having done your own personal research.

If you live in the western world you have a credit score. Now our friends in the east (our Asian and Australian friends) might have something similar, if they do I am not familiar with what it is but its yet another “number” you are given to identify your financial prowess. Now that we are in the midst of the digital age it is very easy to accumulate data on consumers.

Bitcoin is a game changer

Be under no illusion, every financial transaction you make is being stored in some data base and scrubbed as part of meta data for analytics. How many people bought tooth brushes in Dec as opposed to Feb… That data is then resold to manufactures and other large corporations for great profit. Let’s follow the example a bit further… Let’s assume that in Dec tooth brush sales are 300% higher than Feb. That’s critical information for someone who makes toothbrushes, that could be the lynch pin info that creates high profits for their company. You get the idea.

So you as a consumer are given a credit score. It has been pumped up and built up to be a reflection on your overall prowess as an economic entity. Potential employers will do a “credit check” on you. Some dating sites as part of the vetting system perform these checks as a service for their clients. You even have social conversations (well pre covid anyway) where people would actively talk about their credit score as if it were some bench mark for success.

Here is “The Credit Score Secret”

The credit scores purpose is to grade you on your ability to finance material items you can’t afford

Simply put, your credit score is a benchmark on your ability to make payments on items you can’t otherwise pay for outright. Its far more lucrative for a company to sell you something and have you pay overtime with interest. First, they make more over time due to interest and Second, they can up sell you additional services that complement the original purchase.

The bottom line is, you only need a credit score if you are buying something you can’t afford. In my opinion, the only case you should ever need this is when purchasing a house. You should not be buying other items unless you can pay for them outright, and yes that means cars too. I can bend a little on cars but you don’t need a 50K car, a 10K car will suffice. It’s another illusion the finance industry has created for you.

“Give them a score so they can measure themselves against others”. Its clever, sinister marketing. That score is a curse because it really means you have a high probability of purchasing things you can’t afford and paying for them over time. It’s an indication of how poor at finance you really are, financing a TV, A vacation, a phone… It means you’re willing to pay MORE than the item would normally sell for.

Don’t be fooled by the finance industry. They want you to be good little consumers. “payments” means “interest” and interest is pure profit for them. The item is still worth 20k regardless, but you, because you want it now are willing to pay 30K for it over 10 years because you want it now. Companies love that mentality and that is the “credit score secret”

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Deltacron – The final product?

If you have anxiety covid has been a disaster. It’s one thing to have to worry about getting sick, its another to have everyone screaming at the top of their lungs about getting sick. It never seems to end either, remember YEARS ago (yes years) when the prevailing narrative was “a few weeks and we will be back to normal”. That’s not happening anytime soon. So we have a new variant discovered and the marketing has already begun. It’s being called “Deltacron” a combo of TWO variants to bring you even more mental anguish.

This ride never ends does it? I mean we can be getting new variants for decades. So is this the final product? I suspect it might be, or the next to last. You see part of this is marketing. Marketing to get you to get vaccinated (which you should) marketing to get you hooked and keep clicking and watching. It’s naïve to think that Covid hasn’t become commercial and political. The media loves this, it gives them an easy story every night which allows for them to run the full gambit of stories. Deaths, illnesses, mask mandates, on and on.

Even vaccinated people get covid.

I know this sounds cynical but this is our reality, I mean at this point you know what covid is you are either vaccinated or you aren’t. Harping on a new variant, how does that change the conversation? Answer = it doesn’t. It’s not meant to. It’s meant to CONTINUE the same conversation and keep tens of millions of people in a state of flux. What other reason could there be? “You’re an anti vaxxer!!!!! Burn it with fire” No I’m not I am vaccinated, lol.

I just see what’s coming, as we’ve seen this play out for a few years now. Don’t believe me? In the next few weeks “Deltacron” will be on the news regularly. Your political “leaders” will talk about it and how you “need to” do X, Y or Z. I hope I am wrong and if I am I will be happy to eat my words. For those of us with Anxiety? No reprieve. You get no rest from the covid onslaught.

You should get vaccinated, you should get a booster, you should wear a mask if other people are uncomfortable. You should also, shut off main stream media. Remove yourself from people who go on and on about covid and what YOU should be doing. Most importantly keep trying to do the things you want to do and try not to let covid permeate every aspect of your life.

Hang in there, the rollercoaster ride isn’t over yet.

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Traveling today no formal post

I am sitting at my home PC typing this, shirt and tie on. I know…. Today I actually have to travel for business. Its been a while. I used to travel a lot a decade or so a go for work. Got a chance to see a lot of the U.S. as a result. Anyway no formal post today.

As always thanks so much for supporting my blog I really appreciate it. Will be back on Wed with a formal post. Take care.

Squats

How I stay in shape over 50 – Squats (in detail)

In 2021 I lost a lot of weight and to be blunt most of it was fat and water. My muscle tone improved dramatically, obviously from losing weight but because I also increased my muscle mass. I am by no means a diet guru, this isn’t a fitness blog but I’ve done it. I lost nearly 30 pounds and kept it off. Sure there are no photos to prove this, I mean you are going to believe what you want any way. How do I keep it off though? Perhaps more importantly how do I train to maintain muscle mass.

To be blunt I do very little. I train, hard but I am in the gym only 3 times a week and each session is intense for perhaps 30 min. Now outside of the gym I stay active. I shovel snow, I walk, I rake leaves, I take the stairs, I mow the lawn. I find ways to move which = calories burned. But how do I stay in shape? I do squats. I employ the same strategy to my upper body as well but that is another post for another day.

So Squats – In detail……

Squats are a compound exercise engaging multiple muscle groups in one motion. Get familiar with the concept of “Compound Exercises” if you are a man over 50 it’s the fountain of youth if you can pull them off. Squats are considered by many the “king of exercises” because of how much of your body and systems are engaged in the operation. Simply put, you bend at the knee lowering down, ideally touching your but to the ground (no one can do this, but go deep and low) and then rise up. Feet placement can vary but as a general rule you want your feet shoulder length apart, slight wider is fine, your toes should be straight ahead or outward. This largely depends on your hip flexibility, do a few air squats and then look at your feet, your body tells you where they belong.

What I do:

3 Months I do a basic 5×5 split. So what does that mean?

  1. 3 Months start date: Any day you want, but its 3 months so say 1/1/22 – 3/31/22.
  2. 3 workouts per week: Mon-Wed-Fri or Tues-Thurs-Sat

There are only 2 workouts. Workout A is the squat day. Warm up stretch and then get to the free weight squat rack. You start with the bar, if that is to heavy you start with a 25-pound weight. You do 5 sets of 5 reps. That’s the workout. Your next workout day (48 hours later) you do workout B, then next workout you are back to work out A.

Over time you will make gains

The catch here is every workout you make the 5×5 (25 total reps) you increase the weight for the next workout by 10% or for simplicity 10 pounds. Additionally, you want to start with a weight that is challenging. Most free-weight bars are 45 pounds. I would encourage you to start there, for me I start with 90 pounds (the bar with a 25-pound plate on each side). So in a 3 month span you would have 36 workouts, 18 of which would be squat days. If you started with 100 pounds and were able to hit the 25 rep each workout, by your last workout you would be squatting 260 pounds for 5 sets 5 reps. Again it really depends on what weight you start at but somewhere in the middle is when things should get very hard, and you should be failing. There will be workouts you can’t get 3 full sets of 5. That’s okay, you come back the next work out and use that same weight UNTIL you get the 5 sets and 5 reps.

This becomes a gut busting sweaty mess, but it’s the kick in the ass any man over 50 needs. Its increasing your strength, your endocrine system, your cardio system it really is hard work. I do a very similar workout for my upper body as well but that is for another time. I don’t run, I diet, I don’t skip desert but when I go to the gym, I go intense.

If you do this, you will lose weight and keep it off. Try it, let me know how you do.

Disclaimer: Please make sure you are physically and medically able to work out before trying. If you exercise regularly you are probably fine but if you don’t consult your physician.

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5 Things a Gen Xer experienced that new Gens haven’t

As this blog is “A Gen X Point of View” in 2022 from time to time I am going to do some “generational” specific posts. This one is an homage to the 80’s and my generation. Any of my readers who are 40+ should be able to identify with some of these. For those of you who are 50+ you’ll get all of them. My Gen Z kids laugh at me from time to time when I tell them I used to have to get up to change the channel on the TV because it had a dial. They don’t get it….

So what are some experiences that your Gen X friends have had that the new Gens haven’t? Take a look.

  1. A Rotary Phone: Now some of our new friends might MIGHT have had a push button phone but few if any of them have ever had to use a rotary phone. You can put phone booths in this category too. Remember when there were public phones all over the city? Got a dime?
  2. Playing records: Now it’s possible that some of our young friends have a record player for nostalgia but for many of us that’s all we had before things really opened up in the 80’s with Cassettes and CD’s. Maybe you had an 8 Track player but most of us had record players. I still have my original “Thriller” record, do you?
  3. A computer free home: That’s right no PC’s. No smart phones, no internet, no Wi-Fi…. Can you believe it? PC’s weren’t a thing until the 80’s and even then most people didn’t have them. The most electronic thing in your house was the TV and that was still using the same tech from the 50’s. Now it changed in the 80’s but many of us grew up without them.
  4. WW I Veterans: That’s right, when we were kids they were still around. Now not every Gen Xer met a WWI vet but many of us did as back in the day you went to parade’s. It’s also possible that your grandparents (or a member of your family) was in that war. Yes they were old but many were still functioning well.
  5. Gender Specific Classes: Yes you heard me correctly. Back in the day we had classes like home economics and shop class. Each was designed for females and males respectively and you were auto enrolled in those based on your gender. It didn’t matter if you wanted to take it, or the other class or not. LOL imagine that today….

Honorable mentions:

                Being a Latchkey Kid

                Buying cigarettes and booze for your parent with a note

                No bike helmets

                Fake wood on cars

                Fanny Packs

                Lady Dianna and Prince Charles Wedding

                Making a mix tape

                Break Dancing

                Hanging out at an Arcade

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