How to be a better man: If you entertain clowns, you join the circus

One of the key aspects of being a better man is really being honest about who you invest your time into in your life. Let’s be blunt here we all have toxic people in our lives, it’s really a matter of degree’s. When you entertain/invest time into them you become part of their circus act. This isn’t gender specific either. I’m not talking exclusively about your buddy from high school who still pounds a 6 pack before going out on Friday night.

I’m also talking about GF’s who are drama queens, exes who float in and out of your life to keep you on the line. Crazy uncles who always seem to need help with something, or siblings/parents who constantly fight and or cause issues. I’m not saying you have to cut people like this out of your life completely but you have to be honest about who these people are. If you are at family functions and Uncle Ted continues to bring up the incident at thanksgiving from 2001 it’s because he has either not gotten over it, or he wants to create drama for the people associated because he thinks THEY aren’t over it.

This is an example of how a clown works. They fixate on something that was painful, embarrassing or a highly emotional episode of the past and just keep hammering on it. Sometimes years later. Now there are degrees of this of course. If your current partner is reminding you of something you said 2 years ago you have to think about that and the current context. If you are hearing about this event regularly it means they aren’t over it and or are not happy about how you handled it.

Unclutter your life

People like this can sap your emotional energy. The circus ensues when you engage in this banter and it is used to bludgeon you over and over. The same theory applies to people in your life who have episode behavior. As an example, you go out for drinks, there is a designated driver or uber. There is always one person who says they can drive (when you know they can’t) even WHEN you have done the right thing and set up an alternative means of getting home they continue on. Another example, you are out to eat with your partner and no matter where you go, no matter what you order there is a problem.

If you continue to indulge these behaviors you are sending a signal that it is acceptable, ergo you are accepting a role in the circus. Maybe the example is mild and you are okay with it/tolerate it. Fine but what you normally find is the circus grows over time and more and more “situations” occur in new settings. You have to identify who these people are in your life and really think about your time investment into them.

It’s okay to have a circus once in a while, life should be spicy. That said, to be a better man you have to have balance and be very careful how much the circus consumes your time.

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Enough

Anxiety: One quick way to get out of others grief.

Grief is horrible. It is usually derived from a cataclysmic event in someone’s life that is often unexpected. This can happen to anyone; someone you love or know could have a random serious medical condition tomorrow. Life is that fragile, I do not wish something like that on anyone. Now most of us reading this blog have some form of anxiety. Manageable for most of us but grief can spiral us out of control. Not just our grief but others as well.

I absorb other peoples emotional state, but like all good men I internalize it (joking…. Somewhat). The issue becomes when you absorb others emotional state or energy around a grief event this can spiral you towards revisiting your own grief events through your life. They don’t even have to be current, what you are doing is, is trying to empathize with the other person through a corollary of your own experiences.

If you are far along in your anxiety journey and can navigate that, bravo you’re doing awesome. Many of us can’t and it cripples us emotionally because we revisit some of the most painful episodes of our life. How do you deal with it, or as I quip in the title, how do you get out of others grief? It isn’t easy and requires a great deal of effort on your part because your instinct is to relate. How do you do it? You look them in the eye first. “What if they aren’t looking at me?” then you take both of their hands in yours (if appropriate), they will look at you then and say:

“I know you are hurting; I wish I could make this better for you. I will be right back”

You then go to another room if inside. If at a restaurant you go the bathroom. In a car? Instead of saying “I will be right back” you said “I need a quick minute” and say nothing.

Words can be Good, Bad, and Ugly

This may seem callus, cold and harmful its actually just the opposite. What you are doing is you are breaking the grief energy by not allowing yourself to be a conduit. Everyone has to grieve but the longer you do, the harder it becomes to escape its negative consequences. When you come back you can discuss the issue, offer sympathy, listen everything you normally would.

By breaking the flow immediately you give yourself and the person grieving pause. That pause is an opportunity to have other energy flow in. Breaking the continuous flow of grief is paramount to keeping anxiety in check. Do this regularly with those in grief, again come back to them provide them with support but when the energy starts to filter to you, break its flow with a polite removal of yourself.

This is a subtle social skill that if mastered will benefit you tremendously as you develop it. It may seem selfish, or self-absorbed and I can see why some might say that. The truth is breaking grief moments help expedite the opportunities for other moments to filter in. A story comes on the news, a song plays on the radio, a child needs attention. It’s not perfect but as individuals with anxiety grief can literally be a killer. Address it with as much grace as you can muster but always be aware of it.

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Dressing to feel good !

How to be a good Husband, Boyfriend, Man – 1 critical tip

While the title might be targeted toward my male readers this tip is actually most useful for females, or other males, who need to gauge a man in their life. I don’t care what your sexuality is, what you identify as or how you view relationships. I can say that that this one critical tip can be applied to anyone really but as I am male, a husband and have been a boyfriend that’s what I can speak to with a great deal of experience.

The Tip? Be honest, be direct, be kind.

“Karac that’s three things” Its three concepts but it’s one tip. When you talk to people, particularly your partners with whom you maintain an intimate relationship with you need to evoke these concepts as universally as possible. We see all over the web people being “direct” now, behind their VPN’s and made up names. What about in the real world? How about when you are in the car driving home from a movie and you are asked “do you think she is prettier than I am?”

That happens, so how do you answer it? Particularly if you do in fact think she was.

Be honest “Prettier? Yes, she’s beautiful”

Be direct “Prettier? Yes, she’s beautiful” this is both honest and direct

Be Kind “Prettier? Yes, she’s beautiful, just like you” this is all three

The person asking likely knows the woman is prettier, the movie star has a team doing her make-up and hair for the filming…. Questions like these are integrity tests really. What if you said “no you are way better looking than she is”? You are sending the clear message that you are willing to lie to make someone feel good, even when you both know it’s a lie. The damage of doing this is hard to measure in the short term but over time it is crippling.

Lies are not an option

Look at it this way, if a woman knows you will lie to her to make her feel better how can she ever respect you? Women, in my experience, want their partners to be honest. It’s one of the most important traits they look for in a good man even if, sometimes, that honesty hurts. I can’t speak to how other non-heterosexual relationships work but I don’t think I am going out on a limb here when I say everyone desires honesty.

Honesty allows for deeper intimate relationships. Without it, the lines of what is or is not truth become blurred and it’s a never ending game of trying to keep up the appearance of a reality that’s based half-truths. Eventually words stop having impact “you look great” you might say to her. Do you mean it? Does she think you mean it? Being honest, direct and kind is challenging. You will have relationships that crumble because of it because there are many people out there who don’t want honesty, they want an illusion of honesty to fit the narrative they have created in their mind.

In the end, your most successful relationships will be with people whom you can be honest with. Who can be honest with you and can do so directly and with kindness. This takes time to hone as a skill, I am not suggesting you share your honest feelings about every little thing that comes up. If you are asked though? Yes, you must. You will begin to build the foundations of a relationship that can start to employ trust through your ability to be honest, direct and kind.

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How I helped create a survival fund for “her”

This is a story from my personal history, I will not name names or give too much specific detail. Before I go too far into the post, I want to say clearly if you know someone who is being abused help them. Don’t shrug it off, or bury it, even if it’s an acquaintance.

At one point in my life, a family member of mine was in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship. Many of us knew, but not the depth of how far it went but that’s another story. I was approached at a family gathering by “her” and another relative. They knew I was in finance and they needed help. I assumed they were going to ask me for money, but what they asked was entirely different.

“Can you help –her- get to a point where she can leave”

It may not be a perfect quote and honestly thinking back what I recall most was “her” eyes and face. She was so sad, hurt, broken and I felt helpless. I really didn’t know what to say or do, I knew what the issue was but here it was in my lap, I was asked to help and get involved. I remember my Father telling me once “don’t get involved in other people’s marriages” and you know he was right. However, there are exceptions to every rule, I thought to myself I just found one.

What happened next took 2 years. Yes, it was a long journey for all of us. I’m not going to lie and tell you I was on the edge of my seat with worry or panic. I know that’s not heroic but its honest. I was asked to help, not to press or make things worse, there were children involved. I wanted to call the police, I was told emphatically no. I was, in a tough spot emotionally. I wanted to do more but if I did, things would have been 10 times worse, at least that’s what I tell myself to feel better now, I don’t know.

“she” is one tough lady, and I admire her so much. Before we go on to much further let me say “she” and her kids are great now, things worked out well. So what did I do exactly? Well mostly what I was asked:

  1. I took her to a bank and set up an account for her. We did it without the husband, normally thats impossible because these POS are control freaks but I was family, it wasn’t unusual for me to see “her” from time to time.
  2. I made ATM deposits for “her” as often as I could.
  3. I kept all of it a secret from our family. A notable caveat, I told my wife because I respect her and that’s a secret you shouldn’t keep in a marriage. There was no way an affair could be suspected due to my family ties with “her”
Enough
I dont know how “she” managed for years like this, but “she” did it.

No I didn’t fund it. At the time I was raising my own kids and making ends meet I don’t have a lot of spare cash. Did I round up an 80.00 deposit to 100.00? ya. We finally got to a point where “she” had accumulated 10,00.00 in cash. He didn’t know because I was making the deposits. Statements? Went to a PO Box I set up for her couple hundred bucks not hard. He had no idea, and yes for those 2 years’ things carried on for them much the same.

Let me say this here, this was not a blood bath. No I am not trying to justifying anything but not every day was abuse, the majority were quiet. However, “she” lived in fear and I had to live with knowing that I couldn’t do as much as I wanted, it was her request and I was going to be dammed if I put her and her kids in harm’s way. So 2 years in with 10K in the bank, we go out to lunch, husband doesnt suspect anything. A typical pompas ass clueless moron who was so sure of himself, I wanted to hurt him badly it really was one of the hardest things Ive done, not do more. That must sound ridiculous, I cant explain it really.

Instead we put a first, last, and security deposit down on a 2 bedroom apt hours away. The landlord was someone we were referred to as understanding the plight of those who are abused. He did everything he could to keep her location a secret. 2 weeks later we went to a lawyer’s office who is sympathetic to abuse victims.

We used the rest of the money for a retainer, and within 2 weeks “he” was in handcuffs and charged with domestic battery. Things were hairy after that for a little while, until his new reality sunk in and “he” realized things were going to get real for him. He became an angel, got help, cleaned up, straightened up and by all accounts has done the best he can to make things better for “her”. No she didn’t take him back, yes he did –some- time.

The worst part was the 2 years. It’s one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I wasn’t perfect, I did the best I could with the hand I was dealt. We all came out a little stronger for it I suppose. If you know someone who is being abused do the most you can for them, and do the best you can for them, but never do nothing.

Ugh….

Anxiety and Relationships – The good, the bad & the ugly

Had an opportunity to reflect recently on some of my past relationships, but before I get started an old joke from and old man (humor me please). “Some relationships are like algebra, ever look at your X and wonder Y?” Now that you pulled yourself together from that knee slapper let me explain a little bit. Relationships I have had, mostly, have been based on physical attraction first and once that begins to wear off you really find out if you like being with the person. I mean the everyday stuff like folding towels, waiting in traffic, discussing the day’s events.

Physical attraction is usually what drives most initial interactions with the opposite sex, at least it is with me. While I am happily married back “in the day” I dated my fair share. Upon reflection of some of my past relationships I often wonder how my anxiety influenced the outcomes. I’m going to give 3 relationship experiences I had and link an interesting article below for a decent read.

(names have been changed)

The Good- Mindy M: High school, Mindy was 5’10 dyed blond hair and was absolutely insane. What do I mean by that? Mindy was up for anything, and I mean anything. We partied a lot, we went to dead shows together and while we were young our sexual experiences were remarkable IMHO. Mindy made me better, but instilling in me the confidence that every young man needs to be successful. She didn’t do this by simply “being hot” or being a “party girl” she was devoted to me, we did everything together. I remember when a good friend of mine died I was extremely depressed, we were seniors. Mindy talked to me, made sure I knew someone gave a shit. She was awesome in almost every way a perfect girlfriend for a young man. She also gave me one of the corner stones in my life, how to treat women. Mindy demanded respect, she never let me get away with being arrogant as a young man, she never let me treat her poorly or as an object. We stayed together for almost 3 years, it was one of the best relationships of my life.

The Bad – Tina K: Fast forward to early 20’s, my group was into the bar hopping scene. I met Tina K at a bar, she was, and still is one of the most beautiful women I have ever met and been with. Sadly, the beauty was only skin deep. Tina was an extreme party girl shallow and judgmental. My car wasn’t nice enough, my clothes could be better “are you wearing that cheap cologne again?” really she was material girl 101. It was bad and in the time I was with her I was in constant competition with her expectations. I felt inadequate, small and never good enough. I was too young at the time to understand what was happening but I realize now this was a trigger for my anxiety. This woman was very attractive, everyone wanted to be with her and she was technically my girlfriend. I should have seen it coming, she cheated, I was devastated due to blindness. I thought it was me, I changed everything about myself. I tried to conform to an ideal set forth by someone else. I was in full anxiety mode, and I was blaming myself 100% when it wasn’t 100% me.

The Ugly – Dawn H: Around the same time as Tina K I met Dawn H. We fought constantly but the sex was great. It’s unfair I guess to list Dawn as “The Ugly” but it was in this emotionally and verbally abusive relationship that, upon reflection I realize now was the real beginning of my anxiety increase. I was no angel in this relationship so dear reader do not take this as “I was a saint the woman was to blame” I was a full participant in emotional black mail, verbal abuse, and mental detiriation. We were both wallowing in the misery of being miserable together. We lived together for a time, there was never enough money, never enough anything. I became withdrawn, I stopped talking to friends and family. It was just Dawn and I, and it was during this relationship when I started suffering anxiety symptoms in a more extreme way. I couldn’t t go to work somedays, I didn’t want to be in public and have people looking at me. I was a mess.

Notice I haven’t given to much specific detail on the relationships. These women are not present to defend themselves so I think it’s fair not to delve to deeply. Also notable is I haven’t listed my wife as “the good” that isn’t to say that it isn’t the best relationship with a woman I have had, it is. When I met my wife I was emotionally mature from the relationships of the past. I am functioning and was able to offer her a great relationship with a man who KNEW HIS ISSUES.

And that’s the point here, the good, the bad, and the ugly relationships of your life help mold you into who you are now. Maybe you are in one, take a step back think about how you feel, be honest. There really wasn’t an overarching point to this post other than to say anxiety is a journey and along the way you meet people and have relationships. They help shape who you are and they shape your anxiety. Embrace the good, work on the bad, and get out of the ugly.

Here is a decent article I read about anxiety and relationships, maybe there is something in there for you?

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