Something that happens quite often in the "manosphere" and among hardcore masculinity enthusiasts is that any question regarding how to deal with negative feelings and times of turmoil ends up receiving the same answer: "shut up, and be a man", "just be tough" or variations thereof. Don't get me wrong, this is -not kidding- sensational advice. Men need to be told that. Men do need to man up. But any problem also requires a strategic approach, if one is to find a consistent, repeatable solution. It's a good start to simply stop being a bitch about it, but sometimes that is not enough. Sometimes, men need a bit more help than that. There's no shame in this. We are human, after all. Yes, you need to become tougher, but for those times when toughness might not be enough, use these strategies to navigate the chaotic periods of your life.
Have a few rocks
Stormy periods are no more than finite phases that happen when chaos overcomes the established order of our lives. We like to have things organized, we feel safe in our routines and are creatures of habit. In a way, we spend our lives chasing order and trying to tame the chaotic world that we inhabit. We try to establish structures of order that bring us peace of mind and increase the chance of our survival. But no matter how hard we try to create a safe place where chaos doesn't exist, the very nature of existence is chaotic, which means that, in any life, a storm will come eventually.
Imagine yourself a castaway at sea, peacefully drifting through the clear, quiet waters. Don't take the metaphor too literally. The point is, you're swimming, and it's peaceful. The sun is shining and you feel at peace. You're moving forward and you have room to think about what you want to do when you get to the shore. Then, without any warning, the storm comes. You are lost among the waves, trying to survive. There is no more "forward". You don't know where you are going, you are solely focused on survival. Chaos all around. And then, a rock. You grab it and manage to pull yourself up. Suddenly, the storm doesn't appear too bad, because you have some room to think. You can take a deep breath and wait safely for it to pass. You know that no matter how bad it gets, you will endure.
Such is the nature of life. Periods of peace followed by periods of chaos. The main goal at times of peace is to thrive, and the main goal in the midst of chaos is to literally and figuratively survive.
I've found out that during times of chaos, the most effective strategy is to remain disciplined and cling to some rocks. If you let tumultous days change your routine too drastically you'll feel completely overwhelmed and as if you have no control over your circumstances. Always have a few rocks that you can hold on to, and make those non-negotiable. You need to have things in your life that are completely constant, no matter what. I'm talking family, friends, activities, healthy habits. For example, no matter how preoccupied or stressed out I may be, I try to keep a few things of my routine constant: cold showers, BJJ training, 8 hours of sleep, and dedicated time with my loved ones. You can choose your own rocks, of course. The important thing is to have them. You need to keep some elements of order when chaos ensues, because otherwise you'll get lost. I promise you, it's much easier to get through hard times when you manage to keep some aspects of your regular life unaffected by the particular, chaotic situation. The worst thing that you can do is let chaos taint your entire life.
Always try to maintain some order in your life.
“To stand up straight with your shoulders back is to accept the terrible responsibility of life, with eyes wide open. It means deciding to voluntarily transform the chaos of potential into the realities of habitable order. It means adopting the burden of self-conscious vulnerability, and accepting the end of the unconscious paradise of childhood, where finitude and mortality are only dimly comprehended. It means willingly undertaking the sacrifices necessary to generate a productive and meaningful reality (it means acting to please God, in the ancient language).” - Jordan Peterson
Don't be too hard on yourself
Look, there is enough negativity and ill will in the world for you to add to it. Especially against yourself. You have to be your own best friend, or you'll spend every minute suffering at the hands of an enemy. This doesn't require too much explanation. Don't talk negatively to yourself, don't even engage in the type of self-depreciating jokes that everybody seems to love nowadays. Those things matter. The way you talk to yourself matters. Your words and thoughts matter. Make them positive and pump yourself up instead of putting yourself down.
Allow yourself some downtime
Not every minute of your life needs to be productive. You can have bad days, same as me and same as everybody else. It's not the end of the world. We get up and we try again. Don't feel like a lazy piece of shit for taking a day off when you really need it. Some proponents of hustle culture make it seem as though one needs to be working even at his father's funeral. If you need to lay low for a bit, just do it, and come back stronger. As long as you come back and don't let a day off become a week off become a month off become a whole life of doing nothing, you'll be fine.
If you are dealing with difficult situations, focus on solving them,focus on surviving and then get back to work.
Hard times will come. Man up. But attack your problems rationally and strategically as well. Don't feel ashamed for needing help. We all do at times. The important thing is that you fix the problem and don't let the storm drown you for good. Keep your head up, find your rocks, and you'll be fine. Maybe you'll be even better than before.
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