Arguments? Debates? Whatever, You’re Probably Right!

One of the numerous observations about myself and how I have changed over time is that I recall being quite a good debater, of course this could be a fabrication created by the passage of time, but that is my recollection. This then begs the question about what I consider a ‘good’ debater, and in my mind I tend to think that this title applies to someone that can coherently get across their perspective on a given topic, and that the opinion that is expressed is often so sound in its logic that it is almost impossible to question. On writing that explanation, it now makes me wonder about my earlier perspective of myself as a debater of any kind. I think that maybe it is more accurate to say that I often put over my opinion in such a matter-of-fact way that people either simply disregarded me as an imbecile or simply did not care enough about the topic to feel that it warranted an argument with me.

I have recently listened my way through an audiobook from The Great Courses lecture series on Effective Communication and whilst I do not consider that I have necessarily improved much, or indeed that I actually recall much of what I heard. I think it does sound that my earlier self, and indeed my current self, are not necessarily different from the majority, in that I engage/d in some run-of-the-mill communication issues.

I do not want to get into a critique of the lectures themselves, but I think that it is a worthwhile objective for me to engage in communication in which I follow some rules.

1. Pay attention to the meaning of the words used by the other person. To attempt to understand their perspective, and emotions, without the assumption that I know what they are saying, thinking or experiencing prior to asking more involved questions and reducing any ambiguity.

2. Not attempting to get the other person to think the same way as me, and going through the process of persuasion to coax them into my line of thought.

3. Recognising and withdrawing from the parent and child ‘voices’. Instead using the rationality of the adult ‘voice’. This framework is called Transactional Analysis, and more information can be found at: This does not mean mimicking stages of development in vocal manner and gestures, but can be seen as how we view those roles ourselves. When I think of parent it is often a controlling persona, a child is an irresponsible and flippant persona, and an adult is a wiser, more reasoned persona.

4. Try to avoid judgements, especially emotional judgements. Things to look out for are the use of terms like never and always in a conversation in regards to I always … or you never … This is usually a massive generalisation and rarely results in positive forward movement in the conversation/argument.

There were a lot more nuggets of thought provocation in the 12 hours of the lectures, and for the most part I found it very insightful. So I will try and remember what I can and apply some of the lessons contained to see how they work out. Sara has also mentioned a few things that I am working on, such as when I get a little heated in a ‘debate’ I have the tendency to stop blinking, and my voice rises. i feel that it is useful to get feedback of those around me, as they see behaviours and actions that I take as normal, and call me out on them. The challenge for me is to accept that these things are not being said as a put down or an ego destroyer, but simply as observations, from which I can decide if they enhance my life or not. In this stage I can still feel my defensive walls come up as soon as a comment is made, and this is an area of active and difficult change for me. We will see how that works out. 🙂

Do you consider yourself a good communicator? Do you have any tips or methods that can help people like me (gods help them)? Do you have any stories of communication gone bad? Please let me know!

How Good Is Good Enough?

One of the longest and most significant battles I have is that of feeling that I am not enough. I cannot say exactly where this comes from, but I see that certain characteristics of this are present in other family members, so it is possible that I may have picked up some of it from my childhood. However, this post is not about necessarily identifying the original source, as I am not sure that I can benefit from that! It is more about just an observation and trying to improve on what I can.

It is true that when I look at anything about myself I will gloss over the accomplishments and achievements, instead digging into and wallowing in the parts that I feel that I have failed or performed to an unsatisfactory standard. This may also sometimes show itself in the way that I look back on my life and cringe at some of the embarrassing parts, and believe me I have done some things that I really feel embarrassed about (I would like to say sorry to my family for what they have been put through, and thank them for still talking to me). Again, not really a focal point of this blog, so I move on.

I find that now, when I run, work, rest, study, etc. I question if I am doing it right, if I could do it better, and how I can do this! I am not sure if this will lead me to a world of stress related disease, and discomfort, but if it does, I will still probably accuse myself of contracting whatever malady based on the fact that I could have dealt with the stress of life in a better way!

I look at others in a sense of despair when they seem to require the approval of others, and depending on your standpoint you may agree or disagree with that sentiment. However, I am perhaps in a worse situation as I do not really crave the approval of others, but the approval of myself, and I have become quite the task master in the recent years! So is there a solution, and is this even a problem? Now there is an interesting question, at least to me! What are the upsides of being a demanding bitch to myself? Well it pushes me to try and get better at the things I do. It makes me want to try a range of new things, although I may quickly determine that I will not do a thing again! It makes me curious about life in my hopes of understanding more. There is the obvious flip-side however, and a range of negatives abound! The drag on self-esteem, leaving me feeling that I am just a bit of a failure in many areas of life. The comparing myself to others that are wildly incredible in the area of expertise I am looking at understanding. The potentially unnecessary stress driving me to endlessly improve or engage in activities which are novel and therefore unlikely to actually have any chance of excelling, thereby reinforcing my sense of feeling inadequate, and continuing the cycle of stress.

Given these two simplistic sides of the argument, what is the wisest path forward? I guess this comes down to what I want to achieve! I think that I want to work on not feeling bad about being me, but still push to learn more about myself, the world and my place in it. I just hope that these two things are not mutually exclusive. Well time to get back to the learning, the sun is shining outside, so I’ll probably listen to an educational book or podcast whilst I get some exercise. I love doubling up on my objectives!! 🙂

Path of Least Resistance

I have had a lifetime of what seem to me to be horrendously embarrassing moments. Thoughts of which pop into my mind to undermine me and to keep me grounded, just in case I ever get a little full of myself! On top of that, on reflection I am questioning the values that I have grown up with, including my sense of humour, with the consideration that these things may need to change.

So to begin with, I have given a bit of thought to those things that we often define as innate to the person we are; sexual preferences, the things we find humorous, or choice of food, hobbies, etc. What defines those, surely we are not born with a preference for blondes or brunettes, guys or gals that dress smartly or sporty, that we laugh when someone has an accident, or when someone makes a high brow observation, the homemade foodstuff that our mother made, or that just featured prominently in our childhoods. These things are conditioned, they are subjective thoughts about something that may have been useful in days past, but no longer promote the best decisions for current or future circumstances.

As a boy growing into a ‘man’, I have been conditioned to have a particular sense of humour and to view the world in a particular way. I have seen that males often put each other down, it is internalised as a friendly gesture, and passed off as only a joke. However, does it have to be that way, and is this truly the better way. As I have aged, and spent more time with women, I can see that this is often not the banter that they partake in. I appreciate that this is a massive generalisation, but I feel that there are enough samples to make this comparison. I am not saying that I also buy into the female version of communication and humour as being idyllic, but there is certainly something to be said about the interaction that can feel more wholesome, although I confess to having seen this go too far the other direction and appearing sycophantic.

So it is in that I am engaging, and have been engaging in for a while. I suspect that this is impacting my relationships with people as I transition and try and work out who I would like to be (or at least who I do not want to be), and who knows if I will ever settle on a particular type of person. I do think that I have spent a lot of time not questioning my ‘truths’ about life. Those things have made me think about the world in a particular way, and what makes me think that way, when often people can have different opinions about those same things? I could just say that I know best and leave it at that, and never question my reality, but where is the honesty in that? I am nothing more than a product of a conditioned past, but where does that lead me in that same future, governed by the choices defined by my upbringing? I do not want to know, as I see around me and my social class, what I consider to be, negative and destructive patterns of existence.

I wonder, who do you want to be, and do your lifestyle patterns thrust you towards becoming that ideal?

Not The Usual Start

I have not been very good at determining what the new year will offer. I may also, if being honest with myself, tend to be a little optimistic of what I will do with my uncertain future. Such as complete highly unrealistic tasks, achieving physical dominance, and basically be far more bad ass than I have been in the preceding year/s. Going into 2015 I was perhaps stretching my capabilities a little thin, but if I could become a better, more awesome me, then win right! Right!

New Years day, after seeing in 2015 in Sevilla in a rather chilly plaza, watching locals pop down a grape every bell toll, I succumbed to some sort of chill and subsequent fever. That morning we walked around the beautiful city, with me shivering, cold to my core. The beauty lost on my ungrateful eyes. As when I need to go to the toilet really badly, everything but that immediate need fades into insignificance, so it was with Sevilla. That led to almost 3 days of bed rest with fever. Not an auspicious start to 2015.

With a 10k organised run in the UK at the end of the month leading to a second round of high temperatures and swollen glands, followed a week later with another repeat of the same symptoms, 2015 is looking far from my imagined year.

All this being said, it does give me a year to track some measurements during sickness and to take this time to reflect on other aspects, whilst I shift some of my daily practices. Life seems to me to be about being flexible and adapting to the ever changing circumstances. Holding onto what could be, or what I would like, has done nothing but generate discord for me. Better to embrace how things are and make the situation as shiny as I can!

That being said, I still have big dreams for 2015, and who are the fates to tell me otherwise! 🙂