My Pops called me and then told me that he was gone. My heart stopped. “Uncle Keith is gone Logan. He was in a lot of pain and he couldn’t handle it anymore.”
My Uncle wasn’t battling cancer. He wasn’t battling Alzheimer’s or anything like that where I knew it was only a matter of time. No he was battling something that was self inflicted; a mental illness. Although there was no definite diagnose on his illness our family calculated that it was most likely Schizophrenia. According to my Pops he thought that everyone was after him. He lived inside of a world that made him believe that every person of authority was going to bring my Uncle in for questioning. If he looked at someone with a frown he believed that they were pissed off, not because of anyone else, but because of him.
If he gave money to the toll both person while driving to the city and he said “thank you have a nice day,” and they replied with a Droopy the dog like face “you too.” He thought that he was reason why now they weren’t happy. His brain was over calculating everything and he thought everything was his fault. The world was against him and he couldn’t take it anymore so he ended himself.
My Uncle Kieth took his own life.
My Uncle was the biggest kid I knew; with a cackling laugh that would inevitably make anyone in the room laugh with him.
The greatest gift giver ever.
I was 10 years old with this remote control car built for adults and thought it was absolutely the coolest thing to drive under the legs of innocent pedestrians.
My Uncle and I would fly kites together, go to Automotive Car conventions, and see the latest Adam Sandler movies. He made my world a playground.
About 7 years went by and some shift inside my Uncles head shifted.
He started looking through a pair of glasses that made him see the world as a saboteur.
A saboteur comes from the world sabotage. This person makes a mess of a situation on purpose. You might call your local police officer who tickets you with a nice parking ticket when the day has been going perfect a saboteur. You might have a saboteur living inside of you.
My Uncle turned his world philosophy into being a Saboteur. Everything that was wrong with the world was his fault. This was absolutely not true but his mind played tricks on him to make him believe that.
This is a personal message to you so you don’t ruin your career, your love for the world, your health or even worse; end your life.
First most important skill:
Number 1: STOP TAKING THINGS PERSONALLY
The car in traffic today cut you off. The cable news show you saw last night pissed you off. Your company’s massive loss was because on you and you only. Your friends aren’t happy because YOU didn’t make them laugh.
Here’s a newsflash: Just because you experience something, just because something causes you to feel a certain way, just because you care about something, doesn’t mean it’s about you.
It’s a hard one to remember because making everything about us feels good in short term.
Of course when things are good and people are happy around you because you made them that way makes you feel like this incredible, charismatic person. But when things go south, well so does everything else with it. This is a false belief that so many of us fall victim too.
Number 2: CHANGE YOUR MIND
Most people, when their beliefs are challenged, hold onto them as though they are a life vest on a descending Plane.
The problem is that often times their beliefs are the descending Plane.
When a persons beliefs are challenged, most of the time these are not just simple ideas but complements that make up our identity. When someone tries to question or change their belief we inevitably question who we are as a human.
Which if you’ve never felt this; well it really fucking hurts. It’s like when you were 8 and you woke up to your mom sliding money under your pillow to find out that the tooth fairy wasn’t real or when you were 12 and you finally found out that Santa was not real and then The Easter Bunny was also just a hoax. Your life changed!! And it’s fuckin painful.
Instead we’re attacking some much bigger problems. Those deep assumptions about your identity. “I am not an attractive person; I am lazy; I don’t know how to talk to people; I won’t ever be Happy because I feel stuck in my life; I think the world is going to end next Tuesday.”
If you want to take it a step further. Write down 10 things that you believe to be true and go through them with a fine comb and ask yourself “are really unattractive? Are you really not a nice person? Are you really not a valuable asset to your company?”
Warning: this is going to suck!!! It’s going to hurt but it’s going to build a confidence muscle. So when your deepest assumptions of yourself are questioned your ability to “change and see the other side” will develop.
Number 3: Learn process. Throw that middle finger up at RESULTS.
Everything in life seems like it’s result driven. At school, You turned in your writing assignment because your teacher told you. At home, You brush your teeth because your Mom told you your mouth will smell. At work, you do the things your boss says because he pays you to do it.
There’s no questioning. You just act.
You’re just going through life and whatever paper assignment is given; you do it for your teacher. Whatever smelly teeth you have; you brush them because your mom told you too; whatever task at work that needs to be done is done because your boss told you to do it.
What happens when you don’t have a problem. Everything is fine in life.
Most of life — that is, real life — doesn’t work this way. When you decide to change careers, there’s no one there telling you which career is right for you. When you decide to commit to someone, there’s no one telling you this relationship is going to make you happy. When you decide to start a business or move to a new country or eat waffles instead of pancakes for breakfast, there’s no way of knowing — for certain — if what you’re doing is “right” or not.
And so we avoid it. Making decisions is hard because of uncertainty.
But when you always just chase the result; and only do things because someone told you too then you’re ability to actually doing something for pure joy of doing it for yourself can make you depressed, start questioning your existence and may lead to suicidal thoughts.
So what do you do when you are no longer told what to do? When you have to learn a process on your own?
Just do anything! Do anything that will move you forward. If it’s super hard to learn how to code Java but you know you want to to build websites one day. Make it as convenient as possible. Have the laptop open on your kitchen table with the training course already loaded the night before you go to sleep and set a time for five minutes and see if you can learn one thing in that five minutes.
Developing the ability to simply do things for no other reason than curiosity or interest or hell, even boredom — the ability to do things with no expectation for result or accolade or productivity or fanfare — will train you to better make these big ambiguous life decisions. It will train you to simply start on something without knowing where in the hell it’s going.
You can start small. Open up meetup.com and attend something for no other reason than it looks interesting or is there. Go to Udemy or Khan Academy and sign up for a course for no other reason than it looks cool. Call up a friend or family member and tell them, “Show me something new that you think is amazing,” and go from there.
If you’re reading this blog and you have always thought about being a writer but never written a story of your own. Take five minutes and see what you’re thinking about and write it.
There’s a small loophole in here with this though. What if you fail?
Great! Get good at failing and move on. If you’re goal is to be the biggest failure at everything you try you will at least have tried and failed instead of just lying around, eating potato chips, rewatching episodes of friend or even worse start believing that you’re worth nothing in life and everything that is wrong in the world is your fault.
Joker says in the Dark Knight “I just DO THINGS.” Please do not set a goal to be like The Joker but please try and do something once a day that’s process oriented.
Final Take aways
Stop taking things personally.
Change your mind
Learn process and do things just out of sheer interest.
In loving memory of Keith Nelson- the biggest grown up child I knew who taught me how to treat the world like a playground.