So for the past 6 months, I have been training for tough mudder 15k.
For those of you who are not familiar, it’s a 15km run with obstacles of a muddy nature. It not only tests your body but also your mind to overcome your fear of getting electrocuted, dunked in an ice bath, falling into deep water and diving under a murky muddy one to get to the other side.
As a person who hasn’t run in the past 10 years, I started with the ‘couch to 5k’ app, I also did some strength and conditioning. It took a while to get to a satisfactory level and I made it all the way through when race day came, which I am proud of.
However, throughout the whole thing, I felt out of my depth, was constantly lagging behind and I felt lower in social status among my friends because of it. They were all well-seasoned runners and this was easy compared to the marathons they’ve previously completed. It wasn’t a great feeling and the old nice guy tendencies reared their ugly heads when I was out of my comfort zone.
But let’s take a step back.
As a recovering nice guy, having guy friends is essential to building more masculine traits, where you can learn and be in a space where guys can be guys, while also providing the social needs one has.
Most nice guys tend to either not have many friends (or have friends but not maintain the relationship) or feel more comfortable around women. That’s not to say you can’t have female friends, just that it can’t only be that.
If you need more convincing, women are not keen on men who only have female friends just as men find women who have only male friends a walking red flag. So don’t be that guy!
I can vividly remember the main experience I had: For 15km, my shins pumped battery acid, I gasped for more air than my tar filled lungs could take in and my form only served to expend more energy than needed.
My body felt like it weighed that of a neutron star, I could feel the impact of every heavy-laden step and believed my knees would crumble underneath it all at any moment. I knew if I stopped for longer than a couple of minutes I would not have the will to continue on. I was lagging behind. I was slowing down the team. I look up and my mates are casually jogging along, not breaking a sweat and talking.
Even when I caught up to them I could not spare a breath to join the conversation. That’s when I felt I was lower than them and I started to act that way. But is it true?
As nice guys, we have some insecurities about ourselves as men and in comparison to other people.
We somewhat are perfectionists and also egotistical. We paradoxically think we’re better than people and in real life, realise we are not, which causes anger and resentment. The common thing here is ‘comparison’ or the need to be better than someone else.
The way to solve this is to make this comparison internal. Jordan Peterson’s 4th rule in the book ’12 Rules for life’ states that “The only person you should try to be better than is who you were yesterday”. The main reason being is that comparing yourself to others is a fool’s game.
First off, you and the other person are not the same. Each person has spent a different amount of time on various different parts of this aspect of their life, genetics plays a part, motivation plays a part and you’re not training in a vacuum.
Secondly, if you start comparing yourself and initially are winning, you’ll realise there’ll always be someone else better than you and you’ll never truly feel happy or accomplished. By comparing yourself to …yourself you can be more realistic with your goals, you have more control and you know that the variables are all the same.
Let’s take a social situation into consideration for another way to look at it.
Most likely you’ve seen another person in the group being the funny, charming person and you start thinking he’s better than you because you’re not like that. But stop and think. This is only one aspect of his life you’ve seen.
You may be accomplished in other ways that he may not be. You could be better than him in the gym, your technical ability, your drive or overall personality. Maybe this person is faking this persona and is like this to mask who they truly are.
Do you know the types of people that do that? Narcissists, that’s who. But we don’t know that. The point is that we should never look outwardly to seek approval of ourselves i.e not be codependent.
It’s easier said than done, but it’s definitely a more enjoyable life when you just let go and be who you are without shame. The book ‘Courage to be Disliked’ by Fumitake Koga and Ichiro Kishimi, is excellent for getting your head around the idea of ‘horizontal relationships’.
Essentially by living your life whereby no one is above or below you, do you truly become free and even charismatic.
Now that you understand the need to never compare yourself to others. We need a mantra to fit this way of thinking which will trigger anytime you feel this way.
As you might have guessed, it’s ‘So what?!’.
Think about how our biology is still hardwired from our ancestors and how still, our initial response to getting on stage is terrifying. We know no physical harm will come of us but the social fear is overwhelming, to a point where people say it’s their biggest fear next to death.
Granted, back in the day, being rejected from the tribe could mean certain death out in the wild, but nowadays we have no need for this biological response.
Another reason for not getting on stage is that people don’t want to be disliked or they fear their presentation falls flat to a bored or angry audience, but you can never make everyone happy.
No matter how perfect it was, there will always be some idiot that doesn’t get it or just won’t like you no matter what.
Look at any youtube video.
Every video has at least a few negative comments, even the ones where you think this video cannot be disliked by anyone, as it’s universally correct and great. Surprise there’s one person who doesn’t.
So what …am I getting at? ‘So what’ helps us to quiet this inner chatter and overwhelming fear of making a fool of ourselves. It quiets that monkey brain that is trying to stop you from taking that step onto that stage or even talking to that girl you saw across the bar.
So what if this girl is hot?
So what if I bomb completely on stage?
So what if this person is a CEO and I’m scrubbing floors?
So what if these people are better than me at running?
You don’t even need to even use it in high-stress situations.
It grounds you in relationships. It levels the playing field when you may think your partner is better than you or you think you’re better than them, which makes for a more harmonious and less codependent relationship.
If you find yourself trying to justify being in a relationship, ‘so what’ helps bring you to the present and see clearly without the inner chatter trying to pull you in certain directions.
This would definitely help in toxic relationships as when you stop trying to justify yourself being in the relationship and being present to how it truly is you can now take steps to get out of it.
With all of that said, now your self-worth and comparison are tied to you.
The next phrase to remember is ‘Show up!’.
I won’t give a full explanation as I explained it in my previous post, but if you are to get anything done in life, the majority of the results come from showing up.
Even if it’s for 1 hour or 30 seconds you are showing up for yourself and therefore being better every day.
That is something you can be proud of.