My why behind Move for LifeNov 19, 2022
" Why do you put yourself through it?" "Why Movember?" "Why BOPYDT?" "You're already so busy, do you really need something else to add to your plate?" "Does it have to be so big?" "You've had a big year already, can't it wait?"
These are just some of the questions I've been asked over the last couple of months since I decided to bring to life an event that had been floating around in my head for a while. As I lie here, wide awake with less than 48 hours to go before I pull off the biggest event I've ever planned, I'm beginning to ask myself similar questions! So in Anna style, I'm putting pen to paper and writing down the answers. Maybe then, I might get back to sleep AND you, the reader might get an insight as to why I do what I do.
" Why do you put yourself through it?"
As a kid, I liked to cut corners. If my parents asked me to do a chore in the house, I would do half of it. I'd empty half the dish washer, half of my clothes put away, leaving the rest in a pile. The usual kid stuff. But mum and dad chipped away at me. " If you're going to do something, do it well". At the time, I didn't listen, until one 'aha' moment came when I was about 16 and went for a training run with my older brother. What I assumed would be a gentle jog, turned into a 5k sprint. As I did my best to keep up, I started cutting the corners, literally. (To give context, my brother is six years older than me and an athletic weapon.) By the third corner, he noticed what I was doing and came out with a classic one liner that changed the way I operated forever. "If you're going to cut corners, you will never get the results you want".
From that day on, with the exception of my exams (we don't have time to go there) everything I set my mind to, came with 100% effort and maximum passion. I didn't cut corners ever again.
With a strong paternal line of depression, anxiety and addiction, I'm no stranger to the effects these conditions can have on individuals and their families and it made me fascinated with the human mind.My interest in working with men came from a number of areas, though the one with the biggest impact was seeing my dad go through the highs and lows of anxiety and depression and witnessing how he used alcohol to cope. One of the last letters I wrote to him before he died was asking if perhaps he might be depressed and if he would be open to getting some help. Sadly, fate had other plans and he died a few months later. We will never know how his mindset could have been if he had the right help. Personally, I can't help but think life would have been easier for dad (and our family to be fair) if he understood his mind more and if we had more open, honest conversations about how he felt.
The reality is there is so much shame around mental health, especially in men who are taught from a young age not to cry, to toughen up and crack on. With the guys that I meet, they acknowledge that mental health is important but in turn are still reluctant to admit that they are the ones that need the help. Many of them use alcohol, and work as there means of coping and find themselves burnt out without realising how they got there.
This is where coaching can be so powerful when it's used in the right context. Seeing someone, totally out of their daily lives who they have to be accountable to and who is solely there to support their mental growth can prevent negative self talk, identifies unhelpful behaviour patterns and highlights areas where they can make positive change. By addressing their basic needs first - movement, nutrition and sleep, we then dial in to the fun stuff-connection and optimal mindset. It comes from a place of 'I'm good now, but what if I could be better?' It becomes fun, less pressured, exciting and joyful.
The reason I align so well with Movember, is they share the same values of fun, respect and being humble. They acknowledge there's work to do whilst looking for positive and fun ways to break the stigma and untie their bros.
I was bullied by my friends as a kid and like it or not, that had a huge impact on how I interacted with others. To fit in, I became the class clown. To be accepted into the group, I stole crisps, sweets and lollies from the local dairy (newsagent if you're reading in England), I even got caught once by the shop owner. I had 2 roller-skates full of stash when he stopped me at the front door. Here I was trying to be cool, thinking my 'friends' would have my back, but where were they? Nowhere to be seen. Over time, I started to believe their constant chat about me- you look like a boy, you're thick, you talk too much, you love yourself. It got so bad that they threatened that they would beat me up if they ever saw me in town on my own.
I changed school, but that didn't stop them and over the course of 2-years my self esteem dropped to nothing. I went on to make some incredible friends, all of whom I'm still friends with now, but that experience shaped the rest of my schooling. Bottom line was I believed what the bullies said about me and as a result, my reality matched my belief. I failed all my important exams and didn't take opportunities that came my way because I didn't believe in myself.
If I had known some of the stuff I know now about the mind, about its power; who knows what my last 5-years of schooling would have looked like. If I had known that I didn't need to believe the negative thoughts in my head, I wouldn't have hated myself so much. If had the tools to be able to settle the overthinking mind, perhaps I wouldn't have been so worried about what others thought. If I had the confidence to know who I really was, perhaps I wouldn't still feel the regret of stealing from the shop owner trying to earn a living.
I chose BOPYDT so that the kids in their programme can learn about the mind. They can have the opportunity to create a different reality for themselves. They can believe in themselves.
"You're already so busy, do you really need something else to add to your plate?" "Does it have to be so big?" "You've had a big year already, can't it wait?"
The reality is, life is busy. If we don't do the things that matter now- when are we going to do them? This stuff matters. This stuff requires urgency. This stuff needs to be big. Collectively we need to stand up for our families, our friends, our community, ourselves. This requires all of us to check in. Check in with ourselves. Make the phone call we've been meaning to make. Tell people how we feel about them. This stuff CAN'T WAIT.
So it's for these reasons that I have called on local businesses, sports clubs, schools, my friends and family to come together. To make MOVE FOR LIFE matter. To connect.
It's for these reasons that I have chosen to do a minutes worth of exercise in memory of each person that has taken their life in New Zealand this year so that they be remembered and we are reminded that this stuff matters. I made it into a crucible event, That as a collective, we can MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
Right, Im' off back to bed!