Live | Pure | Potential

Adam Willemse | Life Coach

A Letter to You

I found this on YouTube, and wondered if any of you can relate?

Do you have a ‘master plan’ for other people?

The only adult

 

So, remember my last post talking about not taking things personally because other people have their own stuff they carry around? In this post I want to focus on the flip side of the coin: when you want other people to behave in a certain way…

Brooke Castillo over at The Life Coach School calls it The Manual. The Manual is a set of rules you write for another person to follow…in your head! Usually the other person does not have a clue about these rules you have created for them. You decide how they must act and behave and then you get upset when they don’t. Does this sound familiar? We have this idea in our head that if they behave the way we want then it will make us happy. Is this realistic?

We often create this manual subconsciously and then we don’t understand what upsets us so when that person reacts differently. Don’t you think this is a setup for a disaster? I agree.

The thing is, you cannot control other people. And another thing, other people are not responsible for your happiness. You have to start taking responsibility for yourself. I have a friend who always says: “The only adult I’m responsible for, is myself!” You cannot take responsibility for other people’s thoughts and actions. And the quicker you realise this, the better.

Brooke says, “The reason why you ever want someone else to change the way that they’re behaving is because of how you think you will feel because of their changed behavior.” The operative word here is “think”. You need to learn to control your own thoughts. Become aware of them. Become aware of how you react to your thoughts.

Your emotions is a direct outflow of your thoughts. An emotion cannot materialise without a thought happening in your brain. This is a physiological fact! Your brain needs to spark a thought before the hormone for the emotion can be excreted. so, control your own thoughts. Become aware of them. This will help you become aware of the manuals you are writing for others in your head as well. Just be aware.

The fear of rejection

Do not take anything personally.

The fear of rejection is one of man’s greatest fears. It stands alongside other big fears like the fear of embarrassment or the fear of failure. Some people even have a fear of achievement! But rejection, that one is way up at the top of the list.

Rejection is such a big thing because people have the need to belong somewhere, we like to be associated with a specific group of people. It forms part of our identity to belong. We want to be loved and liked by the people we meet.

But the matter of the fact is we cannot be liked and loved by everyone we meet. We can also not please everybody. It will become very tiring trying to be everything to everybody.

If one of your ideas are rejected, try to reframe it in a positive way. See it as an opportunity to improve on your idea. Do not take it personally. (Do you remember me talking about The Four Agreements a few posts ago? This is one of the four agreements: Do not take it personally!)

Nothing people do to you is personal. They might think you are the problem, and you might take it personally, but the bigger issue lies with the other person since he or she brought up the issue. The other person has his or her own issues and anxieties on which he or she reacts. You merely triggered the thought in their brain. It is the thought that makes them behave badly toward you. The action is all theirs. You cannot take it personally. It is not your stuff. Don Miguel Ruiz , the writer of The Four Agreements, writes: “Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally… Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.”

You can also not assume what is going on in the other person’s head. This is another of the four agreements: Do not make assumptions!

Does this make rejection any less painful? No, but maybe a bit more bearable. If you keep telling yourself these things, you might handle rejection a bit better in future.

So if someone rejects you on grounds of your sexuality or religion or whatever, just remember that it is their issue. You are not the problem. Try to be empathetic and see where they are coming from. This might help you accept the situation and move on. The world needs more compassion anyway. Do not take it personally.

If you have any questions or want to discuss this post with me, please leave a comment or contact me directly.

To come out is to challenge your beliefs

Things which do not grow and change are dead things.

Where does our beliefs come from? I’d say mostly our parents. They instil certain beliefs in us as we grow up and we tend to stick to those beliefs for the most of our lives.

Until we become teenagers.

As you might have experienced it yourself, this is the time we start to question everything, especially our parents. We start to question the beliefs they instilled on us. This is usually also the time we start to realise that we are different from other individuals. We start exploring our own identity. We also start to explore our own sexuality. I think it is easier for heterosexual people as they just keep carrying on in the way they were brought up to behave. For homosexual people this is the time they, or shall I say we, start to realise that we are different. We like the same sex more than the opposite sex. We realise that we get turned on by the same sex – god forbid! And then the inner struggle begins… I am not sure about girls, but most boys question their own sexuality more or less around the age of 14 to 15. They then decide or realise whether they are gay or straight.

Our beliefs are such a big part of us that we rarely question them. We rarely objectively look at our beliefs. Unless we are forced to when we realise we might be gay. We have to start to question those beliefs in order to successfully accept ourselves as gay. We have to challenge the norms of society. We have to realise that we have to almost perpendicularly go in against the norms of society.

It is said that gays are more evolved souls, since we have to go through so much shit to get to self acceptance and that there is immense personal growth involved. We do way more soul searching and introspection than the ordinary person on the street.

Think about these questions:

  • What do I believe about myself?
  • What do I believe I am capable of in my life?
  • What do I believe about other people’s relationships with me?

Let’s take it a step further:

  • What do I believe about heterosexuality?
  • What do I believe about homosexuality?
  • What do I believe about myself as a homosexual?
  • Which heterosexual beliefs are still of use to me as a homosexual?
  • Which heterosexual beliefs did I have to leave behind when I realised I was homosexual?

Did these questions challenge your beliefs about yourself? I truly hope so. Your beliefs can be limiting or empowering. I believe to challenge yourself from time to time is a good thing. Louise Erdrich said: “Things which do not grow and change are dead things.” Please do not stagnate. Keep on challenging yourself. Keep growing!

If you have any questions on this post, please leave a comment, or contact me directly.

What are you afraid of?

People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime...

Okay, so you are contemplating coming out…or you have already come out to a few close friends… What is preventing you from taking the next step? What are you afraid of?

For me (and probably for most people) it was the fear of rejection.

I remember a conversation my mum and I once had in the car before I came out. She said that she doesn’t think being gay is a choice, because who in their right mind would choose to be disgraced by and shunted from society. That was such an “Aw, I love you mum” moment, but I couldn’t say it since I was still in the closet. To this day, this is still one of my main arguments when people tell me being gay is a choice.

Suppose being rejected is your biggest fear… Let’s start with and look at the bigger picture. Will it make a significant difference to the world (all 7.3 billion of us [as of July 2015]) if you came out? Not significantly, no. Would it make a difference to your continent? Not really, no. Will it make a difference to your country? Er, no. To your province or state? Nope. To your town or city? Well, depends how big the town is… City, no. Suburb? Maybe, depending on how many people you know in your suburb. Now it begins to come a bit closer to your skin. Would it really matter to your community? Well, maybe to the ones you choose to tell. Good point! To your friends? Same answer, depends on the individuals, or the specific circle. Now, let me ask you this, why only choose to tell some friends? Maybe, because you know how some would react, and maybe because you DON’T know how some would react. Am I right? I assume it will be the same with family?

Well, you assume you know how people will react. Never make assumptions (this one of the Four Agreements Don Miguel Ruiz writes about). Can you truly ever know how someone will react to a situation? Can you truly ever know how you will react to a situation? So, if you can’t know how you will react, how can you assume how someone else might react? The thing is you can’t. You’ll just have to see how they react.

The thought that keeps bugging me while I am writing this is, if someone reacts really negatively to you coming out, do you really want that person in your life? If someone rejects you for something you innately are, is it worth keeping them in your life? Do you need that rejection and negativity in your life? Will it contribute to your happiness? I don’t know. Am I wrong? All I’m saying is that unhappiness should never be tolerated. And that losing people along the way is a fact of life. I know, I know… I am one to speak… I hate losing people. I am a collector of people. Losing a friend is horrible, but sometimes it is inevitable… You maybe know this saying (cliché?): People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.

Man’s biggest fear is the fear of the unknown. However you look at it, all fears boil down to the fear of the unknown. How do you overcome the fear of the unknown? By making the situation known. Unfortunately you will have to gather your courage and just come out to know how people will react.

Leave a comment below and tell me what your biggest fear in coming out is or was. I would love to hear from you.

Alternatively, please contact me if you need any advice on how to come out, or if you have any questions about the above post.

International Coming Out Day

Rainbow-flag-600x250

Happy International Coming Out Day everybody!

How do I know I am gay?

think straight

Gender identity is the way in which you identify yourself as homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, transgender, etc. At a certain stage in your life you realise that you have feelings for other people, whether they are the same or the opposite sex or both, it doesn’t matter. The thing is the feelings are there and they are real. The gender of the person you fall in love with is called sexual preference.

Society (and probably your parents during your upbringing) tells us the one day we will fall in love with a person of the opposite sex, we will start a relationship, date, marry, start a family, and what may follow. We grow up with this idea burned into our minds. As toddlers or young children we play house and pretend to take a wife or husband (someone of the opposite sex) and pretend to have a family. We do this because this is expected of us.

But then we grow older we become preteens or teenagers and we start to have all kinds of feelings. Right? Well, sort of. We know we are supposed to fall in love with the opposite sex. I did have a few girlfriends here and there, but I also developed these deep infatuations with specific boys. I really, really wanted to be their friend. I wanted to be around them the whole time. I wanted them to be my best friend. I wanted us to share all our interests. I did not see or experience this as falling in love or having a crush, since these weren’t words I associated with the same sex. I became really good with rationalisation. I told myself that this is purely a person who I liked to spend time with. I didn’t want to marry them or have their children. I was sixteen years old! Marriage and children was not a consideration at all. Even the girlfriends I had was just good friends.

I think the realisation of me possibly being gay came when sex became a reality. At age twelve to about fourteen I knew about sex but I don’t think I saw myself as having it. Sex was destined for grown-ups. Religious studies told us that we should wait until we are married to have sex. But by the age of fifteen and older you realise you can have it if you want to. At that stage in my life I realised that I rather wanted to see boys without their clothes on than girls. Anyway, it is so easy to find a sparsely clad woman in any form of media that I didn’t need to look very far. But it didn’t do anything for me. What I did become aware of is that a well built man with little clothes on stirred something inside me. It caught my eye and I wanted to look at it. I liked looking at it. So, as a teenage boy I started searching for pictures of naked men rather than woman. And I slowly but surely had to acknowledge to myself that this was the fact.

I do not want to make it sound as if being gay is all about sex. I am purely trying to prove a point by describing my own passage into self acceptance. I’m sure you know that for (most) teenage boys it is only hormones talking and that they want to hump anything that moves, although probably secretly, since one is supposed to have morals and all that.

I recently found a brilliant Dutch website about gay, bi and transgenderism, that describes the feeling of falling in love so well. It asks the question whether you got butterflies in your stomach and a warm feeling when you touched him or her,  and if you felt it all over your body when he or she touched you. You could probably not deny it, you were in love! (The website is written in Dutch with no English version, but you can probably translate it using Google Chrome. Click on iedereenisanders.nl).

You can ask the following questions to help clear things up for yourself (thank you again iedereenisanders.nl for these):

  • Which gender do I notice first, pretty boys (if you are a boy) or pretty girls (if you are a girl)?
  • Which gender would you like to kiss, a boy (if you are a boy) or a girl (if you are a girl)?
  • Do you get butterflies in your stomach from a specific boy (if you are a boy) or a girl (if you are a girl)?
  • Have you ever been in love with a boy (if you are a boy) or a girl (if you are a girl)?

For certain people it is very clear. Some boys have never fallen in love with any girl, ever. And some girls have never fallen in love with any boy, ever. This makes it a whole lot easier to identify your sexuality. But for people like me, who had/has a   relationship with a member of the opposite sex (because they were/are in denial like me or for any other reason), the boundaries can become blurred. And it can be very difficult to accept your true gender identity.

For many people out there it is easier to identify with being bisexual. Some people decide to keep that label and live their lives a bisexual. There are others who call themselves bisexual until such time that they can be certain of themselves or their gender identity before they start identifying as purely gay. (Incidentally, there is a group of people who do not like to label themselves at all and who likes to have relationships with any gender. They call themselves pansexuals.)

Another important point I would like to make is that you cannot always recognise a homosexual on outward appearance and behaviour alone. You might be thinking “I cannot be gay because I do not like to wear dresses” or “I don’t even like pink”. You do not have to be an effeminate man or butch woman to be gay! I have met very feminine women who are lesbian, and I have met many beer drinking rugby watching men who are gay. Your outward appearance or behaviour does not classify you as gay!

But why are you (or me) gay? Well, there are quite a few explanations. Here is a short video to explain some of the theories:

Being gay is normal! You aren’t a freak of nature, or a weirdo, or a sexual delinquient. It is normal. For you as a gay man or woman heterosexuality is abnormal, right? Think about it. And yes, this is why homosexuality is not normal for heterosexuals. For a true heterosexual it is abnormal to have a homosexual affair. In the same way it is not normal for a true homosexual person to have a heterosexual affair. It is against their (or your, or my) nature! The same goes for bisexualism. It is totally normal for a bi person to have relations with either sexes – but it seems abnormal to a hetero- or homosexual. What I mean by normal is a sexuality that is ‘against the norm’ for that specific subculture of society. You are normal – for you! Just be true to yourself and be gay… er… happy!

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section, or contact me through my contact page.

Guest post: My friend’s email

Sexual Organs

In my previous post I referred to an email I received from a friend. I spoke to him and he consented to me publishing his whole email here:

Dear Adam,

You asked me what I would like to see on a blog like yours. Here is my answer:

In my personal journey I’ve had many challenges. I’ve never spoken out about them and these secrets have been changing me and every choice that I’ve ever taken. I’ve never had the courage to speak my truth and set myself free, I’ve been held hostage within myself for many many years. Even after I came out as a gay man. I feel that, if I had more guidance to what the consequences are of keeping secrets that cut so deep, I would have been able to be true to myself a long time ago. I’ve developed issues of grandeur.

Even though I am happily married to a guy and we are building our life together, I’ve lost big parts of myself along the way. I’ve recently spoken out at a forum and by speaking my truth I came to realise how much damage I’ve done to myself being silent.

I’ve been lost most of my life because I could never relate to other guys. I always saw myself as less of a man because of my sexuality. I’ve put a limitation on myself by allowing myself to draw comparisons to every guy I’ve ever met, thinking that in some way they were all superior to me just because they have heterosexual sex. I realise that this is all bullshit and that any straight guy would enjoy relations with the same sex just as much as I realize that I could enjoy relations with a woman. But it is the limitations of humanity that categorised us all. Indicating that you must belong to either group and choice should be limited. I truly feel that if we could all cut the bullshit and be true to ourselves we would realize that bisexuality is the only orientation there is.

Sex in general is just an act of passion and an exchange of love and feelings. The person’s sexual organs have nothing to do with the deed as it is only a method of expression. There should be no reason for anybody to ‘come out’ as they never actually made a choice to go in? They were categorized by humanity and humanity’s sick idea of what is right and wrong. Then they made the rule fit every human out there, never mind personal circumstance or choice, so we are forced to ‘come out’ or state that we are gay when it really doesn’t matter.

I am working toward accepting myself as I am and getting rid of the label that’s been bearing down on me so heavily. When I meet you I don’t need to know if you are gay. So many of us have this very well rehearsed line, “Hi, I’m John and I’m gay”. How about society taking me seriously as a being and giving me the fair chance of happiness and let me introduce myself instead of my sexuality. The world we live in is a very superficial world. My sexuality and how I choose to express that love to the people I love is no one’s business. On a BLOG for fellow beings being scrutinized and dissected under society’s great microscope, I would like to say… please find yourself, not your sexuality. Your sexuality is only a small part of what makes up the bigger person. What you do in the bedroom does not define who you are! Please do not let what you prefer rule your life and blind side you because you’ve heard one too many bad jokes. Who you are is more important than who you choose to shag.

Be true to yourself in everything you do and be normal. You are normal! There is not a thing wrong with you and you are not doing anything wrong! You have been created the same as all people around you and you have the same urges as every single guy or girl out there, it is just that if you feel like you don’t fit in, it is because you are comparing yourself to a single opinion of a superficial idea of what normal means.

You are valuable in this world and you have value to add to someone else’s world. You have purpose, and a place in this world that belongs to you. By being true to yourself and not letting a word rule your existence, you take back the power of your purpose and journey on this earth.

I wish I could remove the hurt and anguish I know so many people experience, but I myself, 32 years old, only just found a glimmer of light and I want to tell you that I could have found this light much sooner if I was only honest with myself and had the courage to be myself and not my sexuality. I’ve been ‘out’ for 13 years, but I’ve only just became the man I was suppose to be before I allowed society to label me, box me and ship me off! You are powerful, you are special. Choose yourself and acknowledge your sexuality, but don’t dwell on why you feel different! You are not different in terms of sexuality, you just are!

Warm regards

Your friend

Wow! Powerful stuff!

I would love to hear your comments on my friend’s email.

Find yourself, not only your sexuality…

Shag

I received an amazing email from a friend last week. In it he talked about society’s view and reaction to sexuality. He made the point that sexuality does not define a person. This is an enormous truth. And one I would like to embroider on…

If you, reading here, is contemplating coming out of the closet, or has recently come out of the closet, you might think that your sexuality defines you. You might feel that you have to build your identity around your sexuality. This is hogwash. Your sexuality does form part of your personality, yes, but it does not define you! Listen carefully, it does not define you.

At the moment, where you are very new to the whole scene, you might feel that your newfound sexual freedom drives your whole existence. In a way, yes, since it is going to influence your new identity. But for god’s sake, please do not let it become your whole identity.

What my friend meant to say was that you need to actually just find yourself. Get to know yourself better. All the in’s and out’s of your personality. Delve deep and find your being. Since this is what people (read: society) will get to know first. They will not get to know your sexual preferences first. They will get to know you first. So, it is important for you to know the true you. Your sexuality is a part of you and you do need to integrate this new part of you into your identity, but it is only one aspect of who you are. My friend put it so eloquently: “Who you are is more important than who you choose to shag.

Know Thyself:

The forecourt to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi had the words ‘Know Thyself’ engraved in stone. It was originally in Greek (γνῶθι σεαυτόν). The Latin translation is ‘temet nosce‘. The philosopher Plato used it in many of his teachings.

Integrating all aspects into your personality and identity is a growth process and you will learn a lot about yourself in the process. You need to remember to keep perspective and not only focus on one aspect of yourself. The keyword here is balance.

Most gay people are more in touch with themselves, since they had to go through this rigorous introspection to accept their difference to the norm. Speaking of the norm… This is exactly the point my friend was making in his email. We as gays often marginalise ourselves! We notice we are different and then we want to show the world exactly how different we are. And it is exactly this difference that the heteronormative world struggle to accept. Why do we not do the opposite and show them that we are actually not that different from them after all? This has always been my own modus operandi. I let people get to know my true self first and then as a by-the-by find out that I happen to be gay. It is basically my sly way of trapping them into liking me first, before they can judge me on grounds of my sexuality.

The thing is, people are drawn toward authenticity. Embrace your uniqueness. Be authentic.

Just be yourself.

Become aware of your thoughts…

Thoughts

I would like to explain to you the impact your thoughts have on your life and your emotions. Maybe you already know this, so just bear with me if you do.

What many people out there do not know is how powerful your thoughts are. It comes down to this, every emotion you experience has an underlying thought that fuels it. If you can identify the underlying thought, you can control the emotion. Trust me on this.

What exactly is a thought? Technically? It is an electrical impulse in your brain cells, or nerves if you will, created by a chemical reaction. The chemicals that causes this impulse is called neurotransmitters. When this impulse occurs, it creates another chemical reaction – an emotion! We already know that emotions are chemical reactions in the brain. Now we know where this chemical reaction comes from – from the thought that happened.

Neurons:

The size of a brain cell varies from 0.004 mm to 0.1 mm in diameter. The nerve impulse or signal travels at about 320 km/h. There are roughly 100 billion cells or neurons in the brain. Each neuron is typically connected to 1000 other neurons. In other words, each cell has 1000 connections. Read more here and here.

When a new thought occurs, a new connection in your brain forms. This ability of forming new connections is referred to as brain plasticity. Now, how the connections in your brain work are as follows. Each time you have the same thought, the connection becomes stronger. And the stronger the connection becomes, the more neurotransmitters are involved in the thought. And the more neurotransmitters involved in the thought, the stronger the emotion associated with the thought. This, of course, is very simplistically explained.

Let me give you an analogy of how the new connection evolve. Imagine you walk through a field where no one ever comes. The first time you walk through the field you step on some twigs and grass etc. You leave some trace behind that you walked there. The next time you take the same route, you crunch some more grass and break some more twigs and plants. Now imagine how this route will look like if you walk the same way every day for a week. And for a month? Imagine you walk the same way for a year. How would the route look after a year? There would be a neat pathway, wouldn’t there? It works the same way in the brain, the more attention you give to something the stronger the connection in your brain gets. So much so that instead of one single minute connection there forms a nerve ‘highway’, if you will.

When we think the same thing over and over the emotions connected to it becomes stronger and stronger. This brings me to the point I’m trying to make. If you have the same negative thought over and over you will get stuck in a rut of negative emotions. You should therefore become very aware of what you are thinking. You must start to look at your thoughts in a critical way. By ‘critical’ I do not mean that you should criticize yourself every time you catch yourself having a negative thought. That will just contribute to the negative spiral. You should be critically aware of your thoughts.

What should you do if you have a negative thought? Be gentle with yourself and re-frame it in a positive way. I know, I make it sound so easy and effortless. Unfortunately it isn’t. It takes concentration and hard work.

How does re-framing work? Say you get the thought “I am stupid”. Where did that thought come from? What thoughts are underlying this thought? Is it even true? What sparked this thought? Really go in there and explore the thought. Is there any evidence of the contrary? Start focusing your attention on this evidence. And think the opposite thought deliberately. I like to say the phrase “Cancel that thought” in my head or out loud when I encounter one of these unfounded negative thoughts. And, important, you need to really believe yourself when you think this positive thought. This may seem ridiculous or useless to you, but forcing your brain to think the new positive thought creates new neurological pathways.

What will happen to the path in the field we spoke about earlier when you stop walking there? It will slowly return to its original state, won’t it? The same thing happens in the brain. If you stop thinking a specific thought the connection becomes weaker and weaker. This is the wonder of brain plasticity or neuroplasticity! The weaker the connection gets, the less you will experience the emotions associated with that thought. Isn’t it amazing?!

So, in short. Pay attention to your thoughts. Really examine them. Find evidence of the contrary. Re-frame the  negative thought. Pay attention to the new thought. Think that thought over and over. Start feeling more positive.

I would like you to take responsibility for your emotions by examining your thoughts. Don’t be a victim of your thoughts. You can control them. You are in charge!

Trust me on this. You will see the change after a while.

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