Our Existence is Humbling

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Written by: John Glass

The last few weeks, I have been so focused on all of my jobs and tasks that I must get completed, that I have begun to feel exhausted. I know this feeling all too well. I am approaching burn out. I am getting close to the shutdown that creates feelings of giving up on all the tasks so that I can binge watch Netflix.

I am sure many of you have experienced a similar situation. You have your nose to the grind stone working as hard as you can to complete all the goals and tasks set before you.

The problem is, there will never be a completion of everything. There is no final thing to check off your list. There will always be something to do in your life.

I had forgotten, that in order to continue being productive I needed to remind myself of how unique, yet insignificant I am in relation to the world around me. A lesson on humbleness about my place in this awe inspiring universe.

At this point, I was too far into burn out to find restoration from meditation or being out in nature. I needed to retreat from life for a while. I needed to unplug and plug into life beyond my desk.

I packed my stuff. Got in my car. Headed for the mountains. I knew that once there, it would take me a short while to unplug, but once I did I was ready to plug into the world around me. Ready to find solace through hiking, mediation, and silence.  After, I will return to my life with feelings of being refreshed, realigned, and humbled. All because in this great world of ours, I am small and aware of that.

One of the reasons that constant striving to complete tasks and goals in order to be successful leads to burnout, is that as men, we are regularly told by society and others that we must strive to be successful in our careers. Most of us may define ourselves based on our career.

This reminds me of when I was working with a client. We were at a bar to work on talking to women. After some coaching, the gentleman approached a table of women. He began talking to them. He did really well, I was very proud of him. Being a wingman for him, I went over and got him back to our table. There, we debriefed. He said that when the women asked him about himself, he responded by telling them he was a plumber. Once he said that, he felt that the women seemed disinterested.

We processed this together and had a great discussion about it. My point of this example is that this client defined himself by what he did as his career. He was so much more than just his career. In fact, he owned the plumbing company. He was also a world traveler with amazing stories about his adventures. I was in awe of all that he had done in his life. But all he saw when he looked at himself was his career choice.

We are all so much more than just our career choices. The problem is that we forget that. We allow ourselves to be shoved into the “man box” (the limits that society pushes on us as men). We think that we must strive for excellence at every opportunity because our excellence and success is how we believe we are measured as a man.

In order to remember that we are more than what we are told, yet we are small in comparison to the universe, it is important that we retreat into ourselves. Retreating into ourselves requires us to examine our thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and soul. We look within to understand ourselves to the point that we know that no title, position, or amount of money is going to define who we are. We become strong in our essence and humbled by our smallness.

Some ways to gain a greater understanding of ourselves and our relative space in the universe are:

Meditation: Meditating is a great way to clear our heads of all the junk we have running around in them. We are able to become attuned to our bodies, as well as the space around us. I have found that the deeper my meditation the more I connect with the world around me. The more I feel the energy being given off from all that is without me. Keeping up with daily meditation helps to maintain our space in this world.

Ask Questions: Asking ourselves deep open ended questions about who we are and the world we live in aids in gaining a deeper understanding of ourselves and our world. Questions like: “What is my deepest passion? Who am I the most open and vulnerable with? What are my strongest values? How do others hold me accountable in life?” Questions like these help to open your heart, mind, and soul to greater self-awareness, thus keeping you attentive to who you are in your world.

No Self-Judgments: Many of us find ourselves judging our thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. We tell ourselves that what we thought, felt, or acted upon was wrong or right; bad or good. Yes, there are things that are right and wrong. Knowing the difference between right and wrong helps us govern ourselves in this world. The problem comes when we make judgments about ourselves based on a self-limiting belief. Let the self-judging behavior go. It is not helping you become a better person.

Go Outdoors: Being outdoors is a great reminder of how much beauty there is in this world. It is also a great reminder that there is so much more in our lives than our work. Going out into nature allows our minds to rest. We are able to experience so many senses at once. Allowing us to feel our space within the world around us. In nature, there are no constant emails, notes to write, folders to file, or papers to write. There is only you and the natural beauty of our Earth.

It is important for us as men to come to the realization that we are so much more than the “man box.” Although working at goals and completing tasks is still a great thing to do. It does not need to be the ultimate thing we focus on.

In my opinion, when meeting goals and checking off our to do list becomes our number one thing in life, burnout is not far behind.

We need to practice daily techniques that remind us of who we are and how we fit into this vast universe we live in.

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