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Set boundaries. Learn to be your authentic self. Speak your truth.
Fundamentally, it’s all good advice. But what the fuck does any of it actually mean? Let’s be honest, they all sound like bullshit terms made up by Instagram scam-artists to baffle us into thinking they’re saying something more complicated than they actually are.
The people peddling this stuff mean well. Their advice is sound. But it doesn’t quite make sense to everyone.
So in case you’re not immersed in the lexicon of wellness, I’ll decode some of it for you.
‘Setting boundaries’ translates as ‘stop letting people take the piss.’ They will always take the piss, unless you tell them very clearly that it’s absolutely not on.
And we’re not just talking about massive piss-takers who come round your house and nick the silverware, either.
Even perfectly nice people do it without realising - with their micro-demands or passive aggressive behaviour. It’s the little bits of energy and time people steal from you every day.
It’s easy to become a people pleaser who agrees to every last favour asked of them or attends every single social event they are ever invited to. But that shit is exhausting and, over time, will wear you down. You can lose site of your own needs amidst your constant efforts to help others to fulfil theirs.
Bollocks to that. Prioritise yourself. Have your own schedule and stick to it. Set some non-negotiables with your friends, family and colleagues. You don’t take calls or messages after 7pm. Wednesday night is badminton night. And no you can’t come out to those leaving drinks for the geezer in IT support. Why? There doesn’t need to be a why. Stop explaining yourself. Do what you have to do.
My favourite way to tell someone I’m not coming to their thing? “Sorry mate, I can’t come because…I don’t want to.”
Now, let’s talk about being your authentic self. We used to call this ‘keeping it real.’ It means dropping the bullshit and bravado you have used to protect yourself from the judgment of others throughout your life.
We all have slightly different personas that we use to fit in depending on the context: I always had a work Sam, a football Sam, a family Sam and a ton of others Sams I could juggle from one moment to the next. When I was a kid, I had completely different versions of myself for weekdays with my mum and weekends with my dad. It was confusing.
Like Richard Ashcroft once confessed: “I’m a million different people from one day to the next.” I know how he must of felt. It’s fucking exhausting.
Being authentic is about getting to grips who you really are; what your values are; what you want to do with your life; what really matters. You probably already know all this stuff. But it’s easy to sometimes lose yourself and adopt bullshit facades to ease certain situations.
Let me tell you, there is nothing more liberating than understanding your authentic self and being totally unapologetic for it, no matter what the context.
I was on a train on the way to Seville to watch a football match last Spring. It was full of drunken, larey, fellow West Ham fans. I approached a seat facing a right couple of pissed-up Herberts. At the last minute, I turned on my heels because I decided I couldn’t face sitting with them for the next three hours.
“Oi!” they said, a bit aggressively. “Why don’t you wanna sit with us?” I turned back smiling and said: ‘Nothing personal lads, but you’re on the piss and I don’t drink so I just wanna have a kip on my own.”
They thought about this for a moment then asked: “Why don’t you drink?”
“Because I was a massive pisshead and coke-nut so I had to knock it all on the head a few years back.”
They were delighted by this, congratulated me on my efforts and sent me on my way. I felt very content about the whole interaction. Maybe I made them pause for thought about their own relationship with drink? Unlikely…by the time we got to Seville one threw up on the platform.
Anyway, the important thing was that I had been my authentic self and they had respected me for it.
Speaking your truth overlaps with all of this a bit. It just means telling people the way you feel about things irrespective of whether they can relate, empathise or even understand.
I spent years hiding the fact that I suffered from anxiety, ocasional bouts of depression and ‘generalised barmy thought condition.’ Why? Because I was ashamed and I thought I had no right to feel the way I did. I was worried that people might think I was exaggerating my problems. That I was looking for attention. That I was weak and self-pitying.
But, ultimately, I knew how I felt. I didn’t feel the need to justify it or rationalise it. I didn’t need explanations or solutions. I just needed to say these things out loud and lift the weight of them from my shoulders.
So what if some people couldn’t understand? So what if how I felt didn’t seem to quite make sense? It was my truth and I fucking spoke it. And by doing so I started upon a road to a happier, more fulfilling, more open-hearted life.
Sue me, fuckfaces.
So anyway, that’s my guide to some of the babble that surrounds matters of the nut. It’s not wrong. It’s all helpful. It’s just that some of the words sound really stupid. Please don’t let that put you off.
Sort Your Head Out is almost upon us!
Wanna come to my publication day event at Soho Works in London’s White City? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org - I have a few spaces left on my guest list reserved for Reset subscribers. First come first served - it’ll be a good night.
If you want to buy a signed copy you can do so via The Barnes Bookshop. You can email them or order over the phone and I will get them signed, dedicated and sent out you next week!
Apologies to Club Reset members, I haven’t been able to do an episode this week. The lads are tied up with January work stuff and I am busy promoting my book which is out next Thursday.
Look out for me in The Sunday Times Style magazine on, um, Sunday.
I’ll also be appearing on Loose Ends on Radio 4 this Saturday and on Gaby Roslin’s show on BBC London on Sunday.
Next week, you can hear me harping on about the book on Talksport on Wednesday lunchtime with Hawksbee and Jacobs and Vanessa Feltz’s show on Talk Radio on Wednesday at 5ish. Then on Friday 10th Feb I’ll be on BBC 5Live drive time.
I am blown away by the attention this book is getting. Please remember to buy a copy!
This week’s podcast
I was joined this week by the brilliant journalist, broadcaster and man about town Gordon Smart. What a guy. Listen via your pod app here. Remember, if you want an ad free version then subscribe to The Reset Extra and I will email you with it every week.
Some services, links and phone numbers to help you through the tough times
https://www.samaritans.org/ Tel 116 123
@calm 0800 58 58 58
@YoungMindsUK 0800 018 2138
@CharitySane 0300 304 7000
Bang on again. Some of these bollocks terms and phrases are making people with ‘top banter’ deride some of the important topics on looking after your mental health.
Also found the same experience when I’ve been honest about why I stopped drinking, people just take it and move on. No point downplaying it!