Month: March 2014

That’ll Learn Me!

I’ve always been a dweller. Apparently I love nothing more than to grab onto something (sometimes ridiculously insignificant) and turn it into a big dwell. Right now I’ve got a work dwell going on that I will elaborate on later.

Dwelling… I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’d love to be able to figure out exactly when it started; Was it when I knocked over the plant pot in the living room at about the age of 6? (I clumsily tried to hide it behind the curtains, there was soil everywhere!) There must have been a period where I wasn’t as neurotic, maybe my brain is just wired this way, but I have to believe that somehow I’ve been conditioned to think this way, I must have self taught my brain to behave in this manner. If that is the case then surely this gives me the opportunity to ‘unlearn’ this behaviour.

Over the last six months or so I’ve been trying to be more self analytical (I could be described as someone who is ruled by their emotions). I must say that have to give some credit to a very good friend of mine, she suffers from severe anxiety and tackles it head on in a very admirable way (check out her blog: http://weallmadhere.com/). Before I continue I should say that I don’t believe that I suffer from severe anxiety, that would be a disservice to those that battle with it daily, but I do think some of the techniques they use can be incredibly useful to anyone who wishes to apply them. That leads me nicely onto my personal experiment and ‘the event’ at work.

I’m now trying out Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) (after my friend recommended it to me for about the 8th time, I was slow to take up the advice). Just to explain CBT is a ‘psychotherapeutic’ approach that addresses dysfunctional emotions through a number of goal-oriented, explicit systematic procedures. The idea is to retrain your brain, its viewed as a very effective treatment and is actually endorsed by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE!).

Its really easy to get started, I downloaded a CBT diary app on the Google play store for free. You then have to wait for a negative thought and then go through a very simple process of picking it all apart by following the simple instructions in the app.

My latest entry was after ‘the event’ at work! Firstly for those of you that don’t know I work as a Broadcast Engineer. I look after broadcast systems that are used across television and a little of new media. Basically I fix ya telly pictures!

Well just the other day I was asked to do some work with one of the senior engineers, whom I must say I get on really well with both in and out of work. We were asked to do some work on the graphic systems for a high profile channel that goes all around the world. The system overlays important information on the incoming video and there is one for each region it covers throughout the world. The graphic systems are used about every 15 minutes or so, so you have to do the work quickly in the gaps between its usage. Well my colleague did the first one and it all went swimmingly; it was fairly simple procedure. I then demonstrated that I could do it myself and we nattered away happily while I got on with the work. I’d completed all, but three, each time ensuring that there was a good gap to get the work done then taking the machine off air and doing the necessary work. Well I was in autopilot, talking about Game of Thrones in depth and without thinking I moved onto the next device. I took it off air and started the work, I then snapped back into reality and realised I hadn’t checked the gap. The device I was working on was the master device and the gap was only five minutes! ARRRGHHHHH! For a few moments I panicked, I told the senior what I’d done, we got heads down and did the work with a minute to spare then held our breath as the machine went back online… praise Jebus! It worked fine and there was no on-air impact. Once I’d calmed down I knew right away that this was gonna be one doozy of a dwell. Well it was CBT time!

The app I downloaded makes things really simple. Firstly you put in a title, mine was ‘Almost caused an outage at work’. Then you put in your emotions; i felt humiliated and discredited. Next you rate how you feel in terms of intensity, I selected 8/10. The diary next asks for your thoughts; well I was embarrassed that I’d been so blasé and I was massively worried that my colleague would think less of me.

The next part really helps. You have to select irrational beliefs. The app has a list of loads of irrational beliefs; All of these irrational thoughts are select-able, which is comforting in the fact that some always directly apply to your situation and they are obviously quite common. Well here are the beliefs that applied to my situation:

  • I was ‘attempting to mind read others’. “That is it, everyone is going to think I’m a complete donkey now, especially my colleague I was working with”.
  • ‘Catastrophic thinking’ “One mistake at work and now I’ll be fired, my reputation is lost in the gutter forever!”

Next you have to select relevant challenges from an inbuilt list, I selected ‘this isn’t life or death’ and ‘I don’t need to be so critical of myself’ and then the final part is to add your own comments. By this point you feel a little silly. The process forces you to take a step back and really look at the situation, rather than constantly panicking and saying the same thing in your head over and over. I just wrote very simply: ‘I made a mistake, learn from it don’t dwell on it. Plus reputation and relationships are built over a long period of time, one moment is going to change everyone’s view of you’.

It feels like a very healthy process and I recommend it to everyone to try out. It can only be a good thing I think.

Right that is me done, heres a song by Paul McCartney


Philly OUT!!!

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Masculinity and Me

Masculinity is something as a male that you have to deal with on a daily basis; Its part of life. Some people thrive on it, others find it stifling. I fall into the latter category. Looking back It is clear to me now that I have actively made it the case never to have close friends who are overly masculine, I just can’t stand it. That said I do work in office with ten other guys, they’re not a macho macho bunch, but you have to know how to behave in such an environment to get along, because like it or not that element is going to exist. I feel like I do quite well, but it can feel like an act at times. The worse case for me used to be when I (very rarely I must say) hung out with my cousins back home, for me this was the worse case scenario; I felt like I had to wear a different personality all together; otherwise I’d be flat out rejected and ridiculed. Now I do my own thing and say ‘meh’ to the consequences.

Just to be clear on the definition of masculinity, it is commonly described as a collection of the following qualities (taken directly from Wikipedia): an avoidance of femininity; restricted emotions; sex disconnected from intimacy; pursuit of achievement and status; self-reliance; strength; and aggression; and even in some cases homophobia.

I’m not sure how masculine I appear to others, but not many of those qualities above seem that appealing to me, they seem a trifle outdated, I do believe some sections of society still find them appealing though.

I’ve always been tall, but never imposing… I’m a bit weedy if I’m being absolutely honest. The only time I’m ever aggressive is when I’m playing sport; I would never try to hurt anyone though (and I never have intentionally injured anyone). As for homophobia, that is obviously a painfully outdated way to view the world. I do believe I’m self reliant and I do actively look to improve my status, but I don’t think that is a quality that is (or should be) solely geared towards men.

When it comes to women, I don’t think I’ve ever pursued a woman solely for sex. However you always get fed the same old same old from other ‘blokes’. ‘Treat em mean, keep em keen’ and various other nonsense, I find that hard to stomach and it’s never sat right with me personally. There has to be some sort of intimacy involved otherwise I’m genuinely not interested. This whole culture of pick-up artists (for want of a better term) is something I’ve actively avoided. Negative compliments and other ‘techniques’, it just seems terribly degrading towards women and men. The really annoying thing is this stuff seems to work for them, the question is are they the kind of women I want to be avoiding anyway though? Fuck it, without being wishy washy, I believe the good guys will win in the end, if not then I’m buggered!

Why am I writing about it all this then? I don’t think masculinity is as pivotal as it once was or once was for me, but when I was younger I had real issues with it, to the point where I would get really upset and worked up about it. On TV, and my male influences all around me were strong masculine characters, I on the other hand sang in a choir, was in the scouts and played tuba in a brass band; I was hardly Rocky Balboa! I had no time for football, cricket or any sports, I was fully booked out. I felt a huge deficit in masculinity and was super worried about how my dad, in particular perceived me; I really worked myself up over it all.

All of this said though one of my defining personality traits is that I’ve always believed in getting it all out in the open (that is why I blog!), so in the end I had a mega chat with him about it all and afterwards I honestly felt a ton better. Just talking about something doesn’t necessarily change anything, but it feels great; he told me that he didn’t feel that I was less masculine at all, and that he was actually proud that I was doing my own thing; and on top of that he was proud that I didn’t seem to care about what other people thought about me (although I obviously did, we all do at that age, I just did’nt show it). I don’t think my poor dad is a natural ‘sharer’, but he obviously has no choice were I’m involved!

I like to think the age of masculinity is nearly over. Gender bias, especially towards kids growing up should be avoided at all costs. Allow them to cultivate their personalities and decide what they’re interested in and what they ultimately want to do with their lives!

Here is a little song from Steely Dan that has been eroding my brain for the last few days, it is a TUNE:

Philly out

Featured image from: http://www.hellomaltatours.com/popeye-village

North vs South

As a friend on Facebook put the other day in a photo caption,  I am ‘a son of the North’. This will never change, I am and will always be a northerner.

The whole North Vs South thing… it is exasperating. I honestly wasn’t even that aware of it until I moved to uni where I was living on a corridor of 12 people, of which I was the only northerner. Ohhh the hilarity, I say things in a slightly different accent (that’s comedy gold right?). I’m still friends with all these people (I still live with one), its harmless fun. That said they still take particular pleasure in the way I say words like ‘phone’. If I’m brutally honest I’ve always liked being different. At school I was the kid with long hair, I got a lot of grief for it, but I couldn’t stand the thought of being like everyone else, just another sheep in the worlds most boring flock (how else do you get your teenage kicks maaaaan???).

After uni (I graduated in 2011) I was looking for employment. I always viewed myself having a good job (at the time this was everything) and I initially hoped that I would get involved with the BBC in media city in Manchester, but after applying to the handful of positions they actually advertised I eventually gave up. The only viable option open to me was to move down south to ‘the big smoke’.

So here I am two years on writing this post and I couldn’t be happier. The original plan was to work down here for a year get some experience and move straight back up north. Plans can change though. I haven’t given serious thought to moving back north in over a year. I think its great down here. London almost seems like a separate entity to the rest of the UK. I love London, I’m addicted to the pace, the people and much more.

However I often think to myself would I have moved down here if the same opportunities had been in Manchester? Probably not. This opens up the issue that London seems to get preferential treatment over the rest of the UK.  One simple example is: back in Bolton it costs me £2.80 to get a 10 minute bus to the centre of town. In London my daily commute of 50 mins on two different trains costs me just £1… Ridiculous really.

I am very obviously benefiting from this situation, this bias. Am I then part of the problem? Adding to the skew by abandoning the north west? I honestly believe I’m just trying to make the best of it. London is an awesome part of the world and opportunities down here are in abundance I’d be stupid not to move here surely, its just common sense isn’t it? If this is the case then why did I feel bad the other day when after talking to my friend about this topic? He immediately blurted out that as soon as he wants to start a family he will be moving back North as he doesn’t want southern kids, hes just down here out of necessity, hes a proud northerner who can’t wait to move back. He made me feel a little bad, I’m not shunning where I come from at all, I’m just making the best of it.

I believe there is a stereo type which says people are nicer up North, but I don’t know how much truth there is to it really. Everyone down here seems pretty nice to me… Plus I feel class is less of a bugbear for people down here. Up North there is a kind of over powering anti-snobbery. ‘Posh people’ are the scum of the earth (I get called a posh northerner all the time! Drives me mad!).

When I feel reflective my personal opinion is that it’s all, to a certain extent bullshit. Lines on a map shouldn’t have any say over how you live your life. I’m an individual, a citizen of the world, well until Martians pop up, then I’m a citizen of the galaxy baby!

Right, now that’s over, here’s country house by Blur:

I’m off out to buy a tweed jacket with absolutely no shame attached to said purchase (well… maybe a little shame),

Phil out!