I Accept…

I ACCEPT…❤️

– I accept who I am, both innately and who I can become. I accept I am perfectly imperfect. I accept both my flaws and my gifts. I accept me just as I am this present moment. 👤

– I accept the world and all its complexities. I accept I won’t know everything there is to know about this experience called Life. I accept knowing the lack of knowing. 🌎

– I accept people and where they are on their journeys. I accept the diversity of this world as well as the common humanity we all share. I accept people in both their uniqueness and their sameness.👥

– I accept so I judge less and see things as they are, not worse than they are. I accept so the Inner Critic in my head has no power over me anymore. I accept because whatever I resist in my life continues to persist. I accept so I can choose to finally let go. 🙌

In this fast-paced world we live in, there’s a profound sense of peace when you’re able to break free from it. My first evening here in San Diego, I walked down to the waterfront. I had no specific idea where I was going or how long I would be walking. Not much thought, I just went. 👣

I walked along the water. I sat by the docks. I moseyed through the park. I played some music through my earphones. I stopped at a nearby 7/11. I had no where to go. I had no where to be. A thought of judgment came across my mind: “Do something!” But I let myself be okay with these very facts. I accepted it. And it was absolutely beautiful. ❤️

As I walked back to my Airbnb, thinking about the power of acceptance, I decided I was going to take a photo to present with this post. But before I was about to take it, I saw the lights behind me. A local train’s bright lights was making its presence, and for whatever reason it was there, it simultaneously illuminated the realizations in my mind. 🚆

Accept, my friends. 😊 #TranscendLabels

The APA & “Traditional Masculinity”

I first want to say I’m not one who cares to typically comment on the current news or the trends in the media. Quite honestly, I don’t read a lot of the news as I tend to find it being overly sensational and provocative than actually useful for my everyday life. I also don’t tend to participate in social activism as I’ve found it’s currently more focused on noise than actual civil discussion and constructive solutions.

So why am I writing this now? For those who’ve already seen the article title and heard the current news, you may start to think in your mind: “This is a political issue”. I can assure you in this post that is not my intention. So for those of you who think I’m writing this to take some sort of political stance, for those of you who may want to box my thoughts with a political party, I’m sorry to disappoint you: I’m not looking to make this post some political us-versus-them thing.

If it helps me adding further context for you all, I don’t engage much in current politics. I certainly keep aware of current affairs in the world, but most often I’m not too engaged. If I had to even put a label on my “political views”, I’d say my views tend to lean towards the moderate. I don’t see many of the current issues in our society today as black-and-white. In fact, I see a lot of life filled with paradoxes and contradictions. Life is far more complex, detailed, and might I add beautiful, than we give it credit for. So, when I’m not having a casual conversation with a friend, my mind tends to lean more towards the systemic and analytical. And then a post like this flows out of my head.

I’ll also add I’m not writing this here to be some outlier or come off like some pseudo-intellectual. I’m not a genius, I’m not perfect, and I will never claim I am. As with anyone else, I’m making my way through this experience called Life as best as I can. I write this now because this not only hits close to home with my mission to Transcend Labels but also because I know what’s currently happening in the area of Psychology may very much affect our current society and culture in the coming decade if it’s not addressed.

“So what are you talking about, Donald? Get on with it!”

——————–

What’s the Story?

• The American Psychological Association released their first-ever set of guidelines on working with boys and men for current and future psychologists. The guidelines will last for 10 years. Guidelines: https://www.apa.org/about/policy/boys-men-practice-guidelines.pdf

• The APA’s definition of “Traditional Masculinity” in the Guidelines, which they conclude as “harmful”, is being heavily criticized. Their definition of “Traditional Masculinity” is: “standards that have held sway over the large segments of the population, including: anti-femininity, achievement, eschewal of the appearance of weakness, and adventure, risk, and violence.”

• Criticisms are arguing this definition heavily distorts and pathologizes the actual definition of masculinity and will cause harm to the treatment of men in future Psychology practices (e.g. “Since when is ‘achievement’, ‘adventure’, and ‘risk’ a bad thing?”). Additional criticisms include the presuppositions of the guideline’s claims, the subjective nature of their arguments given, their hypocrisy of “gender biases” as defined in the guidelines themselves, and the guidelines failure to include any biological explanations as playing a key roles in a male’s behavior and development (e.g. “Masculinity is only a social construct.”). A detailed nit-picking by an online user: https://bit.ly/2M2hARL

• “Masculinity and femininity represent the yin and yang of any romantic relationship and are crucial for lasting love. When they cease to exist, children suffer and families disintegrate. So you can imagine my shock and disdain for the APA’s new guidelines that claim traditional masculinity is ‘harmful’…to have the the largest scientific and professional organization of psychologists in the country formally reject the inherent nature of men is both profound and appalling.” ~ Suzanne Venker, https://washex.am/2SOJGCB

“It is not good to box people into rigid gender roles, nor is it good to teach boys to suppress their emotions just because they’re boys. I don’t see a whole lot of people doing this these days…But what about bravery? What about risk? What about, well, testosterone? What about the wild idea that there might be a natural, non-socially-constructed difference between women and men?” ~ Heather Wilhelm, https://bit.ly/2FnmJCs

“It’s positioning traditional masculinity as a problem to be solved…If you’re a man who holds traditional values, why would you go see a psychologist when the starting point is that traditional masculinity is the problem?” ~ Joseph Vandello, Social psychologist

——————–

For the first half of 2018, while on my mission to Transcend Labels, I personally advocated for less labels and more understanding of ourselves and each other (I have an extended blog post on my mission here). I very much held the initial perspective that labels were what was hurting ourselves and our culture.

But I’ve since evolved from this perspective to understand there’s actually a Labeling Paradox at work. To make a long story short: we need to be aware as well as careful of the labels we give (as much as we don’t give) to things. We need labels to help us understand the world, but simultaneously we also don’t want them running the show. Without labels, we have no understanding of our physical reality. But with labels also comes the potential issue of boxing and oversimplifying our understanding of things, such as mental disorders. Labels help us understand while simultaneously limiting our understanding. That’s the paradox.

What if I told you no one sees anything exactly 100% the same? We all see the world filtered through our own beliefs, values, biases, etc. Say I meet someone someone and nevertell them about my diagnosis of Autism; they would only perceive me from a frame of reference for how they’ve met other people. But say this same person found out I was diagnosed with Autism before ever meeting me. Do you think they’re going to treat me exactly the same way had they not known this piece of information? Will their actions and words towards me now be filtered because of their understanding of Autism?

That’s why I share this news with you today. What’s happening here is not so much a political problem but a human one at its root. What’s happening right now is a clash of philosophies, how people believe we “need” and “should” see the world, in this case men. It’s a clash between the Nature vs Nurture debate, facts vs ideology, objective vs subjective.

The issues many people (including myself) have with the APA’s guidelines is in their unscientific approach to their guidelines. For an organization that says in its very website description it’s a “leading scientific and professional organization”, it greatly calls into question their credibility and reliability:

• The assumption that the concept of “Traditional Masculinity” is only rooted in our environment, not including any biological and genetic factors, promotes ignorance in future psychology practices to our greater understanding of men.

• The fact a subjective, philosophical theory is treated as an objective scientific fact is highly irresponsible. The fact there is plenty of scientific evidence on the biology of men as well as their naturally inclined behaviors which was not included in these guidelines is also highly irresponsible. AKA Cherry-picking evidence

• I won’t throw out the baby with the bathwater in this post: Environmental factors without a doubt exist and contribute to men’s growth and development. I am not at all denying that. It should continue to be researched. But also along with our biological understanding of males so we can better help men.

As I said before, this as a very complex issue; this is not black-and-white. I feel especially compelled to say all this because I’m a big fan of psychological research myself. When I’m aware this information will be shared with millions of people and will be part of the future understanding of Psychology, I feel compelled to say this. The Nature/Nurture debate has gone on for centuries, and perhaps it will go on for many more. But it’s important we see both sides as bringing something to the table.

——————–

Perhaps another reason why I feel so compelled to speak this evening is for a while on my mission to Transcend Labels, I was on the Nurture side of the debate myself. Similar to these guidelines, I also embraced a theoretical worldview of the world. For a while, I myself was quite fond of it too.

I embraced the philosophy Existentialism, learned about how “existence precedes essence”, saw that nothing in the world had any essence until I gave it that meaning. Take for example a person who believes we’re all born with a soul. Through this philosophy, I could argue that the person only believes in souls because they gave a meaning to their life that people have souls. In other words, the philosophy could argue from the moment we are born we are a “blank state” and we are solely mixed and molded by our surroundings. By Nurture, Nature being a byproduct of Nurture. For a while I embraced this and an “I am anything and everything I want to be” philosophy. Scientific studies? Who needed that when I could do whatever I wanted?!

But as liberating as the philosophy felt, I eventually found it to be problematic. For one thing, a philosopher to say “Life is meaningless” is in and of itself a meaning they gave to “life”! Secondly, I was forcing myself to do things that didn’t feel “natural” to me. I was trying to tell myself that I wasn’t gay but only that I “identified” as gay, therefore inferring I could change it if I wanted to. The problem was I was trying to act like the Nature side of the coin didn’t exist. I became caught up in my ideology. And I only read articles, books, and social media pages that only reaffirmed my worldview. In Psychology, they call this “confirmation bias”, our human cognitive tendency to interpret and remember evidence that only confirms our current worldviews.

Eventually the pendulum started moving again outside of my ideology and into objective reality. I started educating myself again. I learned how we as humans all have cognitive biases, for example. I learned how we as males and female have genetic and biological differences that influence how we act and grow in our environment. I learned about inductive reasoning, ways hypotheses are tested, and how 1 scientific study does not make a scientific fact. There’s still so much we have yet to learn in the hard sciences!

That’s not to say I still don’t love and engage in philosophy and other intellectual curiosities. But I consider myself to have a far more balanced and central approach when I do now. It’s why instead of seeing Labels now as a bad thing, I now see them as both essential and inessentialThey’re not intrinsically bad; they’re a tool. Just like social media, which some will argue to get rid of altogether. But any tool can be used and abused just as it can be used in a constructive and empowering way.

But for now, I embrace both the Nature AND Nurture and what each side provides us in our ongoing (and perhaps never-ending) search for truth. 🙂 #TranscendLabels

——————–

(I’m aware my post here can easily be dismissed by others as “uncredible”. I don’t have a Psychology degree; I have a Computer Science degree. I don’t have a Psychology certification or license; I self-educate myself (and no, I very much am careful about factual information online). The guidelines have a bunch of sources; I don’t. I don’t have an organization like American Psychological Association to approve this paper for public consumption; I have my brain as I wrote this in the couple of hours sitting here at my computer. The burden of proof lies on me to prove my stance, right?

Perhaps I may do a follow-up on this in the future. I’m exhausted from all the typing and editing I’ve done this evening. My thoughts were flying this evening, so I wanted to get all this down before it fell out of sight and mind. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading and I hope you’re having an amazing week!)

“YOLO!”

Is there more to this phrase than meets the eye?

🤘”YOLO!” 🤘

I’m sure you’ve heard this term before. It used to be a common hashtag on social media. I also use to hear it when I was in high school, more often used as a joke than anything though. It was the phrase a classmate might use when they were about to do something stupid. It was the phrase a person might say as an excuse for someone’s reckless behavior.

In case you didn’t know, YOLO is initials for: “You Only Live Once.”

As someone myself who has also used this phrase before in a stupid and absurd way, I didn’t think much of it. But as I think about it, underneath this phrase, there does lay an underlying core. If you take away all the common associations to this term, you get the basic 4 words again. It’s simply sharing a fundamental truth.

We all have this 1 life to live. How are we spending it? Are we keeping ourselves sheltered? Are we taking time to do what really lights us up? Are we giving ourselves permission to experience this journey called Life? And while I’ll never be a person to encourage dangerous behavior, I will be a person to remind that “YOLO” can be a reminder of this fundamental truth. 🙌

It doesn’t mean it’s an excuse to be idiotic and reckless. One may want to live life to the fullest, but one also doesn’t want to minimize the amount of years they can do so because of their naive activities. I’m a big believer in balance. 👍

We can become more aware of our mortality now or we can wait for the time there is a moment we will be forced to remind ourselves. It can become the biggest driver to experience our live more fully. We can see the inevitable as the darkest void or our greatest messenger: “If not now, when?” ❤️

Now…please enjoy my epic-looking photo in the desert because #YOLO! 😉

Throw Out the Baby…

⚠️ DON’T THROW OUT THE BABY…!!! ⚠️
For those who knew me a few years ago, I’m not the exact same person I was then. I’ve grown a ton and experienced many personal transformations: from my weight loss to my intellectual development to my entrepreneurial aspirations. 💪
Perhaps it’s cliche at this point to be saying this online, but this is truly only the beginning! …Okay, it felt cliche typing that! 😂 Either way, I appreciate all the current readers I have! ❤️
With this quick growth has also come valuable lessons I’m continuing to take into 2019. I discussed an example in an earlier Facebook post of mine (https://bit.ly/2VkwsPG). But I want to expand on this lesson today. I’m talking about: throwing out the baby with the bathwater. 😲
And since this is the internet where things can be misinterpreted and taken out of context, I do want to clarify here: ‘Throw out the baby with the bathwater’ is a figure of speech. It is not meant to be taken literally! 😊
Anyways, what does the phrase mean? It means to get rid of the good while attempting to eliminate the bad. Within the bad there are also some forms of good that can be extracted from it. Take the example of a broken car: just because it’s broken does not mean every part inside it is too. There may be working parts inside that will still be good to use in a working car instead. 🚗
In our society, we ‘throw out the baby with the bathwater’ a lot, more than you think. It’s the reason why so many people are divided whether its between political parties, religions, peer groups, etc. It’s the reason why so many can be closed off to public discourse. In the means of trying to do what one believes is ‘right’, one forgets there may be validity to another person’s point of view. It doesn’t mean there’s 100% validity, but there is in at least some parts of it. 🤔
Just like the broken car, we wouldn’t just assume all the parts of an opposing viewpoint were broken, would we…or would we? 🤷‍♂️
I’ve fallen into this trap before myself. It’s easy to stay attached to one’s own personal beliefs because they give a sense of order to our lives. Beliefs give us security. Beliefs provide us answers to life’s unanswered questions. Beliefs give us absolute truth where we don’t have an absolute. 😪
To question whether we could in fact be “wrong” with what we believe challenges our own self-identity. So it’s important for me to add: It’s absolutely understandable why people would feel this way towards an opposing viewpoints. But at the root of that feeling, that refusal to hear someone else’s perspective, that dismissal with a label place on top of their words, is nonetheless fear. 😖
In order for this to change:
 
📌 We need to be open to accepting the fact there are other points of view in the world outside our own.
 
📌 We need to be okay with being ‘wrong’.
 
📌 We need to develop more empathy.
 
📌 We need to remember our beliefs are not even our own. That’s right, we don’t own our beliefs! Think about it: Beliefs are opinions and viewpoints on life you have picked up over time and embraced as part of your self-identity.
 
📌 We need to remind ourselves that we’re all human beings on this planet. We all eventually die, not to sound nihilistic but to say the resentment we hold towards others right now is not going to matter forever.
 
Because when we dismiss someone and their beliefs, we also “throw out the baby with the bathwater”. We throw out the human with their beliefs. 😔
So what we can all do the next time we’re communicating with another person:
 
📍 We can remember that we all come from different walks of life, and we all have reasons for believing what we believe.
 
📍 Empathize. Place yourself in the other person’s shoes.
 
📍 Seek to understand why the other person believes what they believe. It’s important to remember this does not mean you have to agree with them, but you can at the very least understand why they believe what they do.
As I like to remind everyone, I’m also only human. I sometimes slip up myself and let my beliefs get in the way too. But with these solutions in mine and your mind, only then will we start to make greater progress forward with each other. ❤️ #TranscendLabels

———-


Want to know how to also Transcend Labels?! My “5 Keys to Transcend Labels” eBook is AVAILABLE NOW! Click HERE to get your FREE copy! 📘