I’m Consciously Unconscious

Over the last few weeks I’ve found myself musing a lot about the last 12 months. Well, less so the last 12 months as a whole and more so comparing now to 12 months ago. I don’t know if it’s because I’m doing a lot of motorway driving for work or if because I’m newly single again, but in any case it’s been an interesting period of reflection.

To provide a summary of a point I’ve already written about too much, a year ago (circa Feb 2018) I wasn’t exactly in a good place. I felt overwhelmed trying to find my feet in a new role in work, was struggling to come to terms with a number of insecurity’s I had been masking for decades before, and also felt like I had to do it alone as I deliberately cut out my ex of a long term relationship and honest to god best friend in an effort to move on from that failed relationship.

12 months later I’m still left dealing with a number of similar problems, but the situation around them is significantly different…

I’m still struggling in that same role, albeit less with finding my feet and more so constantly feeling like I could be doing so much more. I’m coming to terms with those insecurity’s and learning to deal with them, but they still very much drive a lot of negative self talk. And while I’ve moved on from that failed relationship, the loss of the best friend element of it is something that I will maybe never come to terms with, and also now have a new failed relationship with someone I care very deeply about to deal with, too.

And yea, I’m being very selective with my examples to try and deliver a point, but honestly sometimes I think that I shouldn’t be doing all that much better now. But thankfully, due to an incredibly focused effort on improving my mental strength, that’s not the case – being open and honest with the world, and myself, along with therapy has worked wonders for me.

But something I want to share stemming from all this reflection is that I’ve started to noticed some of the “wrong” things both others and myself have done, not out of badness or selfishness, but out of some kind of mental health issue.

To give an example, I’m quite the cunt for arguing a point that I don’t even really believe in, fearing that failing to do so will have me looking like an idiot. I never realized I was afraid of not looking smart before, but now that I am I can dial my argumentative side back and have better, more enjoyable conversations with others.

I’ve also become more cognizant of other peoples self conscious issues too, which I was never really able to do before. I couldn’t even count the number of arguments I had with my long term ex which in hindsight could* have been driven by some kind of hurt I had caused her which actually materialized itself in a totally different way, leading me to unfairly just pass her off as over reacting.

Realizing this I went into my latest relationship being aware that sometimes someones “over-reacting” is driven not by the topic of the argument itself, but deeper feelings of hurt which aren’t immediately obvious in the moment. Approaching it this way allowed us to work out what the real issue was, figure out how to avoid it in the future, and consequently get closer as a couple – Of course everyone knows that’s what you should do, but actually doing it is easier said then done.

Am I able to notice these things all the time? I can only imagine no, but given that 12 months ago I wasn’t even aware of it at all, I’m happy with the progress I’ve made and wonder what I’ll think this time next year.

I guess the long and short of it is that I’m very very slowly becoming more conscious of my unconscious fears and am trying to get better at not letting those control my thoughts and actions, and that in turn is possibly helping in developing better connections with those I care about. Lets see what the next 12 months brings.

*Could – I’ve not actually had the chance to talk to her about this so I could be totally wrong about that…

Advertisements

Failure In 2018

A couple of months ago I came across this novel approach to a yearly summary that piqued my interest enough to remember, but unfortunately not enough to bookmark for future reference…

Anyway, unlike most summaries which go through all the big wins of the year, this approached it from the other direction – listing all that years major failures.

I thought this was interesting because with social media being the monster it is, we’re usually only seeing the amazing aspects of our friends lives, are rarely presented with peoples honest failures, and are left feeling a little lack luster when we compare our lives to this online version of theirs.

The impact this has on our mental health isn’t trivial and I’m really not happy knowing that despite my best efforts, I’m one of those people contributing to the problem.

So to that end I want to share with you some of my top failures of 2018 and the learnings I took from them.

  • Stemming from a relationship breakdown in 2017, depression and anxiety took on a new level in 2018. I realized that not only was I suffering from a low level of both for years, but they had become overwhelmingly uncontrollable last year leaving me with no choice but to seek medical help.
  • I realized that younger Shane was a stuck up know it all who, in some ways, thought he was better then everyone else.
  • I’ve historically taken people for granted more then I’d like. In fact, the closer and more internally grateful I was for that relationship, the more I took them for granted. Realizing this made me fee like the shittiest person in the world.
  • I made my fair share of bad decisions in work. Some needed simple and quick fixes, but others lost the company thousands, one even opened up potential legal risks which I’m now left firefighting to get closed again.

While these are shitty things to happen, life goes on and I’ve learned from every single one.

  • Therapy has given me the tools to not only deal with my depression and anxiety, but also remove some cognitive dysfunctions that were also make me out to be the stuck up know it all that I was before.
  • Going through tough times also made me realise just how much I love all my friends and that I wasn’t showing them just how much they mean to me. Now I can make up for lost time and try and get to get better at that.
  • While I made some mistakes in work, none are ones I’ll make again. I’m been lucky that no serious harm was done and now have strengthened my skill base through learned experiences.

Moving into 2019 I plan on writing more. Not to “teach” like I was hoping to do before, but more so to share my thoughts, musings, and trials, which might just allow my thoughts to develop some more and maybe even spur on a conversation with any poor soul who decides these posts are worth a read.

Here’s to 2019!

Oh, and I also did my 1 second a day video last year too. You can check that out below, too.

When Did You Realise You Had Become A Man?

Note: This was originally posted on medium and has now been migrated over to LLAP.


I got asked that question last weekend and was surprised to find that I actually wasn’t sure on the answer. Socially, at 29 years of age, I’m very much not a kid anymore, but I also couldn’t say I ever had this grand moment in life where I felt like a man.

This kicked off another discussion on what it actually is to be a “man” and, while everyone’s definition will be different, here’s what I believe it takes;

In no particular order, a man:

  1. Is well spoken, charming, intelligent, and open minded. He is confident in what he knows, but is more confident in the knowledge that over his life he will be wrong more often then he is right.
  2. Has a true understanding of what it is that makes him happy, despite any differences that may have from the normal social constructs. Second to this, he also knows the importance of showing daily appreciation to those who help support and build on those happiness driving factors of life.
  3. Is generous with his time to everyone, except those who have repeatedly shown not to appreciate it.
  4. Knows the power he has in all his relationships to influence, coach, connect with, fall in love with, or hurt other people. He also has the understanding that with this comes the responsibility to maximize the use of that power for the betterment of the other person.
  5. Know’s how his self conscious issues will impact his own abilities to be influenced, coached, connected with, fallen in love with, or hurt, and has a responsibility to himself to ensure he only gives that power to those who have shown they want the best for him.
  6. Knows that giving a romantic relationship his full commitment means being ultimately vulnerable with that other person. He understands that it will require the confrontation of many an uncomfortable feeling, a need for support, and often asking for forgiveness.
  7. Is strong. Emotionally, mentally, socially, and least of all, physically.
  8. Is sometimes selfless, and sometimes selfish, and the choice will totally depend on what makes him better able to help those he cares about in the long run.
  9. He will realise that he defaults to only caring about himself, and should actively work on putting others first because that’s what his happiness is actually dependent on.
  10. Knows that the only way to get better is to help others when they need it, and does so because he cares, not because his ego needs the boost.

Have I achieved all these yet? Not at all,but I’m aware that being the man I want to be will require building on these day after day, week after week, and year after year. And maybe that means I never really feel like I’ve achieved them.

In the process of trying to answer this question I’ve ultimately been left with this;

I’ve realised that my successes, victories, losses, and mistakes are not only mine,but that of my support base. That up until now I’ve been too scared and my ego too big to really let anyone in and that as I try to correct that, all I can do is do my best to be honest, connect with people, and show others how much I love them.

I’m also not sure that a man is something you can “become”, but more so something you do; Something you practice daily.

So when did I become a man? I’ll let you know when I get there!

I am different, and, I am the same.

Note: This was originally posted on medium and has now been migrated over to LLAP.


I’ve definitely given myself a complex about writing; realising that I was preaching to an audience only to try and make myself feel important has me second guessing if I should be writing at all. It’s a fact that you could extend outside of writing too, and it has me wondering what the subconscious goal is with every action that I take.

Real talk though; I’ve spent a lifetime lying. Not consciously of course, but lying all the same. I’ve lied to family, friends, and myself. I flat out convinced myself that all this focus on “being better” was driven by want to do something with my life. To make a difference.

All lies.

Those actions were not driven by anything even remotely positive. They served as nothing more than a distraction from me thinking about the person I actually was. Subconsciously designed to protect me from addressing the parts of me that were causing me pain. The parts of me that I felt were lacking.

Of course I didn’t realise this at the time, but that doesn’t make it less true. I trained hard because I was afraid of being weak. I worked hard because I wanted to be an “real” engineer. I didn’t work hard because if I failed at least I could tell myself that I didn’t really try.

And honestly I’m straight up sick of lying; It’s caused me nothing but pain and made me really hurt people I loved. It’s why I can now admit to myself that this post isn’t for you, it’s for me. It is addressing a need I have to talk, not to anyone per say, but to get these thoughts out from my head to try and make sense of them. Why does posting it on the internet help that? I think it’s fear. Of what though, I don’t know.

This approach doesn’t make me any better then the Shane of LiftLargeAndProsper.com, but I do think it’s the first attempt at being better that might actually work. That makes me feel like a different person, which is kind of ironic, because for the first time ever I’ve realised that I’m never actually going to be a different person. I’m always going to be this person who’s afraid of getting hurt, afraid of being abandoned, and now afraid of dying alone.

Before I didn’t realise that. I promised myself and others that I was different, that I wouldn’t make the same mistakes again, and sometimes that was true. But because I never got to the root of all that fear and pain, there was always the chance that those subconsciously defensive actions would come back. And more often than not they did.

I’ve not changed at all and I probably never will. I’ll always need to be aware that these are the fears I’ll try to protect myself from, even if it’s at the cost of hurting those I love.

That will mean sometimes I’ll need to ask for help. It will mean that sometimes I’ll need to admit I was wrong. And sometimes it will mean that I just need to say I’m sorry.

As I move forward with all these deep, meaningful thoughts brought on by challenging conversations, I know that taking back some control over these fears and pains is my best bet to minimize the destruction I leave in my wake, and so that’s what I’m going to do. It’s probably not going to be easy, but definitely well overdue.

Piece & lov be wit yiz all. xoxo

this ain’t Grand, but it’ll be grand.

Note: This was originally posted on medium and has now been migrated over to LLAP.


Longtime friends will know that I used to write a lot. Usually something preachy about training, nutrition, or what it means to be successful. Some of you may have even read that chicken scratch shit and took something from it.

I still believe in a lot of the messages that I put out into the world. I also still believe that the act of writing not only helped me figure out those thoughts for myself, but there’s a long shot that it might have even helped some people, too.

And I thought for the longest time that that’s why I wrote; to help people. Truth be told though it was driven by a need to feel important that I just couldn’t quash through any other means.

A lot of you will know that in April of this year I signed up for an online therapy service called Better health because I was suffering from an overwhelming depression and heart racing anxiety that I was never going to get through on my own. I thought this therapy would address the breakdown of a significant relationship in my life, the one that kicked all these issues into high gear. And in a lot of ways it did, but a lot less directly then I was expecting.

The reality was that not only did I take this significant relationship for granted, but all the other relationships in my life, too.

I’ll save you from the details of it all, but my therapy hasn’t been focused on why this relationship failed, but moreso a total overhaul of how I think of life itself and where my priorities lie.

And for the first time ever I’ve had the true realisation that the most important thing to me isn’t earning a shit load of money, having an important sounding title, or being able to squat heavy. It’s being lucky enough to realise that I’ve got some amazing people in my life and I’m working hard on getting closer to every one of them.

I’ve had a lot of people come to my aid over the last 18 months and words will never get across how much I appreciate that. Instead I’m working hard on developing those relationships into ones where they feel just how much they mean to me.

And that’s what therapy has given me — the realisation that life, for me, is about the relationships with those I love.

Past Shane would have made that the message of this musing; it’s very grand and makes me sound like I’ve got all my shit figured out. But just like writings past, these sentences are driven by angest, too.

Therapy may have given me tools to start getting more accepting of who I am and to allow me to start forgiving myself for some of my past mistakes, but I’m not “all G” just yet.

The focus for now is working on this often overwhelming anxiety and fear of not only getting hurt, but hurting those I care about. I’ve left a lot of hurt in the wake of my past relationship(s) and it’s going to take me a long time to forgive myself for that.

But here’s to progress, and here’s to therapy, and here’s to all of you who have helped over the last little bit. I’m planning on showing you all just how much I love yiz.

Much Love. xoxo

Why I Hate The Industry I Love Working In

Ahh December; a month filed with mountains of beer, floods of food and the odd reflection over what has become yet another year for the history books. And man has 2016 left me with a lot of ‘flectin to do.

The biggest change for me this year was starting a brand new job, in a brand new industry, at the elite performance centre that is The Athlete Factory. The factory, a S+C facility striving to bring elite performance and coaching to athletes of every background, is a place like no other and one that will forever be dear to my heart – but more on that in a moment. To tell this story well, you kinda need to know where my mind was before working there, so lets get into that first.

For the last umpteen years, ever since I started losing all that weight, my passions for strength and conditioning have done nothing but skyrocket; I always wanted to understand why certain things were done the way they were and really get to the low level details on why some things were better then others when it came to performance.

I always invested quite a lot of thought into the area too, helped even more by conversations with anyone who showed any signs of interest. And although I did feel like I had quite a good grasp on the basic fundamentals of strength training as a whole, I was always aware that I was very much amateur when it came to talking to actual professionals in the area.

This lead to some great conversations with coaches, physios and trainers where I understood enough to know what questions to ask, but not stupid enough to disregard it outright if their opinions didn’t agree with the knowledge that I had picked up along the way.

Going into the factory interview process, I would have sold my main strength as being a good base level of knowledge of S+C and programming with an ok eye for movement. Pair this with not being stupid enough to think I had it all 100% right, I felt like I was off to a good start.

Little did I know that it was this very thought that, upon reflection, was my biggest downfall, and one which nearly caused me to not even get the job at all.

The Athlete Factory, from both an athlete and coach development point of view, is a place like no other. If I had to sum it up in one word, it would be undoubtedly ‘precision’. I always took form and technique as being king in the weight room, but man I wasn’t even 50% of the way there. Not only that, but the factory brings sequencing, coordination, programming, session structure and coaching queues into the precision realm. Everything from how coaches and athletes interact with one another to the way the weights are put back on the rack is about precision and exactness.

Every single thing about the factory is done for a very specific reason and every single decision made in there is given hours and hours of thought and contemplation. All of this is done with one aim in mind: Maximising an athletes performance.

It’s so different from anything I had ever experienced before, but now that I have, my engineering brain absolutely loves it. Any program, coaching queue or drill will get an athlete a result, and having a neatly stacked weight rack isn’t imperative to performance, but that’s not the point. The point is getting the most out of an athletes performance abilities as quickly as possible, and if you don’t draw the line somewhere, how do you know what you can let slide and what you cant.

So now, almost a whole year into my time within the factory, and after being subjected to over 100 years worth of coaching expertise as my mentorship, the effect it’s all had on my S+C outlook has been incredible.

So much so that I have absolutely zero doubt that I can now get more of a result from anyone I work with in a single set then I could have over 10 sessions with them before. And that makes me appreciate the factory more then any words could ever describe.

With that said, despite knowing that I am a much better coach then I ever thought possible, one thing has gotten worse after my time in the factory – and that is my confidence in my decisions; and I’m totally ecstatic about that.

Before, I was happy thinking that “good enough” was, well, enough. I was blinded by the small, incremental, short term progress that I was making, and it was leading me to believe that my first choices were above par. It lead me to think that I was better at this stuff then I actually was and man am I glad that’s not the case any more.

Now, this “lack of confidence” (if you’d call it that) has me questioning every single aspect of what I do. Questioning weather this new program is the best it could be, if that coaching session was everything I was capable off, and if I supported my athletes to the best of my abilities. It has me reflecting on every single tiny aspect of what it is that I do, striving to improve even more then I already have.

And this, in a nutshell, is why I now hate the health and fitness industry as a whole; how many “experts” out there are really putting that much thought into every aspect of what they do? How many coaches out there really give a shit as to weather they are wasting an athlete or clients time? From what I can see, not too many, and that is nothing short of a sin.

Now sure, many will rightfully say that some coaches out there could get a genuinely better result with someone without doing any of this then I could giving it everything I could, and I’d totally agree. I am very much at the bottom of the proverbial coaching ladder and I have a long way to go to get to world class, but that’s not the point. The point is that we, us coaches, are impacting peoples lives, and doing anything short of everything we can should be punishable by death.

And unfortunately enough I see too many “coaches” out there worrying more about their image, following and egos then the impact they are having on their clients lives. And that just drives me insane.

One of my new mentors, someone who will forever be an inspiration to me, summed it up quite well a few months ago. He said:

“Coaching is all about manipulation, but not just of the physical. Sure we are manipulating their movement patterns and power levels, but the most important part is the mental manipulation. And as soon as you stop doing that in as positive of a way as possible, well, you’re not just a bad coach, you’re a horrible person”.

The Calmest Dog That Ever Was

Let me tell you the story about my first dog, Blue!

Blue was a golden, not blue, cocker spaniel named as such because when she was a puppy my mam reckoned that she looked like she “had the blues”. In any case, Blue was my dog and I loved her to bits right from the get go!

Early memories of me and my mutt are sparse to say the least. Short of mental images of the litter she was a part of, bringing her home in the car and her peeing on the kitchen floor, I don’t have many to speak of. But hey, I was only 4 years old when we got her – surely an acceptable excuse!

When Blue was about 3 or 4 we moved house. Going from a semi-attached rental property to a freshly built home meant the tiny patch of grass out the back was out and in was a large garden chock full of fresh sights and smells. This, I’m sure, was a welcome addition from Blues point of view because she was anything but a house dog. To this day I am yet to see an animal with as much energy and excitement as she had. It was constant and never-ending. Even at birthday parties with dozens of kids demanding her attention, she was unwavering in her successful attempts to keep up!

This energy was nothing short of awesome. It meant I had a friend that never gave up or was too tired to play. From a responsible dog owner point of view however, that made her a bit of a nightmare. Her attention span was so short that we never did get her trained to do anything and letting her into the house yielded nothing but damage as she scurried around smelling, chewing and investigating every little thing.

That unrelenting energy was backed up with a great deal of strength for a dog her size, too. Anytime we took her for a walk she would be leading the charge, slowing only to take in new smells before hitting it full pelt again! In fact, she was so strong and eager to get moving that she ended up breaking every lead we ever got her. Sick of replacing them, my Dad decide that a commercial rope was a more wallet friendly choice and it seemed to do the trick!

Now, with any pet there will always be times when the workload they bring seems more hassle than its worth, but fortunately these are very few and far between with Blue. Sure I had to feed her, make sure she was safe and pick up her poop (something NO kid wants to do), but I thankfully always realised that it was a sacrifice worth making. In fact, the only times I was ever really annoyed with her was when she got lost; and really, that was just driven by worry more than anything!

Of course, we’d go out looking for her, returning unsuccessful, only to find her sitting at the back door wondering where the hell we were – She wasn’t trying to get away, but the smells and sights of outside the house just needed more ‘splorin.

Truth being told however, this love definitely went both ways and along with being one of the most energetic dogs I ever met, she is 100% without doubt the most patient. As a kid, I was not easy to get along with and was constantly playing with her and winding her up! For example, one of my favorite “games” to play with her was making her sneeze.

Now, I’m not sure if this hold true for every dog, but if you covered blues nostrils with your palm for a second or two she would sneeze when you took your hand off. Every single damn time. Now, I don’t know about you, but a 10-year-old kid putting their smelly hands over my nose doesn’t sound like much fun. Yet, Blue would just sit there and calmly just let me do it, repaying the favor with licks and requests for rubs!

We were actually fortunate enough to have Blue for a very long time and despite being plagued with illness and injury in her later years, she was always friendly and excited to see people. But ultimately, and unfortunately, age got the better of her at 16!

 

The moral of this story is a simple one – don’t let the happy moments of everyday life pass you by just because they are simple! The best and most precious memories I have of Blue are making her sneeze, feeding her treats off the back step and being greeted by her when I arrived home!

Everyday life is stressful, busy and usually go, go, go, If you let that take control of your life it will making enjoying these small moments next to impossible, because you won’t even spot them to appreciate! The sooner you learn to take a step back, asses what is really important and enjoy the little things of every day life, the sooner you will learn to love the process of “growing up”

Take the time to enjoy the sneeze!