A Kind Umbrella – Reading time 3 minutes

You Can't Pour From an Empty CupHow are you? I want to share a couple of things with you today. One is about nudging your own boundaries and the other one is about kindness.

In our lives there are some taboo or ‘awkward’ subjects that we tend to avoid mentioning. The trouble is that sometimes not talking about things makes them worse, even more awkward, and can make us feel ashamed of being who we are.

Each of us has our own lists of ‘difficult’ areas. Those topics we’d prefer to scoot around, often for ages, rather than tackle head on. Ash Beckham, in her Ted Talk http://bit.ly/1fZYGaE, describes these areas as ‘hard conversations’ and explains without talking about them our lives are tougher, unfulfilling and full of fear. Declaring your sexuality, sharing a diagnosis, filing for bankrupcty or telling someone you’ve been unfaithful are all examples Ash gives as being ‘hard’ conversations.

A few months ago, I invited a guest speaker to one of the Meet Up evenings I run. The theme for the evening was Internet Porn and Its Impact on Men.

As I was publishing it on social media, I didn’t feel totally comfortable initially. I wondered what people would think of me and whether I was addicted to porn or if people would be offended by the subject. That’s my point.

Although we may be told to ‘not rock the boat’ or ‘don’t upset your Dad/Mum/Grandma etc’, if we want to grow and feel we are living fully, being uncomfortable is part of life. When we nudge our boundaries we are growing and expanding our experiences. Like any organism we need stimulation to stay alive and thrive and pushing our comfort zone is part of that process.

Hiding because someone may be offended or you think you won’t be liked are not reasons to avoid being true to yourself. The goal of my meet up group is to help gay men be more confident. That means mentioning those awkward and uncomfortable subjects in a safe, supportive environment.

A couple of Monday’s ago, the talk happened. It was one of the largest turn outs at the group and the guest, Gilad Visotsky, was the perfect speaker. He knew his stuff inside out and, within a very short time, the men that attended were asking questions, sharing and contributing. Several men told me it was a relief to be able to talk about the topic without feeling judged or embarrassed.

Not everyone that came along was an addict. The audience was diverse with men from all walks of life. Some had come because the topic interested and intrigued them and there was a GP who works in this area of medicine. It was an enlightening experience and my own doubts and short lived discomfort was worth it.

It all goes to show that when we are true to ourselves not everyone will like it and that’s fine. We really can’t please all of the people all of the time! Needless to say, there will be more events like these that ask those questions that get in the way of us thriving rather than surviving.

An Open UmbrellaMy second point about kindness happened on the same evening. After the event, I went for dinner with a few of the men who’d come along.

As we were about to leave the cafe, it was raining – heavily. I mentioned I’d get wet walking back to my car and one of the men offered me an umbrella.

I’d never met this man before and had no idea how I’d get the umbrella back to him. His response was ‘keep it in your bag and next time its raining and someone needs it pass it on’. I was very grateful by the time I got to my car!

It’s so easy to stare and look at the big wide world with its power struggles and upsets and forget its made up of individuals. This random act of kindness was a powerful reminder that the simplest of actions makes a difference. I’m looking forward to it raining again so I can ‘pass it on’.

Until next time.

Enjoy the day you create.

Martin

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