You probably don’t look after yourself.
Most men don’t. Not really, anyway.
Maybe they’ve developed the habit of drinking enough water throughout the day, they hit the gym a few times a week, they’re sticking to a really healthy diet or maybe even meditate a bit (but that’s pushing it).
No, the truth is, most people fail to care for and protect themselves on the deepest level; the level of their ‘inner child’.
Stop cringing. I know – nobody likes that phrase. It is a bit puke-worthy, but stay with me.
The inner child is really just a metaphor for our most vulnerable centre; the place where all our fears and insecurities live. It’s a very real part of every person, and it’s failing to pay attention to what is going on in that part of ourselves that is the cause of almost all of our personal ‘issues’.
Failing to protect that child, as you would a real child, is essentially child abuse – child ‘self-abuse’ we could say.
Another piece in this failure to self-protect, is the harsh truth that we will protect others far better than we do ourselves. When our friends need someone to talk to, a shoulder to cry on, we are there. If they are in denial about something and are walking blindly into some bad decisions, we call them out on it. If they are in a bad relationship where they are not being treated right, we’ll try to advise them.
I’ve been almost obsessed with protecting people my whole life. From my earliest experiences of feeling that I had to protect my mum and sister from my dad, I found myself in the martial arts from the age of seven. And I wasn’t just doing it for a hobby. I wanted – needed – to know how to physically take people down. I saw value in violence, and I wanted to get good at it without becoming a ‘bad guy’ myself.
By the time I was 14-years-old, I was certain that I wanted a career in the private security industry as a close protection operative (‘bodyguard’) and would get there via the Army. And so I found myself in the Army careers office before I’d even finished high school.
When that didn’t work out and I ended up with a civilian J.O.B, I still couldn’t let it go and joined the Army Reserves in my 20’s.
And during this time, I became an instructor in personal protection including threat awareness skills and conflict management.
Protecting people, and teaching people how to protect themselves was my world. And still is, on some level. But during all this, who was protecting me?
Sure as f*ck wasn’t me.
I found myself in toxic relationships where I was trying to rescue people. I never did manage to save a single one of those women, but I did manage to expose myself to various kinds of neglect and abuse in those relationships.
Until my most recent relationship, these women would also be epically failing to take real care of themselves. Their inner child would be screaming out, and the rescuer in me would hear it and try to save the day like superman. But of course, you can’t truly heal somebody else’s deepest wounds. They need to do that for themselves.
And especially when you yourself still need healing.
Since becoming a dad, visualising my inner child and doing the necessary self-work has been made easier. As a father, I of course have all the protective instincts you would expect.
One day, I had an ah-ha moment as I started to think of my inner child, the little-boy me, as if he were one of my children.
When I found myself in situations in which I didn’t like the way I was being treated or how I was treating myself, I would ask myself, “Would I allow one of my children to experience this?”
I discovered I was exposing myself to all kinds of situations that I would never let my children experience. I was treating myself in a way that would break my heart if one of my kids was doing the same.
I then vowed to protect myself – my inner child – with the same level of dedication as I would one of my children. I decided to rescue myself.
Through visualization exercises, we can spend time with our inner child as our adult-self and also step into being him and feel the safety our adult-self provides us.
Through genuinely protecting yourself as you would protect a child, by consistently removing yourself from situations and people that are bad for you, you can begin to truly trust yourself like a child would trust a loving parent.
You can in fact start to trust yourself more than your real parents, the police or your country’s military to keep you safe.
You can become your own bodyguard.
And when you do it changes the quality of your life and who you show up as, as a man. When you have a deep trust in yourself, people will feel it and naturally start to trust you.
The feeling I’ve been searching for and working so hard for my whole life – the feeling of people trusting me and feeling safe in my presence – has only now been realized for me now that I trust myself to have my own back.
Take an honest look at some of the circumstances of your life, some of the decisions you’ve made, and see if there are examples of where you are not having your own back. Decide today to be your own bodyguard, your own teammate, and start working on living in a way in which you can start to trust yourself.
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