1 to 11 of fatherhood
Life so far has taught me many things, for which I’m grateful. This hasn’t always been the case and is something that I’ve learned to do.
From growing up as a Mixed race child in the loving home of a Black father and White mother, to being in some of the darkest places mentally I’ve ever been, it’s all been part of the journey. Life has consistently been working for me, I just didn’t understand at the time. I’ve suffered racial prejudice from both black and white people alike, that’s taught me to love and accept myself for who I am and to accept other people no matter who they are or what they look like.
I’ve had the privilege of fulfilling my dream to play football professionally, which played a massive part in my life, giving me transferable skills that I can still use today. It also taught me about goal setting, commitment and delayed gratification which took me a decade to achieve. I’ve experienced, anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts, all of which were necessary to put me where I am today. It gave me the opportunity to create the 1 to 11 which I’d like to share with you here.
You see, we cling to the positive emotions in life refusing to let them go because they feel so good, but we misunderstand that they’re not ours to keep. We resist the negative emotions with all kinds of strategies and habits, when in fact it is that very resistance that can cause us to reach the low points - that's certainly what caused me to reach the low points in my past.
I understand the importance of my physical health and the impact it has on my mental health and overall wellbeing. When I’m physically fit and happy with how I feel in my clothes, then it’s one less thing to think about. I have more confidence, carry myself differently, have more positive thoughts and most importantly to me, I have more energy! The impact of this means that I can play football, go on bike rides, go swimming and participate as much as I’d like to in the lives of my two girls who are 11 and 8.
This extra energy enables me to put more into my relationships with family and friends whilst being able to enjoy physical hobbies such as running and walking.
Life has also put me on a path where I get to do what I love as a career for a second time. The saying goes "love what you do then you’ll never work a day in your life" and I’d agree and it’s that love that energises us to experience life in such a positive manner. Helping and inspiring people to help themselves is my passion, that feeling of contribution is something we as humans need to survive.
In the past I didn’t feel that way which left me feeling inadequate and of no use to anyone. I didn’t value myself so therefore didn’t think that anyone would miss me. Here’s where I was wrong! Just by being myself, I was and am contributing, but if I wasn’t here anymore then that would have had an impact on someone that I know. They’d be aware that I wasn’t here on Earth anymore so that in fact would have an impact. We all have value to someone, it’s just that we can’t always see, hear or feel it.
As a man and as a father we have such an important role to play and how we play that role is up to us!
Below is a brief summary to each component of the 1 to 11 and how you could use it to positively affect your life ...
1. Learn to accept what you can and can’t control as a father. We can’t control what kind of people our kids will become, we can only influence them. Alongside this acceptance we can control and take responsibility for the type of man or father we wish to be. This doesn’t mean we will be perfect, it just means we’ll do our best with the tools that we have.
2. Communication is one of our biggest downfalls as men and fathers because we feel we should have all the answers and be able to fix everything, when in fact we can’t! Talking about our fears or concerns has been seen, in the past, as a weakness. Many men still feel this way today due to our upbringing and expectations of what a man should be. My mental health has suffered previously due to this. Not only should we talk but we should learn to listen as well; to ourselves to others. I know in the past I’ve had the tendency not to listen, something I still do on occasion but now I’m aware of it, I can keep practicing.
3. Support is crucial to being successful and doing something well. How do we support ourselves as men and fathers? Are we able to meet our own needs with the understanding that we cannot pour from an empty cup. How can we support others if we have no energy to do so?
4. What values do you hold dear? What does the best version of you do? How would he speak and act? These are good questions to ask ourselves in any moment, even if we’ve made mistakes as it gives us the opportunity to learn and grow. Who’s watching and learning from what you do, not what you say? Being the best father you can be doesn’t mean you’re perfect, it’s means being authentic and acting with integrity whenever you can.
5. Goals are important, so what are your goals as a father? Health, finances, relationships, career, personal growth, hobbies and interests to name a few. Are you achieving them? If not, then why? If you are then set some more!
6. A structure/plan is essential to achieving those goals in any of those categories whether they are short, medium or long term. Without some sort of direction then we will potentially become lost leaving us filled with stress, anxiety, depression or other issues with our overall health.
7 and 8. To achieve these goals with plans in place, it’s all about carrying them out with discipline and consistency, which go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. Take stock of the discipline and consistency of your actions to achieve the results you want.
9. Without commitment you can’t have discipline or consistency, so the question is are you truly emotionally committed to your goals?
10. Time is our most precious commodity and what we choose to do with it is down to us. We can invest it, spend it or waste it. We can invest it in ourselves so that we continually grow and improve and in others to help them do the same.
We can spend it doing the things we love and be with the people we love. Alternatively we can waste time on thoughts, emotions, words, actions and people that do not serve us well and do not add value to our wellbeing. If we are lucky enough to live a long life, then on our deathbeds were granted one wish - I know mine will be more time! More time to love and feel love, more time to laugh, more time to cry, more time to feel, more time to be present in the moment, for that’s all we ever really have!
11. Finally on this Father’s Day, have gratitude!
Can we be grateful for all the father figures, past, present and future? All those men that have guided and supported us, loved and cherished us, those that have done their best and those that continue to do so. Nobody knows how to be a dad, do the best you can until you know better and once you know better then be better!
You can find out more about Martin's Transformational & Wellness coaching here.