From Suicide to Racism: Talking About It All

I had the pleasure of guesting on a couple of podcasts that were released this week, with some wildly divergent topics. Yet, at the core, racism, and suicide are about dehumanization. Dehumanizing an “other,” or dehumanizing ourselves.

Blake Johnson hosts, Diary of a Mad Black Man, and our initial discussion on racism in America was called WTF!? on Real Men Feel back in May. Nobody is naive enough to think that one conversation will change everything. Still, I do believe that more and more people engaging in open-hearted discussions about closing the gaps between one another can.

In this diary entry, I invite Andy on the podcast to do a part 2 of WTF! Me and Andy connected in the podcast world and created an episode together WTF Ep 189 on Real Men Feel, towards to beginning of June.

Prior to that, we were on a panel together to discuss being black in America but – Andy is a white man. However, as I’ve grown to know him, I have found him to be an ally in this movement towards black liberation, equality, and freedom. We came together because since these episodes, he has used his platform to push the culture forward and educate himself on his own white privilege and use it for good.

This episode is heavy and it is not enough. However, it is one step forward in the right direction to bring change to the society we currently live in. I appreciate Andy for the work he is doing, being honest, vulnerable, and transparent. We are all in this together.

You can listen right here or on your favorite podcast app.

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Suicide Noted is a weekly podcast in which suicide attempt survivors share their stories in their own words. For episode 19, host Sean Wellington talked to Andy in Massachusetts. SPOILER ALERT: I’m Andy in Massachusetts.

In this show, I share my story plus lessons learned and offer advice on how to help people dealing with suicidal thoughts.

3:50– Can you tell me about your suicide attempt?
7:15– Is there a WHY?
10:40– Can you put words to that kind of pain?
12:10– What’s it like to wake up?
15:40– do you ever ideate?
17:00– If you attempt suicide, are you mentally ill?
19:35– Did you ever get a diagnosis that felt right?
20:15– How did people respond?
27:05– When did you start to change?
32:10– How do you reach someone who is suicidal?
36:00– What’s Real Men Feel about?
38:30– What if someone’s contemplating?
39:40– What about to those in positions of support?
42:15– How’s the lockdown been?
46:20– How can people work with you?
49:10– What do you do for fun?

I hope you find some value in these podcasts. Please share them with others.

If you know of a show you think I should be on, tell me about it.

Be good to yourself,
Andy

 

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Am I Racist?

I’ve long said that we are all racist.

Nobody wants to own up to being a fully conscious, angry, attacking racist, but racism is much more than that. I can say that I am a racist because I’m sure there are ways I treat people of color differently than white people. I might like to pretend that I’m not aware of them. But I am aware of some habits (laughing at racial jokes, being more on guard around black men, avoiding “bad” areas). Because I’m a nice guy, I and other whites don’t call that racist.

Racism is a spectrum. It isn’t only evil acts of violence against people of color. It is a slight, a joke, a judgment you don’t even realize you made. It’s moving your wallet into a front pocket before nearing certain groups or halting a conversation until someone is out of earshot. It is insidious. If we aren’t willing to acknowledge it, to be more aware of it, it will never be gone.

For my podcast, Real Men Feel, I recently did an episode with Chris Miller called What Can White People Do About Racism? Perhaps naively, some comments surprised me.

A few of the first Facebook comments included:

“I find the suggestion that white men should do something about racism, highly offensive.”
“In the first country to abolish slavery within 150 years of existence?”
“I am pissed off with all this talk about white racism.”

There were many more mentioning the end of slavery, crimes against whites, and just being sick and tired of talking about racism. I’m pretty sure most of those initial dozen comments were from people only reacting to the title and who never listened to the show.

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The feedback made me finally read, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. A book I’d heard mentioned many times and that my wife had encouraged me to read for months. Had I read this book before doing the podcast, I could have written most of the defensive comments ahead of time with tremendous accuracy.

By the end of White Fragility, it can feel like white people can’t and shouldn’t say anything ever again. Everything is offensive to somebody. Issues of race run deep and consist of many different layers. Reading White Fragility is discovering there is a Grand Canyon of racism in you.

The harsh, good/evil line defining racism makes us comfortable but also keeps us in it. Pointing to a solitary, violent act and calling it racism is easy. It is much more challenging to see the subtle ways I operate as a racist.

It is tough to say I liked reading White Fragility. I am glad I read it, but it is challenging and upsetting. I was, at times, defensive, dismissive, and in agreement. Everything besides agreeing is in alignment with the book’s premise, so any reaction you have can be seen as proving the point, or you can use it as fuel for your denial that it is all nonsense.

Ideally, over time perhaps, you’ll soften while reading it. I’m not even going to talk about the content of the book more, because it will most likely just trigger you and make you not want to read it.

I found reading this book is best as a solitary, private experience giving you time to pause and examine your own experiences, beliefs, and reactions to what you read.

The unconscious biases of white people have been enforced for centuries. Uncovering them is not pleasurable, but I do believe it can make a better world for all people. White Americans have been socialized to embrace so many ideologies that keep racism intact. Before you change anything, you have to become aware of it.

If you are willing to dig deep, be challenged, and be wrong about many of your thoughts and actions over the years, I recommend reading this.

I’m glad I didn’t read White Fragility when I first heard of it. I don’t believe I would have been as open to receiving it without first having been part of many public discussions about race on a variety of podcasts in the past few months.

As a coach and life-long student, I can’t pretend to guess how many times I’ve heard that to grow, we need to get out of our comfort zone. NOT talking about race is a huge comfort zone for white people. We all need to be willing to be uncomfortable but know that we are safe in doing so. It takes effort. Hopefully, we give becoming more aware of our conscious and unconscious racism effort. But our privilege as white people is that we don’t have to.

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Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash

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About The Author
Andy GrantAndy Grant is a best-selling author, award-winning speaker, Transformational Energy Coach, Healer, and suicide prevention activist. He holds certificates in Positive Psychology, the Enwaken Coaching System, Akashic Records, Infinite Possibilities, and Ritual Master with the Modern Mystery School.

Andy teaches workshops ranging from energy tools to ebook publishing. He is the founder of Real Men Feel, a movement encouraging men to come out of the emotional closet. He also facilitates monthly men’s groups and is a contributor to the GoodMenProject. As a survivor of multiple suicide attempts, Andy knows how low we as human beings can feel. He is committed to helping people realize how magnificent life is meant to be.

Podcasts Galore

There’s been no shortage of news, challenges, and opportunities this year, and many events, gatherings, and ceremonies have been put off. The world of podcasts is one area that has been booming. In addition to my show, Real Men Feel, I’m often a guest on other shows talking about modern masculinity, suicide prevention, energy work, and doing my best to shine my light.

Guru podcastLast October, I was interviewed for a series that was looking at James Arthur Ray. He was one of the stars of The Secret, which is how I first heard of him in December 2006. He became a top leader in the self-help space for years and appeared on Oprah, Larry King, and had a best selling book. It seemed like a tremendous career until tragedies struck at his live events culminating in three deaths in a Sedona sweat lodge in 2009. I was not at that event, but my wife and I did attend one a few months earlier in San Diego called Creating Absolute Wealth, where I witnessed a woman jump to her death. The series, Guru: The Dark Side of Enlightenment, was released in July.

At first, listening to it was difficult. I hadn’t thought about those events for years, and the series transported me back there a little too well. This was my first time being involved with a slick, highly produced podcast as opposed to simple conversations. I think they did a decent, well-rounded job. You can find it on all podcast platforms. In this week’s Real Men Feel, I spoke with the host of Guru, Matt Stroud.

I was recently a guest on MANifest TV with Nancy Benitez. Nancy talks to men about love.  We talked about some of my relationship challenges and recommendations for dealing with communication and self-care during this pandemic. It’s a quick 22-minute show.

I had a podcat first on my Beat The Clock appearance, Michelle Rubio-Garcia surprised me with a rendition of Happy Birthday and dubbed me the convicted feeler. We talked about how past traumas and suffering can be what makes you re-direct your life (into finding your purpose) and motivate you to challenge inherited stereotypes. I also touched on the importance of shattering silence, all while I answered: who was I? who am I? and who will I be?  An enjoyable and interesting format. You can listen to Beat The Clock on all podcast platforms or watch it here.

Michelle’s favorite takeaways:

  • The bravest thing you can do is speak up: you will almost NEVER get a bad reaction if you speak from a place of vulnerabilities. In fact, those might be the most life-changing conversations you may have.
  • You need to feel everything, even the bad. If you don’t, negative feelings manifest themselves into physical, harmful actions in your life.
  • Responsibility gives you power, not pressure.
  • Be clear: clarity brings you happiness and brings you into alignment.

It was cool to connect with these two women, and I encourage you to check their podcasts out. And I wish Michelle would write up her favorite takeaways from every conversation I have 🙂

I also had an outstanding, long conversation with Pastor Marcus Bakkar on his podcast, Straight Talk No Chaser covering my suicidal past, giving up, God, faith, and hope. Definitely worth a listen.

If you know of a show you think I should be on, or want to suggest a guest for Real Men Feel, give me a shout.

Much love to you,
Andy

 

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It Is A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

I went to see the movie A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood, yesterday. I thought it was going to be a traditional biopic on Fred Rogers, the long-time host of the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood children’s program on PBS.

This movie is not the Holywood biography I was expecting. Sure, I learned more about Fred Rogers than I knew going in. Still, it is more about a relatively miserable average man that meets Mr. Rogers. A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood is a deep and healing film that focuses on masculinity, emotions, and specifically, the father wound, unlike any major studio production I’ve seen before.

Fred Rogers is, without a doubt, the patron saint of Real Men Feel.

When I was a kid in the early 1970s, I was not a fan of Mr. Rogers. I don’t recall what age I was when I decided I didn’t like him or his show. I had already experienced enough trauma to determine that the world was not a safe place and that I should keep my thoughts and feelings to myself. I thought Rogers was too soft, weak, and girlie. Opinions that I’m sure were projections of how I felt about myself. Mostly I remember thinking Mr. Rogers was a liar.

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The morning that I saw the film I posted this on Facebook:

I love synchronicities. This morning I drove home from the gym behind a truck that had a message written in dirt on the back.
“Frank. RIP”
My dad’s name.

The synchronicities continued as A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood focused on father and son challenges along with losing a parent.

I encourage every man to see this film. Not only does it deal with men and their emotions, but it does something I’ve never seen before. There is one moment, you won’t be able to miss it, that invites the audience to heal. Please take advantage of that interactive moment. 

Another rare thing happened at the end of the movie. People applauded. When I was a kid, people clapped at the end of movies all the time. These days if it isn’t the opening weekend of the latest Marvel blockbuster, the audience is usually quiet and filters out of the theater. It was such a kind and pleasant experience to hear applause for an adult, manly film.

Fred Rogers was a stronger and more compelling vision of masculinity than I ever realized. Fred had balls.

Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people. ~ Fred Rogers

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About The Author
Andy GrantAndy Grant is a best-selling author, award-winning speaker, Transformational Energy Coach, Healer, and suicide prevention activist. He holds certificates in Positive Psychology, the Enwaken Coaching System, Akashic Records, Infinite Possibilities, and Ritual Master with the Modern Mystery School.

Andy teaches workshops ranging from energy tools to ebook publishing. He is the founder of Real Men Feel, a movement encouraging men to come out of the emotional closet. He also facilitates monthly men’s groups and is a contributor to the GoodMenProject. As a survivor of multiple suicide attempts, Andy knows how low we as human beings can feel. He is committed to helping people realize how magnificent life is meant to be.

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood movie poster
This post originally appeared on RealMenFeel.org

Emotions and Vacations

Everybody loves vacations, right?

Apparently not, since 47% of Americans didn’t take all of their vacation time in 2017 and 21% left more than five available vacation days up for grabs.

Above the Treasury at Petra

Above the iconic Treasury at Petra, Jordan.

My wife and I recently returned home for a two week trip to the Middle East, spending one week in Israel and the next week in Jordan. The rock-carved city of Petra was the main reason behind the trip. But both countries had a lot to offer and warrant repeat visits.

We had a fantastic time full of ancient sites, sacred places, and friendly people. I learned a lot about the religion and politics of the area and found I had many misconceptions about the Middle East from growing up in the US. My time in Israel was probably the most intellectually and politically challenging trip I’ve taken. We talked with Arabs, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Palestinians, Isralies, and Jordanians.

Toward the final days, I noticed moments of sadness that things were winding down.

The sadness was mixed with a feeling that two weeks was long enough and I was ready to return home. I recalled years earlier when it was normal for me to feel depressed with days remaining of a vacation because I so dreaded my return to daily life.

Some people like vacations of sitting on the beach and doing nothing. I prefer active holidays where I do things I don’t usually do, especially when I worked as a cube dweller for corporate America.

When I tried to just lay on the beach in the past, my thoughts would turn negative. I’d focus on all the things I didn’t like instead of relaxing. Then I’d drink to remove those thoughts. That worked in the short term, but if I just wanted to drink, I could do that at home much cheaper, so I quickly stopped those sort of trips too.

I’ve visited such places as Machu Pichu, Stonehenge, and Easter Island. I’ve been white water rafting, rappelling, and hiking in Europe, South America, and Africa. A staycation can be nice, but my favorite vacations are ones when I need another vacation to recover from them.

Floating in the Dead Sea

Floating in the Dead Sea

Even today, I can recall being in the jungles of Belize in 2005, but feeling very down because the following Monday I’d be back at work. It was a time that I thought I hated my job, and sometimes my life. Yet, a few days prior, I was enjoying myself and life.

These realizations helped me learn the power of being present.

When fully present, I felt better. I wondered why was it that I was time traveling in my thinking.

Why was I ignoring the fantastic experiences I was having to jump forward to my return to the mundane?

I decided that since I could be full of energy and joy on a vacation when I was present and focused on what I was doing, that I would do my best to live like I was on vacation. All the time.

I did pretty well at that for a long time. Treating each day like it was new. Looking for things that were unusual, special, and fun. If those weren’t apparent, I find a way to bring those elements to what I was doing.

The Western Wall

The Western Wall, or Wailing Wall, in the Old City of Jerusalem.

So as I noticed some sadness as this trip was winding down, I explored what exactly I was feeling sad about.

I was going to miss the people. We were a group of 13 in Israel and then 16 in Jordan. I liked my instant family of global citizens traveling, sharing, dining together for long days full of once in a lifetime experiences.

Back home, I often work in isolation. I sometimes forget to admit to myself that I actually like people. I was going to miss having a guide take me to amazing new places every day. I was going to miss having every day planned by someone else when I just needed to show up and be marveled. I would miss walking into restaurants and recognizing a dozen faces. There was no responsibility or stress. Just being present and amazed.

Realizing that I was sad over what was ending as opposed to what I was returning to, made me smile.

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