140 – A practical guide to Sort Your Sh!t Out | Ft. Gary Waldon
A Practical Guide to Help You Survive and Thrive When Times are Tough
Despite the coarse language on the cover, Gary Waldon´s ¨Sort Your Shit Out” is a serious read. It challenges us to consider the world from the viewpoint of a child. The book is Waldon’s description of the human socialization process. He draws parallels between children and deeply self-actualized adults. Self-awareness is a learned behavior, and so to ¨sort your shit out¨ is to confront the influences that constantly suppress our true nature.
A belief in ourselves and our capabilities are central to our mental health and quality of life, especially in moments of uncertainty. Through his personal experiences and professional insight, Waldon illustrates the insidious nature of self-sabotage and its effect on the way we live. For the author, moving past insecurity is a constant process, with every thought either encouraging or discouraging us from engaging authentically with those around us.
Although he had achieved two masters degrees and helmed multiple highly successful businesses by his adult years, a lack of self-love made him feel deeply incomplete. Despite his successes, he did not feel free to engage with the people around him authentically and grappled with depression. Waldon´s effort to create a version of himself that satisfied both internal and external demands paid great dividends in both personal and professional life.
A particularly powerful revelation that shaped Waldon´s direction in life was our tendency to downplay our highs and magnify our lows. In many cases, we even allow our shortcomings to define our personality as a whole instead of taking due pride in our strengths. By looking at our everyday experiences through the uninhibited perception of a child, we can break through these barriers and savor richer experiences. By doing this, we deconstruct our adaptations to a society that prizes uniformity, and use our unique talents more effectively.
These hard learned lessons were the wages of a childhood spent in constant discomfort. Growing up, Waldon was one of the many children who felt they lacked a defined place in the social structure. His naturally introverted personality made it challenging to engage with new people, and so making friends was often difficult. Indeed, the future billion dollar entrepreneur found growing into himself to be his most enduring struggle.
That was until he made a conscious decision to take a more active role in his outcomes. By confronting his feelings of inadequacy, he found himself more capable of integrating into the social groups surrounding him. He released his internal baggage that told him he was not good enough, smart enough, worthy enough, and simply acted upon his desires instead. This is what it means to ¨work through your shit,¨ thereby unlocking your potential, and the book was conceived as a guide to help his 16-year-old self avoid years of emotional turmoil.
If the arc of Waldon´s story reads somewhat like a superhero origin story, the similarity is by design. The author compares the process of self-actualization to these modern fables directly in his book. Although sometimes there is a dramatic origin such as a fateful decision or great loss, the catalysts for the formation of our greatest strengths and most crippling weaknesses can be mundane as well. We all gain unique abilities with time, but it is how we hone these skills and employ them to our benefit and that of others that defines our legacy.
Indeed, almost all of us feel superhuman from time to time. Still, sometimes just when we have all the answers, life changes the questions. Even for the empowered, contending with the unfamiliar can cause us to lose confidence in ourselves, creating dangerous self-fulfilling feedback loops. At times we are our own worst enemies, and a lack of self-esteem is often an insurmountable barrier to our success. Waldon reminds us that the voices of caution in our heads are not infallible, and that calling ¨bullshit¨ on them at times can be healthy.
The current realities of our world are what they are, but we have a role in determining our outcomes. It falls to each of us to take full control of what we can control, and that includes our view of ourselves. While self-doubt may stem from self-preservation, but is ultimately a learned behavior. When we alter our forms of self-expression to suit the comfort of others, what do we lose in translation? Finding the balance is the spirit of ¨sorting your shit out,¨ and today Gary Walton joins the MindTeam Solutions podcast to explore the concept in depth.
2:45 Fake it ´Til You Make It
Coming of age is almost always uncomfortable, but an outsider´s experience can be acutely so. Schoolchildren, having been homogenized to an extent through early socialization, often form cliques to ensure some social standing. Some kids inevitably end up on the outside looking in, and this is where Waldon found himself through his first years. Dissatisfied, he perfected a new persona, one more extroverted and approachable to his peers. A level of popular acceptance followed, and he took this education into high school and beyond.
9:19 Social (Media) Anxiety
Social media has a pronounced effect on how we perceive ourselves and our peers. In most cases, our friends and associates emphasize positive aspects of their lives–purchases, travel, good times with loved ones–while downplaying the negative. This creates extremely unrealistic expectations for ourselves, as the highlight reels of others compete with our everyday realities. Waldon reminds us to consider that a little rain must fall on everyone, and there is no such thing as a perfect life. No one expects yours to be the exception but you.
Many of our everyday recurring difficulties can be traced back to our formative experiences, and so we must carefully analyze the root of anxieties in order to work past them.. Here, Waldon speaks on his three young sons and their development into fully fledged human beings with their own distinct worldview. He highlights the inordinate impact that seemingly small events can have on a child’s psyche. Highlighting the common fear of public speaking, the author draws a clear parallel between self-awareness run amok and self-sabotage.
18:49 No Exceptions
We are all the product of our successes and failures, and so each of us has our own shit to deal with. Some of our emotional scarring manifests itself in more problematic ways than others, but invariably there is an element of our personality that could be improved. Waldon draws focus to a few of the more common examples, with disproportionate anger, lack of confidence, micro-management and attention seeking recognizable among any population.
In short, we all have our shit to sort out, and doing so makes us more complete people.
29:22 Puppies vs Zombies
Our relationship with ourselves can impact every facet of our lives. A section of the book, entitled ¨Puppies and Zombies,¨ examines the two main responses to emotional trauma. Waldon puts a personal face on the theory, sharing how his puppylike need for validation caused him to lose a cherished romantic relationship. At the other extreme are those who simply shut down and stop seeking emotional connection entirely. Neither are healthy or sustainable responses to emotional turmoil, and the consequences can be catastrophic.
37:44 Frog Boil
It is said that only pressure makes diamonds, and so a significant aspect of our dissatisfaction with our circumstances is our complacency with them. In many cases, we devote more time than we should to things that no longer suit us. The pot heats and heats, and we stay in to cook. It can be much easier to resign oneself to being unfulfilled than to face the unknown. In the end, ¨sorting one´s shit out¨ is a colorful way to express seeking out a complete understanding of your position, your satisfaction with it, and what led to it.
40:22 No Pain, No Gain
While extolling its importance, Waldon acknowledges the inherent pain of change. Emotional anguish is a natural procession of working out our shit as physical discomfort is the price of exercising our bodies. A commitment to change also represents a commitment to accepting these less than enjoyable moments in the pursuit of a more fulfilling future. Moreover, it is a constant process. Just as you would never see a longtime gymgoer canceling their membership claiming to be fit, we can never expect our shit to be irreversibly sorted.
42:43 One Step Closer
The old adage advises that a thousand mile journey starts with the first step, and so it is with growing fully into ourselves. Waldon emphasizes the importance of starting your journey to the best version of yourself as soon as possible. Are you happy with who and where you are? If not, today is the day to start walking. There will always be time to decide along the way whether things are changing too quickly, but the act of establishing momentum has value in and of itself. The search for inner contentment will last a lifetime as circumstances ebb and flow, but sorting our shit out will better equip us for the challenges along the way.