Monday 2 December 2013


Everything I know, I learned from Blackadder.

At least, that's partially true. If you're what I would call a young'un (as yet uneducated by Blackadder) it's available on Sky Anytime in the UK, so go take a look. There was rich philosophy in the scripts of Curtis and Elton.

Not only did I pick up a lot of my (barebones) knowledge of history from these series, they also helped instill a sense of finding the ridiculous in the most grave of scenarios. A sense of perspective, without loss of deeper meaning.

Sometimes that's useful.

Having been a decade or more in the UK military, I have once or twice come across the concept of, 'man up, wet pants.'  (Ahh, Flasheart. I have such a crush on him. Woof! etc)

Indeed, 'man the fuck up' (MTFU) is a coping strategy I often approve of - with all caveats regarding misogyny, patriarchy and group think, firmly in place. But it's also something I use with caution - it's very short term.

Incidentally, 'woman the fuck up' could equally be used, but really doesn't have the same ring - hence I use one to cover both, as the emotional concept of digging deep from inside yourself remains the same. Gender binaries is a discussion for another day!

I think we are encouraged today to open up and not suppress our emotions. To find greater understanding of ourselves and of the world. And that's a brilliant thing. I live my life to that philosophy.

The concept of a stiff upper lip is rather dated and quite frankly, suppressing is not solving. Let's be open and honest and accept that we are are imperfect people trying to live imperfect lives. Perfectly.
That doesn't mean we shouldn't be able to see the ridiculous in the difficult. That doesn't mean we can find perspective in what we can't resolve. That doesn't mean it's healthy to over analyse.

Let me put this in context. I've had my fair share of counselling, of self analysis and self doubt. Self loathing even. I still pay £50 an hour to find an understanding of my feelings and coping strategies for childhood hangovers. These are things I simply can't ignore long-term, hence what I think is an ironically pragmatic way of resolving them (I found a good therapist; someone who explores concepts and isn't just a sounding board).  I've experienced a little bit of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) before as well, which when distilled down, could almost include MTFU within some of its philosophy!

Not so long ago, I was in a particularly low place emotionally. MTFU quite simply wouldn't cut it and I sought help and support from appropriate places, including my closest friends. Except, it wasn't just from my friends. It got to the stage that, seeing no way forward, I would have spilled my deepest concerns upon the postman, had they enquired how my day was. I was desperate; it was that simple. Someone somewhere must have some answers for me and by the gods I would find them...

It's immeasurably beneficial, psychologically, to confide in someone else and to feel like you've been understood. Perhaps a different perspective will nudge you in a new direction? Where I work, this is often called 'having a beer with your mates'. Others might call it 'phoning your mum/sister/bestie'.
A danger, I found, is that you can end up endlessly circling the drain. You can go over and over the same problems, perhaps making glacial progress toward a resolution, but wallowing won't be that resolution in itself and can become a very real trap, removing all perspective. In addition, some people simply don't operate in an emotional capacity. That's fine. I've worked with some of them, and they really are lovely people. No, really! Just stick to subjects other than your deepest emotions... Actually, that doesn't always mean that they don't 'get it'. Most do. It's just that talking about it scares them, so you have to tread gently. My point is, that you can have a negative effect if you share too much.

At some stage, it is both healthy and absolutely necessary to tell yourself to MTFU.

This achieves a few things. If you can believe in it, then the feeling of self worth you get from digging deep, can outweigh the feelings that have been dragging you down. Also, that extra little spring to your step will have people react differently toward you. More positively. And if they don't, you'll care less.
Finally, it'll free up your subconscious to refocus on the bigger picture, to find perspective where before there was just a darkness.

All that comes from MTFU. Short term. It's a springboard, nothing more. But don't dismiss it simply as an insensitive distraction or peer pressure.

Last month, I shut myself away emotionally. Trying to avoid the temptation to wallow but struggling to find any positives. This week, I've decided to MTFU. Nothing's changed, practically. But my shift in perspective has stopped me from stagnating.

It has occasionally worked for me anyway. In between hugs!


  1. Beautifully written squeak. Eloquent, consise and thoughtful. Xxxx

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