September 29, 2023

Life Lessons

Having faced cancer not once, but six times, Jonathan Acott has had to demonstrate unwavering strength and determination in the face of life-threatening challenges.

He says, “My own personal struggles with mental health issues gave me profound insights into the complexities of the human mind; the delicate balance between vulnerability and resilience and ultimately how success in life isn’t about anything other than fulfilling your potential through fostering a growth mindset and making the most of every opportunity.”

Today, as a seasoned motivational speaker, the local father-of-two traverses the globe inspiring many to embrace their uniqueness and break free from societal pressures. So, join us on a journey of self-discovery, guided by someone who has truly weathered life’s storms and emerged stronger from it…

When everything becomes a worry

“Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but doesn’t actually get you anywhere. That said, it’s important to recognise the difference between something called ‘Generalised Anxiety’ disorder – which means everyday life is lived in a constant state of worry and fear – and an everyday anxiety that most of us experience daily, myself included.  Assuming the latter, there’s several things you can do.  Firstly, don’t compare or trivialise your problems; not addressing them because they seem ‘silly’ is a sure-fire way to ensure that they fester and get worse.  Secondly, talk to someone you trust; the cliché is true a problem shared is a problem halved.  Thirdly, check in with yourself; are you looking after your self-care basics?  

If you’re not then improve this – tiredness, hunger and hydration all impact how well we perceive the world around us.  Fourth; are you prepared? When I delve into why I’m feeling anxious, I generally find it’s because I’m underprepared. So, if you can be prepared for what’s upcoming then your anxiety will decrease. And finally, I would urge you to start putting things into perspective, does it matter if it rains? Probably, yes – but only for a very short period of time.  Does it matter that my child has done poorly in their GCSE’s? Yes, right now but less so as they get older and even less so when they’ve moved on to their next stage.”

Big changes are happening

“New job, new school, new house, new relationship – people are obsessed with what can go wrong. I mean obsessed! There’s an inherent negative bias in most of us. It’s hard wired into our brains, it’s in the world around us and social media, especially facilitates this. The algorithm is designed to pour negativity into our eyes and brain, feeding us the ‘what if?’.  

But I ask you this – what if, it’s better than you thought? Or even – what if it’s not as bad?  If you’re approaching new opportunities expecting the worst, then I’m afraid you will fulfil that prediction.  You’re going into potentially amazing opportunities already expecting them to fail and you will act accordingly and the results will be that you make all the subconscious micro decisions that will lead you to live in an unsuccessful way and to not live your best life.”

Scared to make that leap

“Is it time to make a BIG change? Has something been irritating you – work, a partner, a pal? The region beta paradox is the idea that you want something to be worse – to make you leave.  It’s the idea that we often endure things that are ‘not so bad’ but this stops us from thriving in something truly good.  We do this all the time in relationships, jobs and friendship groups.  It can be driven by fear or complacency but it is toxic and we are all guilty of thinking, ‘it’s not that bad’ or ‘it will get better’. So, what do you do about it?  Firstly, ask yourself; do I really want to make a leap or do I want to put some effort in to my situation and make it better? For example, do I want to go over there and get some new grass when I could just water my own? Have you been neglecting your own garden? Secondly, if you do want to make the leap, own your situation, look at how you’ve got to where you’re at.  Ask yourself the tough and honest questions. Could I have done better? What did I do wrong? How can I improve next time? Thirdly, weigh up your options. What could I do and where could I go? Fourth, when you’ve done all that ask yourself is it still better than watering my own garden and putting the work in there.

If the answer is yes then make the leap, make yourself happy, challenge yourself and be awesome! Your capacity for being the best version of you is only limited by you!

Am I even doing ‘life’ right?

“Introducing, imposter syndrome! First thing; ask yourself what or who am I comparing myself to? Am I looking at others and thinking, ‘Oh! They’re doing everything so much better than me?’. Well. Here’s the thing; you’re basing your perspective on people at their best.  You’re comparing yourself to a carefully curated image, put out by people who are presenting only what they want you to see. The truth is, most of us are just getting by! There are not enough hours in the day or week to do everything you want to do to and by the standard you want to do them. The model of 40 hours a week was designed if there was a care giver at home – but outside of that very singular stereotype, it just doesn’t work. There are kids, side-hustles, the shopping, the cleaning, work, socialising, sleeping… 

Life is full on. Life is intense. Life is frustrating.  The only way to cope is to accept that there are some things you cannot give 100% to.  So, rather than try and do everything at 100% how about you give yourself a break, dial your output down to 80% across the board – no one is going to notice anyway!  And then, some days if you need to peak, you focus on that and accept that other things will have to give and stop beating yourself up about it.    Consider your efforts in different areas like running taps, some days you turn the flow down in some areas and up in others – and you do this so none of your taps run dry.”

Do I dare to be different?

“Are you having a crisis of identity or have you inadvertently surrounded yourself with arseholes? There is a big difference between leading an inauthentic life, pretending to like things when you don’t, saying everything is fine when it’s not and pretending to fit in, just so a group of people that may or may not have your best interests at heart, aren’t ‘put out’ by the truth. Being happy in your own skin but not fitting in with your peers is a whole different thing. That’s an environment problem.  Remember that very few plants grow without water and you’re no different; if your network isn’t nourishing you, then you’re in the wrong group.  Don’t be afraid to move on! If your success or your happiness is being limited because of the environment you’re in then get up and move. You are not a tree; you can do that! However, if you are not happy in yourself, then you need to ask yourself why?  What are you denying?  The trigger for my breakdown was not the six cancers, it was me pretending that it was no big deal, that it was fine, that it could be worse.  I was lying to myself and that lack of authenticity was mentally and emotionally crippling.  You need to be true to yourself, aggressively and actively so.  If you like Star Wars or Taylor Swift, if you don’t want to go to the pub and instead build Lego – then YOU. DO. YOU! People tend to judge based on their own framework, context and lives. Maybe they don’t want you to be happy because they are not happy? At the end of the day your happiness is only your concern.”

Can’t let go

“From grief to grudges; for those finding space to heal healthily and let go of the hang ups that hold you back is tough! Letting go is moving on, moving on is not having an anchor that you had in the past and whether that is a good or a bad thing, it’s still damn scary! 

Changing something that is part of you is always going to be a difficult time.  And yes, it may well be for the best but right now it feels terrifying to not have that person, that habit or that situation you had in the past. You might find it hard to let go because on a subconscious level you don’t think that you’re worth having a better life without the thing that you’re holding on to.  However, you are! And you need to work through the stages of grief or loss; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, to get to the other side, but remember – you also need to work on yourself.  You are worthy of all the good things, and you deserve them. So, work for them and move on. The best metaphor I can offer in this case is imagine you’re a person sat in a small rowing boat trying to get to land with white sand, a great bar and all-you-can-eat but you have an anchor holding you down. To move on to that place you desire, you’ve got to lift that anchor. The journey ahead might be scary but unless you lift it, you’re going nowhere.  In some cases, that anchor holding you back is on such a short rope that it’s not only holding you in place, it’s pulling you down, so your boat is tipping. If that’s the case you need to cut that rope before it takes you down with it.”


Illustrations by Dave Bain

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