I was standing in a hospital room in New Jersey on November 17, 2011 at 8 P.M. Earlier that day I got the call from my mother. “It’s time and you need to get home right away.” My world came to a stop and the wind was taken out of my chest when I heard those words. After a minute I got my breath back, and quickly packed up my bag. I ran out of the building to my car. The four hour drive home was silent but for the torrential downpour outside, and the emotional freefall inside my head.

My father lost a three-month battle with necrotizing pancreatitis and I said goodbye to him for the final time. The following days and weeks were a blur, but a deep sadness coupled with an anger I had never felt before consumed me.

I had a fury and bitterness in me at God, and the world, for a situation I perceived to be unfair. This was my dad. The man taught me how to be a man. The memories played through my head like a film. All of my wrestling matches he was in the stands for. Every football game we attended together. Then all the memories we would never get to make. He would never see me graduate college, get married, or have a family. I felt robbed.

I was also angry with myself. I could’ve been a better son. I could’ve been there more for him while he was sick. I regretted every call of his I forwarded to voicemail, because I was just too “busy”. All of the memories I never made with him because I had better plans, pierced me with guilt and shame.

These wounds callused into a cold edge of personality. I had no healthy way to process the hurt I went through. My ego didn’t allow me to be vulnerable and ask for help. Instead, I expressed that pain as anger. I took it out on the people who were closest to me because I had to keep them at a distance. If they got too close, I would have to open up.

At some point the weight of these feelings becomes too great to bear and we find ourselves at a crossroads. Either deal with them or let them continue to corrode our relationships and life.

I had to find ways to process these feelings. I found someone I could talk to about them. I got honest and shared what I felt. Then I found healthy ways to process pain and anger. I began writing. A lot. I wrote short stories, poetry, and political articles. Through writing I can express myself succinctly and potently, especially through the medium of poetry.

the switch that’s flipped

to a sight of pure red

something in the brain ignites

a dynamite charge on the supply line bridge.

blankets of tension

consume me,

fight

or

flight

responses trigger

a trillion body cells

all fall into position.

dominoes, one by one,

preparing for war

like a trillion

roman legions.

all at once they release

and fire

50,000 volts

of electricity

through my body.

a dam holding back a lifetime

of pain, planned responses,

predictable outcomes

release once more,

and when choppy waters

finally yield a calm sea,

I again have lost.

all I have done

after rebuilding the dam

is added more water

til’ next time it breaks.

I was unable to be free or have deep meaningful connections because I was carrying the pain and anger of the past into my present. I became incredibly self-centered and egocentric. I felt justified in the hurtful manner I treated others as a result of my pain.

It was only through identification, introspection, and a conscious effort to act differently, that I was able to deal with anger in a healthy way.

The first step to solving any problem is identification. If I don’t know what the problem is, I don’t stand a chance at solving it. I had to be honest with myself and look behind the doors that I wanted to keep closed. The truth is usually found behind those doors. The path I took seeking that truth involved putting pen to paper and writing an emotional inventory. In that inventory I saw how my anger, guilt, and shame manifested itself in my relationships with others, and myself. I saw a clear picture of how I could’ve acted differently, and with clear sight of my wrongs, I made a list of people I owed an apology to.

After I cleared those cobwebs, I need to change. That change, for me, begins by adding a pause between my thoughts and actions. Instead of reacting impulsively I can respond thoughtfully. Or not respond at all. I’ve avoided more battles by keeping my mouth shut than I’ll ever be able to count. Everyone has their own ways of dealing with anger. Some people take a pause and others meditate. Transferring that anger into a constructive process like writing or exercise also works for me. The point is to find what works for you.

Like any other change, it takes practice. Some days are better than others. I feel like I make great strides in progress, then something will occur that makes me wonder if I’ve made any progress at all. But that is the nature of change itself and while I’ve come a long way, I still have a long way to go.

I can’t recall the exact moment my perspective started to change, but others recognized it in me long before I recognized it in myself. I was no longer angry with God or the world. I realized that this was not something that happened to me, but rather a stage in life’s journey I was going through. Relationships with friends and family improved dramatically as I tried to contribute more to them, than I took. Most importantly the relationship with myself was taken to a new level I didn’t even think was possible before. I became grateful for all that I have in my life. Pain is the launch pad for growth, and what I have found on the other side of pain, and anger, is peace.

Tips For Creating Permanent Change

I try to avoid New Year’s resolutions, as I have become cynical and weary of the “new year, new me” commitments that quickly get picked off as we near halfway through January. I partially blame social media for this phenomenon, as the New Years resolution post tends to be an act of attention seeking as opposed to a concrete way to keep oneself accountable.

One of the most profound changes a person can make, which is certainly true in my life, is the ability to change my body through exercise. I can stand in front of a mirror and in a few weeks literally see my body change right in front of my eyes. That fact alone, putting the unseen physical and mental health benefits aside, makes exercise the most beneficial tool for change as it is one of the few tools that allow me to visually observe and actually measure the changes that are occurring.

My first tip: Don’t tell anyone your fitness resolution. It’s for you anyway. That half hour of cardio, or that spin class isn’t going to get anyone else in shape but you. It has also been psychologically proven that people have better chances of following through with their changes when they don’t announce it to anyone.

A good friend of mine quit smoking about a year ago. I had no idea he quit until someone asked him if he wanted a smoke, to which he replied, “Nope, I’m good.” That was it, no proclamations or long-winded answers. It took me a couple weeks to catch on, and when I asked him he told me the thought process behind it. By telling others your plans for changing, your brain provides a false sense of achievement because you have announced it as a fact. It has been almost a year and he hasn’t had a smoke since.

Second, why not make it a daily resolution instead of a yearly one? An entire year committed to anything, especially a change different from your norm can be quite daunting. It can seem too big a task, and in my experience in making resolutions, it didn’t take more than a couple weeks to start thinking “There’s no way I am going to make it a year, so I might as well just call it quits now.” That’s a failing mindset. Instead, a daily resolution is a much easier bite to manage. It reinforces a successful mindset because each day you exercise, you fulfill your daily commitment to yourself.

Finally, take it easy on yourself. Change isn’t easy. The fact you’ve committed yourself to changing your lifestyle is an accomplishment in itself. We all get off our beam. Life gets busy, unexpected things happen, but that doesn’t mean we have to give up. The beam is always there.

I’ll call myself out and say I am off the beam. I recently moved (down the street, but a move nonetheless). It was stressful, all of my stuff is in boxes and it seems like I have a million things to do. I know the beam is there; I have the experience of getting in the daily rhythm of working out and eating healthy. I know I feel better mentally and physically when I do those things. But the last few weeks were a little hectic, my routine was thrown off, and I couldn’t exercise or eat like I normally would, and guess what? That’s ok. Things have calmed down, and I can now focus my attention back on my routine.

Change is never an easy process. It’s ugly and messy. We take three steps forward then two back. Sometimes it hurts or we second-guess ourselves. But if we stick with it, eventually something clicks… then another thing… and another. Before we know it we hit a stride and get into the type of rhythm where it starts to come easily.

Make a commitment to accomplish your goal today. If you are one of the many who have already tossed your New Years resolution, pick it back up! Quietly. Your resolution is yours, not anyone else’s.

Transformation is an inherent human desire that motivates us to change whatever comfortable norm we have become acclimated to. We constantly strive to reinvent ourselves and better ourselves and are always in a constant state of change. What can seem like an abstract discussion of philosophical thought takes shape in our daily lives in many unsuspecting ways. We make New Years resolutions, switch careers, and make decisions to eat healthy or go green. What more are these than manifestations of our human desire to transform and evolve into better men or women?

Automation: The Real Killer of American Jobs – Part 2.

Part 2 of a 2 part series for the Good Men Project.

In Part 1 I stated that the real job killer of American manufacturing is robots, not the Chinese or Mexicans. Manufacturing is a good starting point to look at the impact of technology because manufacturing accounts for 12.5% of total U.S. GDP and nearly 9% of U.S. employment according to the most recent report from the Economic Policy Institute.

As innovation in automation and technology continue to develop, robotics will become cheaper, artificial intelligence will improve, and more sectors of our economy will experience similar transformations to those in manufacturing. A well-cited study from Oxford University analyzed how technology will affect the future of employment. The study found that 47% of all U.S. employment is at risk of being replaced due to technology.

Construction and Transportation are two of the largest industries that could be the next dominoes to fall to automation. Construction employs over 2 million Americans, while transportation employs 3 million. Both of these industries employ over 90% male workers and provide above average wages for workers without degrees or specific trade skills.

Uber’s self-driving freight truck and the Hadrian robotics system are two examples of recent technological leaps in transportation and construction. Far from just science fiction concepts, Uber and Fastbrick Robotics, manufacturer of the Hadrian, have already unveiled their self-driving semi truck and brick laying robot and plan to release them into the work force as early as this year.

A follow up Oxford University study showed which U.S. cities would be most and least impacted by automation. Out of the 11 cities that will be most affected by automation 7 were in rust belt states while out of the 11 to be least affected 8 were in Eastern or Western coastal states. It also stated that North America has the most to gain from automation, while China has the most to lose. Technology may entice companies to move factories back home, but that does not necessarily mean jobs for humans will follow.

While Trump pandered to the regions of the country most vulnerable to the changing economic landscape, I have yet to hear Trump put forth actual, tangible solutions to the difficulties technology has created. I have not heard anything more than grandiose, abstract claims about bringing jobs back to American shores.

What American workers need are policies that allow them to better compete in a changing global economy.

Where are the calls for job retraining programs for those workers replaced by technology? Better yet, will Trump protect workers, wages and unions? He recently nominated Andrew Puzder for labor secretary. Puzder is a fast food executive who has been outspoken against raising the minimum wage, and in March told Business Insider that he was actively investing in automation technology for the restaurant industry. That is a position contrary to the message of creating, and I fear the nomination will leave workers with fewer resources and advocates at the national level.

One of the safest ways to raise the quality of life and qualifications of the workforce is to invest in education. While automation is inevitable, humans will still need to research, develop, design, and manage those machines. Jobs will certainly be created by technology. Investment in all levels of education, making college affordable for more Americans, and investing in job retraining programs are policies that benefit everyone, and possibly the only way Trump can deliver on his campaign promise.

His message sounded good on the campaign trail, but it is not entirely practical or possible. What the working class people, the citizens in the rust belt, and all of America need to hear are Trump’s plans for investing in the future of the American work force and how he will protect workers and wages.