063 – BEING SICK…Like A Man

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BEING SICK…Like A Man…

This isn’t a super fun topic today, but it happens to be one that is relevant to me at the moment…because I am sick.  I have some kind of chest congestion, upper respiratory infection. 

Like everybody, I hate being sick.  I hate being taken out of my regular routine and everything you do is more difficult and uncomfortable…it sucks, plain and simple.

But, there are a lot of things about life that suck that are also unavoidable; people getting sick from time to time is one of those things.  So I was thinking about the inevitability of being sick occasionally and I started remembering a lot of things I’ve heard all my life.

What I’m talking about specifically is remembering people…mostly women, complaining about how the men in their lives act when they are sick. 

Some women complain that their man acts like a huge baby when he is sick…like he’s going to die or something.  Women seem to take an especially dim view of this behavior and I can’t say I really blame them, because of all the physical things they go through that are expected of them…like pregnancy, menstruation, and cramps in addition to all the regular sickness they get as humans and are still expected to keep the house clean, make dinner and take care of kids. 

It really is pretty unfair and its no wonder they roll their eyes when their big brave man acts like he’s on his death bed every time he gets a cold.

The other complaint I’ve heard is that a man will simply isolate himself when he is sick.  He doesn’t want to be bothered by anyone or anything and gets grumpy when people try to help him.  I confess that I have been guilty of this one.  Like I don’t want anyone to see me in my weakened state.

Then you have the guys that just try to ignore the fact they are sick and believe if they just keep acting healthy then they will be healthy.  They wind up going into work when they shouldn’t, infecting other people with what they have, and not allowing their bodies to get well…so they keep getting more sick until they have a real problem.  I was also guilty of this in my younger days…I didn’t have time to be sick, and I almost killed myself one winter by continuing to go to work in the elements everyday for a month with a high fever.  It caught up with me eventually and luckily before I died from stupidity I wound up on my back for several weeks facing a much longer recovery that I would have had if I was smart.

The point of all this is that it’s much easier to be a better man when you feel good, when everything is going your way.  It’s much more difficult when you face some kind of adversity…and illness is an adversity.  Lots of guys seem to think that when they are sick they have a free pass to either a.)  Revert back into a child.  b.) Become kind of a jerk and take it out on everyone else in the household, or c.)  Become an idiot and almost kill their self.

The purpose of this episode is to put you on notice that your free pass has been removed, it doesn’t exist anymore.  My hope is that the next time you get sick you will remember this episode and try even harder to be a better man.

The next question is…how should we act when we are sick?  Well, in a perfect world I think a guy would acknowledge he was sick…then accurately assess what his limitations are…then he would consider the impact on everyone else in his household and figure out what he can do to minimize that impact.  In other words…stay focused on being a better man even though you feel like crap.  Don’t take advantage of peoples kindness and don’t take out your frustrations on them either. 

It’s really not rocket science…once you remove the free sick pass, it becomes pretty obvious that your job is to try to be the best sick guy you can…you owe it to the people around you, but you also owe it to yourself.

I was wondering about why so many guys act like this…especially the guys who turn into big babies.  I think some of us were extra pampered when we were sick kids, and it created an expectation in our minds…the thing is, we aren’t kids anymore.  We are men.  It’s time to develop some new expectations for yourself. 

I kind of get why a guy would just want to isolate himself until he feels better…because I’ve done it.  But it really isn’t fair to the people who care about you.  We should never shut people out.  Some people get a lot out of caring for others…and if we don’t let them we are robbing them of something they need.  The trick is to not take advantage of this, to be vigilant about how much the people around us want or need to help.

The other guys…the guys who are like I was when I ignored that I was sick…well, that’s just stupid.  Thats a matter of misplaced priorities.  I had my own business at the time and I was trying to fulfill obligations to my customers and my employees and my family and I really felt like I didn’t have time to be sick.  My health was not the priority…and it should have been.  Because what good would I be to anyone dead, or hospitalized?  Your health has to be at the very top of your priority list, it’s really an obligation as a man to make your health important.

You know…this is all kind of common sense stuff, but sometimes it just takes hearing it put into words.  If you have one of the three behaviors I mentioned (and you know which one you are) this might be the first time you heard anyone speak about it.  Maybe no one ever called you on it.  Maybe you were so used to using your free sick pass at everyone else’ expense that you never even noticed. 

Whatever the case…now you have heard it.  Your free sick pass has been removed, and I challenge you…the next time you’re sick to remember this and make a conscious effort to be a better man in spite of what you might be going through.

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