It's easy to exhibit mental toughness when you know exactly where the fire is coming from, for example, hostile territory or the far side of the range. It's a lot harder when you're not sure if your coworkers, a rival company, or the customer standing across from you is your enemy or your ally.
I recently had the opportunity to talk to U.S. Navy Vet Dr. Seth Hickerson, the CEO of A Boost Above. They specialize in Leadership and Mental Toughness Training. It's a little different than you may have experienced in the military though…
We talked about mental toughness, education, loneliness, breathing, domestic terrorism, and a whole bunch of other stuff. So hold onto your butts as you jump into this all too familiar rabbit hole.
How is Boost's mission to defend the nation against domestic terrorism?
Me and my team are Vets...and we signed an oath to support and defend the United States against ALL enemies foreign AND DOMESTIC. And we believe there are domestic institutions that do not have the best interest of our citizens in mind. Rather they are focused on controlling, manipulating, conditioning people to perpetuate hyper-capitalism and elite ideologies...so we wanted to create a company that provides awareness, education, and more importantly, training to help our citizens live their best lives.
We want people to be healthy, happy, and whole…
In our world out there today, it's all about psychological warfare, and sadly most of our citizens are completely unarmed...so they are in a losing battle. We want to equip them.
The root cause is simple. We are still utilizing antiquated systems and institutions that were designed during the industrial revolution to produce workers instead of thinkers. The world and society has changed exponentially, but we still push people through "systems," control media, Perpetuate the illusion of "the American dream" all in an attempt to control the masses while also extracting as much money from them as possible before they die...right before they can cash out their 401ks.
How can Boost help address the loneliness problem that's running rampant lately?
Some of the U.S. Army's Boost trained Medics.
(Dr. Seth Hickerson)
First by educating and raising awareness as to why we have a loneliness epidemic. Technology is the main culprit...the devices we are using to "connect" us are actually isolating us. We are devolving as a species....Humans are meant to be tribal, communal, social.
We need to interact...face to face...not online.
Also, technology provides people an opportunity to constantly compare themselves to others. But what they are comparing themselves to are illusions. Not reality.
News media perpetuates this by utilizing fear-based sensationalism...they use stimulus content that makes people fearful, racist, divided, and not want to leave their house.
Social media uses fantasy-based sensationalism....the content on there is FANTASY, but people believe it is real. "Why can't I have the nice car, vacation, job, family," Why can't I look like that, cook like that etc. So it makes them feel less than, feel inadequate.
These are just a few things that perpetuate loneliness.
It takes TRAINING to overcome this stuff...and that's where we come in.
How specifically can Boost be used to help service members transition out of the military more effectively?
The civilian world may look cuter and nicer than the military but there's just as much suck that needs to be embraced.
(Dr. Seth Hickerson)
The biggest challenge Vets face when transitioning to civilian life is the loss of identity.
Only Less than 1% of our population serves in the military. It is a tight, highly trained fraternity, brotherhood. We think, act, and behave differently.
It is difficult to transition from the warrior mindset to the civilian one.
In my opinion, the ball gets dropped because we don't do a good job of educating and prepping Vets before this transition happens. Then when they struggle, get depressed, lose confidence etc...we stick them in the "mental illness model" and expect them to sit on couches, treat them like they are broken, and have them "talk about things" with some egg-head who has never served.
Vets need training....we are mission-oriented...always will be...we need tasks and something to work towards...we don't need talking...we need training.
Boost is training...not therapy.
Can you give a quick rundown of BAMO, why it works, and why everyone should be using the breath to help regulate themselves?
Dr. H and cohorts spreading techniques that help vets transition out of the military more successfully.
(Dr. Seth Hickerson)
Since we are Vets...we LOVE acronyms. BAMO is one of the first techniques we teach people. It stands for Breathe And Move On. The two most powerful things in a person's lives are their thoughts and their breath...and most people have NO idea how to control either.
BAMO is a breathing technique we teach that basically shows you how to "flip the switch" from sympathetic nervous system to parasympathetic "aka the parachute"....it is what calms you down.
When someone gets scared due to a stimulus that they have perceived as a threat it activates the sympathetic nervous systems and engages the flight, flight or freeze...rapid heart rate, blood restricts only to essential organs, fear/worry mindset, sweating, trembling, breathing rapidly...it's very hard to perform when this is happening...so you need a quick way to flip the switch to the parasympathetic nervous system...to calm your ass down..even if it's just for a few seconds so you can execute the task at hand.
We use the 4x4 breathing technique...a simple breathing technique that you have to PRACTICE...four seconds in through the nose, breathing into the belly, then four second exhale through the mouth.....COUNTING to four in your head on the inhale and exhale (hard to think/worry about anything else) when you are counting in your head. The trick is to practice this breathing technique often throughout the day when you AREN'T SCARED or WORRIED...so that your body can adjust to it and then automate it once any negative stimulus comes your way...that's when you are on the next level.
Dr. H and Boost sponsor all kinds of events that help make their community stronger in their free time.
(Dr. Seth Hickerson)
At Boost we are very aware of the alarming suicide problem as it pertains to our military Veterans, and we understand they need access to more tools.
We have served on many deployments and multiple combat operations at all levels...from grunts to upper echelon (SEALs and Rangers). We are also PhD's in Human Performance, Psychology, and Educational Leadership.
Most importantly, we are Vets that want to help Vets.
Vets need to see what they are doing as training...not therapy. The current model promotes and perpetuates a sense of brokenness. And it's usually led by someone that has "not been there."
Vets are warriors. They need to be treated accordingly and given the tools in a way that makes sense to them and makes them proud to be doing the training.
So that's our approach and philosophy.
We believe that by providing a modern and fun, measurable, accessible training systems utilizing technology is imperative. Our unique methodology (mindfulness training, emotional intelligence training, cognitive fitness training, and spec ops training) can give each and every veteran the tools they need to thrive. No insurance, no appointments, no coaches, no BS...and deployable anywhere anytime.
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