200 episodes

The Gentle Rebel Podcast is a monthly podcast for quietly creative misfits, hosted by Andy Mort. It explores how to live a meaningful life as a sensitive creative type person, without getting overwhelmed by all the noise of our modern world.



Andy shares his experiences as a creative and sensitive introvert, in a world that doesn’t seem to stop shouting, assuming, and demanding. In order to help listeners find the courage and perspective required to make their own quiet stand for what truly matters in life to them.

The Gentle Rebel Podcast Andy Mort

    • Self Help

The Gentle Rebel Podcast is a monthly podcast for quietly creative misfits, hosted by Andy Mort. It explores how to live a meaningful life as a sensitive creative type person, without getting overwhelmed by all the noise of our modern world.



Andy shares his experiences as a creative and sensitive introvert, in a world that doesn’t seem to stop shouting, assuming, and demanding. In order to help listeners find the courage and perspective required to make their own quiet stand for what truly matters in life to them.

    Connected

    Connected

    We have woken up to a simple yet profound truth…

    Everything and everyone is connected.

    These are extraordinary times.

    I’ve just returned from my ‘one form of daily outdoor exercise’. And I write this, locked down at home, during a global pandemic. I never thought I’d write that sentence in a non-fiction context. Weird. It’s all quite surreal.

    Moments like this bring all the things we take for granted into focus. And we gain clarity on the under-the-surface norms and ideologies that underpin our beliefs and values. The more we disconnect and physically isolate, the more we can see how connected we truly are.

    Everything impacts everything else.

    Emotions, information, and ideas spread like subsidiary metaphorical viruses from one person to the next. Markets crash when the proverbial butterfly wings flap gently on the other side of the world. And the image of a single shelf of empty toilet paper can lead to mass hysteria and global panic buying of something that wasn’t a problem until it became a self-fulfilling prophesy.

    Everything is Connected

    In this month’s podcast I decided to develop this theme of connection. So I connected with friends (some old and some new), and invited them to share some encouragement during this period of uncertainty and upheaval.

    It’s turned into the longest episode I’ve ever produced. I had a great time putting it together, and am excited to share the lovely responses from my big hearted gentle rebel friends. I asked them two questions: ‘how are you connecting right now?’ And ‘what does this make possible for you, for us, and for the world?’





    How are You Connecting Right Now?

    We are connecting with other people in different ways. We are connecting with new parts of ourselves. And we are connecting with aspects of society that have been inaccessible until now.



    We are Connecting With Others

    “It’s wonderful to have this technology. In a time when we must physically distance, we don’t actually have to socially distance.” – Mark Pierce

     

    “Even though I’m an introvert, I know my limits. And I know that it can feel easy for me to go days without seeing anyone in person. But I still desperately need to connect with others. I need to be heard, and I need to hear others. And ideally I need to see them, even if it’s just on video. I just need to remember that.” – Cat Rose

     

    “I am connected more with my friends, and I even connect more with my family at home. Because we are doing things like playing games and spending time together which we don’t often do.” – Lydia Wilmsen

     

    “There have been moments of connection with strangers. Exchanging eye contact which says ‘this is weird isn’t it?’ There’s a moment of connection there. This shared loneliness is making it all a bit less lonely.” – Neil Hughes

     

    “The family Zoom conference was such a rich experience for us. We laughed and reminded each other of how much we care. These digital tools can be used to continue spreading fear, static, and frustration in the world. Or it can provide a forum for laughter, where there’s real connection.” – Jacob Nordby





    We Can Connect With Ourselves

    “The world is slowing down. And it’s really tangible. We can feel it. We’re all part of this. We all contribute. And this global quiet is a result of all of us slowing down.” – Ben Fizell

     

    “I’m connecting on the inside. I’m meditating and spending time doing inner work. And it’s such an empowering feeling because I don’t ...

    • 1 hr 38 min
    Quitting

    Quitting

    We can attach a lot of meaning to the idea of ‘quitting’. Whether it’s the judgement that ‘winners DON’T quit’, ‘winners know WHEN to quit’, or the mantra that ‘quitting is the only real failure’.

    There are obviously times when these ideas are helpful to remember and they carry elements of truth. But they are definitely not philosophies of life. They are far too simplistic.

    Quitting carries a whole load of baggage as a word. And much of the messaging is oozing shame from its heart when you drill down a bit. A negative picture of what it means to quit is never far away from shame (a story we believe about ourselves that we want to keep hidden).





    We quit when we believe the story we tell ourselves. For example, ‘I’m a failure, I can’t get anything right’ (I will just quit!) Or, ‘I must shut up and be grateful. I can’t get above my station, and just remember how lucky I am to have a job at all given how useless I am…’ (I can’t quit!)

    Should I stay or should I go?

    Yes.

    Quitting is neither positive or negative. It’s simply a helpful option that is always there. We can remember this when we quieten that voice of shame.

    As Brené Brown points out in her work, the best tool we have against the destructive force of shame is vulnerability. It’s to name the shame, and tell the story. Only when we do this does the power balance shift.

    Blackmail and Internal Ransom Notes

    Shame is like a blackmailer, holding you ransom with a secret that you don’t want anyone to know. ‘Do what I say or else I’m going to reveal your humiliating secret to the world!’

    It’s not always big things. In fact, it works its insidious way under our skin with the smallest things.



    * Making a mistake at work (‘typical, it’s crazy that you still have a job…don’t tell anyone about this, they’ll know how useless you are’).

    * Building a new relationship (‘You’re ugly, they’re never going to like the real you’).

    * Disappointment (‘Don’t tell anyone it didn’t work out as you hoped. It makes you look stupid. I told you not to get excited!’)

    * Around Others (‘Everyone is happier without me. They’re joking and laughing together. They don’t want me here’).



    Shame tells us a story about ourselves and about the world. And it demands that we keep it a secret. And we respond by staying around against our will, or dropping everything and leaving against our will.

    Shame drives spiralling debts, affairs, addiction, and unhealthy patterns of behaviour. Because it tells us ‘no one can know’. It traps us within fear and silence.

    The Perfect Crime

    There is a modern phishing scam that I’ve seen over the past few years. It taps into shame in a big way, using the weapon of ‘sextortion’.

    It tells the recipient that there is proof of them doing something (e.g. watching porn). They tell the potential victim that they have planted malware on their device, and have access to the camera and their entire address book. They’re told that if they don’t want to be humiliated they can simply pay a large but not obscene amount of money (bitcoin), and the problem will go away. The most advanced ones will even have a very old password in the subject line, to deepen the sense of legitimacy.

    There are a huge number of victims of this. Why? Shame. And many many more victims who will never admit they fell victim. Why? Shame.

    • 55 min
    Minimalism

    Minimalism

    My introduction to the word ‘minimalism’ was as a teenager, being introduced to Brian Eno’s Ambient 1/Music for Airports. It was like the sweetest breath of fresh air down my earholes. Music that swept me away and decluttered my aural environment.

    For a long time I thought of minimalism as an aesthetic or style. A sparsely decorated room or that genre of music made of processed ambient sounds and long drone loops. I’ve always been drawn to these expressions. I don’t like clutter, and I love to have things around me simple and clear.

    But in recent years I’ve been drawn to something in minimalism that transcends the surface levels of life. Take a look at my Minimal Manifesto here. These are some ideas from minimalism that have resonated deeply with me.

    It stretches deeper. Helping us look at the reality of our finite existence, so that we can understand what matters most, and strip away all the stuff that anchors us into unhealthy attachments, ways of thinking, and patterns of behaviour.

    Ultimately it is about freedom. And about acknowledging that we don’t have the capacity, time, or energy for everything. Yet we do have the ability to choose and discern between things that mean something and things that don’t. Whether it be stuff, work, people, commitments, opinions, and so on.





    The Prison of Least Resistance

    I’ve been reflecting on this a lot lately. I have been feeling anything but free. Burdened by tasks and overcommitment from the gradual drift of the mindless more. I’ve been on a return to some core minimalist principles. These have helped me audit my energy/time, and recalibrate.

    This process has had a direct impact on the podcast. Because I’ve decided to make it a monthly rather than weekly show. 😳 There, I said it.

    I worked out that it takes me 12 hours to prepare for, record, and publish each episode of The Gentle Rebel Podcast. No wonder I’m exhausted. I’m working near enough full time, doing two diplomas, and running a business, not to mention gigging, maintaining relationships, and attempting to stay healthy.

    “But I can’t give up the podcast!”

    When I’m tired I forget to think properly. I get a bit all or nothing. So my initial thought was, I’m going to have to quit the podcast. Either that or I have to carry it on like normal. But I don’t want to give it up. I can’t give ANYTHING up! Everything I have on my schedule is important. I’ve curated it over time. What am I supposed to do!? Everything is important. Everything matters, and I enjoy it all…on the whole!

    In the last episode I spoke about ‘priorities’ and how you can only have one. I mentioned the idea of a Priority Spirit; a filter through which all things pass. I hadn’t realised quite how much I needed to grasp that concept for myself. And as I began to think about it, I have seen that my priority spirit for this year is Expansion Through Margin. Growth Through Pruning. Less and Better.

    We can get so stuck in a thought pattern or way of doing things that we can lose sight of our ability to change the rules. For me I was stuck with this idea that the podcast is weekly and that’s that. But what if I changed my rules? I could still find the joy from producing the episodes, and do so in a way that is better for me AND better for the quality of the show itself.

    Small Things Become Big Things

    I worked out that by moving from four to one episode a month I will save about 432 hours a year. That’s 54, eight-hour days. That is some serious margin.

    I am not axing a weekly podcast entirely. I will still produce the a href="https://www.patreon.

    • 54 min
    Priorities

    Priorities

    At the start of a new year it feels natural to think about vision, priorities, and goals. I haven’t set any goals this year. This wasn’t a conscious decision. In fact, I had intended to (I have done for the past 7 or 8 years). It turns out however, that it wasn’t enough of a priority. So I woke up on New Year’s Day without any goals. And that feels fine.

    The word ‘priority‘ has been on my mind a lot. Because even though I don’t have specific goals for the next 12 months, I have a growing sense of what matters most. The values I want to nurture, and the kind of life I am designing.

    By definition you can’t really have more than one priority at a time. ‘Prior’ means ‘first, former, superior, better, before, in front of etc’. And ‘ity’ is the condition or quality of being. Therefore a priority is the condition or quality of something before other things. If we have multiple priorities then we actually have no priority. Just a bunch of things that hold equal sway in our life. Which is fine, until those demands become too much to handle.





    Themes and Priorities

    Maybe you’ve set a theme for the year. I know many people who have taken this approach. For example, I’ve seen people commit themselves to the year of creativity, health, relationships, less, play, travel etc. Whereby the intention is to prioritise that theme as the filter through which they act, think, and make decisions.

    This is an interesting way to frame things and I believe gets us some way towards establishing a meaningful priority. Priorities give us clarity, focus, and set the conditions for growth in our lives. They help us align our values and our actions, and provide a wide angle lens for us to understand to micro-aspects of everyday life.

    But how do we come up with a genuine, meaningful priority?

    This is a question that is difficult to answer. What truly matters? What do we want to commit our lives to this week, this month, this year?

    It can be hard to decide. As we seek to narrow our focus, we might quickly get caught up in the fallacy of multiple priorities again. There is fear in letting go of the unimportant. Especially when the unimportant feels important. The stuff that is only unimportant by virtue of the evidence that it isn’t a priority. Goal setting is my example. It feels important. I intended to do it. Yet I didn’t.

    Doing vs Being

    We can also get tied up in knots when we see our priority as a thing we must do. This is where setting a theme for the year works well, because it sets a ‘spirit‘ around the year.

    To commit to the spirit of creativity, health, play, adventure, serenity, etc. This blows open the doors of potential, so that all things are seen in light of the spirit. Rather than a priority that restricts action to a single thing, e.g. I will create more stuff this year. Or I will travel more this year.

    It’s a subtle difference, but when we live within the spirit of creativity, it means we see everything we do as carrying potential for some kind of creativity within it. And the spirit of travel can be nurtured without you needing to actively go anywhere. It can be enjoyed through the books you read, words you write, or games you play with the kids.

    A Positive Priority

    We are good at opposing ourselves to things. Even in our own lives, we might say a priority is ‘stop eating badly’, or ‘stop being a people pleaser’. These carry good intentions. But will ultimately fail if we don’t state what we DO want instead. Otherwise we will fixate on the negative, and in all likelihood bring more of it into our lives.

    • 27 min
    Spirit

    Spirit

    We are surrounded by spirit; the by-product of what goes on. Other people, events, relationships (past and present), experiences etc. Our lives are influenced by, touched by, and informed by, this kind of spirit. This might be thought of as the constant ‘presence of absences’.





    The Spirit of Past, Present, and Future

    I was blown away by an adaptation of A Christmas Carol that the BBC released over Christmas 2019. The power of spirit as a concept really struck me as I watched it. From our own spirit (the trail we leave around us), to the spirit of trauma (the legacy of negative events that might have happened to us), via the spirit of what has been, what is, and what might come to be.

    This is not some abstract concept, but one that we can use to build better lives on.

    Guy Pierce’s portrayal sees Scrooge as younger than other versions. And there is something altogether different. Rather than being a miser who gets a kick out of being a sadistic, cynical old grump, he comes across as emotionally detached and disconnected from himself and the world. Unwedded from humanity. Numb and unable to feel anything at all.

    Spirit and Water

    “There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?” “ – David Foster Wallace

    We all carry ghosts with us through our lives. They speak to us about who we are and what we’re capable of. They tell us things they think we should know about other people. And they warn us of things in order to try and keep us safe.

    The Spirit Lives On

    I think about the notion of spirit a lot. As an undertaker I feel confronted by it every day!

    At one level, no one truly dies. Yes, their physical manifestation ceases to be. But their spirit lives on in different ways. The routines, words, values, lessons, memories, and example they leave behind in the lives of those around them.

    This is the spirit of another person, where their presence continues, even in their absence. Like the memories we might recall when we encounter a certain smell, sound, or physical space. It occurs for lost lovers, old ways of life, and past experiences.

    These spirits are not always helpful. There can be negative aspects to the ghosts we carry. We might carry critical words from the past – perhaps parents, siblings, teachers, or even strangers. Voices that enter our minds and fill them with self-doubt and anxiety.

    These presences define our world views, our values, and our behaviour. But like the water in David Foster Wallace’s story, if we are unaware that they are there, we don’t know that we are swimming in them. They are simply true. As is our unconscious response to them.

    The Spirit of Christmas Past

    We need a Spirit of Christmas Past to be the old fish. To raise our awareness and soften our hearts to the walls we create around our perception of reality.

    “What happened to me at this school excuses me. It explains me. And because it’s all been done in the past, nothing can be done to remedy it.” – Scrooge

    “So you need more than a mincing knife and warm gravy to soften your heart. You only see what your father did to you, and not what your sister did for you. Let us go deeper.” – The Spirit of Christmas Past

    Many of us experience a similar reaction to Scrooge. We stop right here. Having found a reason for dissatisfaction, it then turns into an excuse for how we are (and why we don’t need to change), and eventually this can come to define our whole life.

    • 35 min
    How Would You Encourage, Reassure, or Inspire Your Younger Self?

    How Would You Encourage, Reassure, or Inspire Your Younger Self?

    What do you wish your younger self could have known about life, the world, and themselves?

    This is the sixth and final part of Serenity in the Trenches, a series of episodes to help us find self-acceptance and true belonging when things around us feel like they’re falling apart. In this part we are spending time in conversation with ourselves. Who we are now, who we were then, and who we are in the process of becoming.

    What would you say to your younger self?





    This is not just a hypothetical exercise. It contains great power to change the foundations of our present. Because our experience of now, is deeply underpinned by the ghosts of ourselves from throughout our lives. A ghost is the presence of an absence. We all carry them around. The words of other people. Traumas from our past. And unique situations or experiences which took us out of our comfort zone.

    By opening up dialogue with the little voice(s), we can begin to shift the beliefs, values, and feelings that are holding us back from true belonging in this moment and the future.

    What are some of the things we might say?

    Don’t let fear stop you doing what matters most.

    Trust your gut and your ‘artist brain’. Before the second, third, and fourth thoughts stop you from acting. And have faith that you will avoid the genuinely terrible stuff.

    What you’re doing now will contribute to who you will become. You will make positive change, it might not feel like it’s happening, but it is. Step by step.

    Restlessness, impatience, and a desire to move with haste. These are things that might stop you from committing and persevering with what matters.

    The Little Voice

    We can influence the voice of our younger self. It’s one thing going back and speaking from the future. But most of us need to hear a re-writing of the story from our younger self…the ‘little voice’.

    We need to feel accepted and loved from that side of our story. Otherwise we carry the restlessness, the self-berating, regret. The feeling “I’m not good enough, I’ve not done enough, I’ve let myself down.”

    What if that younger self, the one with ‘their whole life ahead of them’, came into the present moment and said, “I’m proud to become you. You are enough. Thanks for continuing the story, man! It’s been gripping to watch, and wow I can’t believe the way you dealt with some of those situations you’ve been through. I would never have thought I could cope with that. But you did!”

    Treat Life Like a Practice

    “You’re never going to get it right. You’re never going to reach the North Star. Treat life like a practice. Look at perfection, whatever that might mean to you. But you’re never gonna really be perfect. You can just be perfectly yourself.” – Leah Burkhart

    What are You Waiting For?

    “Do the thing that you want to do. Do it now. Don’t wait until you feel like you’re ready or until you think it’s okay with everyone else. You don’t need permission to chase after your dreams. It doesn’t have to be okay with your friends or your family, for you to do the things that you want to do. You don’t have to live by their standards. You can make your own standards. It’s okay.” – Sarah Kuhn

    “Don’t wait for perfection, or for a year from now. Don’t wait for anything else to change. Just do it now. Go build the business of your dreams. Get out of a relationship that isn’t serving you. Move to where you want to go. Whatever you want in your life. Go after it. Now.” – Cameron Airen

    Know When To Quit

    “Stick with it long enough to know you gave it your best shot”.

    • 42 min

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