When I first began this blog several years ago, I said that I had a story to tell. For many reasons, I didn’t follow through. I’m going to change that now in a manner that I hope is beneficial to you, but also in a manner that is beneficial to me. Beneficial in the sense that writing about these experiences and the lessons I’ve drawn from them re-enforce the lessons in my own mind. When you hit lows in life that are so deep only a few can ever understand, you never, ever want to go back.
But I also hope these posts will help one or two people who may struggling through some darkness of their own. Because while this blog will predominantly be about fitness it must be understood that mental health and mindset are often the determining factor in achieving any goal, fitness or otherwise. Further, I know the lessons I’ve internalized may be able to help another.
Some of these posts will be hard to read, and I can assure you that some of these posts will be difficult for me to write. Not because I’m in a low or bad place now, but because digging up memories and situations that have been long buried can awaken feelings that I’ve left far behind.
One final word before I begin this new journey. For seven years I wrote articles for fitness clubs and for almost twenty years I’ve written sporadically for wellness journals. For each of those articles I had to write for the so-called ‘larger audience’, and when I did that there was always the tendency to keep the best stuff I had off the page merely because someone, somewhere, would be offended. Also, because of the format, for twenty years of writing I’ve kept my language clean…acceptable to the masses. But writing what everybody else writes, in the same way everyone else writes it, helps no one.
Sometimes people who need to hear some hard truth need it delivered in a hard manner. In other words, from this point forward they’ll be a bit of cursing in the blog. Not to make a statement, but to sometimes drive a statement home. So, if you’re one of those who is easily offended or if a curse word here and there disturbs you, you’ve been forewarned.
Let’s start the journey.
Do you ever set a goal, start to take the steps that you think will help you achieve that goal, and then a day, a week or a month into the plan simply give up for reasons that even you don’t understand?
Have you ever come up with what seems an incredible idea only to overthink it to the point where you tell yourself before you’ve even begun to execute that it’ll never work?
Have you ever looked back at the mistakes you’ve made in your life and instead of learning from them and moving on, you live them over, and over, and over again in your brain until you’re in fetal position and can’t bring yourself to get out of bed in the morning?
I’ve done these things, and I’ve been in those places, and those negative thoughts almost put me in the ground. For real.
I wasn’t dealing with clinical depression. I was dealing with circumstantial pain from events in my life and the aftermath that comes from having gone through hell and back.
The result was that I just didn’t feel like I was ‘good enough’.
Some people with fancy titles and lots of letters behind their name call all these events ‘self-sabotage’, and they’re right in one sense. Each of us is responsible for our actions or inactions. But labelling it self-sabotage doesn’t help us find a solution so we can begin executing the actions needed that will take us from where we are, to where we want to be. So, I dismiss the label. In fact, in today’s post let’s forget all the labels that the world places on each of us and instead focus on just one aspect of the whole.
But one thing needs to be addressed before we go further. There’s a tendency among many to embrace a victim mentality in life. This won’t help you. It will perpetuate your feelings of being ‘not good enough’ and I can guarantee that you’ll be in that low place until you stop feeling like a victim. You’re not a victim. You’re the product of an entire life of choices, both good and bad, and the results that come from them. So let’s drop that shit right now.
But let’s also recognize that some of those so-called choices weren’t really choices, and this needs to be addressed in a way that doesn’t perpetuate the victim status dominating the thinking of many.
For example, if you think that you’re not good enough, I’m telling you that someone put that in your head at some point in your life. You clearly weren’t born thinking that you were sub-par, or not good enough. Maybe it was a parent…you had no choice over that. Maybe it was a teacher or close relative…no choice. Maybe it was a co-worker or friend…maybe you had a choice depending on your age at the time or your employment skills.
And in many, in fact possibly even most of these examples, the individual in question made you feel that way unintentionally. They may have been trying to drive you forward. They may have been thinking that their words would inspire you to greater things. But good intentions or not, once you internalized that feeling of ‘not good enough’ the self-perception remained. And excising the cancer can be hard to do because most don’t know where the feeling came from to begin with.
But there’s a way to get through it without understanding the root cause, and it took me a long time to figure this out. You shift to offence.
After a second major failure event, the biggest difficulty I had in moving forward was because I didn’t want to ‘look stupid’ again. Mainstream advice will tell you that you shouldn’t care what people think about you. That’s true…but it’s baby pablum, easy to say but completely useless as a tool in helping you move forward.
It’s also defensive thinking. And defence never wins a game; only offence wins games. And thanks in large part to the very wise words of Gary Vaynerchuk, I went on offence. And though this tactic is used 99 percent of the time as internal dialogue only, or as ‘self-talk’, it sure worked for me. And every now and again if you must use it externally, have at it, and do it with a smile.
I first picture in my mind someone telling me that a new project I’m working on will make me look stupid. My internal dialogue goes something like this:
‘Who thinks I look stupid doing this? You?’
‘Well FUCK YOU!’
You may be on the verge of changing your eating habits or starting to go to the gym. There WILL be naysayers and mudslingers who will try to keep you where you are.
‘You think it’s a joke that I’m trying to eat right, and making an attempt to hit the gym?
‘Well FUCK YOU!’
Now, as you read this you may think that this tactic seems simplistic, juvenile, immature even? To who? You?
See how it works?
And you won’t find THAT advice anywhere else.
Step forward. No fear.