For the past few months I have been strugglin’. I still am. I’ve felt depressed, lonely, angry, sad etc. I feel misunderstood more often than not. As a younger man I would have thought that these emotions were things to be avoided and I believe that most of us think this way. Today, I actually think it’s good that I experience these emotional troughs from time to time. They’re not pleasant but overcoming them in order to do what I desire, anyway… that experience is pure joy. Tension is needed for strength and there is no appreciation of happiness unless one knows sadness. It’s the contrast that makes the one so enjoyable. However, the temptation, is to chase emotional states as opposed to chasing the life you desire to experience. I desire to experience MMA fighting in a cage. I desire to experience consistent profitability as a trader in the stock market. I desire to help others experience personal growth by sharing the journey of my own growth. While desirable, non of these paths produce a perpetually pleasant emotional state. When I think about the physical pain and exhaustion that will come with being a fighter, I cringe at times. When I think about the isolation that comes with trading and has been a part of my experience as a writer/speaker, I get depressed. However, when I think about the freedom of expression that comes with continuing to pursue these paths, I find the will to press forward in spite of the friction created by these feelings. What is personal growth but engaging friction that smooths, tension that strengthens, and fire that refines?
I 100% believe that struggle is a permanent fixture in this world. The issue herein is two-fold:
- One is an external issue – what struggle or types of struggles do you want to engage with.
- One is an internal issue – sometimes you’re just going to feel like garbage. Hence the need to develop the emotional strength/tools to overcome those garbage feelings, so that you can engage with and overcome, the external struggles that you have chosen.
Be honest about how and what you feel, but don’t let feelings dominate your behavior. Show up anyway.
“I don’t feel like going to work.” – Go to work.
“I don’t feel like working out.” – Work out.
“I don’t feel like writing a blog post.” – Write a blog post.
Now, there’s somebody out there who’s pissed at me saying this. There’s somebody out there that feels like I am marginalizing their feelings. Actually, there are people who have asked me many questions about how I did something hard:
- ‘How did you lose that weight and keep it off?’
- ‘How did you over come the abuse?’
- ‘How did you pay off the debt?’
- ‘How did you develop confidence?’
I have come to learn that when people ask these questions, they are often looking for an answer that validates them simply sitting stagnant in their difficult emotions… Or, they’re looking for a magic trick that makes the difficult emotions go away and makes will-power emerge from thin air.
For many years I struggled to find some deep answer to give people… Some insight to help people get it. I tried to be really kind with my words and empathize with people’s emotions. Well… I’ve discovered… That doesn’t work!
Real talk. I’m currently experiencing the best logistical set-up I’ve had in the 7 years since leaving the Army. I have a part-time job that pays me well and allows me to pick whatever schedule I want. This gives me freedom from anxiety about bills which helps my creativity. This gives me the money to begin martial arts training and fund my journey as a day trader. I have highly developed my communication skills in both the written and oral format. I also know how and what I want to communicate about. I live in a great part of town and my rent is really low compared to what people pay in the rougher parts of Tacoma. I work in a hospital. You know what hospitals have? —- WOMEN! If I’m going to meet a potential partner, I gotta be around women and I couldn’t think of a better place to facilitate that happening. I’m blessed and there’s no denying it…
But here I go:
- ‘I’m still single!’ – Yeah! You’ve been isolated in your own business for 4 years! Now you work in a hospital and you still have your business!
- ‘I’m not passionate about my part-time job!’ – And you were making zero money with your full time passion, so unless you want to be homeless, get over it!
Here’s what I tell myself and here is how I have talked to myself over the years:
“Stop whining and get to work!”
My internal dialogue has always been harsh and honest.
Back to the questions that people ask –
- ‘How do you lose weight?’ – You get up and you execute! Primarily, when you don’t feel like it!
People are not going to like the real answer and I’m not looking forward to delivering it with a sharper edge. I’m human just like you and I want people to like me. However, I want people to experience freedom more than I want their approval. Maybe someone else can give it to you with more kind words. I will not. You need to get used to the reality. Get comfortable with the pain.
I empathize with your bondage much more than I empathize with your sadness or your depression. You’re strugglin’? Me too. You wanna be free? Get up and execute!