Losing and Finding Motivation

I had a few large epiphanies the past ten days. The latest and most important one was triggered by something I have been scared of years: therapy. I had pushed it off for years, and I reached a point over the summer where my mood fluctuations weren’t getting better on their own.  It was becoming quite frustrating. I knew the things I was supposed to be doing, and for some reason I wasn’t doing any of it. I couldn’t identify what the underlying issue was, and therefore didn’t know how to break it down into a problem I could manage. For the first time since I started on the path of personal growth and being my best self, it didn’t matter how many books, lectures, and trainings I had attended, I couldn’t get out of own way or my head.  It was different than the shifts during the gauntlet. I was proverbially stuck, and for the first time in a long time I wasn’t sure where I was going with my life. It was terrifying, and it propelled me to take action in the form of therapy. A shout out to Katie J. for the amazing therapist suggestion. I will be forever thankful that we were both at that party at that time. The universe conspires wonderfully.

You might be wondering what my point is here, and I felt it important to lay out the backstory so there was a context. I do not like being vulnerable, and it’s a challenge I rise to every time I write a blog entry; ask someone to take a look at my business, or even make a damn phone call sometimes. Periodically the fear of being vulnerable wins, but it is happening less and less. I cannot think of anything that is more vulnerable than being in therapy and talking about shit in your life with a completely stranger. However, the level of despondency in my life was at an inflection point that caused me to go way out my comfort zone and seek help. It was not up to my friends to help, nor would it have been fair. I even sent a text to one of my best friends, “I need help and neither one of us is in a position to help the other. What’s next?” It reminds me of a quote by Annie Dillard from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, “Van Gogh is utterly dead; the world may be fixed, but it never was broken. And shadow itself may resolve into beauty.” The shadow in my life and brain was starting to go beyond frustration to desperation to be off the roller coaster of emotion.

survive fire

I don’t remember exactly how we got talking about the accident, addiction (luckily not mine), and trauma. There are two chemicals in the brain that make us happy: serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin in the brain, among other things, helps regulate mood. Dopamine helps encourage motivation. You know what happens when there is trauma? Those two things get turned OFF. Fight, flight, or freeze is what happens during trauma. If you were happy during times of trauma it would surely be a bad evolutionary design.

My mind did a virtual double take. Wait. Dopamine gets turned off during trauma. Check. I was in a traumatic situation, check. Motivation has been turned off for months now, and a series of epiphanies occurred in a short period of time. Everything started to click and make sense. It was a domino effect in my brain, and it was a cool process to “watch” happen.

see it

It is one of many reasons why getting back on the river, specifically white water was so important. Paddling had and has been a huge part of my identify for so long, and at one point over the summer I didn’t even consider myself one anymore. I wasn’t even sure whether I would be able to get on whitewater again. The last realization happened about two weeks ago after the release I puzzled this all together. The day of the Tohickon Creek release (early November) was pretty much a do or die moment for me. I would either be able to do it or I wouldn’t. But I had to try. I owed myself that much. I estimated later that my dopamine levels had probably been trickling back for about a month at that point because I had started to take action in other parts of my life again. During and after the run however, it came back like a flood. After every rapid that I hit my line perfectly, and the one where I had an epic save at Race Course was a feeling of pure euphoria. I knew my paddling partners would have my back, but I knew I wouldn’t need them that day after the second rapid.

I felt myself coming back to me, and now I understood why. The challenge and the realization that I had not permanently lost that part of my identity. It was temporarily put on hold so I could grow to be a bigger and better version of myself. Like most of the challenges in my life, it was pure stubborn will and years of skill to prove to myself that I could do it. I pushed myself to the perform at that level despite not having been on whitewater since the accident more than six months prior was validation that I was home. I was coming home to myself, and this was a big piece of my soul that had gone missing.

Photograph taken by Brent Burke. Hitting my line at 2nd Ledge on the Tohickon Creek in spring of 2014.

I was on fire and glowing from satisfaction and relief. My physiology was different even. My friends said my skin was different, and I carried myself different. It was a switch of confidence that had been turned on.  I owned my body and confidence again.  Tall and proud. The challenge and fear pushed me to the why. The shadow was my major opportunity for growth. It may have taken me awhile to grasp onto the beauty within that shadow, but I am well on my way to molt out of this shell and into another one. I’m just moltin’ bitches. Bring it on.

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Playin’

I’ve
been

Playin’
at

Greatness

for
Over
a
Year.

Struggling
to

understand

Why.

until

Now.

Afraid

of
Who
I was

Becoming.

being
Known,

Rejection

by the
people

I
hold

Closest.

all
Ludicrous.

I’ve been
through

so
much

Worse
and had

Acceptance.

during
the
Dark
bouts

in my

Life.

and
Yet

the

Thought
of

Success

and

Independence

Stunted
me
into

Mediocrity.

I’m
Bigger
than

That.

I
Deserve

to
Thrive

Success
and

Freedom.

I am

Not
Going

to
Back

Down
this

Time.

to

Fear

Judgment,

ultimately

Shame.

for

embodying

my
Whole

Heart.

I
no

Longer
feel

Obliged
to

Hide.

Life
is

Discovered

in the

Discomfort

of
Growth.

it is
There

you

Find
Your

Truth

and

Acceptance

of your

Greater
Self.

Change and Fear

Change

It is

Painful

Difficult

impossibly
Uncomfortable.

Our subconscious

Pushes

against

Change

with a
Fervor

as if

Molting into
a

Better you
is

Life
Threatening.

because

It
Is.

Not
of your

Body.

of

your

Mindset of Belief.

This is
the

Holy shit

Pit of your
Stomach

Terrifying

Penetrating

type of

Fear.

that comes
with

Visceral

Change.

When you are

Ready to

Molt
Your

Suffering

Skin of

Self-doubt

and

Worthiness.

You must
Grab onto it

before Doubt
sets in

to Become
the

Grit

necessary

to Face
the

Demons

Fears

Judgment

and finally

PAIN

that have

Pinned

you like an

Anchor

to
the
floor.

of

Guilt

Judgment

Shame

for
your

Entire

Life.

It is

Time
to

Win the

War

of a thousand

Battles

once and

for

All.

Be the Catalyst

Get Dirty with Change
People say that is change is hard, and it can be. It is also inevitable, and it can be beautiful. It is important to embrace the changes happening in your life because they are coming either way so you might as well embrace it. If the change is unpleasant, the sooner you deal with it, the sooner it will change into something tolerable. If the change is good or long-term beneficial, then embrace the journey to get to the beautiful place on the other side. While paddling I came up with an expression, “on the other side of the mud is often a beauty hidden by the effort to get there.” It is the same with change.

courage-fear-do-it-anyway

The Push
Quite honestly, the catalyst in my growth in the stages of my business has come from outside sources. I do much better historically when helping other people. I am more focused, more determined, and it’s because I genuinely enjoy being a part of helping other people achieving their dream. It’s the part I play, and I play it well. However, it is time to grow out of that. I have written how that is really not enough, but for me it is how I have measured my worth by adding to a cause. As if I am not enough just being me. It’s not true. There are things I am privately passionate about and very important to me that deserves to be heard, known, and acknowledged. These are the ones that only a select few know about, and that scare me for people to know.beat-her

Sparking Your Catalyst
All of it is coming to a climax. Tony Robbins says “change happens when the pain of staying the same is bigger than the pain of change.”  Everyone has demons, and every person has at least one that likes to linger. A lingering whisper is the fear of not being worthy of the amazing friendships I have built in the last 4 and half years. Which is completely ridiculous, and thankfully doesn’t surface often anymore. It’s the old me popping up like a prairie dog, and the part of myself I deserve to beat whac-a-mole style. Its presence has lessened since I am coming out of a transition period that seems to be inevitably messy. The result is a new level of leadership being born. One that I am ready to take on because staying hidden behind some type of misplaced pride is becoming too uncomfortable to stay idle. It’s like a bug molting into a new shell because it’s outgrown its old one. It’s painful, it’s uncomfortable, and as it happens you are incredibly vulnerable while growing into a new stage of development and waiting for it to harden.   It is time to be the catalyst for change and become the adult we are all destined to be.

Clarity

Living without
seeing
is
Punctuated

Often
by
a
Painful,
Life
Changing
moment.

A
Breaking
Point
in
our
Reality,

In
Ourselves.

Only
then
do
we

Get
It.

We
become
Ferociously
focused

Develop
a
Case
of
the
Fuck
Its.

It’s
a
Pinnacle
moment
of

Clarity.

Use
it.

Get
Clear

Get
Visceral

I’m
Getting

This

Done.

Belief and Success

The image below hit me as I was reading it.

Definition of Success

Definition of Success

My definition of success is loving yourself, believing in yourself, and taking actions to get yourself to your passion and purpose.  I never thought I would find such a raw source of beauty, happiness, and purpose inside myself.  I have often relied on others for acceptance, guidance, and love.  This was in absence of any or all of those in myself.  I persevered, I learned, I dealt, and I hid from everyone my true self.  One of my close friends once said to me, “I’ve known you for years, I think I’ve barely scratched the surface of who you are.”  I took it as a compliment.

There is a relentless doubt to let yourself be known when you have hidden your true self for so long.  It is safe to be hidden.  There is no threat of bullying, no torment, no expectation of others (in regard to yourself), and no disappointment by your peers because you smile, do your work, and move on.  All of the preceding have to do with your expectations of others being there for you.  The true glimpses they get from you, if any, are fleeting.  And you survive.

Survive.

I was not happy.  I was insulated.  I was in a hamster wheel, of my own creation, and I was doing what I spent the last 3 years doing.  I thought I would spend the rest of my life doing it.

I unexpectedly found someone that believed in me, and more importantly, I LET them, gradually.  At the beginning, I had my usual coyness, and sarcastic deflection.  To their credit, they persisted, and to mine so did I, with questions.  It wasn’t a sudden reveal; it was a gradual awakening.  I slowly loosened my clutch on my heart and soul, and let myself out in tiny glimpses.  I grew to believe I was worth it, I could talk to people, I could help people and actually be noticed for doing so without it being narcissistic.

Then I started to believe that maybe, just maybe, those closest to me should know the “real” me.  I wasn’t coy, I didn’t sarcastically deflect, and I listened to why they believed in me.  The reinforced concrete in front on my heart and soul started to erode away, and constant personal growth that allowed it to flourish into a garden.  I started to change, and be vulnerable to let people in, little by little.

I wasn’t crippled by the vulnerability, which has always been my inherent fear.  I was free.  Free of the chains I had put on myself to be perfect and to uphold a standard that was not only unrealistic, but also quite damaging.  The barrier was gone, and let my friends and family in, even if it’s just a little at a time.

Vices and Victory!

There have been in the past very few times where I feel completely relaxed.  It is generally been paddling, in the outdoors, or when I’ve been slightly buzzed.  I emphasize slightly because I did not drink to get drunk…think what you will about this.  I drank to get comfortable in social situations, this was especially true when I was with people I didn’t know very well.  Yes, I am pretty much putting it all out there for the general public.  I think it will help people, and yes, I am really uncomfortable with it.  Also not sure if I should do it.   That is always a good sign.

Stolen from the interwebs.  I always reflect more when out in nature...just this pic.

Stolen from the interwebs. I always reflect more when out in nature…just this pic.

There are times where we do things that we don’t really consider because they make us feel better.  There are always things that make us act in certain ways and do things that aren’t necessarily in our character because we are trying to compensate for something in our lives that is lacking.  It was subconscious for me.  I did it to hide myself from others.  Something I have been  trying very hard to break myself from.  The deceit (mostly of myself), the hiding, and the shame that I felt for myself.  I didn’t want others to see ANY part of that vulnerability.  It’s about letting people see who you REALLY are.  It is an all-consuming fear of mine-to be known.  That for some reason unknown to me, I have made quite public on this blog.

I used to drink to relax, to belong to something bigger than myself, and to distance myself from that part of me that  felt “outside” acceptance from others.

I no longer feel the need to do that. I feel comfortable in my own skin.  I accept, usually, who I am.  I danced my little heart out a month ago in front of some very important people to me, and it didn’t matter what they thought of my dancing.  I just danced.  I let them in, just a little.

Accepting yourself is the best gift you can give yourself.  It took me a long to find that in myself.  I feel at peace more than I ever thought possible.

Fear and Success

There are so many intangibles for fear as an adult.  As a kid the intangibles are clear and straight forward for the most part, the dark, monsters, etc.  The one least discussed for adults is the fear of success.  It may sound like an oxymoron, but it’s more prevalent than you may think.

There is a certain sense of responsibility when it comes to success.  Whether it be for other people (management), financially (raise), or even just to yourself, and it can be daunting.  This is especially true if you have low confidence, morale, and general low self-worth.  If people didn’t expect you to achieve highly, and you’ve been told that (hopefully inadvertently) you couldn’t do certain things for whatever reason.  It is a monumental task to mentally overcome that mindset.  To defeat it, you have to force yourself to personally grow, and to grow into BELIEVING you are WORTHY of love and success.  It’s a daily, demanding battle to change that story you have told yourself your entire life.   And it is worth all of the effort to achieve believing in your own self-worth.

anything you want copy 2

It is here that you will feel worthy of success.  It starts and ends with you.  You have to change, you have to want it, and you have to be viligant.  And you will feel free.  There will still be those days where you want to retreat into your “old” story.  Don’t let yourself…fight for your new found freedom.