Throughout the last 7 years, as I have been consumed with the field of personal development, I have noticed several defining moments that have led to certain shifts in my life. None more so than my most recent one which has been the eye-opening experience of my de-cluttering. Since reading books such as Stuffocation and American Mania: When More Is Not Enough, I found myself highlighting certain behaviours in myself that I wasn’t originally aware of.
I have always prided myself on being a grafter. I could out-work anyone at anything because I needed to be better. Little did I know that it was just a way of seeking approval from a higher authority. I felt as if I needed that pat on the back from people that, for whatever reason, I had put on a pedestal.
To my shock I realised that I was putting everyone on a pedestal. No matter who it was, I needed to gain their approval in some way. It was all rooted in a fear based mentality that made me so afraid of offending people that I just kept things bottled up. I kept myself shut off from the world and kept my distance. For so long I felt separate and left out.
While everyone was going about their lives I would watch from afar and envy. Envy because these people appeared to have a confidence to be themselves that I could only dream of. So afraid of people’s judgement and ridicule I never really gave myself permission to follow what truly matters to me.
As I plunged deeper into the field of personal development I found that I was creating more distance between myself and others. The reason being is that I am a dreamer, I have a vision and I feel that we play far too small compared to what we are capable of. Frustration was getting the better of me because so many people just aren’t willing to listen. Yet it was myself that I was most trying to convince.
When you don’t have the same mentality as virtually the entire world’s population you find yourself becoming very lonely. I haven’t had the best of luck in relationships mainly because I have trust issues about letting someone get close to me and partly because girls I have been with in the past haven’t really embraced my desire to better myself. In many cases I have been called deluded.
Of course it would be easy to say that I have attracted a few bad apples along the way. Although I am not sure that is the complete truth. If I am being honest with myself then I would say that I have been looking for them. If you surround yourself with negativity long enough it will become engrained and all of a sudden I am on red alert for anything that matches that bias.
The fact that I have spent pretty much my whole life with this mindset creates a big conflict when I am looking to make something of myself. Talking about all of the opportunities, possibilities and successes that life has to offer soon makes you an outcast in your negative environment. So how do I react to this? I sulk. I get frustrated. I sink back down into a hole. I let other people’s views be the deciding factor.
Well not anymore. I am tired of letting other people think they know whats best for me. From now on they can do and say whatever they like that is best for them and I will do what is best for me. As I approach 32 years of age I have finally found myself coming into my own a lot more. By having a major de-clutter physically and digitally I have noticed that it has happened mentally as well. I have cleared my mind a lot and have become less attached to people’s views.
I was once part of an ‘evidence based’ fitness group on Facebook and some of the conversations that were taking place originally made me feel good because it meant we could openly attack people. If it wasn’t backed up by the holy grail of science then it was fair game. It turned me into an obnoxious little shit because it made me believe that I had free reign to attack anyone and anything that I felt like.
I was attacking spirituality in particular and the New Age movement. A concept that led me into science because I had a yearning to know more. I was attacking a vital step in my development. All the while I was distancing myself from the loving people and nature that the New Age movement is known for. For whatever reason I didn’t think it was acceptable to appreciate both science and spiritually so I found myself having to pick one.
For as long as I can remember I have always been complaining about things that I deem to have hindered me in some way. The more I drew my attention to all these things, the more they kept showing up. Or did they? You see, events come and go. It is our emotional response to them that bring them into our awareness and we then decide how significant they are to us. This is essentially how the Law of Attraction works.
All these events throughout my life that I thought were holding me back and pushing me down were actually helping me up. Teaching me to grow and evolve. Giving me necessary challenges in order to better myself. Yet all the while I was trying to play the victim in order to first get sympathy and also to use as an excuse for not achieving anything in life.
I would say the biggest defining moment of them all was losing my dad when I was very young. I was lucky enough to have a step dad that I have always got along with but the void of losing my biological dad definitely had a huge impact on me. I repressed my emotions for so long and it is only recently that I am able to feel open to discussing it.
Deep down I have used this as a way of reinforcing a belief that I am not good enough. I am not worthy of love because it will just get stripped away from me. Again, playing into that victim mentality and using it as an excuse. However, what if I were to re-frame it? What if I were to identify the positive aspects of this experience?
There is no question that this is what has given me so much drive and determination. Having to prove myself and my worth may seem like such negative components of a personality. Now I see them as a positive fuel to help me grow and expand. Only this time I am doing it for me and no one else.
Then I look at when I was growing up and ‘smarter’ kids were going to grammar schools while I went to the local comprehensive that had a less than favourable reputation. I had comments aimed at me quite regularly by their parents. Something that at 12 years old you don’t really know how to deal with. It made me believe I was thick and that I wouldn’t be capable of much.
Now what if I were to re-frame this as well? Let’s just say I did go to the same schools, get the decent grades and fitted in with this middle class way of living? I can only hazard a guess that I would have come out, got a job, met a wife, got a mortgage, had kids and waited for retirement and subsequently death. I have nothing against the people that want to live in this manner. More power to them and I applaud those that are happy living in a way that suits them. However, this particular way just isn’t for me.
So what have I done instead? Well, having deep rooted father issues gave me a disdain for authority which led me to working for myself and entering the business world. With so many people disillusioned by their job and waiting for 5pm and the weekend to come around I cannot believe my own luck that I get to run my own diary as well as pursuing something that I love and having the time to do it.
My once hedonistic mindset was cursing just how hard I had to work to survive. Now I see that the hard work was serving me for a much greater purpose and one that outstrips hedonism by far. It has taught me about taking responsibility for myself, given me a vision for the future and a desire to make something of myself.
In regards to growing up believing I was thick. As soon as I got into Personal Training I discovered that I was able to understand the theory components. This gave birth to a new belief that maybe I could be intelligent after all. I have since gone on to learn about topics such as neuroscience and quantum physics as they relate to consciousness. That void has driven me to value knowledge and education. I wouldn’t be anywhere near as smart as I am now if I hadn’t have been somewhat disparaged about my lack of intelligence as a kid. I no doubt would have just rested on my laurels and had no desire to grow and develop.
This entire journey that I have been on has put me on the most important quest to learn how to love myself. Only then would I know what true love in a relationship surely is. Starting out with such a low view of myself has led me to go deeper and deeper to collapse stored baggage. What if I had the bog standard life as described above? I am not convinced that I would have ever felt true connection that I know is coming my way one day.
Through experience I have had to learn money management skills the hard way too. Getting myself into a lot of debt ‘chasing the dream’ taught me to wake up. I am now on a mission to become financially independent in my thirties. The alternative that would have been to hopefully retire in my sixties having spent forty-plus years working a job I wasn’t inspired by.
I have always bemoaned my experiences in relationships and I now know why. Holding back from getting attached I never really gave much. I certainly haven’t loved, I know that. To protect myself from hurt I wouldn’t allow love. So what did I do? I kept finding fault. I only made myself aware of the bad stuff. The things that annoyed me or frustrated me. That way I could distance myself because I had an excuse to.
My last two girlfriends have pointed out the same thing; that I always think that anyone and anything is against me. They were right. As much as I don’t like to admit it and it is now time to face up to the truth. Though going through those relationships with my protective barrier meant that I was creating a lot of conflict. I wouldn’t budge an inch on anything and instead would cite all arguments as an all out attack on little old me.
And maybe that is what has been holding me back all this time? By viewing the world as against me has given me the perfect excuse not to love myself fully. By finding fault in anything I possibly could gave me fuel for my so called victimhood mentality. It also made it a lot easier to judge anything I could. Creating so much hate within me. If I only look at the bad stuff in life then it gives me an excuse not to participate in it.
Now it is time to let all that go. The view I had of the world was merely a projection of how I have long felt about myself. But I deserve better. I deserve to have all I want to in life and I will continue to pursue it. I have had many defining moments up until this point and I am looking forward to many more. All those events that I thought were trying to drag me down were actually freeing me up to go on to bigger and better things. I finally see that now and couldn’t be more grateful.
“Change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer