Probably at leats once in your lifetime you must have heared the phrase “you must burn all the bridges”, so there no other option then to succeed. Although I belive in doing your best, pur severing in the times of adversity, fighting as much as you can to succeed in your endavour, unless your life is at stake, there can be another approach as well. When all bridges are burned, you are putting yourself into a situation where only winning is possible. But what if during the fighting you figure out, that thing you have chosen is not the thing you have thought it would be. What if your health or health of your loved ones derail you from winning? What if, along the way, life throws at you a path that seems just much more fascinating? What then with all the burned bridges? Repaired them, build new one, hire a boat? I belive that going through the difficult times, facing the adversity is already hard enough and you dont have to make it even harder for you. Working hard is great, but I would rather work smart and suffer with enjoyment 🙂 any time of my choosing. So dont burn the brigdes. One way how to ease the suffering is to … stop, relax a bit, take couple of deep breaths, close your eyes and then … imagine how you fail in what you want to terribly succeed. Imagine yourself, with all the details, how you failed misserably and the thing you wanted so much to work, is just one terrible clusterfuck. Live vividly through that experience in your imagination. See yourself how you are coming home and saying to your parents, wife, friends that you have failed. You have failed but you did your best, learned and even with all that failing feel much stronger then ever before. See how they react, how you feel, where you are. Imagine all of that. The more colorful, the better. Then open your eyes and smile, imagine that all those fears dropped like a heavy stone of your shoulders. You have just convinced your brain, that failing is not so bad in the end and you dont have to fear it so much. You can now get back to a thing you want so much to succeed in and hopefully see, that little bit of unnecessary pressure that keept you in tense, was released. It is the imagining the unimaginable failure that can give you that little ease and increase your chances to enjoy the struggle little bit more.
You are starring at your todo list, it is 3PM and you feel like you have not accomplished anything today. From the morning it felt like you are super busy but suddenly when you have time to work, you notice you have taken the tasks of least resistance. Read an email, replied to some, talk to colleague about some important task that needs to be done and collected data for your work. An hour ago you felt super productive, now you are starting to feel little anxious. The big tasks, the important tasks are still there. You have worked on the illusionary important tasks, the shallow tasks. Yet the important tasks, those that require your deep work and undivided attention are still there. Why? If you are like me, living in the current times, we are hugely distracted. There is so many tasks our brain need to handle, something this brain has not been manufactured to do. Those minuscule tasks are little dopamine rewards. Those big tasks are like big nuts that need to be cracked first and that cracking takes a bit of time when no dopamine is present. All leading to this formula …
It is a million dollar question. How to live happy life while enjoying the uncertainty of everyday life? How to live a happy life in the face of adversity? How to live a happy life and being dependent on the external, on the temporary dopamine spikes. The more I walk on the path of uncertainty, the more I am realising what one person explained to me about stoicism but somehow I did not get it. “You can’t become stoic, by reading about stoicism, you must live it”. Two years ago, I theoretically understood the concept of stoicism, but I asked the universe to give me a challenge in which I could test my theories and hell yeah I got couple of them :). I got tested! And only recently, in the last two months I am finally starting to truly understand what stoics meant by focusing on the virtues like courage, wisdom, temperance or justice, focusing on the internal. All that time I was missing a link between stoic theory and true practice. What does it mean to live it. I have finally understood, that one must truly love himself/herself first regardless the achievements in the external world. Only then the true magic can start happening. But how can one achieve that, when we live in the society of constant comparing and in search for constant approval? Faith! One must believe blindly, that everything is happening for a reason and there is a universe that has always plan for you. Because faith is a killer of all fears, angers and anxieties. But how come can one build faith? By removing all biases that hold you back. All things you feel you must be, you must prove to others who you are, you must achieve this or that to yourself. The magic starts happening, when you start walking the path towards true self-love, regardless the outcome in a way, that you enjoy the ride, you enjoy the process. That self-love can start by repeating self-loving affirmations to yourself after you wake up. That self-love can start by allowing yourself errors and inefficiencies when making mistake without giving yourself a beating. That self-love is that you start loving truly the process and give up on the outcome. You almost must become agnostic to the outcome, you must let loose your wilful will. I believe that through deep self-love building, you can start trusting the universe and build that faith. So what is the formula?
Its 5AM and my brain is buzzing with thoughts. My fight or flight regime is in full spin, cortisol by the roof and my body is chained by the warmth blanket of overnight sleep. I kinda feel turned on but deep inside I can feel that something is wrong. I have been here. The moment I will get out of the bed, I ll start to get exhausted, bit by bit. Not immediately but soon after the reality will hit me in the face. What woke me up? A billion things I wanna do, I wanna be, I wanna make, I wanna build. This anxiety of fighting with time is secretly exhausting all my power reserves. It is not obvious at the first sight. It seems like energy but actually I am burning it from the wrong source. I keep asking myself. Why I want this? Why I have to keep chasing the endless things I wanna be? Why I constantly thrive to be better every day? Can’t I just rest and not feel guilty for doing so? Deep down I am aware it is actually huge insecurity that is driving my thrive for excellence. Is it bad? Once your over-reach certain point, it is more harmful than helpful. Because this sneaky bitch, this feel of insecurity that has ignited my drive many years ago, is actually killing my body inside now. As the day goes by, my digestion gets worse, my cravings for sugar and junk food increase and only thing I have left at the end of the day is tired body and depleted will that has been resisting all the body temptations all day. I am exhausted yet not satisfied. Although I have completed everything I wanted, my inner voice, my internal judge always reminds me that I could have done more. I could have been more. I know, that something is wrong and I have to change it, but I do not know how. I go to bed, tired as hell and I know, that the burning excitement in the morning is fake. Fake that keeps burning my batteries to the bone until there is nothing left. I have to start facing those insecurities that relentlessly keep me going otherwise in years ahead, there wont be much left.
It has been sixth self-improvement video on youtube I have watched in last two hours with similar frequent and impulsive visits to the fridge and somehow all the exciting work I was so eager to complete in the morning is still sitting untouched. Then a moment of weird anxiety starts to creep in. Suddenly mind starts to be somehow all over the place and my internal judge, the cruelest judge of all judges out there starts to give me a lot of shit how I have wasted last three hours doing stuff that seems to be now totally irrelevant. How come a minute ago I felt like I am productive doing “interesting work” and now I feel like shit and useless procrastinator. Welcome into viscious cycle of self-hate and self-beating of your worst fan, your worst judge, your own mind. If your mind would be a psycho-therapist, you would put on a lawsuit against it after first session and never visit again. Yet, we put on with this negative counselling on day to day basis, tolerating our own self-beating.
There I was. I could barely walk home, my stomach was on fire and I felt that the world is ending. I am dying. Thats it. I have pushed it too far. Your mind is filled only with dark thoughts and world is ending soon. Since it is not enough, you start having a small panic attack that you are really dying. Your heart-rate starts to rush up. You know it is coming and you need to calm yourself down. Welcome to the burnout. I have been there, couple of times and for anyone who has experienced that knows, that it is a hard one to fight. Especially if you have been doing everything you could. The problem is that sometimes that is the problem. We try to focus on performing everything so well, that we forget why we are doing it in a first place. It is like a vicious cycle that you need to experience couple of times to learn your lesson. The more cycles like these you experience, the more you are creating rather nasty patter. Pattern of being stressed out out of being stressed out. Because next time, a little nuance can trigger similar body reaction. The more time you experience it, the more time your body will feel that it is natural thing to do. Then, even minuscule tasks that stress you out a bit are triggering over-exaggerating response and suddenly anything you wanna achieve in life that involves healthy dose of stress becomes an issue. So what can one do about it? Anyone who tells you “just relax” have no idea that it is a bullshit advice. You need practical advice from someone who overcome this, not some bullshit generic advice like “take it easy, dude”. Of course you know that you should “take it easy”, but how to put it into practice? Over the years I have came to a conclusion, that when shit really hits the fan, simple Tony Robbins Triad will not do on its own unless is deeply internalised. What works for me, when things are really bad is a combination of deep physiology change (in two domains), something what I call positive movies and joyful exercise. What are those:
There it was. I was standing in my small temporary apartment, alone, in the middle of pandemic crisis and I was in bad pain. Both physical and mental pain got me into the corner and I knew I have to face it alone. With blood now being involved I knew things are getting worse and I was desperate. I have tried all procedures in the world, every diet and nothing seemed to work. I was frustrated. So frustrated. Due to pandemic no doctor was returning my calls and I could not speak their language. When you got into this situation, you start questioning if it is all worth it. Why to bother fighting? Why to be strong? Come ooooon. I have been brave for last 17 months with this chronic pain and disappointed countless times. Now at the bottom of my energy I knew I have two options. I give up or I will continue fighting. We always have choices. One can decide to become a broken man or fight. In the darkest moment I have decided to make voul to myself. I said to myself, pain is the energy. It has its form, color and vibration. What if I can take all of that and create a routine to transform that energy and channel it into whatever I decided to. What if I can train my mind and use the amazing power of pain and channel it into areas like focus, patience, calm or commitment? I already knew I cant psychologically fight the pain. It will always win. I learned to surrender but somehow I felt I am still not using its full potential. What if I can learn myself this? Because life without physical pain, is also in many times painful experience. If I learn this, I can truly become invincible, true hero of mine. So I made this voul for the rest of my life and started working on it:
In a recent weeks I have changed my life the most I have in the past ten years. I have moved outside the country I have been living in my whole life and started to work on a craft I have long time dreamed of about perfecting. I would almost say I have been getting ready for this moment my whole life. Right when the moment came, the COVID19 hit the world. Not only that, my health is still not ideal, still having this chronic abdominal pain and I am separated from my family and loved ones. They say what does not kill you, makes you stronger. And if nothing, this experience will make just that. In middle of all of this, my journey for the craft perfection just began. I feel overwhelmed by the amount of new things I am learning. Everyday I wake up eager to learn and excited to get out and perfect it, but as the day progresses I feel how little I know. By the end of the day I am totally exhausted, feeling like my head will explode but happy that I had a chance to perfect new things. To feel passion again. To fight another day. As days go by, I feel like I am actually not moving forward but actually slowing down. I feel like, that I have to lose what I have learned to found it again. At times, this part is the hardest part so far of my journey. This idea of not knowing if I can truly make it, if I can truly perfect it. That doubt that I have everyday in my mind. These doubts come and go and I try to stay as optimistic as I can. These doubts that point out towards the strong neural pathways and scream: “no longer true, lose it”. Will I ever find what works and what does not in this craft. Will I ever perfect it? Will I succeed. I am overwhelmed. But there is one thing, that keeps me going and that is love for this craft. Because everyday, we are born again and everyday we have an opportunity to learn and change. Everyday I can truly learn to lose old ways of doing things, to found and learn the new ways. It is only our old habits, ego, routines, assumptions that are nothing else than strengthen neural pathways of the past. And I feel, in order to succeed in anything, one must begin everyday with a beginners mind, one must first lose the old in order to found the new and become great at the craft one is perceiving. Day by day. A principle worth having in our journey of life.
As humans beings we have dominated every other specie thanks to our ability to be creative and co-operative. Thanks to our ability to adapt. Now, more then ever, change is the only constant. Now more then ever people will be asking what is the future gonna be like. And unless you have grandma or grandpa with great memory of 1929-1933 period, it is most likely that you won’t know anyone who can really tell you. The last template for what is gonna happen is in those years. But regardless any template or historical similarity, one thing will not change and that is the thing why humans dominate this world. The way how you gonna get out of this crisis is by your own creativity and systematic work. In simple terms, but sitting, thinking, writing and starring into your own thoughts. Thats it. By sitting and staring at the piece of paper writing your ideas down (creative part) and by staring at it, synthetising it (just a fancy word for narrowing it down), more starring, more sitting and more writing. By taking some time of so your brain can subconsciously defragment what you have consciously created. By coming back and staring at it again. By filtering those parts that do not make any sense. By stripping the meaningless away. And after your initial state is done. You will get out and act on what you have concluded. That creative and systematic engine, is your framework. Your edge how to adjust and come out of this crisis as a winner. Good luck.
When I was a teenager, I was desperate to go out into the world and earn my first big buck. Coming from the ex soviet block, at that time that wasn’t a lot to me. I come from a middle class family where both parents work hard to feed us and provide us with decent education. I have never had pocket money, nor a rich uncle or grandma. Don’t get me wrong, there was always food on a table and house almost always warm during winter cold days. As my 18th birthday were approaching, I knew that in order to earn, I must get out. Go abroad and earn. Experience adventure. There were only handful of skills I could do and no resume I can build my offering. Basically I could coach tennis and teach basic computer programming. Things I have both loved.