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.
In every crisis there is an opportunity. With COVID19, the crisis is now. And if you think it will go away anytime soon, I believe you are mistaken. The clock is ticking and there is not much time left until the whole world, will be in the biggest debt crisis humanity ever faced. I see it from the first hand, I am a trader and the measures governments and central banks around the world are doing are devestating not just for us but for generations to come. The herd mentality and strength of the state is brutally scary. The way people are assembled in lines, waiting like a piece of code ready to be deployed, obeying orders from the top is just astounding. I am not saying let’s not do that, it is just super scary how manipulated human race and masses became so quickly. There is a beautiful chinese prover: Three Men Make a Tiger. People will believe anything if enough people tell them it’s true. If one person tells you there’s a tiger roaming around your neighborhood, you can assume they’re lying. If two people tell you, you begin to wonder. If three say it’s true, you’re convinced there’s a tiger in your neighborhood and you panic. The world has paniced. But let’s no get away into doomsday scenario building and lets look at opportunities. We have rougly 6-12 months until it starts to get really bad. So unless we found cure (both medical and political), we have to adapt and prepare to what is going to come. I believe there are areas of opportunities:
A quick look into the pursuit of excellence can reveal truth we do not want to hear. That truth is hard, unpredictable, assymetrical work. The truth is that it is not about symmetrical input/output. I put x amount of hours , I will get y result. Sometimes our course has to change. Take all the people that have plans, goals in their head about their future before COVID19 came. Understanding that Systems are more importans then Goals is one of the crucial principles. Taking aside the brutal aspect of what will happen in the futuer with current virus development, I want to talk about deep learning. Moment, when magic happens. When those assymetrical hours of work start to compound. Many times, we start with something. An idea. But we are so fucked up by the reactionary world we have been living in that we want quick answers. In this environemnt, with this approach, nothing like deep work cannot happen. You are not payed by the minute, by the input. You are paid by staring into the idea that might lead to nowhere. By sitting, thinking and observing you might start develop the idea bit further. It is that moment when your brain datacenter start to connect contexts that were not obvious at first sight. The more time we spend with the idea, we play with it. We break it down, build it up, leave it and break it up again. That is the moment of magic. An unmeasurable assymetric moment when we finally throw all the garbage out and start seeing emerging opportunity. By taking that opportunity and testing hypothesis around it we can take the idea from the total garbage idea to something viable. By testing it we can build conviction around that idea. Bit by bit, we build that conviction so one day, we are ready. And it all started with one thing, an idea a shitload of time doing the deep work so we are ready, to go big.
When we are hurt, when something physically or psychologically hurts, when we are hit by the train of our emotions and self-talk our first reaction is to fight it back. To get angry about our condition. It is rooted deep down in our intuition. Fight or flight. Right? Over the years I have slowly been discovering that one must act quite counter-intuitively. Instead of fighting whatever we feel and don’t want to feel (physically or mentally), we simply let it in. We start the kind dialogue with whatever condition we dislike. We smile at the feeling and let all emotions settle in. We remind ourself and these emotions, that even if we would have to live with them for the rest of our life, we are fine and we love them for what they are. For being just the condition. We simply, surrender and radically accept them. With love and compassion. Only then I have found out we can start the healing process. Over the last year I have been fighting for my health to get it back where it once was. I have been disappointed over and over every time something I hoped for did not work. New treatment, new approach, new supplement, new doctor. The more I hoped, the more I was disappointed. These disappointments brought over time more and more anxiety and fear that my health will never be like it used to be. I had to change that mindset. I had to surrender in order to start healing the mind first, before I could start healing my body. It is the first step. Because as the saying goes: what you resist, persist. So surrender next time you are hit and maybe this time you can change the course of your life.