"Breakfast of Champions"
**This is a copy of the blog post I wrote for Tots n' Squats last week. Check out Kelly Kaprowski's amazing website to find more inspiration, focussed on mama's and mama's-to-be.
Breakfast of Champions:
My journey to my-Self and the recipe to start yours
You know that feeling, when someone says something at just the right moment or in just the right way. Sometimes it is something you have heard before, but this time the timing was perfect, the delivery was more powerful, or you were simply ready to hear it. That feeling of being filled with motivation to take on the world, tackle the obstacles in life that have previously held you back, or make the necessary changes that you have stated you “want” but have lacked the ability or understanding to make it happen. It’s that feeling you get from a powerful speech, a quote, or metaphor about life that is worded in a way that touches your core. It can come from an inspiring conversation between you and a close friend, or a stranger, that leaves you feeling unstoppable, unshakeable, and connected with a higher power or purpose, beyond the mundane and worldly fixations that have generally kept you in your habitual way of being. It is in these moments that we witness our potential, and we tell ourselves:
“Remember this feeling.”
It is a glimpse at a version of ourselves that is not judging our every move, doubting our ability, or reducing ourselves into a contained or fearful space where life seems like it could offer so much more but the reality we live in is not what we had hoped it would be.
For years I struggled and battled with this experience. I constantly compared myself to others, seeing only the best in those around me, yet when I looked at myself I saw my short-comings, my “failures”, my sadness and lack of appreciation for the things I had worked hard to achieve. I had glimpsed my “potential” so many times, but it was always fleeting, and hard to recreate, as if it was the carrot at the end of the stick, always within sight but rarely within reach.
I would tell myself,
“If I could just get that scholarship…if I could just get flat and strong abs….if I could get that boy I like to like me back….then I will be happy.”
But as most of you already know, and what I soon realized, was that when you place your happiness in the hands of EXTERNAL motivation, expecting something material or on the surface-level, to bring you something that will last, or truly change you (like Happiness), you are setting yourself up for a vicious cycle – an endless search and desire for something or someone to fill that void within you.
This became real for me when I achieved a huge goal, after 10 years of passion, desire, and hard work, I signed a contract for a full-ride basketball scholarship to a Div 1 school in San Diego. I was in the best shape of my life, I was getting attention from newspapers, schools around North America, and from boys that I had fantasized about for years. I had everything that I had told myself would make me happy, and after two days of riding that high, I crashed back down to my habitual way of being that my mind and body knew too well; sad, unsatisfied with myself, not excited about life, empty, and full of guilt and frustration for feeling this way.
I experienced this cycle several times. I reached out for support. I tried therapy, I tried drugs, I tried masking it with partying and drinking excessively, I tried to fight through it, but that feeling always came back, and each time it did, I gave up on myself a little bit more.
Things got a lot worse before they got better, and I am truly grateful that I did not give up and that those people in my life at that time did not give up on me as well. The fact of the matter is, I am the one who has to live with myself. We are all great at pretending or hiding the darkness or sadness inside, but life can be so much more beautiful when you truly love yourself and feel like you are living the best version of YOU, for yourself and for the joy and inspiration it brings to those closest to you.
I realized that there is nothing outside of me that was going to solve my problems or reverse my depressive cycle of searching, longing, coveting, comparing, and desiring what I did not have. I had some deeply ingrained habits of thinking and being, and I needed to work hard to find a different path.
So I read, and I wrote, read and wrote, read and wrote, read and wrote. I devoured books like it was my job. I read self-help, nutrition, psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, and sociology books. They were books about Change, Habits, Beliefs, Positivity, Behaviour, Relationships, Life, Death, Health and Wellness. I questioned everything about my life up to that point, and rebuilt the way I thought, interacted, and perceived the world around me. The books I read, the reflection and questions that followed, the conversations I engaged in, and the epiphany’s I experienced, have all surmounted into a rebuilding of my attitude, perception, habits, and outlook on life.
One thing I know for sure, is that I still have a lot to learn, and I am eager and excited for this process to continue and evolve. I still occasionally feel lost, at times I question my ability, or compare myself in a way that makes me feel less-than. Some days are tougher than others, but that is LIFE. Change does not happen in one steady incline, it ebbs and flows, dips and dives, swirls and grows, all in a general direction but it is not obvious until you have put in a couple months of dedication and work into your “chosen cause”. The difference is, now I have the tools, the experience, the understanding, the resources, the strength and resilience, to coach myself out of these dark moments, and I no longer have that “pit” or void in my gut – longing for something more – that I had lived with for most of my life. I have tapped into my INTERNAL motivator, I do the work daily, I have found my purpose in life, and I have learned to love myself whole-heartedly, including the parts of me that still could use the most work.
Everyone will go through this journey in their own way. The re-programming of your mind will happen at a different pace and with your own challenges and triumphs. There are, however, key parts to this journey that everyone will benefit from once you integrate them into your daily life, regardless of where you are along your own path. Substantial and sustainable change happens with repetition and practice. It is a matter of doing it daily, little bits at a time, and not with one full-sweep.
“Where your mind goes, energy flows.” – Ernest Holmes
You can convince yourself of anything you put your mind to. So use this power for your own good, retrain your brain to be your best ally, not your worst enemy.
Eventually you will develop many tools to use, below are 4 things you can start with today. Commit to reminding yourself of these every morning until it becomes habit (which takes 45 days of conscious effort):
- Take 10-20 minutes every morning, before you get into your routine or out the door, to sit and engage in Positive Self-Talk Free Writing. The beauty of this is that it can look different every day. You could choose a positive self-talk mantra to repeat throughout your day, perhaps the opposite of the negative self-talk you may use on a regular basis. You can choose one word to focus on and just allow yourself to write what it means to you, how you will embody that energy, what it can look like, how you want to show up with that in mind, etc. You could search one positive word online, and then write what stands out to you, quotes, metaphors, ideas, feelings, etc. The list goes on, and the important thing is for you to be mindful of what works and what does not, change it up, play with it, and keep at it.
*77% of what the average person thinks and speaks is negative, counter-productive, or self-defeating. You can see why changing this shocking habit could change your reality.
- Surround yourself with positive and inspiring people. You may have heard the saying, “You are a combination of the Five people you spend the most time with.” This realization can be frightening when you look around and see who you are allowing to influence you. We cannot choose our family, and we cannot immediately control who we work with, but we can choose our friends, the authors we read, the blogs we follow, and the people we reach out to when the going gets tough or when it is time to celebrate. Seeking out support from a therapist, a nutritionist, a personal trainer, or a life coach is another way to bring people into your life that are eager to support you through letting go of baggage, learning new habits, and finding your own internal motivator.
- Sweat everyday! Whether it is 10 minutes of mindful movement (stretch while moving with breath) at home to get your blood pumping, a 50 minute spin class, lifting weights, running, yoga, swimming, a long walk, a workout video, etc.. There are more ways than ever to get your body moving and reconnect with your breath. When your body feels good, you are much more likely to stay on course with pursuing your goals and changing habits. Internal motivation needs fuel, and when you workout, your body pumps out dopamine and other chemicals that make you feel motivated. Do your body this service by providing it the fuel it needs.
- Set goals when you are feeling at your best! When your body is rested, full of healthy food, and flowing with dopamine, that is when setting goals is the most powerful and you are more likely to Play Big. Write them out, in present tense, set a by-when (a time frame that is realistic but pushes you to get into action), and revisit them occasionally. Your course may change, your desires and goals may shift as you learn more about yourself, but that is an important part of the process. It is more important to focus on the learning, the growth, and the journey, versus just the final destination.
Don’t just take my word for it. Do it, play with it, ask yourself questions along the way to be in a constant state of reflection and creation. An important thing to keep in mind is that you can get used to anything. Repetition, practice, and reflection are what it takes to make change happen, for better or for worse. Just because you have thoughts, beliefs, and habits that are deeply ingrained in you, that does not make them the “right” way or the only way. Your mind and body will stick to whatever you keep present in your life. It is time to dig deep, ask yourself what changes you want to make, and then get into action.
And a special thanks to Kelly for reaching out to allow me this opportunity to tell part of my story and offer some golden-nuggets of inspiration.
Strong women are changing the world, one passion project at a time.