The Pain of Improvement

Seeking excellence isn’t just about your training or diet plan. It is easy to mask your pain behind a life others admire. Superficial admiration is fleeting while you suffer inside never thinking you are good enough, or deserving enough for the better things in life such as love, happiness, and peace.

You are a leader of men and women, people look to you for advice and seek you out for self-improvement all the while your own desire for answers rages inside of you. You forge ahead, pushing aside important self-care time in lieu of professional development, physical development, using that edge to seemingly give you a quick boost in productivity.

Soon that edge becomes a katana slicing away at what makes you who you are. Your mind wanders, you find yourself more tired, you don’t want to get up early but you have to because your obligations outweigh your personal feelings. You function well despite a pain that is growing more and more intense inside of you.

You look at your past with some regret at the wasted years, the mistakes, the person you are now is nothing like the person you were 15 years ago yet you can remember the past like it was yesterday. It is hard to reconcile how you can be a “good person” yet have such a past which disgusts you.

You remember yourself as an athlete, a pretty good one, and a man who used that pain to drive his training and sport to a limit that was unexpected for him. You ignored that pain behind drinking and hated being alone because it required you to be into your own thoughts. Alone time was akin to self-imposed mental torture.

You kept busy, working hard, training hard, playing hard, weekends spent in a drunken haze, and when you were forced to slow down you haven’t built up enough adaptation skills along the way to be able to cope with the deafening silence your mind was forced to endure.

On the surface, your life looks fantastic. Business is good, clients are happy, relationship is great, but inside you wonder if you really deserve any of that because your rational life is occasionally interrupted by bouts of extreme irrational self-doubt and crippling bouts of anxiety and depression.

You are confused why this happens, especially now when things are going well for you. The elephant in the room never really went away, in fact he is bigger than before because you never once addressed it face to face but attempted to outrun it.

You try to seek help only to be told, “the next available appointment is 12 weeks away” by numerous offices. You make an appointment for one, only to have it cancelled because of a doctor error and attempting to make a new one is met with voice mails and no return calls.

Your wits end is coming because you have thoughts that scare you, so you call a crisis hotline just to talk to someone who will listen. You bottled up so much you let it all out in a deluge of tears on the phone hoping you can find an answer. The hotline says “you are not alone” and despite you often feeling like you are completely alone, you rationally know you aren’t.

The man on the phone says “be persistent, be proactive” and you start to look for more places who will take you quickly so you can finally deal with the problems you have been outrunning for years.

You have the support of your partner and your friends. People who matter to you reached out, and that is what is important.

You are not sure how long it will take to step away from that internal darkness, but you understand you cannot use that darkness anymore in your life as a crutch and excuse. Your life is filled with light and that darkness will only hurt you and destroy the light.

You have hope but you need to be persistent, patient, and prepare for some brutal self-reflection about your past, your regrets, and learn how to forgive people who have wronged you along the way. Grudges need to be dropped, things need to be let go, and you need to forgive yourself once and for all because you do deserve the better things in life.

That person could be you but today that person is me.

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